UNCW Morphs Into Five Colleges in its 75th year

The university’s largest college splits into two for the fall semester

BY Christine R. Gonzalez

Steve McMillan
Steve McMillan

The University of North Carolina Wilmington grew from four to five colleges in July following the long-planned division of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS).

CAS was a bit of a giant on campus, offering the largest number of academic units and awarding two-thirds of the university’s academic credits. Already too large for a single graduation ceremony in Trask Coliseum, CAS held two events May 13, graduating 483 in its morning ceremony and 587 in the afternoon — more than a third of the university’s 3,000 spring graduates.

It will morph into the College of Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts (CHSSA) and the College of Science and Engineering (CSE). The other three colleges are the Cameron School of Business, Watson College of Education, and the College of Health and Human Services.

The founding dean for CSE is Ronald J. Vetter, Ph.D., who has 30 years of experience with UNCW, beginning in 1993 as an assistant professor in the former mathematical sciences department. Dr. Vetter has served as a computer science professor,  associate provost for research, and dean of the graduate school. He began his new duties July 1.

Dr. Stephanie B. Caulder will be the founding dean of CHSSA starting July 26th.  She has 25 years of administrative experience and was formerly the dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Radford University in Virginia. Her curriculum vitae includes roles in music with Indiana University of Pennsylvania and UNC Greensboro Community Music School. 

There are bound to be a few hurdles for the deans of the two new colleges. A split always causes a few bumps in the road. Chancellor Aswami K. Volety stated that neither college will lack anything they have had previously.

“As the former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, I fundamentally understand the scope of this transformation,” Dr. Volety said in a press release. “By creating smaller, more agile colleges, UNCW will build on a firm foundation to better support and enhance the studies of our students and the work of our dedicated faculty and staff. The two new colleges will also allow us to advance the university in ways that will positively impact the region and state through our commitment to excellence in teaching, research, artistic activities, and community engagement.”

UNCW Academic Colleges
College of Health and Human Services
College of Science and Engineering
Cameron School of Business
Watson College of Education
College of Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts

Students are expected to take the college division in stride. An alumna predicted current students likely will not experience much anxiety over the changes.

“Most of the community I experienced as a student was within my own department, so the grouping at the college level didn’t make much difference,” says Catherine Miller, who received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing in 2012 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in 2015. “My own major and the size of that group and those classes were what mattered to me.”

The new CHSSA will focus on studies in the arts, including music, history, creative writing, theater, philosophy, and sociology and criminology.

The new CSE will house studies in science including math, physics, biology, chemistry, engineering and ocean sciences.

UNCW has two campus extensions, the Center for Marine Science near Myrtle Grove, about seven miles south of the main campus, and the Onslow Extension site in Jacksonville.

UNCW began as Wilmington College in 1947, its purpose mostly to educate military veterans. It has undergone dramatic changes in its 75 years. It became the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 1969, and has grown to nearly 18,000 students. Like nationwide trends, about two-thirds are female.

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