Tar Heel basketball legends Phil Ford ’78 and Walter Davis ’77 stopped by my office recently. They were on the court when I was an undergrad here.
Endings and new beginnings
It is bittersweet for me to realize that this is my last dean’s message for Carolina Arts & Sciences as I prepare to retire at the end of the semester, wrapping up 35 wonderful years of service to UNC-Chapel Hill.
It has been a year of reflections and celebrations. When I became dean in early 2020 (after serving as interim dean for a year), little did I know that a global pandemic would dominate the next two years. We are now on the road to normalcy, with the resumption of in-person classes last fall and adopting a mask-optional policy in March. I’m enormously proud that teaching, learning and research continued on, even during the worst of COVID-19. I know we are stronger for the lessons learned and that many innovative instructional techniques born of necessity will stay with us.
As I look back on what we have accomplished in my time leading the College — the launch of our Program for Public Discourse, the appointment of our first associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, a new academic department (earth, marine and environmental sciences) and a new, very popular minor in data science — I can see that we have contributed meaningfully to the Carolina Next strategic plan. The College’s next dean will inherit a strong leadership team, a brand new undergraduate curriculum and, I hope, a sense of gratitude for landing one of the best jobs in the world.