As another calendar year has closed, Carolina alumni and friends should remain proud of our University’s achievements, resolute about our challenges, saddened by the passing of those who served us so well and inspired by the legacy of Carolina’s first 228 years as we eagerly anticipate our alma mater’s future.
Among the many whose passing we mourned in 2021 were:
◾ Art philanthropist Dr. Shelden Peck ’63, (’66 DDS);
◾ Broadcaster and Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient Roger Mudd ’53 (MA);
◾ Former GAA Board Chair Charles Winston ’53;
◾ Longtime former Institute of Government Director and Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient John Sanders ’50, (’54 JD);
◾ Carolina First Campaign Co-chair and Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient Charles Shaffer ’64, (’67 JD);
◾ City Lights Booksellers co-founder and Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient Lawrence Ferlinghetti ’41;
◾ Longtime former Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Don Boulton;
◾ Philanthropist Joan Gillings;
◾ Longtime former dean of the Adams School of Dentistry Dr. John Stamm; and
◾ Distinguished journalist and longtime former journalism school lecturer Valarie Anne Lauder.
Franklin Street will not be the same without Crook’s Corner and Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe. And many Tar Heel fans have noted the passing of Rameses XXI.
Senior officials who have stepped down or will step down are Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert Blouin, Vice Chancellor for Communications Joel Curran ’86, deans Gary Bowen ’76 (MSW) (School of Social Work), Nena Peragallo Montano (School of Nursing), Dr. Scott De Rossi (Adams School of Dentistry), Susan King (Hussman School of Journalism and Media), Barbara Rimer (Gillings School of Global Public Health) and Terry Rhodes ’78 (College of Arts & Sciences).
Astrophysicist Chris Clemens was appointed provost and executive vice chancellor. Ramona Denby-Brinson joined Carolina as dean of the School of Social Work. Leah Cox became the University’s new vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. Christopher Bradford was named president of the Morehead-Cain Foundation, and Alison Friedman became executive and artistic director of Carolina Performing Arts.
On April 1, our three-time NCAA championship-winning Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach Roy Williams ’72 (’73 MAT) announced his retirement. Soon thereafter athletic director Bubba Cunningham announced his selection of UNC men’s assistant coach, former ESPN broadcaster and NBA and Carolina player Hubert Davis ’92 to succeed Williams. Cunningham also named as new head coaches Danna Durante (gymnastics), Aimee Neff (women’s golf) and Erin Neppel ’01 (rowing).
“For All Kind: The Campaign for Carolina” continues to be inspiringly successful, with $604 million raised in 2020–21. By early October, donations and pledges totaled $4,052,746,878 — 95 percent of the goal with 84 percent of time elapsed. Throughout the campaign’s eight-plus years, gifts have come from 196,133 donors.
Undergraduate admissions applications increased to 53,776 — up 21 percent from last year and the 16th consecutive year of increase. Carolina welcomed 5,631 new undergraduates, including 4,688 first-year students — the largest and most diverse class ever.
Women’s lacrosse coach Jenny Levy was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Carolina’s field hockey team won its third-straight NCAA national championship, and Austin O’Connor won the NCAA collegiate wrestling national championship in the 149-pound class. Carolina’s 28-sport athletics program finished fourth in the Directors’ Cup.
New research awards again reached an all-time record: $1.073 billion.
Morehead-Cain Scholar Takhona Hlatshwako, a senior, joined alumni Kimathi Muiruri ’21, Justin Hadad ’21 and Sarah Mackenzie ’20, also Morehead-Cain Scholars, and Peter Andringa ’20 as Carolina’s newest Rhodes Scholars.
With 2021 graduates seated all across the field in Kenan Stadium, Carolina hosted five tassel-turning ceremonies with Dr. Anthony Fauci and alumna Kizzmekia Corbett ’14 (PhD) as virtual Commencement speakers. In October, the class of 2020 held a three-day Commencement celebration concluding in Kenan Stadium with Roy Williams as the featured speaker.
While the pandemic remained challenging throughout the year, Carolina’s staff, faculty and students remained resilient and compliant with community standards for masking, vaccination and testing. Most instruction was in person, and there was no evidence of spread in any classrooms. By fall, fans were again permitted at all UNC sporting events.
Alumna and award-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones ’03 (MA) accepted a five-year, fixed-term appointment to the Hussman School of Media and Journalism. Though she eventually was also approved for tenure at Carolina, protracted controversy and debate regarding her scholarship and teaching credentials prompted her ultimately to decline a faculty position at UNC.
Carolina remained among the top universities in the latest rankings: fifth among national public universities by U.S. News & World Report (for the 21st consecutive year); 33rd by The Wall Street Journal among all U.S. public and private universities; 52nd by Times Higher Education World University Rankings among the world’s top 1,600 research universities; 29th in the world and 20th in the U.S. among global universities by Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.
If Carolina’s first 228 years are prelude, we can confidently anticipate the year ahead will again bring achievements, occasions for celebration as well as sadness and disappointment, and most especially challenges — many of which are yet unknown.
Yours at Carolina,
Douglas S. Dibbert ’70