A message to faculty and staff

Posted on October 19, 2023

October 18, 2023

Dear Colleagues, 

I am writing to address misinformation that has been circulating concerning academic programs and the academic portfolio review process. I want you to hear it from me directly. Let me be abundantly clear: there is no University list of academic programs identified for modification nor discontinuation. Social media posts and other communications indicating such are false. Any changes to the University’s academic offerings will be decided in early 2024 and will take years to implement. This means students in all current academic programs will be able to finish their studies at UNCG in their chosen major. This also means that, despite the narrative to the contrary, there will not be any immediate changes to staffing for programs that will be discontinued. In such a situation, we are committed to ensuring current students complete their academic degrees which will require instruction and support (for years). I truly regret that you have received incomplete and misleading information about the program review process. 

As you know, it is best practice for higher education institutions to periodically review their academic programs to ensure they have the right mix to meet student needs, to ensure sufficient support of programs, and to remain competitive. UNCG has not done so in well over a decade.

Another reason to review our portfolio now has to do with enrollment trends. UNCG has suffered enrollment losses since the pandemic, which isn’t unusual when you look at regional public universities around the country. In fact, it is the norm. In addition, the state of North Carolina has changed how it funds UNC System institutions, including UNCG. We also expect continued enrollment challenges due to demographic changes, decreases in demand for a college education, and a competitive higher education market.

To address these challenges, to remain fiscally responsible, and to position the University strategically, UNCG launched the Task Force on Academic Portfolio Review in January of this year. The portfolio review of academic offerings will help the University identify areas where we can strengthen academic programming to build upon academic distinction and strengths; achieve financial sustainability; better align the academic portfolio with student demand and workforce needs; and enhance accessibility for and academic success of students. The review takes an inclusive, data-informed approach that relies on rubrics developed by the faculty; the rubrics represent a wide array of approaches to measuring outcomes. Deans are leading the review process within their academic units and will provide recommendations to the Provost and me. Let us be clear: our academic portfolio review will lead to several recommendations. We will identify programs that have capacity but need more resources to respond to increased demand, programs that may need modifications to remain competitive, and programs that are not sustainable. However, at this time, UNCG has not identified any programs for any of these potential outcomes. Decisions regarding any potential program reductions will not be made until early 2024. All currently enrolled students can finish their degree in their chosen major as long as they make satisfactory academic progress. If a program is removed from the University’s offerings, new students will not be able to enroll in the program for Fall 2024. The University will communicate which, if any, academic programs are not accepting new students as soon as possible in early 2024.

While I welcome participation, ideas, and wisdom, I won’t allow those unwilling to engage in productive conversations to jeopardize current and future students’ opportunities. Please join me in the process, a responsible process, to prepare UNCG for the future.  

Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr.

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