Light the Way

Posted on October 26, 2021

Featured Image for Light the Way

A campaign poised to Transform UNCG

Illustration by Antwain Hairston ’21 • Photography by Martin W. Kane

We are ready. UNCG is poised to take its next giant steps. Together, through this powerful campaign, we will fuel earned achievement for our University’s future. 

The strategic plan and priorities are set. Committed leadership is ready. An extraordinary faculty and outstanding student body are going the extra mile, innovating and pursuing new ideas and vistas every day. Alumni and community volunteers are motivated. We will light the fuse and light the way for UNCG by raising $200 million to strengthen student access, academic excellence, and the tremendous impact of our programs.

What is a campaign?

A comprehensive campaign rallies everyone around a common vision. As it generates philanthropic and volunteer support, it increases giving. Fundraising typically doubles during a campaign, allowing the University increased resources to launch new initiatives critical to student success and the strategic plan. Further, it will jump-start giving for the future. It will attract new volunteers in new ways. And it will build a culture of philanthropy across the entire campus and among our many alumni. The key point: All gifts move the University forward. Through our collective effort, we are truly an unbroken band.

What is the Goal?

Our $200 MILLION GOAL for the Light the Way campaign will propel us to a future brilliant with possibility. It will allow us to strengthen three key areas: ACCESSEXCELLENCE, and IMPACT.

Assure Access

$100 Million

FROM SMALL RURAL TOWNS, burgeoning suburbs, and big cities, a vast array of students from all backgrounds and circumstances find their way here and their future here. Along the way, they find their best selves. Ambitious students from every imaginable background receive an education of the highest quality.

We can directly address one of the biggest challenges facing those who wish to pursue higher education in America: student and family debt. We must fund more scholarships to provide a vast array of gifted students access to high-quality, low-cost public education. In addition to growing need-based support, we also intend to strategically focus on merit scholarships and scholarships for students from middle-income families.


of UNCG’s new first-time students are the first in their families to go to college.


qualify for Federal financial aide, which goes to the very neediest.

“My scholarships mean a lot to me, as a first-generation and Pell Grant student.”

HAZAEL “HAZ” MENGESHA is in UNCG’s Pre-Physician-Assistant track. He holds a Board of Visitors Chancellor’s Scholarship and the Betsy Umstead Undergraduate Scholarship. The first in his family to attend college, he is president of the Student Government Association and majors in kinesiology while minoring in biology and chemistry.

“An amazing part about the UNCG Guarantee program is the importance it puts on personal and professional development, essential to student success.”

JADE YOUNG, a theatre major with a minor in American Sign Language, holds a UNCG Guarantee Scholarship. “The UNCG Guarantee program truly is like a big family,” she says, “and has given me a sense of belonging since my first day at UNCG.” A first-generation college student, she is planning for graduate school.

“Without my scholarship, I wouldn’t have the resources to do a study this large.”

LAUREN HIGGINS, doctoral candidate in kinesiology, holds the Beth Barba Endowed Scholarship. Studying in the applied neuromechanics program, Lauren works to develop interventions to prevent falls for older adults, through heart rate monitoring.

Leverage Excellence

$40 Million

WE SEEK TO DOUBLE our current number of endowed professorships.

By raising support for 40 additional endowed chairs and professorships – there currently are 36 – we will attract and retain high-quality faculty.  With more academic luminaries – “star professors” – teaching and mentoring our students in various programs, our university’s academic distinction will soar. Moreover, underwriting compelling teaching and research will provide our students with the opportunity to develop skills that will make them better prepared for an ever-changing labor market. It will also enable them to imagine and implement solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems.

Endowed chairs and professorships will elevate our university’s national stature and signal its expertise in particular areas of research. This, in turn, attracts top students, additional research dollars, and other expert teachers and researchers. Success builds on success. 

These endowments will pave the way for UNCG to become more self-sufficient and achieve long-term stability, regardless of fluctuations in state appropriations or research funding.

What is an endowed

The honorary title bestows additional salary and research funds, furthering the professor’s professional impact on their field and on their students. An endowment from one or more donors funds the title.

DR. RATNASINGHAM SHIVAJI, Helen Barton Excellence Professor, mentors graduate and undergraduate students on a National Science Foundation Math Ecology grant-funded project. He and his students create and analyze models to better examine challenges in animal movement, behavior, and more.

DR. L. DIANNE BORDERS ’72, Burlington Industries Excellence Professor in Counseling and Educational Development, focuses on the practice of clinical supervision, in which she is a pioneering thought-leader. She is Google Scholar’s second-most-cited researcher in counseling and supervision. She teaches doctoral students in the program, ranked #4 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

DR. LAURIE WIDEMAN, Safrit-Ennis Distinguished Professor, Kinesiology, focuses, along with many of her graduate students, on the impact of exercise, disease, and injury on the endocrine system. She is also passionate about teaching the next generation of scientists about ethical and responsible practices in research, and regularly teaches this training. Her professorship was endowed during the silent phase of the Light the Way campaign, in 2017. 

DR. PAMELA JOHNSON ROWSEY is Eloise R. Lewis Excellence Professor and chair of Adult Health Nursing in the School of Nursing. Her focus includes stress/fever and the role inflammatory cytokines play in health and disease; health disparities and chronic illness in Black Americans; and increasing ethnic minorities in the nursing workforce. As a nurse leader, she uses her position to focus on preparing nurse faculty and students as the next generation of nurse scholars.

Create Impact

$60 Million

WHAT WILL IT TAKE to meet the evolving needs of our region and our state? The answer will likely be very different in 10 or 20 years than it is today. Through Light the Way, we seek to build an endowed fund that will give us flexibility to respond to current demands and challenges, as well as those that present themselves in the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic, racial equity conversations, budget challenges, and more have proven once again that successful institutions need to be innovative and responsive to new challenges as they arise. We must be nimble enough to quickly create effective new academic programs, support intercollegiate athletics and the arts, invest in research and development, engage deeply with our community, and build our presence regionally, nationally, and globally. 

We will create a springboard to launch new ideas and create innovative programs, as well as address pressing needs as identified in the University’s strategic plan.

Susan Morris Safran ’77 Campaign Co-Chair
Randall R. Kaplan Campaign Co-Chair

IS THERE ANYTHING MORE SATISFYING than lighting the way for the next generation? As the co-chairs of this campaign, we would say “no.” If we come together to meet the goals of this campaign, we will transform the future of the University.

Now we challenge you – alumni, parents, business leaders, and community members – to join us in supporting this ambitious effort. Meeting the goals of the campaign will strengthen UNCG’s position as a leading university, provide much-needed resources for students and faculty, enhance the University’s role as an economic engine, and positively influence millions of lives in our region and elsewhere for years ahead. We believe there is no better investment.

Do you Accept the Challenge?