Photo by Justin Smith, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Photo by Justin Smith, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Courtesy of UNC News.

In 2014, the Office of Faculty Governance and the Faculty Welfare Committee began working to revive the UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Handbook, which was last printed in 1994. Since that final publication, policies, procedures and resources that pertain to faculty life at the University have been made available on administrative and departmental websites, as well as at, an online repository of campus-wide policies.

Despite the availability of policies online, faculty have expressed the need for a handbook that digests relevant documents and resources in an easily accessible central location. While the Faculty Handbook is not intended to be a comprehensive document, we hope that it is a useful starting point for locating resources that might otherwise be difficult to find. The handbook is also designed to help new faculty explore the extensive resources for instruction, research and work-life balance that UNC-Chapel Hill offers.

The handbook is maintained by the staff in the Office of Faculty Governance.

We thank the following people for making this handbook possible: Gwen Burston, Director of Academic Personnel; Martin Caver, Faculty Governance Graduate Assistant 2014; Shelby Dawkins-Law, Faculty Governance Graduate Assistant 2014; Ashley Nicklis, Senior Director of Benefits and Work-Life Programs; David Parker, Associate Vice Chancellor and Deputy General Counsel; Kathryn Turner, Faculty Programs Specialist; Dr. Anne Whisnant, Deputy Secretary of the Faculty; Jan Boxill, Chair of the Faculty, 2011-14; and members of the 2013-14 Faculty Welfare Committee.

How to use this handbook

The Faculty Handbook does not amend the terms and conditions of employment stated in individual faculty appointment contracts. The handbook should be used only as a guide to help navigate resources, policies and procedures relevant to faculty.

Overview of sections

The Faculty Handbook has four main sections:

Administration and Governance covers the administrative structure of the university and faculty governance.

Policies and Procedures contains selected links to information about EPA faculty personnel policies, including benefits, appointments, promotions, and tenure guidelines, and dispute resolution procedures.

Instruction, Research and Public Service features resources of that support undergraduate and graduate instruction, research, and service and engagement.

Benefits, Work-Life and Other Resources contains additional information about faculty employment benefits, campus and community resources, and entertainment.

Overview of navigation

Each section of the Faculty Handbook contains sub-sections with headers for different topical areas. To reveal or collapse the information about each subject or policy simply click the title of the sub-section. The site search feature will direct you to the appropriate main page where the item you are searching for is located.


To submit feedback about the Faculty Handbook, please fill out our contact form.

University Mission, History, and Academic Plan

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, serves North Carolina, the United States, and the world through teaching, research, and public service. We embrace an unwavering commitment to excellence as one of the world’s great research universities.

Our mission is to serve as a center for research, scholarship, and creativity and to teach a diverse community of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to become the next generation of leaders. Through the efforts of our exceptional faculty and staff, and with generous support from North Carolina’s citizens, we invest our knowledge and resources to enhance access to learning and to foster the success and prosperity of each rising generation. We also extend knowledge-based services and other resources of the University to the citizens of North Carolina and their institutions to enhance the quality of life for all people in the State.

With lux, libertas—light and liberty—as its founding principles, the University has charted a bold course of leading change to improve society and to help solve the world’s greatest problems.

Approved by the UNC Board of Governors, November 2009.  See the Mission Statement page here

The University of North Carolina was anticipated by a section of the first state constitution drawn up in 1776 directing the establishing of “one or more universities” in which “all useful learning shall be duly encouraged and promoted.” State support, it directed, should be provided so that instruction might be available “at low prices.” The American Revolution intervened, and it was not until 1789 that the University was chartered by the General Assembly.

On October 12, 1793, the cornerstone was laid for a brick building on a hilltop near the center of the state amidst the colorful fall foliage of dogwood, oak, and tulip trees. The site was marked only by a small Anglican chapel that soon shared part of its name—New Hope Chapel Hill—with the community that developed there. Legislator and trustee William R. Davie, who had been instrumental in securing passage of the charter, took the lead in organizing the University. Davie presided over the Masonic ritual of the laying of the cornerstone. In time he came to be called “the Father of the University.” Many years later a large poplar or tulip tree, first mentioned in 1818 and still standing near the center of the old campus, was called Davie Poplar in his honor.

The first building and, indeed, the only building for two years, was a two-story brick structure that came to be called Old East. It is now a National Historic Landmark, the oldest state university building in America. Opened to students on January 15, 1795, the University of North Carolina received its first student, Hinton James of New Hanover County, on February 12. By March there were two professors and 41 students present.

The next building on the Carolina campus was Person Hall, begun in 1796 and long used as the chapel. The cornerstone of Main or South Building was laid in 1798. All three are older than any other American state university building.

During the early 19th century the trustees began a period of strong support in the development of the young University. Even though their proclaimed initial goal for the University had been to provide trained leadership for the state, the curriculum followed the customary classical trend. In 1815, however, the natural sciences were given equal place, and in the 1820s Professors Denison Olmstead and Elisha Mitchell prepared the nation’s first geological survey. In 1831 the first astronomical observatory at a state university was built under the direction of President Joseph Caldwell. Enrollment increased steadily, and by 1860 only Harvard, Yale, and the University of Virginia had more students.

Young men from many states came to Chapel Hill for their education, particularly those from families who had recently left North Carolina to settle elsewhere in the South. The University of North Carolina provided governors not only for North Carolina but also for many other states; countless professions and occupations were represented among its graduates, including cabinet members, clergymen, diplomats, engineers, geologists, judges, legislators, surveyors, teachers, and a president and a vice president of the United States.

Though the Civil War closed many colleges and universities, the University at Chapel Hill remained open throughout the war, though its students were few. During Reconstruction, however, it was closed from 1870 until 1875. When it reopened, the University’s leadership began to inaugurate programs that once again marked it as a leading university.

The General Assembly in 1931 consolidated the University with the Woman’s College at Greensboro and North Carolina State College at Raleigh under a single board of trustees. As an economy measure during the Depression and as a means of eliminating duplication, the trustees allocated each unit specific roles in higher education for the state. The offices of the Consolidated University were established on the Chapel Hill campus and University President Frank Porter Graham became the Consolidated University’s first president.

The Depression era in the 1930s saw a great deal of new construction on the campus as federal funds became available to create jobs for the unemployed. New dormitories, classroom buildings, a gymnasium, and other buildings and improvements were built in part from this source. World War II also resulted in some new construction and alterations on campus as the University’s facilities were used to train military personnel.

Expansion continued throughout the 20th century, and today UNC–Chapel Hill ranks among the great institutions of higher education in the nation. Beginning with one building, 41 students, and two professors, the University has now grown to more than 300 buildings, more than 29,000 students each year, and nearly 3,800 faculty members. Carolina offers 78 bachelor’s, 112 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through its 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. The William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education serves adult learners through credit and noncredit course offerings.

This history is adapted from an essay published in the 1994 Faculty Handbook by Professor Emeritus William S. Powell. Learn more about UNC’s  history at the History and Traditions web page, or visit The Carolina Story: A Virtual Museum of University History  for self-guided digital exhibits. University Archives and Records Management also maintains a vast collection of historical records in the Louis Round Wilson Library. 

Reach Carolina, the 2011 Academic Plan for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, proposes principles and concrete steps by which faculty, students, and staff can attain levels of accomplishment and distinction befitting Carolina’s mission as a leading public university.


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