Five-year Goals and Associated Interim Benchmarks

In January 2017, the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina unanimously approved Higher Expectations, a five-year Strategic Plan for the UNC System. The Plan calls on the UNC System to achieve ambitious goals in access, student success, affordability and efficiency, economic impact and community engagement, and institutional excellence and diversity.

Progress on these goals and metrics will be achieved through the hard work and commitment of institutional leaders, faculty, and staff. In that spirit, University of North Carolina School of the Arts has identified these contributions that University of North Carolina School of the Arts aspires to make to the UNC Strategic Plan over the next five years.

Preface: The UNCSA results for several metrics are subject to substantial year-to-year variation reflecting the relatively small size of its student population (less than 1,300). Modest headcount variations often lead to relatively large percentage changes, contributing to fluctuations in some metrics reflected here.


Rural Enrollments

Note: Technical errors contributed incorrect enrollment headcounts for the original baseline data and for the original dashboard for UNCSA Rural Enrollments:

  • The baseline data mistakenly included students from one non-rural county.
  • The dashboard data for 2018 mistakenly omitted UNCSA high school students.

Revised: By fall 2021, UNCSA will enroll 150 rural students, a 7% increase over 2016 levels (10 additional rural students over a base of 140).

From UNC School of the Arts: UNCSA is North Carolina’s only university devoted entirely to training talented students to become professional artists in the fields of dance, design and production, drama, filmmaking, and music. To ensure that the School of the Arts is on the radar of every young artist from Cherokee County to Dare County, UNCSA has instituted new admissions and recruitment strategies. Admissions has hired a new counselor in order to expand the school’s geographical reach within North Carolina. In addition, UNCSA is participating in the Carolinas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (CACRAO) recruitment tours and conducting private visits in rural counties. Strategic Communications manages digital marketing campaigns that drive leads into a recruitment and admissions funnel supported by the recently established SLATE Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. To address UNCSA strategic goals, admissions communications are now centralized, allowing targeted print, email, and text messages to reach prospective students at precisely timed moments throughout their decision process.

Rural Completions

By 2021-22, UNCSA will produce 21 rural graduates, an increase of 31.3% (5 additional rural completions over a base of 16).

From UNC School of the Arts: Given the unique aspects of the UNCSA student experience, two of the key areas that drive student success are overall college preparation and student resiliency. To assist rural students in degree completion, UNCSA has developed a mentoring program to connect students from rural counties with upperclassman peers. Thanks to a UNC System Student Success grant for $61,500, UNCSA is able to provide ongoing training and support for additional Graduate Student Coaches for 21 undergraduates. The coaches have been trained in motivational interviewing and other student support techniques. In addition, the grant has enabled the Provost’s Office to broaden the invitation to Student Advantage Week (SAW) to encourage more rural students to participate. Now in its second year, Student Advantage Week is designed to help new students meet the challenges of student life, develop their artistic identities, foster community, and build a network of support systems on campus. This year, 40 percent of SAW attendees were from rural counties.

Five-year Graduation Rates

By 2022, UNCSA will improve its five-year graduation rate from any accredited institution to 70.6%. This is an improvement over a base of 67.6% for UNCSA’s 2010 cohort.

From UNC School of the Arts: Every new undergraduate student at UNCSA has applied directly to one of five majors and has undergone an application process that includes an interview with faculty and either an audition or a portfolio review. This is akin to the M.F.A. application process at other conservatories, including our own. While the four-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time freshmen has increased consistently over the past 15 years, persistent gaps remain among the various schools at UNCSA. During the past five years, the top-ranked School of Drama has averaged an 81-percent four-year graduation rate; two other schools are in the 50-percentile range.

Achievement Gaps in Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, UNCSA will reduce by 50% the achievement gap in undergraduate degree efficiency between rural and non-rural students.

From UNC School of the Arts: Emotional well-being is critical to closing achievement gaps in undergraduate degree efficiency among rural students, who may not have had access to adequate mental health care growing up, due to geographical challenges. UNCSA received a UNC System Behavioral Health grant for $29,800, which has paid for the JED Foundation to create a comprehensive strategic plan for mental health and well-being on campus over the next four years. Students have already completed JED’s Healthy Minds Study to determine what issues UNCSA is facing, and JED has completed a robust assessment of UNCSA’s mental health, substance abuse, and suicide prevention programs. The recommendations have been shared with UNCSA administrators and the JED Campus Team, and a strategic plan has been created, which outlines a plan for the UNCSA campus over the next three years to help create positive, systemic change in the campus community. Only three other campuses in North Carolina have the distinction of being a JED Campus: Appalachian State University, Davidson College, and Wake Forest University. The nonprofit JED Foundation was founded by Donna and Phil Satow, who lost their youngest son, Jed, to suicide in 1998. After accidents, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for college-age adults in the United States.

In addition to our work with the JED Foundation, UNCSA was selected to participate in a new partnership initiative between the JED Foundation and the STEVE Fund to address equity in mental health. The STEVE Fund was established in 2014, after the loss of Harvard graduate Steve Rose, to meet the mental health needs of young people of color. UNCSA embarked on this two-year partnership in August 2018 to develop a comprehensive set of recommendations, which will guide college staff members, students, and families through the steps they should be taking to best support the emotional well-being and mental health and prevent suicide among students of color. As part of this initiative, UNCSA completed its campus climate survey and use of focus groups (both student and faculty/staff) during the fall 2018 semester. UNCSA will be working with both organizations to begin to address issues of equity in mental health at UNCSA during the spring 2019 semester. UNCSA will also benefit from the STEVE Fund and JED Foundation partnership as they collaborate on educational campaigns designed to develop mental health literacy as well as to reduce the shame, prejudice, secrecy and stigma surrounding mental health among students of color.

Critical Workforces

By 2021-22, UNCSA will produce 14 critical workforce credentials (14 additional critical workforce credentials over a base of 0).

From UNC School of the Arts: The latest figures by the National Endowment for the Arts show that the creative economy contributes $760 billion to the U.S. economy. UNCSA is training a highly skilled workforce for a multibillion-dollar global enterprise, which has enormous untapped potential for wealth and job creation in North Carolina. Supported in part by a $10-million private gift directed toward performance innovation, UNCSA is currently developing a new two-year MFA concentration in its School of Filmmaking in immersive technologies (augmented and virtual reality and gaming) and a new three-year MFA concentration in its School of Design and Production (D&P) in animatronics (using robotics to bring inanimate creatures/creations to life on stage, film, television, and in themed entertainment). Both programs are slated to launch in the fall of 2020. Other new initiatives designed to yield credentials toward a critical workforce include a new MFA in D&P in production and project management and a new pilot program for a minor in arts entrepreneurship.


Low-income Enrollments

By fall 2021, UNCSA will enroll 182 low-income students, a 7.7% increase over 2015 levels (13 additional low-income students over a base of 169).

From UNC School of the Arts: To ensure that UNCSA is selecting the best and brightest student artists from North Carolina, regardless of their financial resources, the school is bolstering its efforts to reach out and engage a broader audience. The school’s recruitment marketing strategy includes search-engine optimization to boost organic rankings, diverse digital advertising campaigns that leverage our unique value proposition, and award-winning print placements that foster brand awareness. All of this activity is designed to drive traffic to UNCSA’s award-winning website, which continues to increase annual visitors and admissions inquiries year after year.

UNCSA’s Office of Community Engagement’s ArtistCorps program currently has 34 UNCSA students serving children and youth through ongoing arts instruction, arts integration, and arts exposure. ArtistCorps is serving 183 low socio-economic status preschool children with daily to twice-weekly instruction, 1044 elementary students at Title I schools with weekly engagement, and 961 middle and high school students at Title I schools, charter schools, and public schools (in classrooms where there is determined need) with weekly arts services. ArtistCorps service happens within a four-mile radius of the university.

Low-income Completions

By 2021-22, UNCSA will produce 43 low-income graduates, an increase of 30.3% (10 additional low-income completions over a base of 33).

From UNC School of the Arts: Known for its high-performing students and top-caliber performances, UNCSA offers a rigorous training program for student artists who seek to become professional artists. UNCSA has implemented an “early warning program” in each of its five arts schools to engage students who are in danger of failing to make progress in their art or their liberal arts requirements. This year, the case manager in Student Affairs and the vice provost and dean of Academic Affairs followed up on 119 undergraduates who were identified as needing additional resources. A UNC System Student Success grant for $61,500 has assisted UNCSA in growing its case management team. UNCSA has also implemented an early intervention program to identify and assist students at risk due to personal issues. We have provided four emergency grants to students who met criteria and we currently have 37 students eligible for the Pickle Pantry food bank. To address this particular need of low-income students – food insecurity – UNCSA has enlisted the aid of its volunteer group, The Associates, in expanding its food bank.

Undergraduate Degree Efficiency

By 2021-22, UNCSA will improve its undergraduate degree efficiency to 20.0 over a base of 19.1.

From UNC School of the Arts: Due to the structure of UNCSA curriculum, the four-year graduation rate is highly correlated with degree efficiency. Efforts to improve graduation rates are provided in Prioritize: Metric 3.


Research Productivity

By 2021-22, UNCSA will receive $151,018 in research and development sponsored program awards and licensing income, an increase of 5% ($7,171 additional over a five year average base of $143,847).

From UNC School of the Arts: Through its highly ranked schools of Filmmaking and Design & Production, UNCSA has developed partnerships with industry leaders, resulting in guest lectures, internships, and in-kind gifts of hardware for current students. UNCSA is exploring research and development (R&D) opportunities with these organizations and corporations. Specifically, UNCSA’s filmmaking program has launched the Media and Emerging Technology Lab, or METL, as part of its foray into immersive technologies, and has hired Ryan Schmaltz, who was recruited from successful start-up technology leadership positions on the West Coast, as its founding director. METL recently hosted the Future of Reality Summit, which brought more than two dozen experts in immersive technologies to Winston-Salem. UNCSA’s Design & Production program is developing the Institute for Performance Innovation as part of its venture into animatronics and more. The potential for building out these programs to supply emerging regional workforce needs is exponential, according to a recent study by Boston Consulting Group, commissioned by UNCSA to examine the role of emerging technologies in the arts and related R&D opportunities. From medicine to national defense, industries are in search of creative content, and UNCSA graduates can provide this content through the perfect marriage of art and engineering.

In addition, UNCSA has recently formed a new operational team: the Division of Institutional Integrity, which reorganizes several existing departments under the leadership of General Counsel David Harrison. Harrison adds vice chancellor for UNCSA’s Division of Institutional Integrity to his current title and oversees a number of compliance functions for the university, including Title IX. As part of its charge, the new Division of Institutional Integrity will use best practices in the field to garner support from the performing arts and creative industries – industries that UNCSA graduates will enter – to bring about a societal culture change in the era of #metoo.

* The UNCSA results for several metrics are subject to substantial year-to-year variation reflecting the relatively small size of the UNCSA student population (less than 1,300). Modest headcount variations often contribute relatively large percentage changes, contributing to fluctuations.

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