Board of trustees meeting recap: diverse student acceptances is up and construction continues

During the quarterly UNC Wilmington (UNCW) board of trustees meeting, the board heard updates related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), diversity, equity and inclusion, funding, approved aesthetic renderings for the Randall Library renovation and updated policies.

New members of the board include Jimmy Tate and Robby Femson, the student government association (SGA) president. Members with terms ending include Dennis Burgard, Michael Drummond, Henry Kitchin and Maurice Smith.

COVID-19 Updates

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNCW has administered over 50,000 tests at no cost to students, faculty and staff. According to Katrin Wesner-Harts, interim associate vice chancellor for student affairs, plans are currently in the work to test over the summer and re-implement surveillance testing for the fall 2021 return. 

Meanwhile, around 2,793 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered at the on-campus Burney Center vaccination clinic. 

“So the plans are both here and across the country for many of my university colleagues is to have as close to a [normal] fall as we can. What we don’t know and what we need to see is what happens with COVID, will it go away, will it continue,” said Wesner-Harts. “We still see H1N1 a little bit, and that is from 2009, and we know that, for example, the vaccine you’ve got then still does have some protective qualities. So I don’t think it will all go away,” said Wesner-Harts.

“We’ve already seen some changes to the outdoor mask suggestions, and I know that a group of us is working on Monday to put forth some recommendations of how we can update our mask requirements on campus.”

Jamie Winebrake, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, reported that they expect the modes of classes for fall 2021 to be 68% face-to-face, 24% online and 8.5% hybrid.

The outskirts of campus. (Lindsay Ann Henefer)


During the special committee on renewal and accountability meeting, trustees heard updates on student recruiting and admissions, on the faculty search process and DEI guiding principles.  

UNCW received a record number of first-year applications, and the number of diverse student applications and acceptances was up from last fall. Diverse student applications were up 10% from 3,632 in 2020 to 4,022 in 2021. Additionally, the number of diverse student acceptances increased 28.49% from 1,822 in 2020 to 2,341 in 2021. 

The Office of Admissions also offered a new scholarship fund this year as well. The 1898 scholarship gave students an average of $3,000, and over 55% of this scholarship funds were given to Black/African American students. 

Lastly, the office of institutional diversity and inclusion (OIDI) is working to update diversity, DEI definitions and principles. They are still in the feedback process, and they should be finalized in the coming week, according to Donyell Roseboro, UNCW’s interim chief diversity officer. 

The four guiding principles include belonging, accountability, responsibility and representation. 

When asked by a trustee member of how students and faculty felt about the DEI progress being made at UNCW, Rosboro said they are “cautiously optimistic.” Fensom agreed with these sentiments from a student’s perspective.  

“So I’d echo what Dr. Roseboro said, there’s been a lot of cool progress being made as a university, and students who are involved recognize that,” said Fensom.

“I think there may be a little bit of a gap for students who aren’t able to go to those meetings or don’t know they’re happening. Those are the students who still have maybe some of the less productive frustration. There’s a lot of students who are maintaining the productive frustration asking the hard questions. But that’s kind of the lasting issue is reaching students who may be less involved.”


During the external affairs committee recap, it was reported that UNCW has received $86 million in fundraising efforts. The total goal for the Like No Other campaign is $100 million. This money will be used across various areas of campus, like DEI, the four schools at UNCW, athletics, and student affairs. 

COVID guidelines in Randall Library. (Kaylin Damico)

Library Expansion and Other Projects 

The expansion of Randall Library received some attention during the meeting, with the design plans being presented for the aesthetic approval of the board.

The current design includes both exterior and interior renovations to the existing structure of the library, as well as an added structure that will be connected to the existing library via a glass walkway. Additional landscaping and outdoor seating will also be included in the construction.

The UNCW campus master plan is also coming along, with $600,000 being appropriated by the board of trustees for construction projects in 2022 that were not expressly specified in the meeting. 

Additionally, phase two of the outdoor recreation fields and facilities improvement is awaiting approval by the state legislature. Ahead of this approval, the board of trustees proceeded with a vote to destroy the gazebo situated between the Recreation Center and the student housing village, in order to clear space for further development.

Updated policies 

The university’s freedom of expression guidelines saw updates in conjunction with student affairs. Language within the policies was changed as follows:

“[freedom of expression guidelines were] updated to reflect current processes for protection of free speech rights of non-university groups/individuals and university time, place, and manner guidelines.”

A new policy was also created to address issues that may arise in the process of staff members requesting accommodations, changes of standards or filing of grievances as it relates to disabilities.

The next BOT meeting is on July 15 and 16.