The History of UNCG


photo of Minerva statue on UNCG campus

UNC Greensboro was established by legislative enactment on February 18, 1891. The City of Greensboro, situated near the geographical center of the state, was selected for the location of the new institution after its citizens approved $30,000 in bonds for its first buildings. R.S. Pullen and R.T. Gray gave the original 10-acre site. The institution opened on October 5, 1892, with a student body of 198 and a faculty of 15 — and the final enrollment reached 223 at the end of the first year. Classes were organized in three departments: commercial, domestic science and pedagogy.

The institution came into being as a direct result of a crusade by Dr. Charles Duncan McIver on behalf of the education of women. Other pioneers in public school education — notably, Edwin A. Alderman, James Y. Joyner and M.C.S. Noble — assisted McIver, but to him, more than to any other individual, the university owes its foundation.

During the past century the university's mission has evolved, as suggested with its sequence of names. It was known first as the State Normal and Industrial School, and after 1897 as the State Normal and Industrial College until 1919. During the period 1919-1931, it was known as the North Carolina College for Women, and became the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina from 1932 to 1963. It is warmly remembered as “the WC” by its many alumnae of the period.

From 1932 to 1963 the university was one of the three branches of the Consolidated University of North Carolina. The other campuses included The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering at Raleigh (now N.C. State University). In 1962, the Board of Trustees recommended that the Greensboro campus become coeducational at all levels of instruction. Subsequently, by act of the General Assembly in the spring of 1963, the name of the institution was changed to The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The first African American students were admitted in 1956 and men were first admitted as part of the general student body in 1964.

In December of 1934, during the years of the Consolidated University, the Woman's College Section of the Alpha of North Carolina Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was installed. (Alpha Chapter is the one at Chapel Hill.) On February 17, 1956, Epsilon Chapter of North Carolina was installed at this campus. In 2006, UNCG's chapter was voted the best in the nation on a public university campus by the national Phi Beta Kappa organization.

In October of 1971, the North Carolina General Assembly adopted legislation which combined all 16 of the state-supported institutions of higher education into a single University of North Carolina. The UNC System is governed by a board of governors and administered by a president. Each constituent institution has a separate board of trustees and is administered by a chancellor.

UNCG's chancellor is Dr. Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., who took office May 22, 2015. He came to UNCG from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he was dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

In addition to founding president Charles Duncan McIver, UNCG's other chief executive officers have been:

  • Dr. Julius I. Foust (1906-1934)
  • Dr. Walter Clinton Jackson (1934-1950)
  • Dr. Edward Kidder Graham (1950-1956)
  • Dr. W.W. Pierson Jr. (1956-1957, 1960-61, interim)
  • Dr. Gordon W. Blackwell (1957-1960)
  • Dr. Otis Singletary (1961-64, 1966)
  • Dr. James S. Ferguson (1964-1979, including interim term)
  • Dr. William E. Moran (1979-1994)
  • Dr. Debra W. Stewart (Fall semester 1994, interim)
  • Dr. Patricia A. Sullivan (1995-2008)
  • Dr. Linda P. Brady (2008-2015)
  • Dr. Dana L. Dunn (Spring, Summer semesters 2015, acting)

UNCG Today

With more than 20,000 students and 2,700 faculty and staff, UNCG is the largest state university in the Piedmont Triad and has an annual economic impact of more than $1 billion. The campus has grown to include 30 residence halls and 30 academic buildings on 210 acres.

UNCG takes pride in being a learner-centered public research university. The College of Arts & Sciences and seven professional schools offer more than 100 undergraduate areas of study and over 100 master and doctoral programs.

The university holds two classifications from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching — as a “doctoral university with higher-research activity” and for deep “community engagement” in our curriculum, outreach and partnerships. More than $30 million in grants and contracts for research and creative activity are awarded to faculty members annually. The campus is known for its focus on enhancing health and wellness, promoting vibrant communities and translating scholarly findings into programs, policy and practice. Some of UNCG's most prominent research collaborations include the North Carolina Research Campus and Gateway University Research Park, which includes the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.

Globalization of the curriculum has expanded opportunities for international education, through new programs like the UNCG Exchange Program and the Lloyd International Honors College. In addition, innovative signature programs such as Building Entrepreneurial Learning for Life (BELL), Communication Across the Curriculum, Undergraduate Research and Freshman Seminars enhance the student experience.

As a cultural leader, UNCG offers concerts, lectures, dance and theatre performances, exhibitions in the internationally known Weatherspoon Art Museum and readings by nationally known authors. In athletics, Spartan teams compete in eight women's and seven men's sports in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. With ethnic minority students making up 48 percent of the student body, UNCG is one of the most diverse campuses in the UNC system.

Although much has changed, some things remain the same. The university motto — service — continues to be a guiding principle put into practice through all aspects of university life.

UNCG Schools and College of Arts & Sciences

The University's Academic Affairs Division consists of seven academic schools, the College of Arts & Sciences, the Graduate School and the Lloyd International Honors College. The names below are the ones currently in use. In some cases, the names have changed since the academic units were founded. The schools and their dates of establishment are: