When the UNC School of Medicine’s new Medical Education Building is completed in 2022, it will be named in honor of Dr. Bill Roper, former dean of the UNC School of Medicine and CEO of UNC Health. Roper’s visionary leadership helped move the UNC School of Medicine closer to its goal of becoming the nation’s top public school of medicine and established UNC Health as one of the nation’s leading academic health systems, significantly expanding the reach of the system across the state.
The honor was announced at a celebration in late September, featuring leaders from across UNC Health, the UNC School of Medicine and the University of North Carolina.
During Roper’s remarks at the event, he thanked the many colleagues he has worked alongside during his time as dean of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, dean of the UNC School of Medicine, CEO of UNC Health and interim president of the University of North Carolina System.
“Thank you to all of you who have made this possible and who are truly the very foundation of this building. I see each of you when I see this building taking shape,” Roper said. “You made all of this possible.”
When open, Roper Hall will feature the latest technology for simulation and telemedicine in addition to classroom spaces designed to facilitate collaboration between students and faculty as well as interdisciplinary learning. It will provide enhanced connections between medical students in Chapel Hill and those learning at satellite campuses in Asheville, Charlotte, and Wilmington.
This new facility was designed with a 50-year vision to enhance medical education at Carolina for decades to come. Finally, this new facility will allow for expanded enrollment at the UNC School of Medicine, training more physicians to care for the people of North Carolina.
“Carolina is a leading global public research university in part because of Bill’s leadership,” said Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz. “I’m so excited for the generations of medical students who will receive their world-class training in Roper Hall.”
Dr. Wesley Burks, Dean of the UNC School of Medicine and CEO of UNC Health, said Roper is a perfect example for those future physicians to follow.
“Over the course of Bill’s career, he’s been a visionary leader, tireless public servant, and an unparalleled advocate for both quality healthcare and extraordinary higher education for the people of North Carolina,” said Burks. If our medical students follow that model and lead with his honor and integrity, then the future is in very good hands.”
As dean of the UNC School of Medicine, Roper helped to modernize the medical curriculum and establish the School of Medicine’s three satellite campuses. Research funding at the School of Medicine increased by 50% under his leadership, and the completion of both Marsico Hall and the Genome Sciences building were tremendous steps forward in research and laboratory infrastructure.
Roper’s vision and leadership also transformed the UNC Health system. He took over a Triangle-based system and expanded it statewide, adding nine affiliate hospitals, more than doubling the number of employees, licensed beds, and revenues.
Following his retirement as dean and CEO, Roper was named interim president of the University of North Carolina System, a position he held for from January 2019 through July 2020.
“Dr. Roper left the people and the institutions he served in better health than when he arrived, and that’s exactly what we want in our next generation of physicians and public servants in this great state,” said Peter Hans, president of the University of North Carolina System. “Roper Hall does for infrastructure what Bill Roper did for our whole enterprise; lay the foundation for another half-century of extraordinary service to our fellow citizens.”