This fall, 6,252 students – 5,481 undergraduates and 771 graduates – began or returned to their studies at UNC Pembroke (UNCP). Scotland County residents account for 260 of these enrolled students, the fifth highest among the 88 NC counties represented on campus, along with 23 states and 15 countries. Scotland County residents also account for 94 of the University’s employees and 1,175 of its alumni. In addition, 41% of Scotland County Schools’ certified educators graduated from UNCP. What these students, alumni, and employees share are not only a common place they call home, but also an appreciation for the significant impact education, especially higher education, can make in enhancing economic status, job opportunities, health, and quality of life.
UNCP continues its commitment to the mission of Changing Lives Through Education with its balanced approach to teaching, research/scholarship, and public service. This commitment was quite evident in Chancellor Robin Cummings’s address to faculty and staff in mid-August and at his recent presentation at the Laurinburg-Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce Education Summit. Chancellor Cummings emphasized that service to Scotland County and the region is a high priority among UNCP’s six core values, and he hopes for the County/region to take ownership of UNCP as its public university. Dr. Cummings also took the opportunity at the Summit to introduce UNCP’s new Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, Laurinburg’s own Dr. Stewart Thomas, and Dr. David Ward, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Dr. Thomas’s recent appointment comes after an extensive career in corporate financial services and faculty/administrative roles at UNCP, in addition to many years of distinguished service to Scotland County’s Relay for Life and Scotland Hospice.
In addition to the personal relationships we share and the pathways to success UNCP is already offering our region through 41 undergraduate and 17 graduate programs, the following are some additional ways Scotland County and the University are connected and partnering to improve quality of life:
— Scotland Health Care System (SHCS) and UNCP have joined forces to provide medical services for the University’s broad athletics program. According to Greg Wood, SHCS’s President, this five-year contract covers multi-disciplinary care related to prevention, diagnosis, and rehabilitation of UNCP athletes’ injuries and medical conditions. A SHCS primary care physician will oversee UNCP athletic training and an orthopedic physician will cover the University’s football games played at Pembroke.
— Many area residents take advantage of the incredible shows featured at the 1600-seat Givens Performing Arts Center, recognized nationally as a premier performing arts venue. The 2017-18 Season began with “Romeo and Juliet” and concludes in April with “On Golden Pond”. Act I Dinners are back this year at UNCP, offering a wine and cheese reception and wonderful meal in the Chancellor’s Dining Room prior to a GPAC show.
— Planning for a new UNCP School of Business building is well underway, which will be funded through an allocation from the NC Legislature and $13 million being raised by UNCP. This new School of Business is anticipated to open as early as 2020 and will be a real asset to economic development and business in the region.
— The UNC Board of Governors is studying the feasibility of establishing a School of Health Sciences and Health Care at UNCP. Primary considerations in this study are the “health care needs of the region, what health sciences and health care programs would best serve the region and meet its health care needs, and the costs and financial benefits of establishing a School of Health Sciences and Health Care at UNCP.”
— Preparations continue for UNCP to begin the NC Promise Tuition Plan in Fall Semester 2018, making quality higher education more affordable for students and their families. In-state tuition will be reduced to $500 per semester and out-of-state tuition to $2,500 per semester—a savings to NC students and families of approximately $3,000 per year and about $12,000 over a 4-year period. This plan will apply to all students, including those who began their university education prior to fall 2018, and is expected to increase access to higher education, reduce family and student debt, and positively affect the state’s economy.
In conclusion, there are numerous connections binding UNCP and Scotland County together. As partners, may we deepen these connections through shared strengths and opportunities that hold the promise to change lives for our families, friends, and neighbors.
Clinical Professor of Educational Leadership
Counseling and School Administration
Charles Jenkins, former provost and interim chancellor at UNCP and former chair of Laurinburg/Scotland County Economic Development Forum, wrote this week’s Focus on Scotland, an effort by community leaders to make Scotland County a better place to work, live, and play.