Thank you, next: UNCW prepares for future students, wishes Class of 2019 well


Travis Stoker, The Seahawk

UNCW’s famous Seahawk statue.

Helen Rogalski, Managing Editor

The 2018-2019 Academic Year at the University of North Carolina Wilmington has been unlike any other. Following Hurricane Florence, Wilmington and the UNCW community gained national attention for the damage, displacement and resilience of the area. As students, faculty and staff grappled with the aftermath of a four-week “hurrication,” university officials were busy making plans for restoration, rebuilding and new developments for the upcoming years.

Rebuilding and restoration efforts have included the “repair and installation of new electrical, plumbing and heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems” of Dobo Hall, with an estimated completion date in 2020, according to the university’s Office of Facilities webpage.

The post-hurricane updated construction plans came after a multi-year period of expansion and growth, one that this year’s graduating class are among the select few to have experienced in its velocity. The university has been growing at a steady rate over the past five years, increasing from 14,570 total students (undergraduate and graduate) in 2014 to 16,747 in the fall of 2018, according to the Institutional Research and Planning’s (IRP) Fall Enrollment: 5-Year Trend report.

When the graduating class of 2019 began as freshman in the fall of 2015, they had been accepted as a select 61 percent of the applicant pool and totaled 2,029 first-year students, according to the Institutional Research and Planning (IRP) at UNCW. In the fall of 2016, this grew to a 72 percent acceptance rate and 2,200 freshman. This was followed by 67 and 61 percent acceptances in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

While prospective students and visitors may see the surrounding areas of campus as incomplete, many soon-to-be alumni have seen UNCW develop, complete with benefits and drawbacks.

As a result, UNCW upperclassman often cite lack of parking, longer lines for on-campus dining, and increased tuition and fees as sources of frustration. The 2015-2016 tuition and fees totaled to roughly $16,509 in-state and $30,375 out of state according to the “UNCW At a Glance” report of 2015. Annual reports since then have shown increasing tuition and fees each year, leading to $25,307 and $39,415 for in-state and out-of-state tuition respectively.

Benefits of expansion have included brand-new artificial turf intramural fields, custom on-campus bike rentals, renovations to Randall Library, and the construction of The Hub, complete with Mooyah, Starbucks, and a Pod market located between Graham-Hewlett and Galloway Hall.

Major construction projects as part of campus expansion and growth include Veterans Hall (formerly the Allied Health Building) in between Chancellor’s Walk and Wagoner Dining Hall, and two new buildings for pod-style on-campus housing to fit more than 1,800 students. Veterans Hall and the first of the two dorms are expected to be completed by 2020.

Multiple expansions to on-campus parking are a major contributor to current construction projects. Following Phase I of parking improvements completed in 2018, Phase II is projected to be completed this year, and will consist of over 500 cumulative new spots located behind Cookout near the intersection of Hurst Drive and Hamilton Drive. Additionally, a multilevel parking deck and surface lot located on Lot L, opposite the Brooks Baseball Field on Riegel Rd., is set to be in use in 2020 with an estimated construction budget of $24 million.

While the UNCW Class of 2019 will not experience these improvements in their undergraduate careers, they have certainly acted as a catalyst for change and a symbol of resilience in the face of changing and uncertain surroundings. Less than a month after their graduation, UNCW will begin to welcome the incoming freshman at orientation, starting June 3.  

UNCW graduates are encouraged to remain involved with the university through newsletters, social media, and the Alumni Association.

The 2019 commencement will be held in Trask Coliseum at the following times:

Friday, May 10th

2 p.m.: Cameron School of Business

6 p.m.:College of Health & Human Services


Saturday May 11th

9 a.m.: Watson College of Education

12:30 p.m.: Sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences

4 p.m.: Arts in the College of Arts & Sciences