A message from the chancellor: Measuring impact

Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz discusses how metrics are about more than just numbers. They're about impact and the ways Carolina is accomplishing its mission of educating the next generation of leaders, serving our state and world, and delivering cutting-edge research that changes lives.

Carolina pillar reads: Lux, Libertas

Before I share my regular Friday message, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the conflict occurring in Ukraine. As a global university, we know there are people in our community who are deeply impacted by these events and are scared for their home country, families and friends. We also know this type of escalation and ongoing global events can add stress to an already difficult time for anyone. The University has been in touch with students who we know may be affected. If you or anyone you know need support during this time, please visit the Heels Care Network for a list of resources.

Dear Carolina Community,

Chancellors spend a lot of time talking about metrics. Graduation rates, degree efficiency, research funding — progress you can measure on a spreadsheet. That’s the language of public policy, of strategic plans and institutional roadmaps. It’s one of the ways we make sense of progress at a university like Carolina.

All of this can sound a little abstract, but there are real people behind the numbers. When we reported to the UNC System this week that enrollments of students from rural areas and in low-income economic brackets have increased over the last five years, we were describing hundreds more students from across our big and diverse state who found a welcome home in Chapel Hill.

When we reported improved graduation rates for low-income students, we were talking about hundreds of young people who were able to finish their studies on time with minimal debt. They head into the world well-prepared through a liberal arts curriculum that balances expertise in a specific field with breadth of knowledge across multiple disciplines with an emphasis on experiential education – study abroad, internships and research opportunities.

When we shared our growth in science and technology degrees, we were celebrating thousands more students who have been able to study what they love while meeting the growing demand in North Carolina for talented thinkers in critical fields. That doesn’t just benefit our graduates. It benefits our state, nation and world.

The same is true of our extraordinary research enterprise. When we tell state policymakers that we’re on track to earn more than a billion dollars in sponsored research for the third consecutive year, they know that translates into new discoveries, new jobs and improvements in health and wellbeing that change lives well beyond Chapel Hill.

None of this happens by accident. When you set ambitious goals, people get to work making them happen. Faculty and staff go the extra mile in mentoring students. Researchers think big about their next grant application. Academic advisors and career counselors strategically steer more diverse students into high-demand fields. Our boards and lawmakers advocate passionately for the resources we need.

I’m proud that we’re part of a public university system that encourages bold thinking about how to serve our state. A lot of my fellow UNC System chancellors were in Chapel Hill this week, and I love getting to spend time with them and learn from what they’re doing to tackle our shared challenges. We already have a lot of great partnerships with our sister schools, and I hope we can build even more.

Metrics aren’t just about numbers, they’re about impact, and these are just some of the ways we accomplish our mission of educating the next generation of leaders, serving our state and world and delivering cutting-edge research that changes lives.


Kevin M. Guskiewicz