Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber’s Nov. 8 interview with Charlotte Agenda shines a spotlight on the profound effect that research universities, UNC Charlotte included, have on their regions and the people who live there.
“Charlotte is one of the top 15 metropolitan areas and we know we are the largest public research university,” said Gaber, whose professional and academic background is in urban planning. “So, what does research tell us about universities and the way they interact or impact the city?”
Key takeaways from Chancellor Gaber’s conversation with reporter Samantha Alexander about the ways UNC Charlotte is crucial to the future of the city of Charlotte, and how it will advance to the next level include:
- Higher education holds the key to student opportunity — particularly among those who are first in their families to go to college — for climbing the ladder of social mobility. With first-generation college students comprising 37% of the incoming freshman class and because 70% of UNC Charlotte alumni remain in the area after graduation, there exists opportunity for our students to change their lives as they make an impact on the region.
- Because universities hold a unique ability to develop future leaders, UNC Charlotte will be central to the development of those who will shape the future workforce. Furthermore, the rich talent pipeline provided by universities serves as a draw for corporations interested in relocating to new metro areas.
- Universities attract public and private investment, making them centers for talent and sources of innovation in a variety of fields. Opportunities for university-industry collaboration exist for UNC Charlotte in data science, data analytics, bioinformatics and engineering, among other fields.
- Typically, universities either attract high-ability students or provide affordable access to those historically without it. With a significant population of first-generation students in general, and in the freshman class, specifically, whose collective weighted GPA is 3.9, UNC Charlotte is accomplishing both.
- A recently announced strategic planning process, scheduled to be complete in spring 2021, will determine possible new areas of strength and growth for UNC Charlotte.