From the University Report (published by the GAA 1970-94)
John Drescher’s article on page 2 is an enlightening commentary by someone uniquely positioned to review Christopher C. Fordham’s first five years as Chancellor at UNC-CH.
When Fordham began his first year as Chancellor, Drescher was a freshman. Four years later, as a graduating senior, he had completed a year as editor of the Daily Tar Heel. Today he is finishing his first year as a reporter for the Raleigh News and Observer and has recently been assigned to cover the N.C. General Assembly.
Not surprisingly, Drescher has focused his comments about the Fordham years on subjects that were most visible when he was a student journalist.
Other characteristics and accomplishments of the first five years of the Fordham Chancellorship deserve attention at this time.
Certainly our alumni will appreciate Fordham ‘s characteristic enthusiasm for the University at Chapel Hill. While most students leave Carolina with a deep affection for the University, few are as articulate and devoted to all that is Carolina blue as is Christopher Fordham. This is never more apparent than when Chancellor and Mrs. Fordham attend alumni chapter meetings, and the Chancellor talks enthusiastically about the important contributions the University makes in improving the lives of the people of North Carolina, the region, and the nation.
Under Fordham’s leadership, the University’s programs of educational reform have reached out from the campus to public schools across North Carolina. The undergraduate curriculum has been revised and strengthened. The Lyndhurst Fellowship Program which supports bright students who will be the best school teachers of the future was developed and is a national model for teacher training. The Principals Executive Program is providing much needed professional training to school administrators.
Fordham’s visible leadership and commitment to protect the integrity of intercollegiate athletic bears witness around the country that our University is dedicated to excellence in academics and athletics — that one is not incompatible with the other.
Happily, during a period when the University system will be making an all important transition to a new President to succeed the irreplaceable William C. Friday, we will enjoy the continuing leadership of Christopher Fordham.
Fordham is also taking the lead as the University prepares for the Bicentennial and a Bicentennial capital campaign. During the last five years the University has enjoyed consecutive years of unparalleled growth in private giving. This success is a result of the increasing generosity of our alumni and a more aggressive central development effort by the University. It is a tribute to the leadership of Carolina’s chief executive officer.
To many in our University family, it is unsettling that universities like our own are growing increasingly complex and today have more in common with major corporations than with academic institutions as we knew them 30 years ago. We are fortunate that Fordham, the first medical school dean to be selected as our Chancellor, brings to his office an appreciation for technological change, as well as an unyielding belief in the humanities and the traditional liberal arts education as the cornerstones for that change.
Perhaps never before in the history of the University has it been so important for our campus to be led by someone who has a devotion to the tradition that is Carolina, a breadth of understanding about the society , and world in which our University finds itself, a vision for the future, and a commitment to see that every effort is made not only to preserve the excellence that has come to be associated with our University but to advance our institution from the top 20 academically into the top 10.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not share with you my own personal perspective. Much of the General Alumni Association’s revitalization and expanding mandate is a direct result of the Chancellor’s support and encouragement. As the Association expands its programs and membership, time and again Chancellor Fordham has made clear that our 155,000 alumni have a critical role to play in protecting and advancing the University’s excellence.
Yours at Carolina,
Douglas S. Dibbert ’70