The N.C. General Assembly has always provided generous financial support to North Carolina’s higher education system — particularly to our campus. Across the country, no state is as generous to its flagship university. Today’s economic environment understandably prompts many Carolina supporters to worry about that vital legislative backing.
The GAA’s Tar Heel Network is an important contributor toward developing broader understanding of Carolina and ensuring that Carolina continues to receive much-needed aid from our many publics, including, most particularly, from the General Assembly. The Tar Heel Network helps preserve and enhance the value of all Carolina diplomas.
Formed in 1983 and chaired by Tom Lambeth ’57, a former chair of both the GAA Board of Directors and of the UNC Board of Trustees, the Tar Heel Network has members in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. It is a broadly based organization of community leaders who are committed to generating an effective and continuing voice on behalf of Carolina. The network’s 1,000-plus members do no fundraising, collect no dues and hold no meetings. The only commitment they have been asked to make is to read and interpret concise information about the University. As hoped, the network has provided ideas, opinions and independent grass-roots help on issues where prompt and appropriate response from alumni and Carolina friends was beneficial. In essence, the network has acted as a sounding board, an idea source and an advocate for Carolina in both public and private forums.
The first Tar Heel Network newsletter addressed the challenging issue of undergraduate admissions. During the difficult years of the early ’90s, the network provided members with regular updates on University legislative priorities and urged direct contact with legislators.
Twice the network has played a critical role in gathering understanding and support for the statewide vote for bond issues for higher-education capital construction. During two chancellor searches, the network gathered alumni in several N.C. communities to hear suggestions and recommendations for what should be the priorities of each new chancellor.
Of particular note, the network has been effective in persuading the General Assembly to provide needed funding for faculty salaries, graduate student support and capital construction. The network was an effective advocate for returning all of Carolina’s hard-earned overhead receipts to our campus for reinvestment in research. Along the way, network members have been provided summaries of legislative action that have a direct impact on our campus and have encouraged members to link their support for legislative candidates to that candidate’s support for Carolina.
Whenever legislators have proposed changes to the state budget that would be hurtful to our campus, the network has effectively opposed such initiatives. Similarly, in 2001, when some members of the N.C. House proposed to reallocate overhead receipts from Carolina and N.C. State to other UNC System campuses, Lambeth wrote an article for the Review and reported how each House member voted.
For 20 years, the Tar Heel Network has hosted an annual reception of members of the General Assembly and other state officials. In more recent years, the network has worked with University officers and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center board of visitors to secure funding for the N.C. Cancer Hospital as well as for the University Cancer Research Fund.This spring, the network will assist the Board of Trustees by engaging alumni in an ongoing campus discussion among faculty, staff and students about how to improve Carolina and make it “the best place to teach, learn and discover.”
Among Carolina’s many strengths has been the passionate support from North Carolinians who take great pride in the fact that our state created and has nourished one of the world’s most distinguished educational institutions, one that has achieved excellence by providing unparalleled public service, inspiring teaching and producing much-needed research.
We are grateful to all who represent our University with passion and devotion. In your community and in your professional and personal lives, to many you are The University of North Carolina.We hope all alumni will actively join the Tar Heel Network in urging legislators to support all public education — kindergarten through 12th grade, the community colleges and the UNC System and, most particularly, our country’s oldest public university, North Carolina’s “priceless gem” — The University of North Carolina. There is no better investment legislators can make.
Yours at Carolina,
Douglas S. Dibbert ’70
Note: Please send me an e-mail if you’d like to be added to our Tar Heel Network or to confirm that you’re already a member. Thank you.
One more note: We appreciate your loyalty and support as reflected by your GAA membership. We understand that many people are anxious about the state of our economy. Like other not-for-profit organizations, the GAA is closely monitoring expenses but will not compromise our service to our members. Please be assured that the GAA has no plans to increase dues in 2009. Thank you again for your continuing support.