70 Years of Excellence

Carol Ellis

Golden Seahawk


Carol Ellis at desk Carol Ellis’ journey at UNCW started when she was a student studying music and history at Wilmington College, a three-building campus, in 1961. In 2016, she celebrated her 50-year tenure as a UNCW employee.

“It’s been a privilege to be part of an institution that has grown in size and has maintained the quality,” Ellis said. “My family used to joke and ask, ‘Who stays at the same job anymore?’ I obviously have been very fortunate with the people I work with and the opportunities I’ve had. I call it a blessing.”

After transferring from Wilmington College to the University of Georgia in 1962, Ellis went on to get her Ph.D. in English literature. She began working at UNCW in 1966, teaching in the English department for the next 37 years. Upon her retirement in 2002, then-provost John Cavanaugh fought to keep Ellis on staff, and she has continued her appointment in the Division of Academic Affairs ever since, as assistant to the provost.

“One of the things I most admired about Carol was her willingness to mentor younger faculty,” said Daniel Noland, associate professor of English, who remembers Ellis’ time in the English department. “She never pushed herself on anybody, but was always open and accepting of questions, of requests for more information, and I’ll always appreciate her for that.”

Ellis has also left a lasting impression on her former students, some of whom have kept in touch, asking about her family and reminiscing about the times when Ellis would pore over texts with students in her office, making sure they found meaning in the words. Ellis says her goal as a teacher has always been to demonstrate the importance of literature and pique the interest of students who did not come to the subject naturally.

She has sustained this dedication through her administrative work, keeping every scrap of paper handy should a co-worker need some information. She is known in the office as a history book, someone who always has the details at the tips of her fingers.

“As though Carol’s tremendous depth of teaching experience at UNCW weren’t enough to admire, she lends her eye for detail and her encyclopedic understanding of policy to more campus efforts than any of us realize,” said Diana Ashe, assistant professor of English and director of the Center for Teaching Excellence. “I’ve been lucky enough to work on several initiatives with Carol, and I've been gobsmacked by her work every time. She is so much fun and a tremendous asset to the university.”

--Caitlin Taylor 18’M