Strategic Direction 1: Academic Rigor

Provide an academically rigorous, transformative public liberal arts education that has at its core a diverse curriculum, innovative delivery methods, and high- impact programs that prepare students for a rapidly changing global society.

Academic rigor is at the heart of UNC Asheville. All of our faculty members, many of whom have achieved recognition in their fields, have a strong commitment to teaching, which is informed by their research, scholarship, and creative endeavors. The emphasis on small class sizes and multiple opportunities for close faculty-student interactions are hallmarks of a UNC Asheville education. In addition, faculty and staff members bring innovation to bear as they develop and orchestrate a broad range of high impact learning experiences such as our nationally acclaimed undergraduate research program, internships, community engagement, and study abroad.

With our expertise in undergraduate education, UNC Asheville promotes learning by offering students an intellectually rigorous education that builds critical thinking and workforce skills to last a lifetime. UNC Asheville prepares graduates for success by developing their skills of creativity, intellectual curiosity, and ethical reasoning in pragmatic ways, allowing them to go seamlessly from education to practice.

The combination of academic rigor and innovation allows UNC Asheville to offer a meaningful and creative learning environment that embraces diverse teaching and learning styles and breaks down the walls that may otherwise divide the classroom and the community. As a result, students develop the tools to become life-long learners and fully engaged citizens.

Strengthening UNC Asheville’s academic rigor will require continuous focus on attracting and developing a high quality and increasingly diverse faculty, and embracing new academic programs and approaches to teaching and learning.

Strategy 1

Ensure that all students have an academically rigorous and comprehensive liberal arts education that includes major fields of study, interdisciplinary learning, co-curricular activities, and high-impact experiences such as undergraduate research, study abroad, and internships.

Preliminary thoughts on action areas for further planning:

  • Continue to increase the quality and rigor of the curriculum, linking it as appropriate to co-curricular activities and high impact experiences.
  • Provide faculty with increased incentives and support to encourage innovation in teaching and research, as well as richer community engagement.
  • Continue to find innovative ways to use technology to enhance our liberal arts offerings and support teaching and learning.
  • Additional action areas to be identified.

Strategy 2

Attract and retain the very best, and increasingly diverse, faculty and staff, who are dedicated to excellence in undergraduate teaching, research, and service and contributing to the overall academic mission of the institution.

Preliminary thoughts on action areas for further planning:

  • Ensure that a clear understanding of this commitment and the benefits of hiring a more diverse faculty and staff are integrated into all hiring decisions.
  • Develop a comprehensive approach to faculty development, training, and mentoring.
  • Proactively prepare for a generational turnover of faculty.
  • Provide robust and innovative support systems for faculty research and creative activities.
  • Enhance support and incentives for faculty community engagement and other service learning programs.
  • Encourage diverse teaching styles and innovative pedagogical approaches among faculty, both in and out of the classroom.
  • Ensure that faculty evaluation processes appropriately balance and reward both rigor and innovation in teaching, research, and service.
  • Additional action areas to be identified.

Strategy 3

Continue to keep faculty-student collaboration at the center of the learning experience.

Preliminary thoughts on action areas for further planning:

  • Provide ongoing opportunities for students and faculty to form close working relationships and engage in cooperative learning through small class size and other active learning experiences.
  • Encourage interdisciplinary and cross disciplinary learning experiences that engage students and faculty in working together to address real world issues.
  • Encourage and support creative ways to deliver curriculum to students of the 21st century, utilizing a variety of teaching tools and appropriate technologies.
  • Recognize and support the diverse learning styles of students, finding innovative ways to help them succeed.
  • Additional action areas to be identified.

Strategy 4

Create and support innovative academic programs that reinforce the value of the liberal arts and sciences in sustaining the social and economic foundations of society in a challenging and constantly evolving economic environment.

Preliminary thoughts on action areas for further planning:

  • Enhance, and grow our capacity to offer, experiential, high impact learning experiences such as undergraduate research, internships, service learning, and global opportunities.
  • Evolve the curriculum to embrace increasingly more multi-cultural and global education.
  • Determine the best approach to identifying, evaluating, and when appropriate implementing select graduate programs that would enhance UNC Asheville’s liberal arts mission and help build our distinctiveness.
  • Additional action areas to be identified.