The school opened its doors for the first time on September 4, 1947, as Wilmington College. At the time the school operated as a junior college, offering freshman-level courses to 250 students during the first school year, and was under control of the New Hanover County Board of Education. Wilmington College earned accreditation from the North Carolina College Conference in 1948 and became a member of the American Association of Junior Colleges. Further accreditation came in 1952 when the institution was so honored by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
In 1958 Wilmington College was placed under the Community College Act of North Carolina, thereby passing control from the New Hanover County Board of Education to a board of trustees. The college was now state-supported and under the supervision of the North Carolina Board of Higher Education.
Wilmington College became a senior college on July 1, 1963, when the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation allowing the school to offer a four-year curriculum and award bachelor's degrees. Six years later, July 1, 1969, the name of the school was changed to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, making UNCW the fifth campus of the University of North Carolina system. On August 22, 1977, UNCW was authorized to offer its first graduate programs at the master's level. Currently, UNCW has over 11,000 students enrolled and nearly 500 full-time faculty members. The school offers seventy-three bachelor's degrees, thirty master's degrees, and two doctoral degrees.
Graham-Hewlett and Belk dormitories are configured in a suite-style arrangement with four individuals sharing a bathroom. Belk is the only dorm on campus which is exclusively female, as all other dorms are coed. Constructed in the 1980s, Schwartz dormitory has shared bathrooms but is distinguished by its unusual square layout in contrast with the typical hall style dorms. Several of the floors on Schwartz are designated as "study floors" and require the residents to abide by stricter regulations. The newer dormitories include Honors, International, and Cornerstone Hall. These dormitories were constructed in the late 1990s and early 2000s and are considered to be the most luxurious and well-maintained residences on campus. In addition to the dormitories, UNCW also has on campus apartments and suites. There are 13 apartment buildings which can serve as home to 400 students. The Apartments house 4 students, who all have separate bedrooms but share a bathroom, living room, and kitchen. The apartments were extensively renovated in 2002 and now boast marble counter tops, tiled bathrooms, and new appliances. The Suites, built in the late 1980s have two separate floor-plans which are divided by a breeze-way and set of stairs. There are 7 suite buildings which can also house 400 students. Each floor of the suites consists of a singles and doubles 'pod' The doubles pod consists of 6 bedrooms housing 12 students. The singles pod consists of 10 private bedrooms housing 10 students. All residents of the Suites share bathrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. As of 2007 the Suites have not been renovated. Starting with the 07-08 school year, the suites now house various sororities and the apartments house fraternities. The idea is for the suites and apartments to eventually become completely Greek.
The University has recently completed the construction of Seahawk Village, a luxury apartment complex designed to compete with off-campus accommodations. Seahawk Village comprises six (6) apartment buildings and a club house with swimming pool. The complex is constructed in the Neo-Georgian architectural style that is consistent with campus. The Village includes a mix of 2,3, and 4 bedroom apartments with a total of (524) beds. The apartments are fully furnished and provided with wireless internet, cable TV, and local telephone service. They feature a full service kitchen and washer and dryer in each apartment.
All students who live on campus are subject to University rules and regulations and are required to have an on-campus meal plan. (With the exception of Seahawk Village residents.) All residences have an RA, or Resident Assistant, who is always a student, on each hall and are administered by an RC or Residential Coordinator who is a university staff member who lives on campus in the residence they are responsible for.
With the exception of the apartments, suites, and Seahawk Village apartments, all students are required to show identification to the DR, or Desk Attendant upon entering the various residential buildings.
There are many apartments and condos that UNCW students live in. Here is a partial list of some of these communities:
- Canterbury Woods
- Cypress Grove
- Clear Run
- Reserve Hills
- Osprey Landing
More information about UNCW apartments can be found at UniversityRenter
The newly renovated University Union now houses The Hawk's Nest where students can choose from: Jole Mole which serves Mexican cuisine, the Tuscan Oven which serves pizza and breadsticks, the Hawk Wok which serves Asian Cuisine including broth bowls and many other delicious dishes, the Varsity Grill which serves hamburgers and chicken sandwiches, there is a Sushi Station where you can custom make your sushi, Chick-fil-A and Quiznos.
As is typical with most college campuses, UNCW's dining services are entirely controlled by Aramark, whose contract demands the inclusion of meal plans in most, but not all, residential fees. The overwhelming majority of students find the quality of campus dining unremarkable, but maintain that it is still superior to most other UNC system schools' options.
The university is organized in to five colleges:
The university has 73 undergraduate degree programs, 30 masters degree programs, and two doctoral programs.
Randall Library also boasts an extensive electronic reserves catalogue that is frequently utilized by faculty in reading assignments.
It is also important to note that among its peer institutions (public master's universities), UNC Wilmington ranks fourth nationally (behind James Madison, College of New Jersey, and Truman State).
UNC Wilmington climbed to 6th among the top public master's universities in the South in 2008 (the university was ranked 7th in 2007). The university also saw a jump in their overall ranking among both public and private master's universities in the South, climbing from 20th to 14th.
The most recent 26th edition (2004) of Barron's Profiles of American Colleges lists UNCW at the "very competitive" level, whereas the Carnegie Foundation classifies UNC Wilmington as "more selective". Only four UNC institutions are rated "very competitive": NC State, Appalachian State, UNC Asheville, and UNC Wilmington. UNC Chapel Hill is the only institution rated at the higher "most competitive" level.
Among UNC system institutions, UNC Wilmington has the 2nd-highest 4-year graduation rate (42.8), 3rd-highest 6-year graduation rate (65.1), and 4th-highest freshman-to-sophomore retention rate (83.1).
The UNCW athletic teams for both men and women are known as the Seahawks. They are a member of the NCAA's Division I and compete in the Colonial Athletic Association. There are 19 varsity athletic teams for men and women. UNCW has the best student-athlete graduation for non-football playing Division I public universities in the state, with 74 percent.
The Men's Basketball team has won the CAA Championship in 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2006.
In their first trip to the NCAA Tournament, they lost to the 2nd seeded Cincinnati 64 to 47.
In their second trip (2002), the 13th seeded Seahawks shocked the 4th seeded Trojans of USC with a 93-89 overtime win. They were defeated by Indiana in the second round, 76-66.
The third trip (2003) had the Seahawks face off Maryland. Aaron Coombs sank 2 free throws with 5 seconds left, giving the Seahawks a 72-73 lead and putting them in position to pull off a tourney surprise for the second year in a row. Instead, Maryland won the game 75-73 with the help of a nearly half court buzzer beater 3-point shot. Freshman John Goldsberry set an NCAA Tournament record by shooting 8 for 8 on 3-point shots.
In 2006 they earned a 9th seed, their highest ever seed, and faced off against the underrated #8 seed George Washington Colonials. GW was slotted to get a #4-#7 seed, so the Seahawks had a tougher 1st round opponent than most #9 seeds. Despite an excellent 1st half, the Seahawks blew a 18 point lead in the second half and lost in overtime 88-85. In 06-07 they posted a dismal 7-22 record. Next year in th 07-08 season there record was 20-13 and missed post season play. It was T.J. Carter's last season for the Seahawks.
Men's Swim team has won the CAA title for 6 consecutive years, from 2002 through 2007.
Men's Track & Field team won their CAA record 9th team title in 2008.
UNCW is affectionately referred to as "The Dub" or "Dubtown" by students and graduates alike.
UNCW's athletics facilities are regarded as some of the best in the southeastern part of the state. They include Brooks Field for baseball, the Trask Coliseum for basketball, the Seahawk Natatorium for swimming and Boseman Field (named after local state Senator Julia Boseman) for softball.
Dr. Thomas Simpson, Senior Advisor to The Federal Board of Governors
Dr. Stephen Harper, Progress Energy/Betty Cameron Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship:
Dr. Russell Herman, Physics
Dr. Milan Dluhy, Former Senior Policy Analyst U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
The nationally respected international fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, will be on campus October 18-November 23, 2008 to establish a new colony.