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At the institution’s first commencement ceremony in 1949, legendary Wilmington College President John T. Hoggard reflected on the efforts by local leaders and citizens to establish a place of higher learning in Wilmington, recognizing their commitment to a project designed to enhance the quality of life in the region by offering “ambitious young men and women” the advantage of an excellent education. Over time, the institution that Dr. Hoggard and countless others first imagined grew and flourished. In 1969, Wilmington College joined the UNC System and became what is now the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The college that opened its doors to 238 students in 1947 has evolved into a nationally ranked university of nearly 17,000 students that is recognized for its commitment to excellence, student-centered learning experiences, diversity, innovation and community engagement. As part of the 17-campus UNC System, UNCW offers a full range of baccalaureate- and graduate-level programs, as well as doctoral degrees in educational leadership, marine biology, nursing practice and psychology. The university also offers many distance learning options, including clinical research, an accelerated RN-to-BSN program and an Executive MBA program structured for working professionals. Guided by its 2016-21 Strategic Plan, UNCW continues to honor the example set by the visionary leaders, faculty, staff and students who have guided our institution in the decades since its founding.