APLU Names UNC Greensboro as an Innovation & Economic Prosperity University 

Posted on October 03, 2023

An aerial shot shows the UNCG campus at sunset in the foreground with the downtown Greensboro skyline in the background.

In recognition of its strong commitment to economic engagement, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) designated UNC Greensboro as an Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University. The national designation acknowledges public research universities working with public and private sector partners in their states and regions to support economic development through a variety of activities, including innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development, and community development.   

“UNCG has long been an engine for economic prosperity for the Piedmont Triad region and welcomes this official recognition of our transformative impact and knowledge production,” said UNCG Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. “With this designation, UNCG further solidifies its standing as a national model for an R2 institution–with a high level of research and scholarly activity and experiential, training, and research opportunities for our students.”  

UNCG received the designation after an independent panel reviewed the school’s application, including an internal review and analysis of its economic engagement activities conducted with outside stakeholder input. APLU’s Commision on Economic and Community Engagement (CECE), which manages the designation process, is a national leader in efforts to help public research universities plan, assess, and communicate their work in regional, national, and global economic development and community engagement. The CECE “Economic Engagement Framework” includes tools for university self-assessment, metrics determination, and economic impact analysis. 

“Economic development is a major pillar of universities’ work,” said APLU President Mark Becker. “From talent development to pathbreaking research to entrepreneurship and beyond, institutions have a central role to play in economic development. We’re pleased to recognize UNC Greensboro for its commitment to engaging its community around these issues to advance regional economic development.” 

The self-study conducted with external stakeholders that was central to the designation application process was led by Dr. Sherine Obare, dean of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN) and Dr. Chartanay D. J. Bonner, associate director at JSNN, in partnership with Dr. Terri Shelton, vice chancellor for the Office of Research and Engagement, and Interim Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communications Kimberly Osborne. Further assistance was provided by Dr. Emily Janke, director of The Institute for Community and Economic Engagement, and Andrew Cagle, director of State and External Affairs.  

As part of the self-study the university identified three areas of institutional strength in economic engagement and described programs in these areas: (1) regional transformation to build capacity within UNCG’s millennial campuses of health and wellness, and arts and culture, (2) social mobility to strengthen access and knowledge for partnerships with communities and (3) raising awareness and providing access to economic engagement tools through the University’s Centers and Institutes. This work demonstrated a commitment to continuous learning and improvement in this kind of engagement vital to universities and their regional partners. 

“UNCG’s designation as an Innovation & Economic Prosperity University reflects the significant and ongoing ways in which we enhance communities across the state” said Provost Debbie Storrs. “Our faculty researchers and campus staff and leaders are committed to improving the lives of North Carolinians through partnerships, community engaged research, and by providing direct services and support to communities in need.” 

UNCG is now one of over 80 higher education institutions designated as an IEP university. Institutions that have received the IEP designation have reported significant advancement of their efforts due to the stakeholder engagement and self-study efforts undertaken in conjunction with the program. They are leveraging their status as Innovation and Economic Prosperity universities to identify new areas of opportunity in aligning with economic development objectives. Those schools are developing deeper engagement with others in their regional innovation ecosystems and making changes within the institution to expand their impact.  

Story by University Communications

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