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OCTOBER 13, 2005
Our students’ home away from home
is your home, too

by Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Jablonski Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for The Chapel Hill News

 

One thing that has truly impressed me in my first year here as a member of the Carolina community is that – the sense of community this area and its people enjoy, with the campus and its students as full participants.

Our students’ engagement in campus life is reflected in the number of students who live and learn on campus.  This fall, we opened a new apartment community for student families, and next year at this time, we will have more than 900 new apartments available to undergraduates. New housing construction and the renovation of existing facilities has allowed us to increase the number of new students living on campus by more than 7 percent since 2000. At the same time, we have increased the retention rate for students returning to campus housing and we expect this number to grow as more students elect to stay in the new campus apartments and rooms existing residence halls that have been renovated in recent years. Campus housing capacity is being enhanced so as to accommodate more than 45 percent of all enrolled undergraduates, and a total 9,500 combined bed spaces for undergraduate, graduate and professional students. 

My role at Carolina is to be the main advocate within the administration for the needs of students.  I work with many of the student life offices, among them housing, health services, career services, the student union and the discipline system.  We provide an expansive complement of programs and systems to support students in their academic endeavors, including integrating classrooms into many of our renovated residence halls, bringing faculty and students together outside the classroom.  One example is the Connected Learning Program in Cobb residence hall, featuring the social justice project  Hand in Hand in Chapel Hill, which involves students and sociology faculty in addressing poverty and homelessness in Chapel Hill.

And Carolina’s commitment to engaging students in campus life and the greater community extends beyond the Division of Student Affairs to myriad programs and services. The new Rams Head Center features a small grocery store, dining service and sports café designed for late-night dining and entertainment.  The recreation center next door opened a few weeks ago, offering students easy access to fitness equipment, space for pick-up basketball games and other opportunities to take a healthy break from studying and the classroom. Meanwhile, the return of Memorial Hall after three years of renovations enables students to enjoy top-drawer talents in music, theatre and dance for just $10 a ticket and for student artists to share their talents with their peers and the larger community on a world-class stage.  With more than 600 registered student organizations, opportunities abound for our students to be involved, become leaders and make a difference.


Our students’ commitment to community – and their opportunities for growth – extends beyond the borders of the campus proper. Through a collaborative effort called the Good Neighbor Initiative, student volunteers and staff from the Dean of Students Office, University Relations, Public Safety and town staff members, education and information relative to ordinances, community standards and good citizenship are provided – door to door – to our students who live in the Chapel Hill neighborhoods bordering the campus.  At the same time, the Good Neighbor Initiative offers outreach to non-student residents of each neighborhood, providing resources to foster increased understanding and awareness for student culture and schedules. Our intention is to enhance communication and ultimately build better relationships between students and neighbors in the community.

As I begin my second year at Carolina, I look forward to making continuing progress on our goal of engaging students in campus and community life – and to seeing you around this community that we all call home. Together we can challenge and enable students to become productive and responsible citizens in Chapel Hill and Carrboro and in all of the places here and around the nation and world that they will call home as they graduate and head out into the world beyond this community.

Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Jablonski is vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She came to Carolina from Brown University and welcomes calls and emails at 966-4045 and Margaret_Jablonski@unc.edu.  

 







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