When I return home now and walk around campus, I notice countless new dorms, parking decks and academic buildings. A university that isn’t moving forward is moving backward, and our school prides itself on advancement. But with progress comes change, and the Carolina of 2007 already seems vastly different from the campus I knew so well as an undergraduate. From the grounds themselves to the people who make them come to life, we each experience Carolina uniquely. We live in different dorms, take different courses, watch different basketball teams and make different friends.
But in the end, regardless of our graduation year, Carolina unites us. Just as my father and I share our core values, Carolina’s defining characteristics remain constant. The spirit of our school doesn’t reside in a particular building, professor or game. It lives in each of us, inspiring us with a thirst for knowledge and providing us with a place to always call home. It travels with us wherever our lives take us after graduation, and all that it asks is that we keep it alive, just as my father did with me. …
[In recalling a trip to London, involving a stop at an Internet café], I see the perfect crystallization of my father’s goal to love family, learning and Carolina: a father-son trip, a visit to historical landmarks that I had studied about and which I now teach, and an instatiable need to know the exact score of the Carolina basketball game. My father instilled these values in me and has spent the last quarter century working to keep them fresh in the minds of our institution’s hundreds of thousands of alumni.
Over the past 25 years, my father’s words have marked this final page of the Alumni Review. He has shared countless tales of athletic triumphs, freshmen classes, system presidents and our family. My voice is here for one issue not only to thank him for a trip to London but to celebrate his career and legacy at our favorite university. My father has two homes in Chapel Hill – our house and the Alumni Center, and I want him to know, simply, that at both his undying love is appreciated and reciprocated.
These were the touching words with which our older son, Michael ’03, closed a column he wrote that accompanied a compilation of all the columns I’ve written over the past 25 years for the Review that my wife, Debbie, carefully assembled. Our younger son, Brian ’05, presented me with a basketball inscribed, “Thanks Doug for 25 years of support for UNC Basketball” and autographed by Dean Smith, Bill Guthridge and Roy Williams ’72. Chancellors Bill Aycock ’38, Chris Fordham ’47, Paul Hardin and James Moeser inscribed generous comments on a print of the Old Well, South Building and Old East and Old West.
All of this came after a much too glowing tribute presented by then-GAA Chair-elect Davy Davidson ’77 at our Annual Alumni Luncheon and the surprise announcement by then-GAA Chair Tom Efird ’61 of a generous addition to the General Alumni Scholars Fund to establish a scholarship in my name.
In expressing my gratitude to the GAA Executive Committee as well as to those who attended the Annual Alumni Luncheon, I noted how fortunate I am to work with remarkably gifted professional colleagues on the GAA staff and devoted, hard-working volunteers on the GAA Board of Directors on behalf of loyal alumni who care deeply about our great University. I observed that just as so many so often wonder aloud “how did the University survive all those years without the Alumni Center and The Carolina Club,” the GAA and our programs, publications and service to Carolina are likewise much respected and appreciated.
We have grown our GAA membership; developed an award-winning magazine; recruited and retain outstanding professional staff; and greatly expanded our award-winning programs, which now include a growing menu of student programs, alumni career services, educational opportunities, enriching alumni tours, engaging reunions and diverse local club programs. The Tar Heel Network is leveraging alumni on behalf of Carolina. New awards that recognize the achievements of younger alumni and faculty service inspire others. Rather than being viewed only as donors and boosters, alumni also are now recognized as equal partners with Carolina’s faculty, students and staff.
It is just as exciting today for me to come to work as it was 25 years ago. As the GAA has grown and changed, so have my responsibilities. I continue to be challenged and enjoy greatly working with our staff and volunteers as together we inform and involve Carolina alumni and keep the spirit alive. As Michael so correctly observed, “Carolina unites us … [and] Carolina’s defining characteristics remain constant.” I recognize how truly fortunate I am to serve in this position at the University I love and to continue to share all these experiences with Debbie, Michael and Brian.
Yours at Carolina,
Douglas S. Dibbert ’70