The University will celebrate its 213th birthday on Oct. 12 with a speech by UNC System President Erskine Bowles ’67 and an awards presentation in Memorial Hall.
Students, faculty, staff and the public are invited to the free public ceremony, which begins at 11 a.m.
University Day was created by the UNC Board of Trustees to commemorate the laying of the cornerstone of Old East, the nation’s first state university building, on Oct. 12, 1793. The University was chartered by the N.C. General Assembly in 1789 and welcomed its first students in 1795.
At 3 p.m., Chancellor James Moeser will help unveil a virtual museum of University history at a public symposium in Wilson Library’s Pleasants Family Assembly Room. The Web-based museum, a joint project of the UNC Center for the Study of the American South and the University Library, chronicles Carolina’s people and events from its founding to the present day. As a comprehensive resource, the virtual museum contains blunt historical truths, including the role of slavery in the growth of the university.
“This project was born of both pride and responsibility,” said history Professor Harry Watson, director of the Center for the Study of the American South. “Carolina has a rich and complex story that includes some very painful episodes. It’s important to thoroughly understand our past in order to move intelligently to the future.”
In addition to Watson, the symposium will include William Darity Jr., Boshamer Distinguished Professor of economics and director of the Institute of African American Research; James Leloudis ’77, associate professor of history, associate dean for honors and director of the Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence; and Jacquelyn Hall, Spruill professor of history and director of the Southern Oral History Program. Hall also is the current faculty representative on the GAA’s board of Directors. The symposium will explore historical perspectives on race and the University; service to the state and region; and gender and Southern education.
University Day has been marked each Oct. 12 dating to 1877. In 1906, former University President Edwin A. Alderman (class of 1882) received an honorary degree, the first given on University Day. That practice evolved into the Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Awards, first presented in 1971 to alumni who had distinguished themselves in a manner that brought credit to the University.
This year’s recipients of the Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Awards, who will be recognized at the Memorial Hall event, are Valerie Alayne Batts ’74, Angela Rebecca Bryant ’73, William Burwell Harrison Jr. ’66, Weiming Lu ’57 (MRP), Dr. Charles Barnet Nemeroff ’76 (PhD, ’81 MD) and Dr. George Edwin Stuart III ’75 (PhD).
Batts and Bryant are co-founders of Visions Inc., a nonprofit firm offering consultancy and training in multiculturalism. Both are natives of Rocky Mount. Batters earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology, helped found the Black Student Movement at Carolina and was inducted into the Order of the Golden Fleece, the Order of the Valkyries and the Order of the Old Well. Bryant’s bachelor’s degree from UNC is in mathematics and she also earned her law degree from UNC in 1976. She helped develop the Wright Center, a multicultural adult day-care health project in Rocky Mount.
Harrison earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and played basketball for Dean Smith. In 2001, Harrison was named chairman and chief executive officer of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., and he piloted the company through its merger with Bank One Corp. A Rocky Mount native, Harrison has served on UNC’s Board of Visitors, the Bicentennial Steering Committee and the National Development Council. In 2004, the Board of Trustees honored him with the Davie Award.
Lu, who earned his master’s in regional planning from UNC, is president of Lowertown Redevelopment Corporation in St. Paul, Minn. He has advised major urban design projects including the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and redevelopment of Chattanooga, Tenn., and south-central Los Angeles. Lu is a member of the Committee of 100, a national organization of Chinese American leaders.
Nemeroff is now Reunette W. Harris Professor and chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences in the Emory University School of Medicine. His research focuses on biological basis of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and affective disorders. He has received numerous honors, including the Gold Medal Award from the Society of Biological Psychiatry and election to the Institute of Medicine.
Stuart earned his doctoral degree in anthropology and spent 38 years as resident archaeologist for the National Geographic Society, retiring in 1998, and was the society’s vice president for research and exploration. A native of Barnardsville, his seven books include Lost Kingdoms of the Maya and The Mysterious Maya. He founded and directs the Center for Maya Research in the Yucatan and oversees the scholarly journals Research Reports on Ancient Maya Writing and Ancient America.