WILMINGTON -- After 26 years of helping the school nearly triple in size, one UNC Wilmington official is retiring. In our Carolina Diaries segment NewsChannel 3 has the story of the university's first ever public information officer. Since she started working at UNCW 26 years ago, Mimi Cunningham has seen the university grow and grow. Cunningham said, "When I came to campus it was easy to know all of the faculty and staff. Today we're close to about 2,100 faculty and staff so it's impossible to know everyone the same way." Cunningham played a role in that growth. She was the university's first ever public relations officer. In 2000 she helped raise $109 million for the university through a statewide bond issue for higher education facilities. That paid for three more buildings, which allowed the university to expand its programs "It's been a great career at UNCW. It's a phenomenal institution. And I look forward to watching it continue to grow," Cunningham said. But times were tough for Cunningham in the late 1990s. That's when she managed communications for the university through six hurricanes in 39 months. "Every time you heard of a hurricane brewing in the south Atlantic, your stomach gets in knots and you say, is this one going to come to us?" Cunningham said. But the university survived. Today there are three times as many students as when Cunningham started in 1982. As her time at UNCW comes to an end Cunningham says she looks forward to spending some more time with her family. "I want to stay committed and involved in this community but right now I just want to chill out a little bit," Cunningham said. Cunningham says not only has she seen the quantity of students grow -- she's seen the quality grow too. Since she started she says the average sat score has gone up nearly 200 points. Cunningham's last day on campus is Friday.
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