July 30, 2008

Gifts That Keep Giving at UNCG

Talk about going out in style.

A year ahead of schedule, and two days before Chancellor Pat Sullivan officially retires, UNCG announced Tuesday that it already had reached the $100 million goal of its Students First Campaign.

Among other key initiatives, the campaign will create new endowments for graduate and undergraduate scholarships. This will, in turn, empower UNCG to attract top students and ensure that needy students who show promise will be able to afford to enroll at the growing campus just west of downtown Greensboro.

The campaign also will finance professorships, research, guest artists and lectures and faculty enrichment.

Although schools like UNCG and its sister institution, N.C. A&T, receive funding from the state, they supplement that money with giving from alumni, the corporate community, foundations and other private donors to stay competitive for the best students and faculty.

Thus far, the campaign has made possible 168 new undergraduate scholarships, 38 graduate fellowships, 14 professorships, and 145 program endowments and student award programs.

Why this is good news even for those of us who may never have set foot on the UNCG campus (and you really ought to; it's an impressive sight) is the importance of healthy colleges and universities to the vitality of this region. They attract bright minds and enhance the community's cultural fabric. They provide scholars and experts who can offer practical advice to private industry and government. They create jobs.

According to Andrew Brod, who, incidentally, directs the Office of Business and Economic Research at UNCG, the school's annual impact on the Piedmont Triad economy is $1.22 billion, based on a study of the 2004-05 academic year.

The premature success of Students First bears testament to UNCG and delivers, just in time, the perfect parting gift for Chancellor Sullivan.

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