Time flies. It seems like only yesterday that my wife, Debbie, our 18-month-old son, Michael, and I moved to Chapel Hill, and I began the always exciting, if sometimes exhausting, job as your Alumni Director. Would you believe it has already been five years? Working with dedicated, independent-minded Association officers and directors, a loyal and hard-working staff and a supportive University administration, together we have accomplished much during these five years.
1) Membership Growth — Membership has grown by 16,000; from 28,000 to 44,000, a 57% increase. Life members have grown by 6,000; from 10,700 to 16,700, a 56% increase.
2) Alumni Center Progress — A site and architects’ plans have been approved for a much-needed and long overdue Alumni Center. Nearly $5.5 million toward a $8 .5 million goal has been raised.
3) Publications Enhanced — Both this Carolina Alumni Review magazine and the University Report newspaper have benefitted from re-design and expanded and improved content.
4) Programs Expanded — We’ve produced an award-winning Charles Kurault-narrated slide show entitled “On the Road in Chapel Hill,” added faculty to many of our alumni tours, conducted on- and off-campus seminars in cooperation with University departments, including the Program in the Humanities, the Marine Sciences Institute, and the Botanical Gardens, and expanded our alumni reunion programming by adding “Saturday Morning in Chapel Hill.”
5) Strengthened Alumni Chapters — We have added an Assistant Director for Chapter Development and are devoting more Association resources to increase alumni involvement at the local chapter level. The first alumni chapter-sponsored scholarship has been funded, and local chapters are beginning to assist the University with admissions.
6) Publication of Alumni Directory — The most extensive directory ever has been published, and nearly 20,000 copies are in circulation. The Association’s records staff, during these five years, has processed over 150,000 address changes and 250,000 other records changes.
7) Strengthened Relationships With General Assembly — Relationships with members of the General Assembly have been established and strengthened to the benefit of the University.
8) Long-Range Planning Process Established — Our Association has developed two Long-Range Plans which chart an ambitious future course for the Association.
Yes, we should be pleased with the progress we have made. However, as significant as these achievements are, I am even more excited by the renewed sense of commitment we are finding from alumni who are now insisting on being equal partners with the faculty, students and administration in shaping our University.
Alumni care about the quality of teaching and the scope of the curriculum, and we can help assure that students are adequately prepared for the challenges they will face after Carolina. Alumni care about the quality of the student body and the strength of the faculty and administration, and we can help identify and recruit outstanding students, faculty and administrators.
Alumni realize how important public and legislative support is for the University, and we can be effective representatives of the University in our communities and to members of the General Assembly.
We should also serve alumni by providing you with communications and opportunities to network and to be involved with the University. Our Association should allow you to fulfill your need for life-long learning and provide recognition of your achievements and the value of alumni contributions to the University.
Over the course of the last five years, I have had the opportunity to meet Carolina alumni throughout North Carolina and across the nation. I have visited nearly every alumni chapter, many of them several times, and I have confirmed what I long suspected: Carolina, among all universities, is uniquely fortunate to have the most loyal and dedicated alumni anywhere. It is our challenge as an Association to provide alumni with the fullest opportunities to make their needed and varied contributions. We are, as alumni, the only permanent constituency of the University. We share equally with the faculty, administration, and students the challenge of preserving and enhancing the University’s excellence.
Yes, Debbie, Michael (now 6 1/2), and now Brian (age 4) and I are enjoying Chapel Hill. I am grateful for your continuing interest and support. We look forward to a productive, exciting future as we continue the work of making a great university greater.
Yours at Carolina,
Douglas S. Dibbert ’70