Chancellor Sartarelli celebrates 70 years of UNCW’s excellence and growth

Helen Rogalski, Managing Editor

Throughout the course of this semester, UNC Wilmington’s campus has been especially busy celebrating the 70th anniversary of the university. As the celebration winds down, Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli sat down with The Seahawk to discuss crucial points in UNCW’s history and what comes next for the fast-growing campus.

Formerly Wilmington College, UNCW has slowly but surely made its mark as a well-known and respected university, now home to more than 14,500 undergraduate students.

“When you look back, and I’ve been reading a lot about it, there were moments in time that were critical,” Chancellor Sartarelli said.

Firstly, he praised the formation of the Marine Science program back in the 1970s. Chancellor Sartarelli beamed with pride as he discussed how UNCW has grown into “a real player in Marine Science facilities…Our center for marine science is one of the best on the East Coast.”

According to Chancellor Sartarelli, the creation of various academic majors and departments was vital to the university’s development. The founding of the Creative Writing program — which offers both BFA and MFA degrees — then, the creation of the Cameron School of Business and the many varying degrees it offers, and the founding of the Department of Psychology were all critical moments for UNCW. Similarly, hiring Dr. Antonio E. Puente into the psychology department helped grow the level of respect granted to UNCW by its peers. Dr. Puente is know for serving as the president of the American Psychological Association, the largest professional organization of psychologists in the country.

It has been crucial moments like these, Chancellor Sartarelli believes, that have made a lasting impact on UNCW’s growth and stature leading up to this, its 70th birthday.

And in relation to growth, many UNCW students have taken notice to the fact that the student body seems to be expanding notably every year. However, the rate has been surprising to many.

The College of Health and Human Services within UNCW “has gone from about 1,500 students back in 2010 to about 3,000.” It has doubled in size over the last seven years, but Chancellor Sartarelli remains confident that this growth in numbers is not at the expense of quality.

Many students’ common points of frustration, however, include overcrowding across campus in places such as the library and parking lots.

“We are working very diligently on that [parking on campus],” said Chancellor Sartarelli. “You’re going to see, probably by early next year, two more parking places on campus.” Upcoming parking expansions include spots to the left and right of Wagoner Hall.

“As we’re growing, we’re going to have to have more classrooms, meeting places, space in the library.”

Randall Library functions as a necessary common place for UNCW students, but it is oftentimes a major source of frustration due to the lack of room and resources. In fact, lack of tables and chairs in the library was a key platform issue of Student Body President Ottillie Mensah’s campaign in the spring.

“That [Randall Library’s last] renovation took place in ’87,” Chancellor Sartarelli said. “In 1987 we had 5,800 students. We’ve gone from 5,800 students to 16,500 with the same building. With the same 170,000 square feet. So, we have to do something different here, right?”

The chancellor reported that problems surrounding Randall Library are on his radar. “I sleep, eat, and argue for the library everyday. I’m thinking of the library all the time,” he said.

“I would like to be one of the top 100 or 200 national universities in the next 70 years,” Chancellor Sartarelli stated, noting his goals of expanding PhD programs and introducing new programs like data science, coastal engineering and more.

“Today, we are educating the sons and daughters of the state, the nation and the world.”