Chancellor Holden Thorp
Installation Address, October 12, 2008
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Holden Thorp's Speech
you, President Bowles, for that introduction and for the confidence
that you've shown in me. My campus colleagues and I thank you for
all you do for Carolina and the UNC system.
members of our General Assembly, including Marc Basnight and Joe Hackney,
thank you for your generous support. We know these are trying times,
and we pledge to be your partners as we help lead North Carolina into
also to members of the UNC Board of Governors, chaired with great skill
by Hannah Gage, and Carolina's Board of Trustees, led so ably by my
good friend Chair Roger Perry.
also want to acknowledge the University's outstanding leadership -
our vice chancellors, Cabinet and deans.
appreciate all the support that I've received these last several months.
One message came from my fourth-grade teacher in Fayetteville, Mrs.
Van Stryck. "Dear Holden," she said, "I'm happy and not surprised
that you have become the chancellor. However, I haven't changed my
mind about the fact that your handwriting could hold you back one day."
grateful to have my family here. It's been on my mind for months how
it would feel to put my hand on the Thorp Bible, which goes back to
my great-grandfather, Judge William Lewis Thorp, mayor of Rocky Mount.
In the late 1800s, the judge read for the law under Judge Battle at
what later became the Carolina law school.
I'm so happy to be joined by my magnificent wife, Patti, who - in
addition to supporting the chancellor - as Erskine said is full of
enthusiasm for the University and this community. And to my children,
John and Emma, the president was right. You have the best basketball
tickets of any kids in Chapel Hill.
so proud to see my academic mentors here. Harry Gray - my Ph.D. advisor
from Caltech - has trained 125 future college professors in his lab,
including five university chancellors or presidents. That makes him
the Dean Smith of chemistry. My postdoctoral advisor, Gary Brudvig,
is also here from Yale. Gary taught me to love biochemistry and showed
me the greatest job for a young person - that of a faculty member
at a research university.
Pat Timmons-Goodson and Allan Gurganus ... I dreamed that both of you
would be here since that first time I heard from the search committee.
to our former chancellors, thank you all. You understand this, but in
the last three months the extraordinary admiration that I had for all
of you has risen even higher. I see Bill Aycock, Paul Hardin, and James
Moeser. And I see Carmen Hooker Odum, Diane Taylor, and Barbara Fordham.
Thank you for all you have done for our University. James, I thank you
especially for many things, but most of all for this wonderful football
team. As we say in the theatre, timing is everything.
to President Friday ... Sir, without you, none of us would be here.
to the other platform party members and distinguished guests, our elected
officials, members of the Carolina community, alumni, and friends:
you all for joining us on this special day - Carolina's birthday
- to honor our University's great traditions and celebrate together
the promise of the future.
installation speeches describe the University's history - sometimes
at great length. I need my time today to talk about the future. So -
with apologies to Bill Powell - I give you "The History of the University
of North Carolina, Abridged."
founders went down to my hometown of Fayetteville and convinced the
General Assembly to charter the University. Davie hitched his horse
in Chapel Hill, and we were off. Hinton James left Wilmington on foot.
He turned left at Benson. Eventually, he made it to class. We closed
the University, and then we opened it again.
Graham went to the U.S. Senate. Before he left, Mrs. Graham made cookies.
Bob House played the harmonica. Bill Friday, Bill Aycock and Fayetteville's
own Paul Dickson got the Speaker Ban Law overturned. We admitted women
and we integrated. James Taylor went to Abbey Road Studios and recorded
"Carolina in My Mind." Michael Jordan made the shot, and
here we are. ...
here's the serious part: Throughout our history, our leaders have
held true to a concept so bold, so audacious and so challenging -
to aspire to global academic eminence while focusing our teaching and
our service on North Carolina's students and people.
the university of both -
and: Both academic prominence and a
commitment to our state.
William R. Davie had known how hard it was, he never would have tried
it. Thank goodness he had no earthly idea. And thank goodness for the
last 215 years we've had leaders who refused to choose between knowledge
so proud to stand before you today to talk about how we can nurture
this audacious idea and do even more for the people of our University,
for our state, and for our world.
‘The people of Carolina'
institutional saga is one of courage and conviction, of thirst for knowledge
and creativity, and of love for education and enlightenment. But no
matter how enjoyable it may be to relive our storied past, it's not
my topic for today. Today we must show the discipline not to revel in
our past, but to live in the present and look to the future.
last several months, I've experienced the deep feelings that folks
have for our University. I've heard a few opinions about this policy
or that policy. I've heard about favorite professors. And I've heard
concerns about the future location of Time-Out and its chicken biscuits.
what I've heard most is an acute awareness that Carolina is about
our people: our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. We all share the
belief that the people of Carolina can transform the future - with
our minds, with our willingness to confront challenges, and with our
hopes for our state, nation, and world.
advance as a campus community, we must deepen our collective commitment
to the people of Carolina. We must motivate and nurture our students
academically - and we must provide them with the right environment
to find and follow their dreams. We must expect our faculty to succeed
in the classroom and in research and service - and make sure they
have the resources they need. We must enable our talented staff to provide
these resources for teaching and learning - and attend to their circumstances
to make this an even better place to work.
short, we must make Carolina the best place to teach, learn, and discover.
don't need a magazine to devise a formula to tell us how to do that.
We don't need a blue-ribbon panel of academics to write a lengthy
report. And we don't need a snazzy tag line.
just need to take care of our people. If we do that, then the students'
successes, the big ideas, the recognition, the grant dollars, and the
solutions to society's greatest problems will take care of themselves.
how do we make this the best place to teach, learn, and discover?
‘Attract and inspire'
attract the best students and inspire them. We want students who demonstrate
a high level of academic work and commitment to original thought. We
want students who embrace risk and meet challenges. And we want our
undergraduates to reflect our state's growing and diverse population.
We cannot realize the transforming power of higher education unless
more than two centuries, we have had the luxury of assuming that the
best North Carolina students will come to us. But our advantaged position
with these high-achieving students is at risk. Financial aid practices
of the top privates have made it easier for students to choose excellent
universities outside North Carolina. When that happens, they are less
likely to come back and contribute to our state
and our economy.
want outstanding students from beyond North Carolina to enhance our
campus and benefit from our University.
meet this challenge by raising funds for merit- and need-based aid to
make Carolina even more financially attractive. We'll meet it by more
actively recruiting the students we want. And we'll meet it by looking
carefully with the faculty at our academic programs to make them more
attractive to students' interests while enhancing their academic rigor
and challenging the extraordinary minds of our young people.
approach to undergraduate education will continue to embrace our commitment
to fostering students' curiosity and passion, recognizing that building
their capacity to learn is our primary objective. In today's rapidly
changing world, it's not always possible to choose something to study
when you're 18 that's where you'll make your mark when you're
can't time the market. That's why Carolina's proud liberal arts
tradition is more relevant today than ever.
this commitment, we recognize that the arts and humanities provide vital
perspectives and skills that differentiate American higher education.
And they provide fertile ground for our students to find their passions
and to gain an understanding of the human condition that will inform
their future life and work.
on us to do more than teach, more than educate. We must inspire
our students to reach beyond themselves and take on the great problems
facing the world.
competition for graduate and professional students is no less severe
or important. The assistantships offered for graduate study at our private
peer campuses pose similar threats to our excellent Ph.D. programs
that define Carolina's academic reputation. We will respond similarly
- with greater support for our most promising graduate students and
redoubled efforts at getting the students we want.
effort goes more directly to the heart of Carolina's academic reputation
and prominence than the work we'll do to attract the best graduate
students to Chapel Hill and to support them in their scholarship.
‘Recruit and support'
recruit and support our stellar faculty. The national esteem for Carolina
arises principally from the work of our outstanding faculty. Carolina's
faculty determine and execute our academic agenda. Their research informs
our teaching, elevates our graduate programs, and defines our service.
Experiences shape teaching, so we must have a diverse faculty if we
want to inspire a diverse student body.
The defining principle of a research university is that teaching and discovery are done by the same people. Those who do both well are scarce. But not here at Carolina. We need to support our gifted teacher-scholars - and attract their new colleagues to inspire our students.
enhances Carolina more than supporting our faculty. That's why we
must do more - with professorships, funds for research, and
support for graduate students. It's why we instituted the Center for
Faculty Excellence to provide our colleagues with the assistance they
need. And it's why we must continue to work with the Town of Chapel
Hill and our region to make this the best place for a professor and
her family to live.
‘Serve and elevate'
serve and elevate our region, state, and beyond. Our guiding principle
calls us to aspire globally while serving locally. And when we think
about engaging with communities, we have to start with our own region
of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Orange County, and Durham. Who can imagine
Carolina without Franklin Street, the Hula Hoopers of downtown Carrboro,
or Mack the Knife's two-dollar haircuts?
can't serve the state and the world if we don't succeed in our own
have much to work on with our colleagues in local governments. Our employees
struggle to get to campus and find places to live nearby; fewer than
half of them live in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Empty storefronts sit
too long on Franklin Street. Our neighbors worry about the growth of
there's hope on some important fronts. Our partnership with Chapel
Hill Transit sets a standard for college communities across the country.
The UNC Foundation will acquire the University Square property and partner
with local government on downtown revitalization. And the vision
for Carolina North has evolved significantly, for the better, thanks
to the town and the University talking - and listening - to each
other. Plans are progressing for the Innovation Center, and we've
begun discussions about a zoning district for Carolina North.
these successes as starting points, all we need to do is muster the
collective will to share responsibility for our local vitality.
the state level, our service begins with attracting and inspiring
the smart young people of North Carolina who will graduate and contribute
to the economy and society here at home.
imagine the history of North Carolina without Carolina alumni. Nothing
we do contributes more to our state than providing an accessible and
affordable education to North Carolina's students and turning those
bright young people loose to lead us.
we can do more for North Carolina. We will work closely with President
Bowles, and we will partner more with our UNC sister institutions. I'm
so pleased to see so many of the system chancellors here today. I know
how busy chancellors are, so thank you. Since July first, I have visited
nine of you on your campuses, and I'll be calling on others soon.
There's so much we can do together for our state.
of the most critical issues facing our university system is how to educate
an estimated 80,000 additional students by 2017. At Carolina, we have
spent much of the past year studying potential enrollment growth. We
have a responsibility to do our part.
we have to be smart about growth. We have to determine how to grow
and enhance our quality. So, we are launching some important initiatives.
Roger Perry and I have asked Trustees John Ellison and J.J. Raynor to
lead a campus-wide conversation about how Carolina can be an even better
work will inform an update of the Academic Plan that Provost Gray-Little
will lead. Both of these efforts will help us determine our priorities
for private giving.
I have asked Director of Admissions Steve Farmer and Associate Dean
Steven Reznick to lead a task force to explore ways to strengthen the
Carolina undergraduate experience.
is the right time for a Carolina education. It may be the most challenging
period our state and nation have ever faced. But thanks to my years
at Carolina, I am filled with an enduring hope that derives from the
unquenchable idealism of our students and their interest in the world's
imagine that a student could come to Chapel Hill to major in Mandarin
and international studies while addressing global health. Or major in
chemistry while addressing global warming. Or major in American Studies
while addressing poverty or youth violence.
can come together as an intellectual community to address the world's
great problems. We can do it without dismantling or realigning our existing
academic structure. And students can do their work on the great problems
inside the classroom and as part of their academic life. Because
of our guiding principle of academic excellence plus service, Carolina
is perfectly suited to redefine higher education in this way and to
leverage our young peoples' interests in the great problems to enhance
their academic success and position them to lead us.
is critical, because our greatest contributions are the UNC alumni who
go on to be leaders in communities across North Carolina.
can get there from here'
what are the characteristics of a university that attracts and inspires
the best students, recruits and supports the best faculty, and serves
and elevates our region and state? Yes, we can get there from
and foremost, Carolina must feel safe. Neuroscience shows that people
are more likely to have new insights when they feel secure. So if we
hope to produce the ideas we need, we must ensure that our faculty,
staff, and students are intellectually secure and free to dream about
new solutions and observe our proud tradition of open inquiry.
also need to feel safe physically. That starts with campus security
measures. I'm so confident in our public safety department and Chief
Jeff McCracken. He and his officers are profoundly committed to the
security of our campus. We continue to enhance campus lighting and evaluate
late-night shuttle service.
we can't stop there. We will continue to look for new ideas. And while
more officers, lights, and shuttles can help, in the end, the big gains
will come when we realize that we must all be part of the solution.
Today, I challenge all of us to look out for each other.
Carolina must be a great place to work for staff. That's why, last
week, we raised the minimum annual salaries of our lowest-paid employees.
We won't stop there. We'll continue to advocate for competitive
salaries and health benefits.
also asked the Office of Human Resources to develop a comprehensive
management development program for our supervisors. Our managers play
a critical role in the University's success, and we need to make sure
they have the tools they need. This new training will focus on applying
good management and leadership practices in daily interactions with
Carolina must remain committed to the environment, which has been a
topic of research here for nearly two centuries. Our faculty's expertise
spans global warming, alternative energy sources, clean air and drinking
water, the health of our marine ecosystems, and sustainable development
- issues that affect everyone. And with programs in the Institute
for the Environment, the College and Public Health, we are even stronger.
We must keep pushing these strengths - to lead in the study of the
environment and its problems and in devising and providing solutions.
campus, we will continue to demonstrate a humble respect for the environment.
Sustainability is not just an academic topic. It's part of our culture.
It's reflected in everything from our construction program to how
we conduct business every day.
Hall's addition was the first building in the UNC system to receive
LEED certification, and at least five more are planned or currently
under construction. New approaches to managing the University's water
needs will greatly reduce our community's daily demand.
Carolina's health affairs schools and the UNC Health Care System must
remain committed to pursuing ambitious curiosity-driven research, translating
new discoveries to patients, and providing high-quality health care
to North Carolinians - regardless of their ability to pay.
are the light on the hill'
not the easy way to pursue global eminence in our academic programs
while drawing the majority of our students from a single state. It's
not the easy way to build world-class research programs in our professional
schools and direct our clinical efforts to North Carolina. It's not
the easy way to commit ourselves to affordability while competing with
our national peers who charge high tuitions.
It's not the easy way to be Carolina. But over the centuries, we have shown the courage of our convictions. So, though it may not be the easy way, it's the only way we know. And that's why our loftiest and most idealistic objectives make perfect sense.
can attract the best students from North Carolina and beyond to
Chapel Hill. We can have the best faculty ready to teach and
inspire them when they get here. And we can make our campus a
cohesive community that contributes to the vitality of our region and
know we can, because we always have.
motto is light and liberty. And that light has shined brightly throughout
our history. It shined brightly when our founders invented public higher
education. It shined brightly when Hinton James attended his first class.
It shined brightly when Kenan, Morehead, and Venable ignited the industrial
revolution. It shined brightly when we integrated and when we admitted
women. And it shined brightly when we redefined access with the Carolina
think how much more brightly our light will shine when our students,
faculty, staff, and alumni deepen our collective commitment to
the community that is our campus and town, the university system to
which we proudly belong, the state that feeds and nurtures us, the nation
and world we seek to strengthen, and the love we have for each other
and this hallowed place.
little light has just begun to shine.
let it shine in our classrooms when we embrace new ideas, describe the
human condition, and pursue the truth. We'll let it shine in our hospitals
and our laboratories when we care for and cure the people of North Carolina
and beyond. We'll let it shine on our coast where rising waters threaten
our state. We'll let it shine in the streets of our cities and here
in our community. And we'll let it shine in the hearts and minds of
the best students, the best faculty, the best staff, and the best
alumni in the world.
of Carolina, we are the light ... on the hill.
Let it shine.