Academic Year Closes with University, Individual Milestones

The end to a year of exceptional accomplishments is upon us.  Some of these headline-making moments include the inaugural football season, completion of construction of the industry partnership powerhouse PORTAL and groundbreaking of the LYNX Blue Line light rail extension that will connect UNC Charlotte and the city like never before.

While much fanfare has surrounded these University milestones, Commencement is the time to celebrate the individuals that define UNC Charlotte. Proud graduates will receive their diplomas Friday, May 9, and Saturday, May 10. With the rapid rise in enrollment in recent years, an additional ceremony has been added, now totaling three, in order to accommodate the 3,600 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students and their guests. This is just one indicator of the University’s growth. With 17,000 applications received for fall 2014, demand for UNC Charlotte has reached an all-time high. Additionally, enrollment growth here now represents 48% of the UNC System’s total growth over the past five years.

Among students graduating this year is the first class of Levine Scholars. The four-year scholarship is UNC Charlotte’s most prestigious and includes full tuition, room and board, a grant to implement a service project of the Scholar’s own design, and four summers of experiences that will develop leadership skills, social awareness and an international perspective. Graduating the first cohort is a testament to the program’s success, as is the increasing number of applications; nearly 2200 for fall 2014 for only 15 spots.

Also being honored at Commencement is dedicated alumnus and public servant Gene Johnson ('73).  Johnson will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service for his many contributions to the University and community. Johnson served eight years on the Board of Trustees and was the first alumnus to serve as chair, a post he held for three years. During this time he also chaired the football fundraising capital campaign and was instrumental in establishing the drumline. He will lead the effort to fund a marching band for fall 2015.

Johnson has recently assumed the position of UNC Charlotte Foundation Board Chair. He has also served as Alumni Association Board President, on the 49er Athletic Foundation Board, Board of Visitors and Belk College of Business Advisory Council. His financial support has enabled the building of the Barnhardt Student Activity Center, Harris Alumni Center and establishment of the Johnson Endowment for Teaching. Johnson was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 1997 and was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 2000.

Have a graduate to root for but can’t make it to the ceremony? Watch a live stream here. Charlotte area residents can also watch on Time Warner Cable Channel 22.