A year at UNCG: looking back at 2022

Posted on December 29, 2022

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From Esports tournaments to groundbreaking research on bees, UNC Greensboro dreamed big, worked toward its mission for student excellence, and continued to leave a tangible impact on the world.

Here’s a look back at what happened at UNCG in 2022.

Making waves in sports

Winners of the October 2022 Spartan Clash Fortnite tournament line up with their medals to celebrate.
Spartan Clash 2022

UNCG is cementing its place in the growing world of competitive Esports. The state-of-the-art Esports Arena and Learning Lab opened in Moran Commons at the end of the Spring 2022 semester, allowing students and faculty to check out the facilities and all they can offer.

Its community footprint started strong with the inaugural Spartan Clash in October. High school and college students from across North Carolina competed in the Fortnite tournament in collaboration with Epic Games. In November, the first collegiate tournament was held in our arena.

Faculty learned how to put the advanced real-time 3D capabilities of the Unreal Engine to work in their classrooms and research and are pioneering unique research related to gamer health and moral choices.

The men’s soccer team competed in the Elite 8 for the first time as an NCAA Division I team. Golfers Tara Bettle and Nick Lyerly made it to the NCAA Regionals, as did the baseball team after an incredible comeback in the second half of the season.

Colin Alexander ran into the record books, breaking two-time Olympic medalist Paul Chelimo’s mile school record at 4:07.15. Aja Boyd received the Ann Lashley Inspiration Award for her triumphant return to the basketball court, nearly two years after an injury put her on the sidelines.

Students’ changemaking goals

UNCG is proud to foster students’ drive to become high achievers and changemakers, and celebrates the hard work they put into serving others during their time on campus and beyond.

Goldwater scholar Beh Reh in the lab.
Beh Reh

The lab work of Goldwater scholar Beh Reh, a biology student whose study of fish, sheds light on environmental chemical exposure in humans; Todd Perry, who helps students battle addictions through the Spartan Recovery Program and was nominated to represent the North Carolina chapter of the National Association of Social Workers; and Nora Jalal, a freshman studying Business Administration who runs her own food truck business.

Student-athletes set records in the classroom. Their Fall 2022 GPA was 3.32, beating out all previous semesters, including their 3.31 GPA in the Spring 2022 semester.

Among the standout alumni are Joy Woods ‘21, a McNair scholar who gained first-hand experience working on international issues with members of Congress. Eleven alumni are now superintendents of North Carolina public school districts with the appointment of Dr. Whitney Oakley ’11 to Guilford County Schools. Preston Blakely ’17 was elected one of the youngest mayors in America.

Local and international impact

UNCG’s Institute for Partnerships in Education provided tutors to children facing learning loss from the pandemic, and the University is collaborating on a study on COVID-19’s impact on student learning.

Faculty wear the dress of their national heritages for Fulbright TEA welcoming ceremony.
TEA welcoming ceremony

Faculty worked closely with students and fellow educators from around the world. The School of Education used the Project Ignite grant to support English as a Second Language (ESL) licensing for students and teachers. Twenty-one global scholars were welcomed into the homes and classrooms of UNCG faculty through the Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement (TEA) program. Nurses held education webinars with Moldovan nurses caring for Ukrainian refugees.

The Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN) partnered with the U.S. Army to develop lighter and stronger nanoscale materials to protect soldiers. The UNCG spin-off company Minerva Lithium won the TechCrunch Disrupt 2022 startup competition for its invention to mine minerals such as lithium, a key battery ingredient, with greater efficiency and fewer environmental detriments.

Historic year for research

Dr. Charles Egeland and Maegan Ferguson

UNCG saw its highest research award funding year in history, climbing to nearly $52 million. Students and faculty got creative with their projects, with several featured in the 2022 Research Magazine.

Dr. Arielle Kuperberg explored the ways that dating changed due to COVID-19. New research on the eating habits of sabertooth cats by Dr. Charles Egeland help us better understand the eating habits of humanity’s early ancestors. Dr. Kaira Wagoner observed the ways that bees communicate and took out three patents for products that will help beekeepers make their hives thrive.

GROWING ACCESS to Higher ed

The Student Government Association began its 100th session in Fall 2022 with a focus on rebuilding consistency after the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of its new student senators, Azariah Journey, a nontraditional undergraduate, brings a unique perspective on how to build support systems for students like her.

Transfer Promise launched this year to serve prospective students. These partnerships with community colleges offer, among many services, select UNCG courses at the community college tuition rate and face-to-face time with a UNCG advisor on their campus. The new First Day Complete program saved students 35-50 percent on the cost of textbooks.

Two nursing students study a health vitals monitor.

UNCG has repeatedly received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award. This year, that accolade was extended directly to the School of Nursing, the only nursing program in North Carolina to earn this honor. Amazon also selected UNCG for its Career Choice Program, offering free tuition to any of its hourly employees.

The Light the Way campaign, through which generous donors have funded scholarships and programs, raised more than $140 million of its $200 million goal by its first anniversary, and is now closing in on $150 million.

In the limelight

From opera to comedy, UNCG students and alumni entertained families in theaters and in the comfort of their homes. They appeared in shows on lots of summer binge watch lists such as “This is Us,” “Condor’s Nest,” and “Outer Banks.”

Cheryse McLeod Lewis ’01 joined the cast of fellow alumna Rhiannon Giddens’ original opera at the Spoleto Festival in South Carolina. Sibel Damar brought her best zingers to the Viacom CBS Diversity Comedy Showcase. Doctoral candidate and bassoonist Joey Lavarias practiced clicking a ball-point pen to compete on the hit game show “Jeopardy!”

Spartan Gratitude

African American and African Diaspora Studies honored two former educators who helped make the program what it is – blues legend Logie Meachum and former director and author Dr. Frank Woods – at the “Celebrate Our Names” ceremony, where  their lecturer’s office and library respectively were named after these two impactful individuals. Meachum posthumously received an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters at the 2022 Fall Commencement.

Professor Emeritus Fred Chappell was the focus of a documentary and celebration of his literary work and achievements. The film, directed by Dr. Michael Frierson, aired at the RiverRun International Film Festival in Greensboro.

Retired cafeteria cashier Brenda Joyce smiles.
Brenda Joyce

The Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives had its 50th anniversary. The archivists showed off rare pieces in their collection, among them a World War II Red Cross scrapbook and a typewriter belonging to one of the first African American students at the Women’s College that became UNCG.

One of the most beloved faces for years said her goodbyes before retirement. Students chatted one last time with Fountain View Dining Hall cashier Brenda Joyce, aka “Ms. Brenda,” and thanked her in-person and on social media for making them feel at home at UNCG.

Story by Janet Imrick, University Communications
Photography by David Lee Row, Sean Norona, and Michael W. Kane, University Communications

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