Annually I send holiday notes to each member of the GAA staff. Here’s one I sent to our Director of Communications and Alumni Editor Regina Oliver ’75 on the eve of her 25th year with the GAA:
This letter is the most challenging I write each year, and it isn’t just because I am trying to anticipate all the edits you know should be made.
No, I struggle because it is very hard to find new ways to communicate how grateful I remain for your service and leadership.
As your 25th anniversary with the GAA draws nearer, I continue to marvel at how much has changed in communications and just how much you have embraced these changes and led your colleagues to continue to join you in making our communications the envy of so many.
Since we know that words matter, here are just a few that instantly come to mind when I think of you: relentless, hard-working, positive, forgiving, smart, perceptive, wise, interested, interesting, diplomatic, thoughtful, helpful, professional, kind, caring, detail-attentive, and I could go on and on. (Yes, that sentence ends in a preposition!)
Regina, among my many flaws is that I don’t express praise often enough. There is no one at the GAA who earns more praise for the quality of their service and leadership than you. Please know that, and please know how much I value you as a colleague and friend.
With warm wishes, Doug
Representing the Journalism and Friends Association on the GAA Board of Directors, Regina was reluctant to become a candidate to follow Westy Fenhagen ’46 when he retired as Review editor. Thankfully, after further consideration, Regina became a candidate, and I wisely hired her.
She immediately evinced energy and creativity by fully embracing an idea former Chancellor William B. Aycock ’37 (MA, ’48 JD) once shared with me. He observed that for too long too few understood that the chancellor is the chief executive officer of the University — not the system president. Under Regina’s leadership, the Review launched “Fifty Years of the Chancellorship,” which in a series of articles over several issues captured the histories of the times, challenges and accomplishments of Carolina’s first eight chancellors. The series has been updated with the selection of each of our subsequent four chancellors, and it remains available on our website.
The Carolina Alumni Memorial in Memory of Those Lost in Military Service, on Cameron Avenue between Phillips and Memorial halls, was dedicated in April 2007. The memorial’s Book of Names includes pull-out panels listing alumni who lost their lives in battle and in training accidents during time of war. The online edition of the memorial includes a biographical page for each alumnus listed, along with a tool to search by conflict.
The GAA began work on this mammoth project in 2002. Our Records Department carried out the biographical research, and the Review staff, in an effort conceived of and headed by Regina, assembled and edited the information.
Another yearslong project Regina led was the preparation of our 160-page 100th anniversary Review issue in 2012. The magazine staff read every issue of the magazine’s first 99+ years in preparation of “Carolina’s coming of age through the eyes and ears of the Review.” And with generous financial support from many readers, all of the first 100 years of the magazine were digitized and remain available online (as do all subsequent issues) — another of Regina’s initiatives.
And for nearly 25 years, she has also spearheaded the Review’s annual publication of data and helpful information about undergraduate admissions.
In the past 25 years, GAA Communications (which includes this magazine, the GAA’s website as well as our online newsletters and digital communications) have earned nearly 70 awards for writing, design and editing.
By now, the person most uncomfortable reading this column is Regina Oliver, partly because she knows that she is not the only GAA colleague to have achieved 25 years of service — Tom May, Roger Nelsen, Lisa Beers, Tracy Chrismon and Elizabeth Morgan remain on the GAA staff and have already celebrated silver anniversaries — and partly because she recognizes that the remarkable success of engaging, informing, and involving Carolina’s 336,000+ living alumni is a reflection of all GAA staff, including those in records, programs, membership, finance and administration, and communications.
What distinguishes Regina’s work is the very visible, often permanent record that is created, not only in our bimonthly magazine but our daily website postings and social media messaging. Communications are 24/7 with the certain uncertainty of “breaking news.” As Carolina continues to grow in complexity, size, accomplishments and challenges, Regina can draw from her experience, relationships and the respect and trust she has earned to convey complete and fair information to Carolina alumni and friends.
Regina and her colleagues receive guidance from a statement of purpose for GAA’s publications that, from time to time, is revised and reaffirmed by our Communications Advisory Committee and our Board of Directors. The GAA is self-governed and the Review is not a University publication, and the statement affirms that “with this independence comes additional responsibility.” Our readers have come to trust what they read in the Review. The magazine strives to provide alumni with a voice in the life of their alma mater.
Please join me in celebrating Regina’s remarkable first 25 years of leadership of and service to the GAA. Should you choose to write her, 1) please understand that she’ll very likely remind you that “it takes a village” to provide you this magazine; and 2) don’t expect your letter to find its way to our “You Said It” pages.
Yours at Carolina,
Douglas S. Dibbert ’70