Facts About Carolina

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Through its teaching, research and engagement, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill serves as an educational and economic beacon for the people of North Carolina and beyond.

History

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the nation’s first state university to open its doors and the only public university to award degrees in the 18th century. Authorized by the N.C. Constitution in 1776, the University was chartered by the N.C. General Assembly Dec. 11, 1789, the same year George Washington first was inaugurated as president. The cornerstone was laid for Old East, the nation’s first state university building, Oct. 12, 1793. Hinton James, the first student, arrived from Wilmington, N.C., Feb. 12, 1795.

View of Old East at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

View of Old East at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Recent Rankings and Ratings

Several national publications regularly publish rankings that listed Carolina prominently in categories ranging from academic quality to affordability to diversity to engagement to international presence. Click here to read recent highlights.

Graduates turn their tassles at Commencement at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Graduates turn their tassles at Commencement at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Key Statistics

Carolina is proud of its legacy of excellence and public service and its capacity to help build a just, safe, more prosperous, and sustainable world. Click here for a look at Carolina’s academic community and the breadth of education provided by the University.

Distinguished Alumni honorees at University Day 2013.

Distinguished Alumni honorees at University Day 2013.

The Carolina Covenant

The Carolina Covenant is part of Carolina’s commitment to making college possible for qualified students regardless of their financial means. Eligible low-income students who are admitted to Carolina can enroll without worrying about how they will pay for it.  The Carolina Covenant also includes academic and personal support services to help Covenant Scholars make the most of their college experience and succeed in completing their undergraduate degree program. Click here to learn more.

Teon Brooks, a former Carolina Covenant Scholar, prepares to observe the brain activity of his friend Matt Lowder, background, on the computer screen in his lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Teon Brooks, a former Carolina Covenant Scholar, prepares to observe the brain activity of his friend Matt Lowder, background, on the computer screen in his lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Private Support

Each year, private support provides the funding that creates Carolina’s margin of excellence. Read about private gifts to Carolina and the Carolina First Campaign, the fifth biggest fund-raising drive among completed campaigns at that time in the history of U.S. higher education and as the largest in the South.

Cake celebrating the passing of the $2-Billion goal in the Carolina First fundraising campaign at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2007)

Cake celebrating the passing of the $2-Billion goal in the Carolina First fundraising campaign at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2007)

Students

In fall 2013, Carolina was expected to enroll 3,960 first-year students from a record 30,836 applications. More than 78 percent graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class, and they posted an average 1304 on the SAT. More than 18percent were first-generation college students; another 13 percent were eligible for the Carolina Covenant, which promises qualified low-income students the chance to graduate debt-free.

To read more about UNC students, click here.

Prof. Lawrence Naumoff takes his English 130 class outside on Polk Place the main academic quad the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Prof. Lawrence Naumoff takes his English 130 class outside on Polk Place the main academic quad the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Faculty

UNC faculty is dedicated to innovation and excellence in their teaching; their discoveries touch every aspect of society, advancing human thought and improving health and the well-being of millions of people. These Carolina leaders enhance student learning by breadth of opinion, by diversity in identity and experience.

Click here to learn more about UNC faculty.

Dr. Oliver Smithies, right, and Nobuyo Maeda in the lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Oliver Smithies, Excellence Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, received the 2007 Nobel Prize for work that has fundamentally changed the science of genetic medicine

Research

Carolina  ranks among the top U.S. public universities in research support. Faculty attracted nearly $778 million in total research grants and contracts in fiscal 2013 for research that is helping to cure diseases and produce new knowledge to help people. Excluding federal stimulus support, research funding totaled $773 million in that category, compared with $759 million last year. On a year-to-year average, UNC’s research awards comprise more than half  of the total research awards for all UNC system campuses.

Click here to read more about UNC research.

Grayson Clamp hears for the very first time after receiving an auditory brain stem implant. Photo courtesy of UNC Medical Center Public Affairs.

Grayson Clamp hears for the very first time after receiving an auditory brain
stem implant. Photo courtesy of UNC Medical Center Public Affairs.

Education and Cultural Resources

From the Ackland Art Museum and the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center to the North Carolina Botanical Garden and Carolina Performing Arts, Carolina offers a vast array of educational and cultural opportunities.

The Ackland’s permanent collection of more than 16,500 works includes significant holdings of 20th-century and contemporary art, European masterworks, African art, North Carolina pottery and the state’s premier collections of Asian art and works on paper (drawings, prints and photographs).

Carolina Performing Arts brings the entertainment world to Chapel Hill. The 2011-12 season features American icons including Mavis Staples and Allen Toussaint, Europe’s best chamber orchestras and other performers. Astronomy enthusiasts and schoolchildren from across North Carolina enjoy the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center’s multimedia star shows and interactive exhibits. The North Carolina Botanical Garden offers displays of native and unusual plants, art exhibits, nature walks, activities for kids, and courses on topics ranging from home gardening to botanical illustration.

Daughter Mary Friday Leadbetter speaks at the memorial service for her father, William C. Friday, president emeritus of the University of North Carolina at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Daughter Mary Friday Leadbetter speaks at the memorial service for her father, William C. Friday, president emeritus of the University of North Carolina at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Public Service

UNC was recognized in 2013 for the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Carolina Center for Public Service estimated that over the past year 20,672 Carolina students gave a total of  952,170 hours in service to the community. UNC has 15 formally classified public service centers and institutes and almost 70 more classified as research or instructional units. Virtually all of these centers and institutes include substantive efforts to address community needs.

To read more about Carolina’s commitment to public service, click here.

Youngster India Alston, right, watches as  student volunteer Maeva Djoumessi helps make paper reindeer for the holidays at the Communiversity after school program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Youngster India Alston, right, watches as student volunteer Maeva Djoumessi helps make paper reindeer for the holidays at the Communiversity after school program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Building Program

Carolina was fortunate to have largely completed one of the nation’s most ambitious capital construction programs before the economic crisis hit. That physical transformation was made possible in part by North Carolinians’ approval of the $3.1 billion bond referendum for higher education in 2000 that benefitted the UNC system and community colleges. Through 49 projects, the bonds provided more than $515 million for renovations and new buildings at Carolina. In addition, the University leveraged state appropriations from the General Assembly with investments from non-state sources, including private gifts raised during the Carolina First Campaign. The resulting capital construction program exceeded $2.3 billion. More than 100 projects were completed.

Click here to learn about recent milestones.

The Genome Sciences Building at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill boasts an entire floor of rooftop greenhouses to support research in plant genomics.

The Genome Sciences Building at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill boasts an entire floor of rooftop greenhouses to support research in plant genomics.