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The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (2012)

Brief Description:

University of North Carolina Pembroke

On March 7, 1887, Croatan Normal School was established by the General Assembly of North Carolina to educate American Indian school teachers. The school started educating the community from the ground up, and in 1928, the first two-year diplomas were awarded. In 1940, the first four-year degrees were conferred. In 1972, the university joined the new 16-member University of North Carolina (UNC) system. In 1996, after six previous name changes, the institution became The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP). In 2005, the state declared it “North Carolina's Historically American Indian University.” One of the most diverse universities in the U.S. today, UNCP has approximately 6,200 students and offers 41 undergraduate programs and 17 graduate programs.


Mission Statement:

UNCP 125th logoFounded in 1887 as a school for the education of American Indians, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke now serves a distinctly diverse student body and encourages inclusion and appreciation for the values of all people. UNC Pembroke exists to promote excellence in teaching and learning, at the graduate and undergraduate levels, in an environment of free inquiry, interdisciplinary collaboration and rigorous intellectual standards. Our diversity and our commitment to personalized teaching uniquely prepare our students for rewarding careers, postgraduate education, leadership roles and fulfilling lives. We cultivate an international perspective, rooted in our service to and appreciation of our multi-ethnic regional society, which prepares citizens for engagement in global society. Students are encouraged to participate in activities that develop their intellectual curiosity and mold them into responsible stewards of the world. UNCP faculty and staff are dedicated to active student learning, engaged scholarship, high academic standards, creative activity and public service. We celebrate our heritage as we enhance the intellectual, cultural, economic and social life of the region.

President's Quote:

"This university was founded by an American Indian community who believed that education can improve the quality of life. That mission continues today in the modern university. Our 125th anniversary slogan states that we are 'Honoring Our Heritage, Soaring Toward Our Future.' Much has changed here in 125 years, but our original mission remains steadfast." - Kyle R. Carter, Chancellor

Major Accomplishments:

  • In March 2012, UNC Pembroke was placed on President Obama’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the fourth time since the program’s inception in 2007.
  •  Chancellor Kyle R. Carter recently announced the formation of a Southeast American Indian Studies (SEAIS) program at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Carter said the program will transform the university into a center for the study of American Indians in the southeastern U.S. He said the university, with its existing American Indian programs, is ideally located to accomplish its mission.
  • UNC Pembroke cut the ribbon on a new $29 million Health Science Building on August 14, 2012. The building is 87,000 square feet and home to UNCP Nursing and Social Work departments and biology labs. It will allow the four-year, licensure nursing program to double in size to 200 students and add a master's degree program.
  • UNC Pembroke’s 2012 nursing graduates recorded a 100 percent passing rate on the national nursing licensure examination (NCLEX-RN).
  • In the fall of 2012, UNC Pembroke’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program received notification that it has won full accreditation from the National Council on Social Work Education. The university’s program accepted its first students in 2008 after receiving initial candidacy accreditation in 2007. With full accreditation, the university and its MSW graduates will play an ever-greater role in the region’s response to mental health care, child welfare, geriatric care and more.
  • UNCP named Military-Friendly School by G.I. Jobs magazine (Oct. 4, 2011).
  • An undergraduate research program to train scientists has a bright future at UNC Pembroke. A grant for the university’s RISE Program (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) was renewed in the fall of 2011by the National Institutes of Health for five years for $1.4 million.


Fun Facts:

  • UNCP has one of only two American Indian Studies programs east of the Mississippi. There may be greater things in the future with the recent announcement of the new Southeast American Indian Studies program during the 125th celebration.
  • From 1951 to 2007, the university was undefeated in football. With no team, the university did not win any either. Following the most successful fundraising effort in university history, football returned. Success came quickly, and UNCP set an NCAA record for the fastest start-up program in history to earn a NCAA tournament bid in 2009.
  • Martha Beach (’58) enrolled at Pembroke State College with the first (small) wave of white students. A mother of two when she enrolled, Pembroke State College helped launch her career in social work. In return, she established an endowed chair to bring distinguished artists to campus.
  • No. 8,163,953 – That’s the patent number for Dr. Ben Bahr’s compound that he hopes to develop into a solution for Alzheimer’s disease. Bahr is UNCP's William C. Friday Distinguished Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry.
  • Dr. Frank Schmalleger came to UNCP in 1975. In higher education, the study of criminal justice was new, and Schmalleger saw an opportunity. His textbook, Criminal Justice Today, is the world’s most popular and is in its 11th edition.
  • From 1939-53, the university was the only state-supported, four-year college for American Indians in the U.S. In 1953, the state approved a request from school trustees to open the school to non-Indians. That was more than a year before the Brown v. Board decision.
  • Pembroke Magazine, the university’s literary journal, was founded in 1969 with poet Norman MacLeod as its editor. A nationally known poet, McLeod had founded several journals, but only Pembroke Magazine survives.
  • Ida Ten Eyck O’Keefe, the younger sister of famous artist Georgia O’Keefe, was also an artist. She was a faculty member at UNCP and chaired the Art Department in the early 1940s.


Notable Alumni:

  • Kelvin Sampson, '78 – A Lumbee Indian and basketball player at UNCP, he was basketball coach at the University of Oklahoma and Indiana University.  He is currently interim head coach of the Houston Rockets of the NBA.
  • Adolph Dial, '43 –  Founder of UNCP's American Indian Studies program, Dial was co-author of a book on Lumbee Indian history. He was a Lumbee and he was also a multi-millionaire investor in real estate. He was a founder of the Lumbee Bank, which thrives today, and the outdoor drama "Strike at the Wind!" He did all of this after serving in World War II, when he helped liberate a German concentration camp.
  • James K. Braboy '28, '58 –  Educator of the Year in South Carolina in 1970, Braboy spent his career educating local American Indian youths at the Leland Grove School. He plucked a boy named English Jones out of a cotton field to educate him. Jones later was president and chancellor of UNCP from 1961-1979.
  • Brian Freeman '92 –  An elementary school teacher, he was the National Association of Educators (NAE) Teacher of the Year in 2003. He is also a Lumbee Indian.
  • Tom Oxendine '48 – The nation's first American Indian Navy pilot. Oxendine won the Distinguished Flying Cross before returning to college after World War II. He later flew jet fighters in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
  • Roger Willie '95 – An accidental audition and fluency in Navajo put him in the movie Wind Talkers, about the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II. He continued his film career for several other films.
  • Jack Lowry '58 – An attorney, he was one of a handful of original investors in the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain. He served as their corporate attorney for many years.



  • “I had two children and my husband was not well. They told me the college was admitting white students. It turned my life around. I don't think people give the university enough credit.” – Martha Beach, '58  (Note: Beach's husband died, and she earned a master's degree in social work. She endowed a chair in art at the university.)
  • “I loved the small classes. The professors really cared about each individual student. Also I loved being a part of the Baptist Student Union. The many trips I took with the BSU I will never forget.” Chantay McLaughlin, '95
  • “The worst day of my college career was the day of graduation. I knew I was going to miss UNC Pembroke. As a 2006 graduate, and now an employee of my alma mater, being back on campus has brought back many nostalgic memories! As a student, I received a sincere welcome and unconditional encouragement from faculty, staff and students who made me feel at home. My college career was memorably marked with lasting relationships with professors and life-long friends, all the while receiving a great education, learning more about myself and preparing for future challenges. The special kind of learning I received as a student couldn't have happened unless real personal attention was part of the program. Our slogan is real, ‘where learning gets personal!’ – Morgan Hunt Warriax, '06
  • “I'll never forget that August morning I arrived on campus to start my pursuit of secondary education at UNCP. I am the first person in my family to go to college, and at the time, I would never admit it, but I was scared to death. College was an instant love affair with me and enrolling at UNCP is one of the best decisions I have ever made. The idea of being able to see and speak with your professors each day was incredibly helpful. The classmates, courses and clubs all shaped my extraordinary experience at UNCP. However, the ‘above-and-beyond,’ sincere efforts put forth by the faculty and staff were the real source of my education, and they continue to give. It’s in their names that I continue to serve the university as an active alumnus. I challenge today’s faculty and administrators to take note. The wonderful friendships I made at UNCP and still have today. The ups and downs I went through during those years at UNCP made me a stronger person than I could have ever imagined. UNCP gave me more than just a great education, it gave me an identity that can never be taken from me and for that I say, ‘thank you.’ – Rudy T. Locklear, ‘06, ‘11
  • “UNC Pembroke has a special place in my heart. I was the first in my family to attend college and although the road was rocky and long, I was proud to be the first with a degree. Some of my fondest memories are of the staff that made being away from my family 100% easier to deal with. The friends I made while attending the university have become a second family. I am thankful to UNC Pembroke for showing me that I can achieve excellence if I focused and believed in myself. I am now proud to have two family members who have decided to attend the university for their undergraduate education.” – Jessica Davis, '08
  • “ I am married with a daughter. I teach high school in Wilmington, N.C. (2 hours away). It was a tough three years. It was worth it. I had a phenomenal experience with the professors here who encouraged me.” – Catherine Entrocaso, ‘12


  • Kellee Edmonds
    Vice President of Communications and Public Relations
    (202) 478-4662