In the span of 60 hours your alumni association celebrated our sesquicentennial, dedicated our new George Watts Hill Alumni Center, enjoyed a “Bicentennial Preview,” convened our Annual Alumni Luncheon, conducted our spring class reunions and inducted the class of 1943 into the Old Students Club.
In the rush to plan and execute all the many details associated with these events, your Alumni Association staff was impressed and inspired by the interest and enthusiasm of our entire University community — alumni, faculty, staff, students and townspeople.
It is unlikely that 150 years ago — when then-N.C. Gov. John Motley Morehead (1817) was selected as the Association’s first president on May 31, 1843 — that any of the 31 alumni gathered could anticipate that 150 years later 52,000 of Carolina’s 171,000 address-known alumni would be members of an Association they were then creating.
Likewise, they could not know that after cramped quarters first in the Alumni Building on McCorkle Place, later on the second and third floors of South Building and still later in the basement of the Carolina Inn and the Alumni House (formerly Carolina Inn Apartments), the Association’s staff and programs would expand from an alumni secretary and clerical staff of one into a new 65,000-square-foot facility.
The Association’s early leaders were immersed in North Carolina politics. They could anticipate that our University would always welcome and need the active, informed involvement of all our former students.
Amidst barbeque, hugs, greetings, enrichment seminars, photographs and campus tours, alumni reminisced about people, places and experiences they recalled from their Carolina days.
Understandably, many alunmi inquired about the state of our University. UNC Chancellor Paul Hardin affirmed that North Carolina is “first in the nation,” not just in basketball but, more important, in serving North Carolina with distinguished scholarship, teaching and public service.
Appropriate concern remains among alumni about the continuing decline in the competitiveness of our faculty salaries. Among research universities, salaries for our full professors now rank 39th, and those for assistant professors rank 58th. In the past two years Carolina has lost more than two dozen members of our academic affairs faculty — in many cases to institutions that really are not our Association of American University (AAU) peers. Several professors have accepted raises ranging from $15,000 to $32,000.
Fortunately it appears that the N.C. General Assembly recognizes that we have a serious problem with noncompetitive faculty salaries. Perhaps they know that history will note whether or not those who could — state officials, legislators, our campus trustees, the Board of Governors and UNC System administrators, faculty, staff, alumni and students — did all we could and should to protect, preserve and enhance North Carolina’s greatest creation — The University of North Carolina.
There may be honest differences of opinion as to just how to provide the needed funds to restore competitive salaries. What is critical is that we secure additional resources if we are to assure that Carolina’s most recent graduates can return for their reunions and witness their youngsters graduate, confident that The University of North Carolina has retained our hard-earned national standing and remains strong and vital, serving the needs of North Carolina and society. Together we must restore confidence among those who may doubt that the oldest public university in America remains the nation’s best.
In the closing days of this important session of the N.C. General Assembly, we encourage you to help by visiting, calling or writing your state legislators and urging them to provide the needed additional state funds to restore nationally competitive faculty salaries. You may contact any member of the General Assembly by calling (919) 733-4111 or writing c/o Legislative Building, Raleigh, NC 27601. Throughout the General Alumni Association’s proud 150-year history we have always answered the call whenever our University needed our help. Please answer once again.
Yours at Carolina,
Douglas S. Dibbert ’70