Strategic Initiatives

The following list of key initiatives, while far from comprehensive, provides a glimpse into the broad and varied priorities that have risen to the level of a Chancellor-led University initiative. Each of these initiatives was carefully designed to enhance a particular aspect of the Forty-Niner experience for our students, faculty, staff, and community.

Campus Safety and Security

The safety and security of our campus and the faculty, staff, and students who live and work here, is of paramount importance. Considerable resources have been committed and deployed to ensure that our campus is as safe as possible. The Campus Safety and Security Committee was created in 2008 to implement a comprehensive plan to address the physical safety and security of UNC Charlotte's main campus. This Committee monitors the plan's progress, advises university leadership concerning safety issues and concerns, and makes additional recommendations to address those concerns in order to ensure a secure environment for all members of the university community.

Additional safety and security enhancements have been completed or are in feasibility testing.

Community and Civic Engagement

UNC Charlotte's Civic Action Plan was developed when Campus Compact — a national coalition of more than 1,000 higher education institutions dedicated to building democracy through civic education and community development — challenged higher education institutions to deepen their commitment to public purpose.

The Civic Action Plan is a sustainable and long-term approach to fully activate UNC Charlotte’s mission to address the unique needs of the Charlotte region. The plan provides a strategy to improve social outcomes by organizing our resources, community-based research efforts, and community collaborations to effectively address regional needs through collective impact.

Diversity, Access, and Inclusion

The UNC Charlotte community is comprised of people representing a wide breadth of races and ethnicities, gender identities, sexualities, faith traditions, nationalities, and other social groups and backgrounds. As UNC Charlotte continues to become more diverse, it is more important than ever that we strive to ensure that our campus community is inclusive and inviting to all.

The Council on University Community (CUC), composed of all of the vice-chancellors and chaired by Provost Lorden, leads diversity efforts at UNC Charlotte. The CUC assembled the University’s first comprehensive Plan for Campus Diversity, Access, and Inclusion to bring coherence, visibility, and accountability to campus diversity and inclusion efforts.

The Chancellor’s Diversity Challenge Fund was created to foster a focus on diversity and inclusion at all levels of the campus and supports faculty, staff, and student initiatives promoting the daily value of diversity in the intellectual life of the campus. To date, mini-grants totaling $1.45 million have been awarded from the Fund.

UNC Charlotte continues to make progress in its diversity and inclusion efforts. To strengthen the University’s diversity and inclusion infrastructure, and to optimize the visibility, coordination, and impact of the good work that is already taking place across campus, Provost Joan Lorden formed the Council on University Community Working Group and appointed Dr. Chance W. Lewis, a Diversity Faculty Fellow, to chair the working group.

Energy Production and Infrastructure Center

The Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) at UNC Charlotte was conceived in response to an energy industry “boom” in Charlotte in recent years. Through collaborative partnerships with industry leaders such as Duke Energy, Siemens, Orano, Westinghouse, EPRI, and others, UNC Charlotte is making great strides in addressing the energy industry’s imminent workforce crisis and in performing critical fundamental and applied research to improve security and continuity of energy. The facility and the program are remarkable and a source of great pride for the University and for Charlotte.  

EXPONENTIAL: The Campaign for UNC Charlotte

UNC Charlotte’s remarkable transformation from a night school serving WWII veterans to a 29,000-student urban research university is one of the great success stories of American higher education. Campus leaders have partnered with community leaders across the greater Charlotte region to create a public university that provides invaluable access to tens of thousands of students each year and helps support one of the most dynamic economies in the country.

Exponential: The Campaign for UNC Charlotte celebrates a dramatic trajectory of growth — a trajectory made all the more exciting as our 120,000 alumni assume leadership roles in corporate, governmental and civic organizations across the state and the region. More than simply increasing student scholarships, improving the student experience, recruiting skilled faculty and supporting key programs, this campaign offers alumni, business leaders and the University community an opportunity to shape an exciting future.

Light Rail

The LYNX Light Rail Blue Line extension opened in spring 2017, connecting the main campus to the Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte Center City and providing convenient and much-needed access for students, faculty and staff members. The 25-minute Light Rail ride from the main campus has also made the University's resources, including cultural and athletic events on campus, highly accessible to residents of other areas of Charlotte. With the addition of the extension, the line operates along 18.6 miles, from I-485 at South Boulevard to the UNC Charlotte campus, stopping at 26 stations, including 11 park-and-ride locations. 


PORTAL — the Partnership, Outreach and Research to Accelerate Learning facility — has opened the future to a list of entrepreneurial partners that is even longer than the building’s name. PORTAL has given the region the capacity for significant start-ups, research partnerships, access to faculty and student research, and, in some cases, space for major corporations to set up shop during relocations to Charlotte.

School of Data Science

The School of Data Science is the next step in UNC Charlotte’s strategic focus on data science research and academic programming. In 2013, the University’s Data Science Initiative was one of six game-changing proposals funded by the North Carolina General Assembly and the UNC Board of Governors. It continues to be a top priority for the University, and faculty engaged in data science-related research have received nearly $20 million in state and industry funding. It now includes Professional Science Master’s programs in Health Informatics and Analytics and Data Science and Business Analytics.

49ers Football

The decision to implement a football program at UNC Charlotte was not entered into lightly. A feasibility committee of community leaders, chaired by Charlotte businessman Mac Everett, issued a report encouraging the University to proceed with football, and after careful study and financial analysis, the University moved forward with those plans. In September of 2008, the Board of Trustees voted to apply for entry into the Football Championship Subdivision of the NCAA, with the goal of playing our first full season of football competition in the fall of 2013.

Fast forward to the present day, and we are now looking forward to our eighth season of competition with a tremendous team, first-class facilities, and a top-notch coaching staff, all in the capable hands of Head Coach Will Healy, who joined the Niners in December 2018. Healy led the Niners to their first-ever bowl game in 2019.

Other Recent Initiatives

49er Finish

Several years ago, University officials began to focus on students who, for one reason or another, left UNC Charlotte without completing their undergraduate degrees, even though they were in good academic standing and had completed more than 75 percent of their coursework. In 2005, the 49er Finish program was created within the Office of Adult Students & Evening Services (OASES) to reach out to these students and make it possible and convenient for them to come back and finish their degrees. At last count, 953 students have returned and completed their degrees through 49er Finish. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities has recognized the 49er Finish program as an "important innovation in public higher education."

University Professional Internship Program

As evidence of UNC Charlotte's focus on engaged and applied learning, the University Professional Internship Program (UPIP) provides our students with a unique internship opportunity tailored to their specific majors and career interests. UPIP interns receive valuable mentoring from university faculty and administrators, and they have the opportunity to gain essential knowledge and experience while also contributing in a meaningful way to the inner workings of the university.