The Faces May Change, But The Traditions Continue

“Sometime when the springtime comes,
And the sifting moonlight falls
They’ll think again of this night here
And of these old brown walls,
Of white old well, and of old South
With bell’s deep booming tone,
They’ll think again of Chapel Hill and
Thinking — come back home.”
— Thomas Wolfe, Class 1920

As the senior class of 1988 graduates and another Chapel Hill spring gives way to summer, we should note that the academic year 1988-89 long will be remembered for many important and exciting changes. Chancellor Christopher Fordham’s (’47) announcement to the Trustees at their August meeting that on June 30, 1988, he would step down after eight years as Chancellor profoundly affected this year. Also, at its August meeting, our Board of Trustees elected Robert Eubanks ’61 as its chairman. Eubanks chaired the Chancellor Search Committee and directed a selection process that most have observed to be the most thorough and far-reaching in the University’s long history.

The search committee was composed of faculty members, several trustees, General Alumni Association President the Honorable James G. Exum, Jr. ’57, and student body President Brian Bailey. The search committee commissioned a review of the University which identified the University’s many strengths as well as some of its significant problems. Released in February, the Fisher Report triggered public discussions about its findings and recommendations among alumni, faculty, legislators, the press, and others.

Meanwhile, last fall the Board of Visitors, chaired by Lloyd Jard ’43, formed two task forces to look at the University’s communications as well as salaries and fringe benefits. Draft reports from both task forces were discussed at its April meeting and have received highly positive public comment.

Also last fall, Dick Crum resigned after 10 years as Carolina’s head football coach. Unfortunately, the press published false reports concerning Crum’s resignation which provoked needless concern among some faculty and alumni about the integrity of our athletic program. Athletic Director John Swofford’s (’71) selection of Mack Brown as Crum’s successor has been well received. Alumni have found Coach Brown’s enthusiasm infectious. His communication skills are superb and already he and his staff appear to have earned the support of players, faculty, alumni, and fans.

Earlier this year, we learned that Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance Farris Womack had been lured away after five years at Carolina to the University of Michigan where he became that institution’s chief financial officer. He leaves behind an impressive record of accomplishments. In addition, our chief academic officer, Provost Sam Williamson, previously Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the faculty since 1972, accepted the presidency of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Williamson has been a tireless, determined leader who advanced solutions to difficult problems and raised the academic quality of our University. Soon after greeting former IBM Vice Chairman Paul Rizzo ’50 as the new dean of our Business School, we learned that Ken Broun was stepping down as Law School dean and returning to private practice.

Much excitement and anticipation accompanies the arrival this month of Chancellor Paul Hardin and his wife Barbara. Alumni, faculty, students, and staff are enthusiastic that these native North Carolinians with such distinguished records of achievement will lead the nation’s oldest public University toward its Bicentennial.

While we await the selection of a new chief academic officer, a new chief financial officer, a new Law School dean, and the other changes that will surely come from a new University administration, we need not be concerned by these changes. What has made the University special for nearly two hundred years remains the same — the excellence of the faculty, the quality of the students and devotion and support of our alumni and the people of North Carolina — taken together these are our sources of constant and continuing stability and strength.

Chapel Hill is a very special place. It means many things to many people. Each of us is certain that the University’s best times were the years that we attended. We know that Paul and Barbara Hardin are committed to building on the strong foundation left them by Barbara and Chris Fordham.

As we look to the future with anticipation, let us be reassured that though our leaders may change, the values, principles and traditions of Carolina continue. And alumni, the only permanent constituency of the University, will remain a source of sustaining support and leadership as we continue to meet the challenges of serving North Carolina, the South, and the nation.

Yours at Carolina,

Doug signature




Douglas S. Dibbert ’70