CHAPEL HILL – The UNC Athletics Department is continuing its plan to reshape its public perception after months of investigations and sanctions tainted the Tar Heel image.

“We educate and inspire through athletics,” Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham says.

That’s the department’s mission statement outlined in a new Strategic Plan.

The plan outlines its “priorities, objectives, initiatives, and actions” from now until 2016, but Cunningham says that’s not to say the current version is written in stone.

“What we need to do is think about it and make decisions every day based upon the goals and ambitions that we have laid out in the strategic plan,” Cunningham says. “But, it’s a living, breathing, dynamic document that we need to pay attention to on a regular basis.”

Cunningham was hired at North Carolina on October 14, 2011 after Dick Baddour stepped down from the position amid the NCAA’s investigation into UNC football.

From the moment he stepped on campus, Cunningham has been striving to return the athletic department to its former glory. While the department was not found directly at fault during recent internal and external investigations for academic fraud that occurred in the African and Afro-American Studies Department, the one-year bowl ban and loss of 15 scholarships, as well as a self-imposed $50,000 fine cast a shadow on it.

Despite the blemishes, Cunningham says the department still has many things of which to be proud.

“We’ve been really, really good,” Cunning says. “As I mentioned, we’re the only school other than Stanford to have won the Director’s Cup; we’ve won two national championships in the last year; field hockey’s played for championships—three of the last four; the basketball team made it to the Elite Eight last year; football won the Coastal Division this year. It was really just a chance to say, ‘okay, what have we been really good at, and then how do we improve in those areas.”

He says athletics are a part of our nation’s and the world’s culture—and because of that, there is a place for them among the institutions that are building the minds and bodies of our future.

“We’re trying to figure out ways that our students get a great education while they’re here, and I also think it’s inspirational,” Cunningham says. “We think it’s inspirational not only to young children and generations of people watching these Carolina students perform both in the classroom and on the field, but they can set their own goals and aspirations based on what they see.”

The document states that UNC will strive to be ranked in the top three in the ACC, and top 10 nationally in academics and athletics, by promoting the four values of “responsibility, innovation, service, and excellence.”

To see the UNC Athletic Department’s Strategic Plan, click here.