The University of North Carolina System celebrates 50th anniversary

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – In a ceremony Tuesday, university leaders gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the legislation that consolidated 16 universities to create the University of North Carolina System.

The North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation in 1971 that brought the state’s 10 remaining public senior institutions into the existing six-campus UNC System. The 10 institutions included Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, North Carolina Central University, the North Carolina School of the Arts (now the University of North Carolina School of the Arts), Pembroke State University (now the University of North Carolina at Pembroke), Western Carolina University, and Winston-Salem State University.

They joined North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina at Asheville, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

In 1985, the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics was declared an affiliate school, and it became a constituent institution of the UNC System in 2007.

The celebration ceremony also included the formal swearing-in of Peter Hans as the seventh president of the UNC System.

“This is a moment of both pride and reflection as we ponder the legacy of public higher education in our state and plan ahead for a bright future,” Hans said of the anniversary. “Decades ago, North Carolina’s policymakers believed we could strengthen our public universities by combining them under one system. Today, our campuses are thriving – enrollment is up, retention is up, graduation is up, research is up, public funding is up, and tuition is flat. Our eyes are focused on the horizon.”

Campuses have included women’s colleges, Historically Black Colleges or Universities, and American Indian-serving institutions. 

Nearly a quarter of a million students are enrolled yearly across 17 campuses.

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