Tar Heel Bus Tour Showing New Faculty How UNC Helps N.C.

Three dozen of the University’s newest faculty members boarded a bus Monday for a weeklong introduction to the state, its history and people as the Tar Heel Bus Tour makes its ninth journey across the state.

Since 1997, the UNC chancellor has sponsored the bus tour. In that time, more than 250 new faculty and administrators have experienced this guided tour across North Carolina, visiting the people and sites that make each area unique. This year, 36 new faculty members and administrators – plus Chancellor James Moeser and chemistry Professor Joseph Templeton who is the incoming faculty chair – are participating in the tour.

“Our goals for the bus tour have not changed: We aim to help faculty gain a better understanding of North Carolina and the people we serve,” Moeser said. “As we aspire to be the leading public university in the country, we must serve the people and communities that surround us.”

The tour highlights the University’s public service commitment by promoting scholarship and service that are responsive to the concerns of the state and contribute to the common good. The goals of the privately funded tour are to:

  • Gain a rich understanding of the state and its people;
  • Visit the places most of our students call home;
  • Bond with faculty across disciplines;
  • Learn how Carolina is connected to the entire state; and
  • See a side of North Carolina that faculty may otherwise never see.

The tour crisscrosses the state from the coast to the Piedmont to the mountains. In past years, participants have visited with farmers, factory workers, high-tech and financial firms and soldiers at Fort Bragg, as well as seeing historical and cultural landmarks.

The itinerary this year includes stops at Halifax County, to visit the home of William Richardson Davie, one of the University’s founders. UNC is celebrating the 250th anniversary of Davie’s birth this year. The stop Monday included discussion of Davie’s role in founding the University and work during the Revolutionary War era. Participants saw both the house and the historic area in Halifax.

Davie rode in on his horse for his 250th birthday party at his historic home – actually, UNC English Professor Christopher Armitage, in period dress, played the role of the Revolutionary War officer, Halifax attorney, member of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and advocate of the bill for North Carolina’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

The public was invited to enjoy cake, sing “Happy Birthday” and observe as Moeser, “Davie” and others planted a poplar sapling, symbolic of the Davie Poplar on the UNC campus. Davie was born June 22, 1756, in England and practiced law and lived in Halifax, where the family home is part of the Historic Halifax State Historic Site. He wrote the bill to establish the University.

The party and history lesson was the first stop on the 2006 Tar Heel Bus Tour. Other stops include:

  • Beaufort, to visit UNC’s Institute for Marine Sciences. Faculty and students at the institute will lead a boat excursion to Shackleford Banks. The trip will include demonstrations on water quality testing techniques and explanations of the many issues being addressed at the Institute for Marine Sciences, including erosion and beach nourishment, nutrient cycling and general water-quality issues in the sound.
  • Lexington, to learn about the Citizen-Soldier Support Program. A collaborative program based at UNC, the Citizen-Soldier Support Program is designed to extend existing National Guard and National Reserve programs, while bringing employers, schools, child-care providers, health professionals and other organizations into a broad network of family support.
  • Charlotte, where a joint meeting with colleagues from UNC-Charlotte will focus on higher education in North Carolina. UNC-Charlotte Chancellor Phillip L. Dubois will host the breakfast meeting, which will give participants the opportunity both to learn about a sister UNC institution, as well as network with faculty members and seek out possible areas of collaboration and partnership.
  • Three Sisters Farm in Shannon, run by the American Indian Mothers Inc., civic group, to talk with leaders in the Lumbee Indian community. In addition to learning about the agricultural practices at the farm, participants will hear from representatives of several community organizations, including the Tribal Council, the Healing Lodge (a faith-based public health center), the Indian Cultural Center and the Indian Resource Center, and a UNC-Pembroke nurse who has worked with a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member to do public health research on the Lumbee community.
  • B.F. Grady Elementary School in Albertson, to learn how the UNC’s School of Education is helping schools such as Grady Elementary are working to address the needs of Hispanic immigrants, who now comprise half of the school’s students. Local school officials, the president of the N.C. Mexican Association, and UNC faculty and graduate students will discuss a range of issues related to immigration and education.
  • Rocky Mount, to visit the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC). The OIC has partnered with ECHO (the UNC Program on Ethnicity, Culture and Health Outcomes) and Carolina’s Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research to provide HIV/AIDS awareness education, cancer screenings and health clinics. Tour participants met with community leaders to learn how the University’s health affairs schools work with OIC to provide health services to people in a five-county area, including a mobile health center.
  • Moore County’s unincorporated black communities near Pinehurst. UNC’s School of Law’s Center for Civil Rights has worked to help leaders in several unincorporated areas in Moore County to become incorporated and thus obtain basic municipal services such as garbage pickup and water and sewer service. Bus tour participants will meet with community leaders at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church and then take a walking and driving tour of the area.
  • The Carolina Living and Learning Center in Pittsboro, where participants will learn about the center’s integrated vocational and residential program for autistic adults run by UNC’s Division TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children). In addition to meeting with the center’s leaders and residents, the stop will include a walking tour of the residences, center vegetable garden and other farming facilities.
  • Chimney Rock, to learn about the Small Towns Initiative, which seeks to leverage local assets to revitalize small town economies. Government officials, community leaders and faculty from the UNC’s School of Government will discuss the effort with participants. There also will be a tour of Chimney Rock Village and a visit to Chimney Rock Park.
  • The DeFeet manufacturing plant in Hildebran. This state-of-the-art textile factory specializes in high-performing athletic socks. Shane Cooper, founder and president of DeFeet, will talk about how the textile industry is adapting to a changing economic environment through advanced technologies and better service of niche markets. Faculty from UNC and the Hosiery Technology Center at Catawba Valley Community College will talk about preparing workers for jobs in this fast-changing industry.

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