Carolina celebrated its 214th birthday Oct. 12 with a marked emphasis on the University’s place in the world.
The keynote speaker for University Day, history Professor Michael Hunt, examined the expansion in international programs that UNC has taken on in the past 15 years and pointed to the “store of international expertise that UNC is accumulating.” His remarks, in part, were directed at posing questions about what Carolina should do to utilize that expertise. His remarks is available online.
Five alumni also received Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Awards.
Later in the day, the University hosted dedication ceremonies for the FedEx Global Education Center, a $39 million center that is roughly the size of the House Undergraduate Library and designed to bring various international activities under one roof. Construction began in November 2004; the facility on the western edge of the campus opened this fall.
Hunt, the Everett H. Emerson Professor of history, said that “what I am suggesting is that this and other universities have in this new century a special opportunity — and perhaps responsibility — to help sort out the international tangle [into which] the United States has gotten itself and to reinvigorate the democratic ideal of an educated citizenry engaging in genuine debate over the great issues before us. This is a role that the universities have not chosen,” he said. “It has come to us through events we could not imagine and through the failure of other institutions that we have come to lament.”
Chancellor James Moeser, following Hunt’s remarks, noted that Carolina’s often-used defining phrase as “the university of the people” should be seen in the 21st century in a new light, as “the university of the people of the world.”
The University Day spectacle of faculty in colorful regalia in Memorial Hall was warmed by the front-row presence of Oliver Smithies, who days earlier was named a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Prize in medicine. Dignitaries and faculty members shook his hand as they passed, and the audience of faculty, staff and students offered a spontaneous standing ovation as Smithies, Excellence Professor of pathology and laboratory medicine in the School of Medicine, was recognized by the chancellor.
This year’s Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Awards recipients are: