CHAPEL HILL – A working group of the University of North Carolina Strategic Directions Committee will have its work cut out for it over the Christmas holidays.
The group has fallen behind in its effort to complete draft reports detailing proposals to increase degree attainment, improve educational quality, provide service the people of North Carolina, maximize efficiencies and ensure state schools remain accessible and financially stable.
Fred Eshelman, chairman of the working group, began Tuesday’s meeting soliciting members to help read draft reports on weekends and over the holidays so that the larger committee can present its findings to the UNC Board of Governors early next year.
“I’m totally committed to this,” Eshelman said.
He said plans call for draft reports to be completed in mid-January, with the final proposal going to the board for consideration at its Feb. 8 meeting.
Eshelman also asked chancellors of the 16-university campuses to think about programs on their individual campuses that could help the committee achieve its goals.
Last month, the committee agreed on possibly setting a degree attainment goal of 32 percent of state residents to have a bachelor’s degree or higher degree by 2018.
Currently, depending on which report or study one uses for reference, anywhere between 26 percent and 28.1 percent of North Carolinians currently have bachelor’s degrees or higher degrees.
To reach the 32 percent goal, the state’s public and private universities and colleges would have to churn out 500,000 new degrees between now and 2018.
System officials would rely on transfer students and “part-way home” students, those who have not earned college degrees but have some course credits.
One idea is to copy UNC Charlotte’s award-winning 49er Finish program, which encourages former students to return to campus either part-time or full-time to complete their degrees.
The program targets former students who have earned 90 or more credit hours and had a 2.0 GPA and who left the university in the past 10 years.
Staffers say there are an estimated 27,000 such students in the UNC system and that a 10 percent graduation rate among them could produce 2,700 new graduates by 2016 and 200 new degrees each year thereafter.
Other efforts to boost degree attainment would involve aggressively recruiting veterans and active-duty military personnel and improving summer school offerings.