Thorp Tours State's Schools, Meeting Alumni

Updated Oct. 8, 2008
Posted Sept. 29, 2008
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Thorp Tours State’s Schools, Meeting Alumni

New UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86 has traveled across North Carolina in the past week to visit with high school and university students as well as UNC System chancellors and Carolina alumni.

Thorp detailed plans for the tour on Sept. 25 during remarks to the Board of Trustees. He visited seven N.C. cities and towns – Asheville, Charlotte, Elizabeth City, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Morehead City and Wilmington – as well as a Chapel Hill public school between Sept. 29 and Oct. 6. The visits are part of his ongoing commitment to travel North Carolina.

He also has started writing a blog to share insights and images from his tour.

“This state created and supports a world-class public research university – a university that will help North Carolina meet the toughest challenges our state faces,” he said. “I want people to understand that and to be proud of the state’s investment in and support of the University.”

Thorp said he wanted to demonstrate his commitment to UNC’s mission of public service and engagement before his installation on University Day, Oct. 12. Despite having lived in North Carolina most of his life, he said the tour was important because “I’ve still got a lot to learn.”

He began his trip with a stop at a Chapel Hill High School class on research – a topic of particular interest to him as a chemist and inventor – and finished with a visit to his alma mater, Terry Sanford High School, in his hometown of Fayetteville. At Asheville High School, he observed an Advanced Placement chemistry class and spoke to a group of ninth- through 12th-graders. At these public school visits, he urged students to aspire to college because it is important for the state. And he encouraged students interested in college to set their sights on Carolina.

In Charlotte, Thorp met Pharen Bowman, a recent college graduate working with high school seniors at West Charlotte and West Mecklenburg high schools. Thorp visited West Charlotte, one of 38 N.C. high schools being served by the Carolina Advising Corps. The UNC program expanded this fall to serve more than 7,000 students across the state. Advisers such as Bowman are working with high school seniors to encourage them to pursue a college education by supplementing the help they receive from school guidance counselors in areas such as college admissions and financial aid applications. The advising corps is part of a privately funded national network based at the University.

One key goal of the tour is for Thorp to visit with his fellow UNC System chancellors. “This state needs its universities to be as collaborative as possible,” he said. “I’ve pledged to President [Erskine] Bowles [‘67] that we will partner with our sister UNC institutions and, together, help lead North Carolina into the future.”

Thorp visited his counterparts at UNC-Asheville (Anne Ponder ’71), UNC-Charlotte (Philip Dubois), UNC-Greensboro (Linda Brady), N.C. Agricultural and Technical State University (Stanley Battle), UNC-Wilmington (Rosemary DePaolo), Elizabeth City State University (Willie Gilchrist) and Fayetteville State University (James Anderson). He plans to visit other UNC chancellors later.

These stops ranged from one-on-one meetings with the chancellors to tours of campus or other facilities. At UNC-Charlotte, for example, Thorp saw the Charlotte Visualization Center, part of a partnership with the Renaissance Computing Institute, a collaborative effort of several universities, including Carolina, UNC-Charlotte and the state of North Carolina.

At Elizabeth City State, Thorp and UNC School of Pharmacy Dean Bob Blouin also met with students from a class in an innovative joint distance-education degree program that is training pharmacists to help address a shortage in eastern North Carolina.

Thorp also visited with students studying at UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City. The institute, created in the 1940s, houses UNC faculty and students whose work is helping North Carolina address key questions related to the nature, use, development, protection and enhancement of the state’s coastal marine resources.

Thorp took office July 1 as the University’s 10th chancellor. He previously was dean of UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences and had been a nationally recognized teacher and researcher at the University for more than 15 years.

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