Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Once again, as another calendar year has closed, alumni should remain proud of our University’s achievements, resolute about our challenges, saddened by the passing of those who served us so well, inspired by the legacy of Carolina’s first 226 years and eagerly anticipate our alma mater’s future.

Douglas S. Dibbert ’70

Douglas S. Dibbert ’70

In January 2019, then-Chancellor Carol Folt directed the removal of the pedestal upon which the Confederate monument had stood since 1913 until its toppling in August 2018. Concurrent with her directive, she also announced her resignation. Arts and Sciences College Dean Kevin Guskiewicz was named interim chancellor — a position he held until Dec. 13, when the UNC System Board of Governors, on the recommendation of system Interim President Dr. William Roper, unanimously approved him as our 12th chancellor.

Among the many whose passing we’ve mourned in the past year were:

■ Ruel Tyson, a longtime religious studies professor and founding director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities;

■ Joel Schwartz, recipient of multiple teaching awards, a noted political science professor and inaugural director of the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning;

■ The inspiring Dr. Charles van der Horst of the School of Medicine and the Gillings School of Global Public Health; 

■ Widely popular and longtime education professor Gerald Unks; and

■ Beloved alumna and onetime Arts and Sciences fundraiser Ishna Hall ’00.

There were celebrations marking a number of anniversaries: the 200th for the town of Chapel Hill; the 95th for the Howard W. Odum Institute for Research in Social Science; Kenan-Flagler Business School’s 75th; the biostatistics department’s 70th; the 50th for Project Uplift and for the departments of marine sciences and of American studies; and the 20th for UNC’s Center for Public Service.

Senior officials stepping down in 2019 included Felicia Washington ’87, as vice chancellor for workforce strategy, equity, and engagement; and Mark Merritt ’79, as vice chancellor and general counsel, succeeded by Charles Marshall ’92 (’96 JD). Chuck Lovelace ’77 announced he would step down this year as the longtime executive director of the Morehead-Cain Foundation. New leaders include Suzanne Barbour, dean of the Graduate School; Wesley Burks, dean of the medical school and CEO of UNC Health Care System; Angela Kashuba, dean of the Eshelman School of Pharmacy; and former U.S. ambassador Barbara Stephenson, vice provost for global affairs.

Thirty-three-year women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell resigned, and Princeton coach Courtney Banghart was named her successor. Karen Shelton coached the field hockey team to another undefeated season, a second straight NCAA national championship and the team’s eighth overall championship under Shelton. The newly renovated soccer and lacrosse stadium opened, and the field was named for longtime women’s soccer coach Anson Dorance ’74, who has led the Heels to the College Cup 29 times and to 21 NCAA crowns, more than any women’s NCAA Division I sports program in history.

Undergraduate applications for admission increased to 44,859 — up 4 percent from the previous year and marking the 14th consecutive year in which applications have increased — and Carolina welcomed 5,047 new undergraduates. The Faculty Bus Tour was relaunched, with three buses. The first undergraduate curriculum reform in more than a decade was approved by Faculty Council.

“For All Kind: The Campaign for Carolina” enjoys inspiring success — $602 million in 2018-19 — and totals $3 billion, surpassing 70 percent of its $4.25 billion goal with 60 percent of the time elapsed.

Among the many meaningful gifts in 2019 were $25 million from Walter Hussman ’68 and his wife, Ben, to name the School of Journalism and Media; an anonymous $25 million to support graduate students; an anonymous $10 million challenge gift to support the Morehead-Cain Scholarship; and a $2 million gift from the GAA to establish the Lt. Col. Bernard W. Dibbert Carolina Covenant for Military Families Endowed Scholarship Fund.

The $27.6 million estate gift from Claude A. Adams and Grace Phillips Adams 20 years ago resulted in the naming last year of the Adams School of Dentistry.

Research funding was again at an all-time high — over $1 billion.

The Association of American Universities released a national study on sexual assault and harassment for its 33 public research university members. Carolina’s results were “very troubling,” and Chancellor Guskiewicz noted that “we need the help of every person — now more than ever — to change our culture.”

After a review from 2009 to 2015, the University was cited for multiple serious violations of the federal Clery Act, which requires institutions to report campus crime statistics. The chancellor observed that “while we have made many safety improvements and staffing changes since 2013, the shortcomings noted … are extremely concerning, disappointing, and do not meet the University’s high standards.”

Anne Sutton ’18 and Olivia Holder ’18 became our 19th and 20th Marshall Scholars, and Yusheng Zhang ’19 and Sandy Alkoutami ’18 were named our eighth and ninth Schwarzman Scholars. Reuters ranked UNC No. 6 on its list of the world’s most innovative universities; UNC’s study abroad program was ranked 17th for the second straight year; and we advanced to 33rd among best global universities, as measured by U.S. News & World Report.

Concerns remain about a recently announced settlement involving the Confederate monument and the leadership of the UNC System as its presidential search continues. Yet, there was excitement among fans that Carolina’s football team was again competing in a bowl. Most importantly, our University again has permanent senior leadership in Chancellor Guskiewicz and others, who understand that tomorrow Carolina will be judged by the decisions and actions it takes today.

Yours at Carolina,

Doug signature




Douglas S. Dibbert ’70

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