Address to the University Community
October 11, 2010
→ Watch the video ←
Hi, I’m Holden Thorp, and I want to thank you for another great year at Carolina. Tomorrow is University Day and the 217th anniversary of public higher education in America. It’s a good time to reflect on our successes and challenges and to talk about the future.
This economy has made this a very tough year for most universities. But I would put Carolina up against any campus in the nation for how we responded to the difficult times and moved forward.
Another Great Year
By almost any measure, we had an excellent year. We enrolled another impressive incoming class of nearly 5,000 students. As the economy kept taking its toll on family budgets, Carolina met an 11 percent increase in students eligible for need-based aid.
Even with tuition increases, we still offer the best value for the most extraordinary education at a public university. Our students and their honors reinforce that every day. Two great examples are Libby Longino and Henry Spelman, our 44th and 45th Rhodes Scholars.
Our faculty attracted a record $803 million in research funding – a 12 percent increase. That funding pays for life-changing research, and it provides our largest single source of revenue.
The Times Higher Education Magazine in London ranked us 30th among the world’s top 200 universities, and 21st in the United States.
And the National Research Council rated multiple UNC programs highly in its new assessment of doctoral education.
Our alumni continue to thank us for their Carolina degrees. Donors made $268 million in gifts.
That’s a great vote of confidence in the work we all do.
Our staff and faculty also gave the University a thumbs up. In a survey of all employees, it was clear that they believe strongly in the University’s mission, and most believe that UNC is a highly effective organization. It’s that belief in mission and commitment to purpose that makes us so successful.
We were fortunate to predict the campus-wide impact of state cuts to this year’s budget. But minimizing the cuts was only possible by retaining the revenue from the tuition increases authorized by the General Assembly.
We protected the classroom experience of our students as much as possible. And we’re again hiring faculty: 120 exciting new scholars joined Carolina’s faculty this year.
Thanks for everything you’ve done to help Carolina cope. We know it hasn’t been easy.
I wish I could say the budget outlook was better. But North Carolina faces a shortfall exceeding $3 billion for next fiscal year. The Governor and State Budget Office have called on the UNC system to provide cut scenarios of 5 and 10 percent.
That means more tough choices when we’ve already reached the point at which we can’t cut without harming academics.
We’re making progress on operating more efficiently though the Carolina Counts initiative. But those efficiencies can only go so far.
Working with UNC General Administration and our new President Tom Ross, we’ll make the strongest possible case for our University when the General Assembly convenes next year.
Let’s talk about the future. The best way for Carolina to be strong is for us to plan. And to plan boldly. Then we can seize opportunities when the economy recovers.
Planning is a community activity here. Engaged students, faculty and staff have helped develop ideas that led to dramatic changes.
Faculty dreamed about new space to nurture their multidisciplinary collaborations in the sciences and health affairs. The result was the magnificent science complex that has ushered in a new era of research and discovery. Those buildings have provided space and resources for faculty to help grow our research. Tomorrow we’ll honor the namesakes of our newest buildings: the Venable family and Professor Royce Murray.
Careful planning informed by ideas from the faculty also led to the University Cancer Research Fund, which is the envy of cancer researchers everywhere. The fund has permitted us to hire 67 new faculty and retain 14 others. Our researchers thought creatively. Our legislators invested in helping cancer patients.
Big ideas. Transformative results.
Now we’re at another critical juncture in the University’s history, thanks to many of you who have communicated with the Academic Plan Steering Committee since last spring. The committee soon will unveil an initial draft Academic Plan for your comment.
Remember that the Academic Plan will be our to-do list for the next decade or so. It will help frame our decisions about our curricula and intellectual growth, our future funding allocations and people. It will make a big statement to North Carolina and the world about how UNC can best serve our students and society.
We’re excited about this plan. We need you to be involved in its development to realize Carolina’s academic aspirations. Please pay attention when the plan comes out. Share your opinions and ideas.
We just unveiled Innovate@Carolina: Important Ideas for a Better World. It’s a roadmap developed by alumni and friends, along with faculty and students, under the leadership of alumnus Lowry Caudill.
The recommendations outline how we can produce basic knowledge with the highest impact.
We want to create an environment where people feel comfortable taking risks and trying to address new problems. The goal is to engage everyone on campus, regardless of discipline.
Done right, the roadmap carries a hefty pricetag – about $125 million. But we’ve already secured more than $11 million in commitments from private donors who are excited about the potential.
Please read the roadmap at innovate.unc.edu, and talk with your fellow students and colleagues about these ideas.
Before closing, I want to speak about the current NCAA and University investigations of the football team.
We will protect and safeguard the academic integrity of the University. All students are equal in the eyes of our student-run Honor Court, and that’s how we’ll proceed in honoring a 130-year-old tradition of student governance.
I’m convinced that we can be both an academic powerhouse and field a competitive football team without sacrificing our integrity.
That’s the only way we’ll do it, and I know everyone involved is committed to that. We know you expect us to uphold Carolina’s values, and we will.
Carolina is one of the world’s greatest institutions, and we’re getting better every day.
Times are tough. Our employees have gone without raises for three years, and our students and their families are paying higher tuition.
I recognize the sacrifices you all have made.
Yet you still love this place and its traditions. You still give Carolina your all.