What was called the Croatan Academy in 1887 when it was founded to teach Native Americans in the region has evolved some over the years, today standing as the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. A member of the UNC system of schools, it eventually moved to its current location on 153 acres in Robeson Country, expanding beyond educating Native American teachers to become a major Master’s level institution.
At UNC Pembroke, “learning gets personal”, with small class sizes, a 14:1 student faculty ratio, and courses taught exclusively by professors (no grad assistants here). More than just the Normal School it began as, these days they offer 41 undergraduate and 17 Master’s level programs to a student body that numbers around 7,000 (800 of which are at the graduate level). Popular majors include nursing and education, all taught from a “quiet, safe community” of learners that include a 59% minority enrollment (including 16% Native American) and a surprisingly large female population (only 37% of students are male). With the small class sizes, “the rigors of the curriculum” are combined with “personal attention” to create graduates with “vibrant, interesting lives” that have received the individual education usually only reserved for smaller universities.
Though UNC Pembroke does offer “distance learning “options and there are some online classes, it really isn’t at quite the same level as some of the other UNC universities. Currently, “distance education at UNC Pembroke is a dynamic, expanding program that seeks to meet the workforce needs of” the region, with the Office of Distance Education acting as a “portal that provides the technologies and administrative support for various academic departments to export their degree programs across the state and beyond”. Put simply, most distance education utilizes the resources and accreditation of UNCP, but very often teaches out of different community colleges in the area on evenings/weekends, holding “classes and degree programs at several off campus locations”, including Fort Bragg.
Face-to-face, hybrid, and online courses towards UNC Pembroke backed degrees are offered at Sandhillls, Richmond, and Cape Fear Community Colleges, with each location offering their own Bachelor degree programs, as well as some Master’s tracts (Sandhillls offers 3 Master’s degrees programs for evening/weekend distance learners). Fort Bragg also allows active military personnel to work on degree programs at both the undergrad (nursing, business administration) and graduate level (teaching, education) from UNCP, but without leaving the base. Stand alone courses are also offered at most locations.
There is also a link to online certificates (which was inoperative at the time) as well as a Lateral Teacher program that helps certify and educate North Carolina teachers around the state (combining online and work in the geographically convenient school system). In addition, though, Internet resources are offered, most especially through the Mary Livermore Library which is “committed to supporting… at sites away”. Document delivery, online library access, and faculty information are all available online. Blackboard organizes all of their online resources and course offerings, with email, course aid, and how-to’s for online assignments and other internet help.
With care for its students and an eye towards creating a well-educated, viable workforce to contribute to the state’s needs (as with most UNC schools), the University of North Carolina at Pembroke has made a mission out of their commitment to diversity, individualized teaching, and interdisciplinary cooperation, creating an environment of intellectual curiosity where learning blossoms.