After overseeing UNCG's academic area since 1995, Ed Uprichard is retiring as UNCG's provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. And he says he's lucky to have enjoyed a productive run at a great university.
Even though his last day is June 30, Uprichard won't disappear. After retooling for a year, he will return as professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the School of Education. He'll be dividing his time between campus and the home that he and his wife, Carolyn, have at Travelers Rest, S.C.
Last week, he was interviewed on his 12 years as UNCG's chief academic officer.
What have you enjoyed most at UNCG and what will you miss the most?
These are easy questions to answer. It's the people who make up the UNCG community, their civility, their work ethic, their commitment to making UNCG vibrant, caring and learning-centered. It's a place or community that you can be proud and honored to be part of.
What accomplishment do you feel best about for your years as provost?
If I had to choose one accomplishment it would be achieving status as a research university with high research activity, according to the Carnegie Foundation's guidelines. This accomplishment reflects increases in doctoral programs offered, external funding, research infrastructure and strategic faculty hires. Becoming a research university was a major goal I set with the faculty and deans when I was initially appointed as provost.
What is the biggest challenge you faced?
When I became provost, the university was experiencing enrollment difficulties and the admission standards for freshmen were not what they should have been. … At my first Deans Council retreat as provost, we decided we had to raise admission standards for freshmen in increments over a five-year period. We also decided to recruit a professional to be associate provost for enrollment services, knowing that the university had to significantly increase its enrollment.
These were bold steps given our finances, but everyone knew that the university could not continue on its current path and become the university we envisioned. All those decisions proved to be the right ones. Through the efforts of many people, the university has been on an upward trajectory. Quality has been the underlying theme of our work.
What is UNCG's biggest challenge for the future?
UNCG and the UNC System are facing an enrollment crisis. By 2017 UNCG is projected to have an enrollment of 24,160 and the UNC System 280,000-plus. Our current enrollment this past fall was 16,650 and the UNC System approximately 202,000. You can do the math. The challenge will be to maintain quality in all we do in the face of tremendous growth. We will also need to increase facilities for teaching and research, and housing for faculty, students and staff. By 2017 our faculty and staff could increase between 300 and 400 from today's count. Let me say, though, that I would rather have this challenge than the enrollment problems we faced in 1995-96!