Forecasting the UNC of the Future

The University of North Carolina Tomorrow Commission, created in March 2007, won’t report formally until January 2008, but its probable goals are already discernible. The theme of its inquiry seems to be that the University of North Carolina of the future will serve a rapidly growing population with changing demographics and will face a rapidly evolving economy.

To contend these changes, the commission is seeking ways in which the university system can move forward technically, become more fully integrated with businesses, communities, and other educational systems, create a more engaged faculty, and address current weaknesses such as the teaching of so-called “soft skills.”

UNC Tomorrow was commissioned by the UNC Board of Governors “to determine how the 16-campus system can best meet the needs of North Carolina and its people over the next 20 years.” It is comprised of 25 business, community, and academic leaders. The process so far has produced exploratory studies by the commission’s Scholars Council and has included a tour of all sixteen campuses in the UNC system and several brainstorming workshops conducted by the Institute for Emerging Ideas, a think tank associated with N.C. State. The second phase began on September 10 with the first of twelve “townhall”-style Regional Listening meetings with citizens and local officials at different locations around the state.