The end of an academic year is always accompanied by emotion. There is the anticipation of the end to a year of study and, for more than 4,000 of Carolina’s newest alumni this May, the conclusion to their lives as undergraduates; and there’s the prospect of what comes next, if only for a summer or for the rest of one’s life.
Carolina’s 2018-19 academic year was particularly eventful. You’ve read in these pages of how our University marked its 225th year; of inspired responses to the ambitious $4.25 billion “For All Kind: The Campaign for Carolina,” which by the start of this year had achieved half of its goal; and of how the University welcomed 5,121 new undergraduates with academic credentials that continue to set a new bar. You also read of the institution’s ongoing deliberations over a subject sometimes called “race and place” and of changes in the University’s leadership.
In reflecting on this year as we prepare to welcome another cohort of Carolina alumni, three things came to mind.
Whether Carolina alumni return to Chapel Hill for a class year or affinity reunion, graduation, a performance from Carolina Performing Arts, to visit the Ackland Art Museum, attend a lecture or an athletic event, to visit a favorite professor, child, grandchild, classmate or friend, we always hope to be welcomed by a Carolina blue sky, a nourishing Old Well, blooming azaleas and dogwoods, a constantly changing Franklin Street and warm, engaging smiles everywhere.
Increasingly, we find alumni who return for reunions are particularly anxious to see former classmates and favorite faculty. We continue to emphasize to returning alumni that their personal contact will likely make the difference whether a friend and classmate returns for a reunion or not. It is never too early or too late to telephone, email, or visit those you most hope to see and volunteer “I’m going and really hope you’ll also go … it has been too long … please reach out to others and encourage them to meet us at our reunion.”
With “interim” leadership in several important senior administrative positions — UNC System president and Carolina’s chancellor, vice chancellor and general counsel, vice chancellor for student affairs, vice chancellor for information technology, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and dean of the Eshelman School of Pharmacy — it is understandable that some have questions and concerns. Drawing on his two dozen years on the Carolina faculty and three years as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz is off to a strong start and has launched a “Listening and Learning Tour” across the University. We should have confidence in each of our interim leaders and be comforted that undergraduate applications, research funding and financial support from alumni and friends are again trending to record levels.
My brothers William “Billy” ’81 (’87 MSW) and Michael ’74 (’76 MAT) and I are deeply grateful for the association’s remarkable gift establishing the Lt. Col. Bernard W. Dibbert Carolina Covenant for Military Families Endowed Scholarship Fund to aid military dependents who qualify for the Carolina Covenant, which was detailed in the March/April issue. We are especially pleased that the association’s gift also will be a match to the transformational gift from Debbie ’78 and Steve Vetter ’78, who established the Red, White and Carolina Blue Challenge to support families of military veterans. At the gift announcement, Carolina sophomore Kayleigh Olecki, whose father and grandparents served in the military, volunteered that the Carolina Covenant and Red, White and Carolina Blue Challenge “have taken away the financial stress of today’s economy … and allows me to focus on what really matters, which is my studies.”
I am most grateful to all members of the GAA Board of Directors — particularly those currently serving on the GAA Executive Committee — led by retired admiral and outgoing GAA Chair Ferg Norton ’61; former senator and GAA Treasurer Tony Rand ’61 (’64 LLBJD); Big Ten commissioner and 2018-19’s Immediate Past Chair Jim Delany ’70 (’73 JD); board counsel Wade Smith ’60 (’63 LLBJD); Assistant Treasurer Davy Davidson ’77; 2018-19’s Chair-Elect Rich Leonard ’71 (’73 MEd); and Tom Lambeth ’57. They met, conspired and crafted a much-needed and meaningful gift to our University.
Yours at Carolina,
Douglas S. Dibbert ’70