Tag Archives: UNC College of Arts and Sciences

Conserving Corals in the Caribbean

Justin Baumann, a Ph.D. student in the College’s department of marine sciences, works alongside Mariko Wallen, a local diver, in Placencia, Belize.  To gather data on how certain types of coral respond to stressors (like warmer water temperatures), Baumann partnered with Fragments of Hope, a Belizean NGO dedicated to conserving coral reefs in the Caribbean. (photo by Mary Lide Parker)

Over the course of six days, Justin Baumann and his team collected 12 colonies of coral, cut them into 312 pieces, and then transplanted them onto underwater tables. Baumann will spend the next year monitoring their growth.  (photo by Mary Lide Parker)Justin Baumann, a Ph.D. student in the College’s department of marine sciences, works alongside Mariko Wallen, a local diver, in Placencia, Belize. To gather data on how certain types of coral respond to stressors (like warmer water temperatures), Baumann partnered with Fragments of Hope, a Belizean NGO dedicated to conserving coral reefs in the Caribbean.

Over the course of six days, his team collected 12 colonies of coral, cut them into 312 pieces, and then transplanted them onto underwater tables. Baumann will spend the next year monitoring their growth.  Read more at Endeavors magazine.

Watch a video.

Photos and video by Mary Lide Parker ’10

A plan and a partnership: $10 million gift supports strategic initiatives

John and Marree Townsend’s gift will support a wide range of strategic initiatives in the College of Arts & Sciences, from digital humanities to campus makerspaces to faculty fellowships. (photo by Jennifer Calais Smith)

John and Marree Townsend’s gift will support a wide range of strategic initiatives in the College of Arts & Sciences, from digital humanities to campus makerspaces to faculty fellowships. (photo by Jennifer Calais Smith)

John and Marree Townsend’s commitments to UNC-Chapel Hill over the years have been both plentiful and purposeful — and none more so than their most recent $10 million gift to the College of Arts & Sciences to establish the Townsend Family Strategic Initiatives Fund and the Marree Shore Townsend Fellowship in the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. This gift was part of the Carolina couple’s $50 million investment, which kicked off the public phase of the University’s Campaign for Carolina last October.

The plan

The Townsend Family Strategic Initiatives Fund, which will provide continuous support for the College’s highest priorities over the next 10 years, was born from conversations with Dean Kevin Guskiewicz and learning about his formal strategic plan for the College, “A Road Map to Boldness.”

“Kevin’s strategic plan is tied to real outcomes, which he has clearly articulated,” John (English ’77, MBA ’82) explained. “This vision gave Marree (political science ’77) and me the confidence in him to use our gift where it would have the most impact.”

Guskiewicz put the Townsend’s gift to work right away, sending 20 more students on study abroad experiences.

Funds from the Townsend Family Strategic Initiatives Fund will also be used to cover recruitment and salary for a fixed-term faculty member in art photography. Students majoring in studio art can focus on art photography, a concentration area that is growing in popularity. In addition, part of the Townsends’ gift will support digital humanities projects over the next two years. Faculty and students will have access to materials and records of human cultural activity that were once available only to specialists.

When recalling the first time he took John and Marree through one of the BeAM (Be A Maker) makerspaces on campus, Guskiewicz noted, “I could see their eyes light up.”

“Their gift will support the programming and the graduate students who help keep the operations of BeAM going,” said Guskiewicz.

In addition to strategic initiatives, the Marree Shore Townsend Fellowship in the Institute for the Arts and Humanities is providing Julia Haslett, an assistant professor in the department of communication, with support to pursue her work on a film about environmental conservation and British botanical exploration in southwest China.

Faculty fellowships are critical in recruiting and retaining the best faculty. John, a member of the IAH Advisory Board, established this endowed fellowship in Marree’s honor, which he presented to her on her birthday.

A partnership

“It’s an incredible partnership with the Townsends,” Guskiewicz said. “Tying their giving to the areas that have the most return on investment is a testament to how much they care about the College.”

John is retired as a senior adviser with Tiger Management Corp., after more than 30 years in investment management and banking. Reflecting on his career, John speaks proudly of where he started out and eventually retired from — at companies founded by fellow UNC alumni. In 1982, after graduating from UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School with an MBA, John went to New York to begin his career at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, an investment bank founded by Dick Jenrette ’51. From there he spent 15 years with Goldman Sachs before moving on to Tiger Management, a hedge fund founded by another prominent alumnus, Julian Robertson ’55. Marree owns Marree Townsend Interiors in Greenwich, Conn.

“Coming back to Chapel Hill and hearing what is going on firsthand is such an important part of my continued support of Carolina,” Marree explained. Her involvement as a member of the Arts and Sciences Foundation Board of Directors and John’s roles on many University boards, including as co-chair of the Campaign for Carolina leadership committee from 2015-2017, bring them back to campus several times a year.

A true Carolina family, John and Marree note that their fathers are alumni, as are their two daughters, Merritt ’06 and Louise ’09. John’s mother, Beverley Chalk Townsend, is also a 1953 graduate.

“Carolina is a place that we both love, and giving back is definitely a shared enthusiasm between us,” John said. “We have been extraordinary beneficiaries of our educations at UNC and it has been an important part of our lives and whatever success we’ve achieved.”

By Meredith Tunney



Blue Morpho

Evana Bodiker in the Music Library Glass Room in Wilson Library.

Evana Bodiker in her favorite writing spot, the Music Library Glass Room in Wilson Library. She said in an article in the creative writing program’s newsletter, “For a young poet, this is so reassuring in terms of my future as a writer. … It’s still hard to believe a book of my poetry will be out in the world for people to read.” (photo by Kristen Chavez)

“Blue Morpho”

The greenhouse humidity

moved down our backs

like the sweat beads

on our Pimm’s cups

hours before in the garden

bar. She was our tiny

liaison, so that he and I

might say the right words

that evening more easily,

a tender empress fluttering

overhead until she chose

to land on his university

sweater first. Her frayedCover of Evana Bodiker's chapbook Ephemera.

wings burned cobalt

in the late London

afternoon. She let me

touch her next, climbing

onto my fingers

like they were sugar,

her gentle trapeze

teasing my skin.

He misread her name

on the placard, morphe,

but later he christened

her accurately: morpho.

For the rest of the day,

I dreamed of her

on my slouched shoulder,

my body an accomplice

in her disappearing act.


By Evana Bodiker ’18

Evana Bodiker is a senior pursuing majors in English and religious studies and a minor in creative writing. “Blue Morpho” is one of the poems featured in her new poetry collection, Ephemera (Texas Review Press, spring 2018). She won the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize for Ephemera, which is composed largely of poems written in her intermediate and advanced poetry courses at UNC. In a blog interview with the press, she said, “In another life, I would have been a naturalist or an entomologist. I love how intricate insects’ lives are … [they] represent ephemerality to me. … Ephemera are things only enjoyed for a short period of time.”

Read more books by College faculty and alumni.

Explore more: New books by College faculty and alumni (spring 2018)

Bart Ehrman book coverThe Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World (Simon & Schuster, February 2018) by Bart D. Ehrman, James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies. From the New York Times bestselling authority on early Christianity comes the story of how Christianity grew from a religion of 20 or so peasants in rural Galilee to the dominant religion in the West in less than 400 years. Ehrman shows how a religion whose first believers were 20 or so illiterate day laborers in a remote part of the empire became the official religion of Rome, converting some 30 million people in just four centuries. Newsday writes: [Ehrman] doesn’t tell us what to think. He gives us a lot to think about.Listen to an NPR “Fresh Air” interview with Ehrman.

Search and Rescue (LSU Press, March 2018) by Michael Chitwood, lecturer of creative writing. In his new poetry collection, Chitwood seeks what the pagan Celts called the thin places, the spots where otherworldliness bleeds into the everyday. Beginning with childhood, the poet meditates on the intersection of the sacred and secular, on those luminous moments we can only partially understand. Water anchors the collection with the title poem, which explores the history of a large manmade lake and how it changes the surrounding mountain community. The book won the 2018 L. E. Hillabaum Poetry Award.

Building the American Republic, Volume I: A Narrative History to 1877 (The University of Chicago Press) by Harry Watson, Atlanta Alumni Distinguished Professor of Southern Culture. A Narrative History to 1877 runs from pre-Colonialism to the Civil War and Reconstruction. A second volume, A Narrative History from 1877 (by Jane Dailey), carries the story through the 2016 election. Taking a deliberately multifaceted and inclusive stance, the authors tell a stimulating story that will lead to a deeper understanding of America’s past and present.

Book cover for the book, “Appointed Rounds”

Appointed Rounds: Essays (Mercer University Press, February 2018) by Michael McFee, professor of creative writing. McFee’s new book takes its title from the unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” All of us have appointed rounds in our lives — essential things we are given to do and must try to complete, whatever the inner or outer weather, whenever the time of day or night. This lively and wide-ranging collection of 50 essays addresses McFee’s appointed rounds, subjects he has been thinking and caring about for decades.

Louis Austin and the Carolina Times: A Life in the Long Black Freedom Struggle (UNC Press, February 2018) by Jerry Gershenhorn (Ph.D. history ’00). Austin (1898–1971) came of age at the nadir of the Jim Crow era and became a transformative leader of the long black freedom struggle in North Carolina. From 1927 to 1971, he published and edited the Carolina Times, the preeminent black newspaper in the state. He used the power of the press to voice the anger of black Carolinians and to turn that anger into action in a 40-year crusade for freedom.

Print News and Raise Hell: The Daily Tar Heel and the Evolution of a Modern University (UNC Press, February 2018) by Kenneth Joel Zogry (M.A. history ’97, Ph.D. history ’08). For over 125 years, the Daily Tar Heel has chronicled life at UNC-Chapel Hill and at times pushed and prodded the university community on issues of local, state and national significance. Thousands of Book cover for "Print News and Raise Hell"students have served on its staff, many of whom have gone on to prominent careers in journalism and other influential fields. Print News and Raise Hell engagingly narrates the story of the newspaper’s development and the contributions of many of the people associated with it. Wilson Library complements Zogry’s book with an exhibition titled “The Truth in Eight-Point Type: The Daily Tar Heel Celebrates 125 Years of Editorial Freedom” April 10-July 31.

Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road (HarperCollins, August 2018) by Kate Harris (biology ’05, minor in geology). As a teenager, Harris realized that the career she craved was to be an explorer. In between studying at Oxford and MIT, she set off by bicycle down the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel. Pedaling mile upon mile in some of the remotest places on earth, she realized that an explorer, in any day and age, is the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. Read about Harris and her new book in The Globe and Mail.

Book cover for "The Designs of William Ivey Long"The Designs of William Ivey Long (USITT, spring 2018) by Bobbi Owen, Michael R. McVaugh Distinguished Professor of Dramatic Art. The monograph on the career of William Ivey Long is the 12th in USITT’s series documenting the work of America’s best theatrical designers. Long has designed costumes for over 70 Broadway shows — one of which, Chicago, is the longest-running American musical with more than 9,000 performances (and counting) over 21 years. He has been nominated for 15 Tony Awards, winning six times. More than 100 illustrations are included, among them renderings of Long’s exquisite costume designs and photographs from some of his award-winning productions.

Promise (William Morrow/HarperCollins February 2018) by English professor emerita Minrose Gwin. In the aftermath of a devastating tornado that rips through the town of Tupelo, Mississippi, at the height of the Great Depression, two women worlds apart—one black, one white; one a great-grandmother, the other a teenager — fight for their families’ survival in this lyrical and powerful novel. Drawing on historical events, Gwin beautifully imagines natural and human destruction in the deep South of the 1930s through the experiences of two remarkable women whose lives are indelibly connected by forces beyond their control.

Book cover for "Of Friends and Foes: Reputation and Learning in International Politics"Of Friends and Foes: Reputation and Learning in International Politics (Oxford University Press, spring 2018) by Mark Crescenzi, Bowman and Gordon Gray Professor and chair, department of political science. How do countries form reputations? Do these reputations affect interstate politics in the global arena? Reputations abound in world politics, but we know little about how state reputations form and how they evolve over time. In this book, Crescenzi develops a theory of reputation dynamics to help identify when reputations form in ways that affect world politics, both in the realms of international conflict and cooperation.

Our Higher Calling: Rebuilding the Partnership Between America and its Colleges and Universities (UNC Press, September 2018) by Holden Thorp, provost at Washington University in St. Louis (and former chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences), and Buck Goldstein, University Entrepreneur-in-Residence. There is a growing sense of crisis and confusion about the purpose and sustainability of higher education in the United States. In Our Higher Calling, Thorp and Goldstein draw on interviews with higher education thought leaders and their own experience, inside and outside the academy, to address these problems head on, articulating the challenges facing higher education and describing in pragmatic terms what can and cannot change —and what should and should not change.

Camp Austen: My Life as an Accidental Jane Austen Superfan (Macmillan, March 2018) by Ted Scheinman (English MA ’12). The son of a devoted Jane Austen scholar, Scheinman spent his childhood summers eating Yorkshire pudding, singing in an Anglican choir, and watching Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy. Determined to leave his mother’s world behind, he nonetheless found himself in grad school organizing the first ever UNC-Chapel Hill Jane Austen Summer Program, a weekend-long event that sits somewhere between an academic conference and superfan extravaganza. Read a Christian Science Monitor article on Camp Austen.

Book cover for "Maternal Bodies: Redefining Motherhood in Early America"Maternal Bodies: Redefining Motherhood in Early America (UNC Press, April 2018) by Nora Doyle (M.A. ’09, Ph.D. history ’13). In the second half of the 18th century, motherhood came to be viewed as women’s most important social role, and the figure of the good mother was celebrated as a moral force in American society. Doyle shows that depictions of motherhood in American culture began to define the ideal mother by her emotional and spiritual roles rather than by her physical work as a mother. As a result of this new vision, lower-class women and non-white women came to be excluded from the identity of the good mother because American culture defined them in terms of their physical labor.

Blackbeard’s Sunken Prize: The 300-Year Voyage of Queen Anne’s Revenge (UNC Press, June 2018) by Mark U. Wilde-Ramsing and Linda F. Carnes-McNaughton (Ph.D. anthropology ’97). In 1717, the notorious pirate Blackbeard captured a French slaving vessel off the coast of Martinique and made it his flagship, renaming it Queen Anne’s Revenge. Over the next six months, the heavily armed ship and its crew captured all manner of riches from merchant ships sailing the Caribbean to the Carolinas. But in June 1718, with British Book cover for "Blackbeard's Sunken Prize: The 300-Year Voyage of Queen Anne's Revenge"authorities closing in, Blackbeard reportedly ran Queen Anne’s Revenge aground just off the coast of what is now North Carolina’s Fort Macon State Park. When divers finally discovered the wreck in 1996, it was immediately heralded as a major find in both maritime archaeology and the history of piracy in the Atlantic.

The Missing Martyrs: Why There are So Few Muslim Terrorists (Oxford University Press, to be updated, fall 2018; original edition, July 2011) by Charles Kurzman, professor of sociology and co-director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations. Why are there so few Muslim terrorists? With more than a billion Muslims in the world — many of whom supposedly hate the West and ardently desire martyrdom — why don’t we see terrorist attacks every day? These questions may seem counterintuitive, in light of the death and devastation that terrorists have wrought around the world. But the scale of violence, outside of civil war zones, has been far lower than the waves of attacks that the world feared in the wake of 9/11. The Missing Martyrs draws on government sources and revolutionary publications, public opinion surveys and election results, historical documents and in-depth interviews with Muslims in the Middle East and around the world to examine barriers to terrorist recruitment. This revised edition, updated to include the self-proclaimed “Islamic State,” concludes that fear of terrorism should be brought into alignment with the actual level of threat, and that government policies and public opinion should be based on evidence rather than alarmist hyperbole.

Gone Dollywood (Ohio University Press, March 2018) by Graham Hoppe (M.A. folklore ’15). Dolly Parton isn’t just a country music superstar. She has built an empire. At the heart of that empire is Dollywood, a 150-acre fantasy land that hosts three million people a year. What does Dollywood have to offer besides entertainment? What do we find if we take this remarkable place seriously? How does it both confirm and subvert outsiders’ expectations of Appalachia? In Gone Dollywood, Hoppe blends tourism studies, celebrity studies, cultural analysis, folklore, and the acute observations and personal reflections of longform journalism into an unforgettable interrogation of Southern and American identity.

James Moeser's latest book, copy of book cover

The State of the University, 2000-2008: Major Addresses by UNC Chancellor James Moeser (UNC Press, April 2018) by James Moeser, UNC Chancellor emeritus, music professor and senior consultant for special initiatives at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities.Beginning with his installation as chancellor on University Day, 2000, Moeser started each academic year with a major address in which he outlined his envisioned agenda for the year ahead. In retrospect, these addresses can be read as guideposts to mark the history of Carolina’s first decade of the 21st century, a period of great progress. A common thread running through all of these addresses is a call for excellence — that Carolina should be America’s leading public university with a commitment to public engagement and social justice and that Carolina should be both great and good.



Read a poem from Carolina senior Evana Bodiker’s new poetry collection, Ephemera.














Winning Words: The sports announcer

Jim Lampley

Emmy Award-winning sports announcer Jim Lampley tells young people interested in his profession that “in live television commentary, it’s all about language skills.” (photo courtesy HBO)

Three UNC English majors diverged from traditional career paths but value their studies and the power of language that they learned. Read more stories, on stickwork artist Patrick Dougherty and health care advocate Elizabeth G. Taylor.

Jim Lampley (English ’71) is more poet than pugilist. But his ability with words has made him a king of the ring.

The announcer has spent four decades in network television, most recently as the voice of HBO’s “World Championship Boxing,” where he has called the blow-by-blow of many of the sport’s most significant bouts.

Lampley said his English degree has helped him to thrive in a difficult and competitive profession, as it did for announcers like the late Dick Enberg and Keith Jackson, both grammar fanatics who were so good in part because of their way with words.

“Over the years, thousands of young people have come to me looking to emulate what I’ve managed to do,” Lampley said. “I always say to them, everybody wants to do this as a sports fan. But what’s going to set you apart? Language skills.  In live television commentary, it’s all about language skills.”

Lampley grew up in Hendersonville, North Carolina. His father, a World War II bomber pilot, died when Lampley was 5, and his family moved to Miami when he was 11. At Carolina, Lampley nearly flunked out. But he loved reading novels, fiction and drama, so he majored in English by default.

“I was hoping it would stimulate me enough to go to class. … At the end of the day, that saved me – it helped me to get my act together.”

In high school, he recorded himself providing commentary as he played a tabletop football game. After college, he won a talent contest and worked as a college football sideline reporter for ABC. Later, he paid his dues on “Wide World of Sports,” traveling to novelty events such as demolition derbies and wrist-wrestling competitions.

Later, he covered 14 Olympic Games, first for ABC and later for NBC. His most memorable moment was being in the arena for the 1980 U.S. hockey victory over the Soviet Union at Lake Placid. In 1987, Lampley left ABC and landed a job at HBO.

Lampley was always a boxing aficionado. At 14, he saved lawn-cutting money to witness one of the greatest upsets when Cassius Clay – who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali – defeated Sonny Liston at the Miami Beach Convention Center in 1964.

“Cassius Clay was my ultimate hero,” Lampley recalled. “You could never have designed a bigger hero for a white kid who grew up during the civil rights movement in a small town in the South being taught to resist all the pernicious elements of racism.”

Andre Ward, Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman commentate on the side of the ring at the HBO World Championship Boxing card.

From left, Andre Ward, Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman prepare to call an HBO World Championship Boxing card. (photo courtesy HBO)

The four-time Sports Emmy Award-winner has been at the mic for many of the sport’s most dramatic moments — from the biggest upset in heavyweight championship history (Buster Douglas’ defeat of Mike Tyson in 1990) to the triumph of 45-year-old George Foreman over Michael Moorer in 1994. He was also there for the showdown between Lennox Lewis and Tyson in 2002 and an epic confrontation between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in 2015.

In 2015, Lampley was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Last year, he signed a long-term extension with HBO that will keep him as the host of all HBO Boxing telecasts as well as anchoring the sport’s only studio- based interview program, “The Fight Game with Jim Lampley,” for years to come. In inking the deal, HBO Sports Executive Vice President Peter Nelson noted that Lampley’s “high journalistic standards, historical knowledge of the sport and enthusiasm for sharing the backstories of the fighters who enter the ring enriches the broadcast experience.”

Today, Lampley is based in Del Mar, Calif., and runs Atticus Entertainment, a production company that develops projects for HBO and other networks.

For HBO, Lampley did a one-hour retrospective when Ali died in 2016. “I pointed out that no other sport produces meaningful sociopolitical figures that can change their cultures the way boxing does,” said Lampley. “Only boxing produces a Muhammad Ali.”

“Fighters have a unique pipeline to the public heart.”


By Pamela Babcock

Winning Words: The health care advocate

Three UNC English majors diverged from traditional career paths but value their studies and the power of language that they learned. Read more stories, on sports announcer Jim Lampley and stickwork artist Patrick Dougherty.

Elizabeth Taylor smiles on a couch in Graham Memorial

Elizabeth G. Taylor, who came back to campus to deliver this spring’s Frank Porter Graham Lecture, says an English degree has been key to her success. (photo by Kristen Chavez)

Elizabeth G. Taylor considered priesthood and later landed in law school. Now she has found her calling fighting for the rights of low-income individuals and families to have access to health care.

Taylor (English ’76) is executive director of the National Health Law Program (NHeLP), founded in 1969 at the UCLA School of Law. For nearly five decades, the nonprofit’s lawyers have litigated cases around the country and provided expertise to advocates at the state level. NHeLP is considered the national expert in Medicaid law and policy.

“Right now, we have been working overtime,” Taylor said, noting the organization’s 2017 efforts to fight the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its current work to stem cutbacks to Medicaid funding and changes to the essential nature of the program.

NHeLP has grown significantly since Taylor joined in 2014, from an operating budget of about $5 million and staff of 31 to a more than $7.5 million budget and 43 employees. It has offices in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Carrboro.

Much of the growth “is in recognition of how important our work is to protecting essential health care for low-income people,” said Taylor, of Chevy Chase, Maryland. “There’s an increasing awareness that our country is stronger if everybody has access to health care. And we’ve been at the center of this fight for a very long time.”

Taylor said an English degree has been a key to her success: “On the most practical level, I make my living using words to convey ideas, to persuade and to excite people. And studying great literature gives you an appreciation of the power of language and ways that language can be used to inspire and educate people.”

It also opens up worlds that one can’t otherwise access, she said.

“There’s nothing in my life that gives me an understanding of slavery, but Toni Morrison opens that door up for me a little bit,” Taylor said. “Sylvia Plath gives me a glimpse into what it’s like to battle depression. And Faulkner, whom I studied at Carolina, helped me to articulate the conflict between the things about the South that I’m proud of and the horrible things about southern heritage,” Taylor said.

Before NHeLP, Taylor was principal deputy associate attorney general at the U.S. Justice Department, working to defend federal health care initiatives and other issues. She also had a stint at a private litigation firm and early in her career clerked for Justice Harry Blackmun on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Carolina is a Taylor family tradition. Her father, mother and her mother’s seven siblings attended UNC. After graduation, Taylor won a fellowship designed to encourage students who might be headed in other directions to consider the ordained ministry. In her second year at Yale Divinity School, although she loved what she was studying, she wasn’t sure she was ready for ordination.

“I needed to figure out what my motives were and where I was going to do the most good,” she said.

A year later, she was enrolled at the University of Virginia Law School.

To honor their parents’ commitment to education, Taylor and her brother Bill (’66) endowed the William and Ida Taylor Honors Research Fellowship. Taylor returned to campus in February to deliver the Frank Porter Graham Lecture on “Health Care’s Seven Dirty Words.”

One of Taylor’s fondest memories at Carolina is the day an English professor handed the class an exam. “Write like angels,” he said before slipping out of the room.

“Literature gives you words for emotions and it teaches you to use words like music,” Taylor said. “Literature makes life richer. It’s about beauty. It’s about understanding. And it’s about using language effectively. We need more English majors, not fewer.”


By Pamela Babcock

Winning Words: The stickwork artist

Three UNC English majors diverged from traditional career paths but value their studies and the power of language that they learned. Read more stories, on sports announcer Jim Lampley and health care advocate Elizabeth G. Taylor.

Patrick Dougherty poses in front of one of the stickwork sculptures outside of Ackland Art Museum.

Patrick Dougherty says when you’re trying to elicit feelings and emotions through art, “that’s not unlike creating a great novel.” (photo by Audrey Shore)

“Step Right Up” is a fitting name for Patrick Dougherty’s outdoor sculpture at the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill. That’s essentially what he’s been inviting the public, fascinated with his larger-than-life stick sculptures, to do for the last 30 years.

Step right up. Walk around. Go inside. Look up and down. Explore.

“There’s intrigue in thinking about what it would be like to stand inside a teapot, and we made one big enough for Aladdin to come out of,” Dougherty said. “There’s also the excitement of productivity that we assign to a stick, starting from childhood. It’s a drumstick, a piece of a wall, all of the things that you can imagine.”

A clay animal-shaped pouring vessel in the Ackland’s permanent collection caught Dougherty’s eye and served as the inspiration for five mammoth vessels constructed on the museum’s “front lawn” (the side facing Columbia Street). “Step Right Up” will be on display through August 2018; it’s the first major site-specific outdoor art installation by the museum in nearly 20 years.

The saplings used to make the sculpture, primarily maple and gum, were donated by Duke Forest and Triangle Land Conservancy and harvested with the help of a network of volunteers. Their support helps to “embed the work in the community,” Dougherty said.

Patrick Dougherty in a field at Irvin Nature Farm to collect saplings for his stickwork sculpture.

Patrick Dougherty uses a network of volunteers to help with his larger-than-life sculptures — “It helps to humanize the process.” (photo by Kristen Chavez)

The experience has been a homecoming of sorts for Dougherty (English ’67). He went on to earn a master’s in hospital and health administration from the University of Iowa in 1969, and returned to Carolina’s art department for post-graduate work in 1981 and 1982.

Dougherty said his time in the English department helped him to think about the conventions writers employ in making an exciting narrative, and he applies that to his art.

“When you’re trying to have a conversation with the public, and to elicit feelings and emotions through your work, that’s not unlike creating a great novel,” he said. “There was a lot of value in learning what makes something have resonance and power.”

He also values his postgraduate studies and the visiting artist program. To this day he remembers clay artist Susan Peterson saying “It’s just as easy to be a national artist as a local artist, but you have to want to be in the nation.”

For Dougherty, that has meant creating nearly 300 sculptures all over the United States and the world, from Scotland to Japan to Belgium to France. He’s constructed works for botanical gardens, children’s museums, universities, a winery, a zoo, even the U.S. Embassy in Serbia. “It has involved a lot of rental cars and meeting thousands of people and working with hundreds of organizations,” he said.

He has received numerous awards, including a Factor Prize for Southern Art and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. His work has been featured in a book, numerous media outlets and a documentary.

Still fame is elusive, Dougherty said, adding that “when I come home, my wife says, ‘the yard needs raking.’”

After working with sticks eight hours a day, he still does his own yardwork?

“I love physical activity and working. It’s been good for me,” he said.

The work is indeed physical, bending and shaping sticks all day, three weeks at a time, in all kinds of weather. But Dougherty has no intention of slowing down. Right now he has installations scheduled through 2019.

When asked if he considers himself an environmental artist, Dougherty said the context of his work has changed over the years. People are now more willing to accept it as being temporary.

“It reminds people of all of the moments they might have had,” he said. “It’s a bird’s nest, that first kiss under the lilac bush, a forest you took a walk in, a significant moment.”

“A lot of times people will ask me, ‘what does it mean?’ And I say, ‘it’s more about how it makes you feel.’”


Watch a video of the construction of “Step Right Up.” 

By Kim Weaver Spurr ‘88

Caldwell family gift will encourage collaboration between American studies, Ackland Art Museum

Kate Caldwell Nevin (left) with Mary Lawson Burrows ’20 and Molly McNairy at a reception for the Ackland Art Museum exhibition, “Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment.” (photo by SP Murray)

Kate Caldwell Nevin (left) with Mary Lawson Burrows ’20 and Molly McNairy at a reception for the Ackland Art Museum exhibition, “Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment.” (photo by SP Murray)

When the Caldwell family decided they wanted to give back to UNC-Chapel Hill — a place that left a lasting impression on each of them — it made sense that their gift would revolve around American studies and the arts.

Their appreciation and love for these two areas goes back to their time as Carolina students. Kate Caldwell Nevin ’99 and her father, Hacker Caldwell ’74, were both American studies majors. Nevin’s brother, Hardwick Caldwell ’09, was an art history major.

“Creating the gift would not only be a collaborative effort from a family perspective, but it would also be collaborative in joining all of the things we loved most about Carolina,” Nevin said.

A collaborative spirit

When Nevin and her family began the discussion to create a fund, she realized that there was already a “beautiful connection” between the department of American studies and the Ackland Art Museum, referencing previous exhibits with a focus on Southern artists, including Thornton Dial and Ronald Lockett, which were successful in the Carolina community and beyond.

Their gift to UNC-Chapel Hill is composed of two parts: the Caldwell Family Artist-in-Residence Fund and the Caldwell Family Fund for the Ackland Art Museum, both of which will build upon an existing synergy between the two campus areas.

“It was neat to see that the collaborative spirit was already there,” Nevin said. “What was missing — and what could really help tie the two together in a meaningful way — was help leveraging the resources.”

The first Caldwell Family Artist-in-Residence, Ronni Lundy, a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and food writer, at a seminar with students. (photo by Kim Spurr)

The first Caldwell Family Artist-in-Residence, Ronni Lundy, a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and food writer, at a seminar with students. (photo by Kim Spurr)

The Caldwell Family Artist-in-Residence Fund will bring a visiting artist, representing any field in the arts, to campus each year to work directly with undergraduate and graduate students and faculty members.

The Ackland Fund will allow the museum to acquire artwork by the artist-in-residence, or other artists focused on the American South, for the permanent collection. It will also support exhibits at the museum that celebrate art related to the American South.

“This is an entirely new kind of gift for us,” said Katie Ziglar, director of the Ackland Art Museum. “We are excited to work with an academic department, such as American studies, to bring in different types of artists so that students will have interactions with authentic, deeply interesting people both inside the Ackland and elsewhere on campus.”

The first two artists-in-residence visited campus this spring. They are Ronni Lundy, a James Beard award-winning food writer and memoirist, who wrote the book Victuals, and Theresa Gloster, a painter, sculptor, textile artist and beautician.

“The Caldwell family very wisely defined art and artist in the widest possible terms,” said Elizabeth Engelhardt, chair of the department of American studies and the John Shelton Reed Distinguished Professor of Southern Studies. “That generous breadth allows the department to collaborate on who and what the museums and classrooms of the future can be.”

Nevin, who currently serves as chair of the Ackland National Advisory Board, hopes that this gift will continue to evolve and offer learning opportunities for the entire community for years to come.

“The yearly process will continue to provide additional opportunities for enrichment, from choosing the artist-in-residence to working with graduate students in the department to executing a series of events for an Ackland exhibit,” she said.

Creating a meaningful gift

Nevin hopes this gift can inspire other Carolina alumni to think about ways in which they can continue to make this effort as robust and beneficial as possible to both the department of American studies and the Ackland.

“It was exciting to think collaboratively into how a gift would look between two areas that meant so much to us as a family,” she said. “It was just as fun dreaming this up as it will be to see the gift actually take shape.”

Nevin is currently a managing director for TSWII Management Company. She and her husband, Lindsay, live in Charleston, South Carolina, with their three children.

By Kayla A. Blevins ’16

Learning and Writing Center gift helps ensure students’ success

Dean Kevin Guskiewicz (left) celebrated Alex Yong and Wendi Sturgis’ gift at Carolina’s For All Kind campaign kickoff in October. The couple’s support benefits scholarships, the Learning and Writing Center and diversity initiatives in the department of computer science. (photo by Jafar Fallahi)

Dean Kevin Guskiewicz (left) celebrated Alex Yong and Wendi Sturgis’ gift at Carolina’s For All Kind campaign kickoff in October. The couple’s support benefits scholarships, the Learning and Writing Center and diversity initiatives in the department of computer science. (photo by Jafar Fallahi)

What do biology and classics have in common? In terms of subject matter, nothing really. Except that you can major in both as part of a broad liberal arts education — and use that diverse background as a launching pad to a successful career.

Those were the first steps along the path for Alex Yong ’90, now senior product designer for Major League Baseball, where he is responsible for the design of MLB.com.

Yong developed a love of UNC-Chapel Hill early.

“I fell in love with Carolina upon my first visit while I was still in high school,” he remembered. “Even a few years before, I remember seeing an aerial view of Kenan Stadium and the campus while watching a football game on TV and thinking, ‘What a beautiful university!’”

The connection continued to grow as he became involved in activities on campus.

“Once I matriculated at UNC, my opinion of our university only went higher. I loved how accessible my professors were, even in larger classes. I joined the crew club my freshman year. Several of the guys who I rowed with were brothers at Chi Psi fraternity, and I pledged there my sophomore year. I feel blessed that I am still close to many of my fraternity brothers and friends.”

But a biology and classics double major? How did that happen?

“When I started at Carolina, I was a biology major on a pre-med track, but I took a Roman archaeology course with the incredible Professor Gerhard Koeppel and was hooked,” he said. “I completed all my pre-med courses, but I decided that medicine wouldn’t be my chosen path.”

After working for several years in independent film and TV commercial production and meeting his wife, Wendi Sturgis, who was working for a tech startup, Yong developed an interest in digital design and technology. Knowing that technology was the future, he enrolled in the intensive multimedia design and production program at New York University and has been with MLB since 2003.

Yong and Sturgis, who is an alumna of Georgia Tech and chair of its advisory board, wanted to support their universities and maximize their impact by giving sooner rather than later. Their gifts are reflective of their passions. In addition to significant planned gifts to the College that benefit scholarships, technology and innovation in the Learning and Writing Center, and diversity initiatives in the department of computer science, the two have created an immediate-use fund for the Learning and Writing Center.

“The Learning and Writing Center is available for all Carolina students at all academic levels, but it is particularly helpful to first generation and transfer students — 40 percent of the students who visit the center are from these two groups,” Yong said. “We believe strongly that all college students, no matter their background, should have every resource available to ensure their ultimate success. We know that a UNC-Chapel Hill degree will change the trajectory of a person’s life forever.”

“I know firsthand the huge impact a strong technical education can have on your life,” Sturgis said. “I strive to be a role model for young women (both at work and with charities), and by creating a computer science diversity initiative fund, I hope to make the path a little easier for women and students from groups traditionally underrepresented in this field to pursue a path in technology.”

Yong said they both feel fortunate that their college experiences shaped their lives in more ways than just academics.

“We felt it was important to make our commitments earlier in life to support the capital campaigns of our universities and to help ensure that our alma maters have the resources they need to continue their commitment to excellence.”

By Mary Moorefield


Carolina Quoted

Photo of the Old Well with spring flowers blooming in March 2018 by Donn Young.When national and international media need experts to comment on and analyze news and trends, they turn to Carolina faculty and alumni. Of course, College of Arts & Sciences faculty members often make news of their own with groundbreaking research findings. Here are just a few examples; see more at college.unc.edu.

USA Today

“We are on the verge of becoming a spacefaring species, and I feel privileged to be invited into an extraordinary conversation, pushing the frontiers of science, exploration and discovery at NASA.”

  • Lisa Pratt (botany B.A. ’72, geology M.S. ’79) after being named NASA’s planetary protection officer.

The Washington Post’s “Monkey Cage” blog

“Carrying out executions, it appears, requires specialization and practice. Without specializing in it, few counties can do it.”

  • Frank Baumgartner, political science professor and the author of Deadly Justice: A Statistical Portrait of the Death Penalty.


“There are many misconceptions about OCD. One is that it is only about germs or perfectionism. People with OCD might have a variety of different types of obsessions and compulsions.”

  • Jon Abramowitz, professor of psychology and neuroscience, on what you should know if you love someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

South China Morning Post

“The problem is not population size. It’s poor urban management.”

  • Yan Song, director of the Program on Chinese Cities, on the risks to Chinese megacities.

The New Yorker

“Unlike the rigid columns of numbers that make up a bank ledger, status is always a moving target, because it is defined by ongoing comparisons to others.”

  • Keith Payne, professor of psychology and neuroscience and the author of The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live and Die.

The New York Times

“The only sensible solution — in my view — is to accept the problem and then engage with it, rather than, say, sanitizing the work to remove the problem in the first place.”

  • Tim Carter, music professor, on how Broadway revivals can revive gender stereotypes and romanticize problematic relationships.

 The Local Palate

“What would sustained economic development — respectful and meaningful economic development — look like here? We think it would be around traditional foods and foodways.”

  • Bernie Herman, American studies professor, speaking about Virginia’s Eastern Shore.