Continuing to Grow With Care

Alumni should be reassured that we will not grow unless the resources are provided that will be essential if we are to retain and enhance the quality of educational experience for all Carolina students.”  This sentence concluded my column written nearly a decade ago upon the completion of a report by the Enrollment Task Force, appointed by then Chancellor Michael Hooker ’69 and on which I served.

Doug Dibbert ’70

As noted in the illuminating story by Senior Associate Editor David Brown ’75     that begins on page 20 of this issue of the Review, Carolina is projected to grow to 33,000 students in the next decade.  That’s about the same rate as the University has grown over the past decade.  I often tell alumni and current UNC students that most alumni believe be attended Carolina at exactly the most perfect time, and I assure current students that someday they will feel the same way.

So, it is understandable that we would have some concern that the Carolina we experienced as students might not remain the same. The University’s growth in recent decades demonstrates that all that we find special can be retained and enhanced while Carolina’s academic stature continues to rise.  See chart.

The following principles that guided the 1998 Enrollment Task Force remain applicable today:

  • Sustain quality.
  • Maintain the residential character of the campus.
  • Maintain small class size.
  • Maintain the enrollment percentage of 82 percent in-state and 18 percent out-of-state.
  • Maintain a commitment to a distinct mission for graduate education and the present percentage of 60 percent undergraduates to 40 percent graduate students.
  • Increase enrollment from the top of the enrollment pool.
  • Seek to improve the graduation rate.
  • Enhance diversity.
  • Grow library resources.

In his installation address delivered on Polk Place on University Day, Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86 affirmed that “we must make Carolina the best place to teach, learn and discover.”  He went on to note that to do so we must “attract the best students and inspire them.”

Referencing the UNC System’s challenge of educating an additional 80,000 students by 2017, Chancellor Thorp affirmed that “we have a responsibility to do our part.  But we have to be smart about growth.  We have to determine how to grow and enhance our quality.”

Chancellor Thorp announced the launch of important initiatives to direct how we address our anticipated grown in a trustee-led “campuswide conversation about how Carolina can be an even better university” that will “inform an update of the Academic Plan,” and he noted that “both of these efforts will help us determine our priorities for private giving.”

Finally, Chancellor Thorp announced the establishment of a task force to explore ways to strengthen the Carolina undergraduate experience.

Each of us believes Carolina and Chapel Hill were exactly the right size when we were students. Our challenge in accommodating significant growth is to ensure that these new students look back and feel as we do.  The quality of the student experience determines our participation, interest and support as alumni.

Yours at Carolina,

Doug signature




Douglas S. Dibbert ’70




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