WILMINGTON, N.C. -- The fastest-growing university in the UNC school system is expanding its campus.

  • UNCW is expecting student enrollment to grow to about 20,000 in the next three to five years
  • All current construction projects are expected to finish by the 2020-2021 school year
  • The school has been elevated to a Doctoral Institution as of 2019

The UNC Wilmington Chancellor said it has grown 30 percent in the past 10 years. The school currently has 17,000 students, with anticipation to grow to about 20,000 in the next three to five years. Needing to accommodate for this growth explains the over $400 million in construction projects going on around campus.

"All the way from an administrative annex -- where we're going to move a lot of our staffers into in the next two or three weeks in fact -- to the renovation of our track and field," said Chancellor Jose Sartarelli.

Additionally, they just broke ground on a 1,800-bed housing facility scheduled to be ready for students by Fall 2020. Other projects include a parking deck, a new restroom near the baseball field, a Veteran Hall, an additional dining hall and renovations to the library.

Along with physical growth, as of 2019 the school has been elevated to a Doctoral Institution for all the extensive research that comes from the university.

City officials say having a college like UNCW growing and expanding is positive for Wilmington.

"The types of students that are coming to university, working with programs such as the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, those are the folks that can one day open businesses in Wilmington," said Dylan Lee, city spokesperson. "That can eventually provide more jobs for people in Wilmington."

Chancellor Sartarelli said all the projects currently underway should be done by the 2020-2021 school year and will help sustain UNCW for the next 10 to 15 years.