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February 2010

Join us for big-name speakers, performers, other notables

At Carolina, we're so fortunate to attract some of the brightest minds and outstanding performers of our time. And we want our neighbors to know that with few exceptions, these notables' lectures, concerts, exhibits, conferences and more are open to the public. Many of these events are free, and we hope they enhance the quality of life for our friends and neighbors, as well as students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The very best source of information about events on campus is our online calendar, which you can reach by clicking "Calendars" on our home page, Scroll back and you'll find that already this semester, we've had an impressive list of big names visit campus and Chapel Hill.

Just this week visitors included author Taylor Branch, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his history trilogy about the civil rights movement. Taylor discussed his latest book "The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President," about his conversations with Bill Clinton while the former president was in office. We're especially proud of Taylor, who came to Carolina as a Morehead-Cain Scholar and graduated in 1968.

We recently completed the CHAT Festival, which stood for Collaborations: Humanities, Arts & Technology and explored how new technologies are changing the expression of the arts and humanities. The festival's exhibits, workshops, performances and lectures included a talk by Robbie Bach, another Morehead-Cain alumnus. The president of Microsoft Corp.'s Entertainment & Devices division, Robbie discussed interactive gaming technologies under development that could have applications in fields other than entertainment as well.

Jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard gave a talk about his music and scoring of Spike Lee films at the Sonja Hanes Stone Center for Black Culture and History last Thursday, followed by his concert Friday in Memorial Hall. The performance was one of many that made up the Carolina Jazz Festival, held on campus every February.

And there's much more to come.

One of the nationally prominent scholars on our own faculty is history professor Bill Ferris. A former director of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Bill spent the 1960s and '70s touring his home state of Mississippi, documenting the voices of African Americans as they spoke about and performed the musical traditions that make up the roots of the blues. He'll discuss and read from "Give My Poor Heart Ease," his book and compact disc that resulted from his travels, on March 16 in Davis Library.

Bill won't be the only notable on the University Library's dance card this semester. For more on library happenings, visit and click "Events."

On March 22, former Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, who led our country's efforts to deal with the 2008 global financial crisis, will speak at the FedEx Global Education Center to help launch our new Global Research Institute, which we hope will help attract outstanding visiting scholars from around the world to Chapel Hill. Check out for the wide variety of events at the center. On April 8, Marine Gen. James Mattis, commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, will discuss the civil-military implications of war and military operations in the 21st century.

Short story and novel writer Edward P. Jones will speak on March 24. His "The Known World" (2003) won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Jones chronicles life in the Washington, D.C., African American community, where he lives and grew up.

Every year, renowned artists grace the stage in Memorial Hall, presented by Carolina Performing Arts. A few tickets remain for the modern dance company Pilobolus on March 22. Violin virtuoso Julia Fischer will perform on April 6, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on April 10 and April 11. For all performances and ticket prices, visit

We're proud that such high-profile speakers and sought-after performers choose Carolina as a place to share their talents and knowledge. And we're especially delighted that we can welcome our friends in the community to enjoy these resources along with us. Come join us.


Holden Thorp is chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Readers can contact him at

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