Recording Carolina’s Alumni

While the Carolina Alumni Review is the most visible GAA benefit, the services performed by our alumni records staff are among the most appreciated contributions made to our University colleagues and our alumni.  With great care, daily changes and updates are made to many of the more than 250,000 records of living Carolina alumni.  Last year, our records staff made 60,000 home address changes, more than 11,000 business address changes and more than 26,000 name changes.  And with fewer than 3 percent of our alumni considered “lost” – indicating we, at least for the moment, do not have a valid mailing address for them – we have one of the lowest lost alumni percentages in the country.

Doug Dibbert ’70

Without alumni records, our colleagues across the campus could not communicate with, inform or involve Carolina’s former students in the life of our University.  Up-to-date addresses are essential for local Carolina Club notices, reunion notices, GAA program updates – and to mail this magazine.  Increasingly, alumni have expressed a preference for e-mail communications, and we presently have good e-mail addresses for nearly half of our alumni.  The inspiring success of the Carolina First Campaign has been greatly aided by our alumni records.

The first comprehensive alumni directory was published by the GAA in 1924, under the leadership of the GAA’s first full-time alumni secretary, Daniel L. Grant ’22.  It contained information on Carolina’s then-15,000 alumni (11,000 living and 4,000 deceased).

In the 1924 directory, Grant wrote that what motivated those who worked to publish the directory was the hope that it would “be more than the recitation of individual successes and failures to grade or shame us, more than a book to be pushed into the most unused corner of a bookshelf.  …We want it to help bind into a conscious whole the component parts of the entity – The University of North Carolina.  And that entity is not alone in Chapel Hill, as some of us are wont to think; it is not alone in the days of one’s student life which the rosy mist of memory have enshrouded in romance and glory; neither is it alone in the past, nor will it be alone in the future. It is not alone the great men who have been its students. …It is all the men [and women] it has sent forth whose lives have been broadened, deepened and sweetened by her instruction, inspiration and conception of broad purpose.  And it has a future to be shapened. …”

In 1943, James Lee Lowe (class of 1884) of Burlington established the Cornelia Phillips Spencer Alumni Fund to help ensure that adequate records of alumni are maintained and that periodically an alumni directory be made available to the University’s former students.

In the 1954 directory, Alumni Secretary J. Maryon “Spike” Saunders ’27 noted that the directory contained a listing of 51,877 alumni (51,358 living and 10,519 deceased).  Saunders also acknowledged that “address changes are constantly in process of being recorded.  There is no day when the list is the same as the day before.  Nor is it ever completely up-to-date.”

Alumni Secretary Clarence E. Whitefield ’44 acknowledged in his introduction to the 1975 alumni directory that the “compilation of the material for the directory took place over a period of more than six years.”  It contained a listing of 137,219 alumni (118,177 living and 19,042 deceased).

Our 1984 alumni directory was the first to include business title and business address as well as home and business phone numbers for all 160,000 living Carolina alumni.  Our 1990 Bicentennial Alumni Directory included 211,684 alumni (181,556 living and 30,128 deceased).  In 1997, we published our first two-volume alumni directory, which included 250,863 alumni (212,993 living and 37,870 deceased).  Our 2002 edition of the alumni directory included 274,407 alumni (228,866 living and 45,541 deceased) and was the first to include e-mail addresses.  Our just-released 2007 alumni directory is the first to include a listing of more than 300,000 Carolina alumni (252,337 living and 51,866 deceased).

Whenever you move, change jobs, have a birth in your family, or change your phone number or email address, please share this information with us. It’s easy:  Go to the GAA’s website – – and click on “Update your address.”  Or send the information to Alumni Records, General Alumni Association, P.O. Box 660, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.  As a Carolina Alumni member, you have 24/7 access to our online alumni directory, which is updated daily.  All alumni are encouraged to stop by the George Watts Hill Alumni Center to review the paper files on Carolina’s alumni.  These files can be particularly helpful to those researching their family history.

The more than 10,000 Carolina Alumni members who purchased the 2007 directory should receive their copies in July.  We hope your directory will help you connect and reconnect with friends and colleagues as well as learn more about UNC’s distinguished alumni, no longer living, who helped shape North Carolina, their professors and the nation.  Let their legacy inspire each of us.

Yours at Carolina,

Doug signature




Douglas S. Dibbert ’70



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