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The University, North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Opening its doors to students in 1795, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill holds the distinction of being one of the oldest public universities in the country and the first public university to award degrees in the eighteenth century. Currently, UNC is highly ranked with several national publications listing Carolina as a preeminent leader in academic quality, affordability, diversity and engagement in international presence. As of 2012, UNC Chapel Hill retains a student body of 29,137 and 3,221 faculty members.

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Wilmington, University, North Carolina

The University of North Carolina of Wilmington (UNC-W) started in 1947 as a junior college funded by the New Hanover Board of Education. Since its inception, the college has become part of the University of North Carolina higher education system and it offers over 50 undergraduate degree programs. Currently, 13,000 students attend the University of North Carolina of Wilmington.

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Winston-Salem State University

Originally the Slater Industrial Academy, Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) has grown from its meager beginnings of 1892. The first class of 25 students studied to become teachers, but today, WSSU offers programs ranging from nursing to English, with a student body of almost 6,500 students. Important locales on Winston-Salem State University’s campus include the sculpture gardens and the Diggs Art Gallery.

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Appalachian, State, University

Located in the western mountains of North Carolina in Boone, Appalachian State University was once a school dedicated to prepare teachers. Appalachian, or then Watagua Academy, was formed by the Dougherty brothers in 1899. Appalachian experienced great growth by the 1940s, and it was inducted into the University of North Carolina school system in the 1970s. Appalachian State University currently enrolls over 17,000 students, offering over 140 undergraduate and graduate programs.

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Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University, located in Cullowhee, North Carolina was established in 1889 as a semi-public high school and chartered as Cullowhee Academy in 1891. Founder Robert Lee Madison wanted to create educational opportunities for youths in the surrounding area and to train teachers in expanding education across western North Carolina. As of 2012, the school boasts 9,429 students and 457 full-time faculty members.

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Wingate University

Established by the Baptist Association of North Carolina out of a need for schools in the Piedmont region, Wingate University was founded in 1896. Wingate College grew but experienced tough financial times during the Great Depression. However, concerned Baptists and dedicated professors helped Wingate survive. The school became a university in 1995, with a student body of about 2,500 students today.