Dear Carolina Community,
All of us have a role in shaping Carolina’s culture. The decisions we make each day — the way we treat our colleagues and classmates, the effort we bring to our work, the causes we choose to join and support — influence the Carolina experience for everyone around us.
That’s why I’m so grateful for the essay that three UNC professors published in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week, calling for a little extra goodwill in trying times. “In giving grace to our students and ourselves, we model for them how to adapt to a challenging circumstance and lead with compassion and kindness,” wrote Nicole Else-Quest, Viji Sathy and Kelly Hogan. “Students need — and want — connection.”
As I talk with students across our campus, I think that’s exactly right. Else-Quest, Sathy, and Hogan advise us to check in with each other; ask for help when you need it and give help when you’re in a position to offer it; talk earnestly and often about why your work at Carolina matters and how it impacts the wider world. “This is an opportunity to connect with your students and help them see what you find so exciting and meaningful about your research and discipline,” they write.
Their point is that the day-to-day workload of college can be stressful, but the reward is getting to contribute to something worthwhile. Last week, I received an update on an innovative research collaboration called the Adolescent Brain Development and Technology Initiative, studying how our immersion in the digital world is reshaping young minds. Carolina researchers are now developing a curriculum for middle school-age kids to help them become wiser tech consumers. And earlier in the week, I had a great discussion with NC A&T Chancellor Harold Martin and the Carolina Alumni Black Issues Council about how we can work more closely with our state’s HBCUs. We’re continually making strides towards leveling the playing field for our students and others across the UNC System, ensuring marginalized students have access to all the opportunities that a college experience offers.
All around us, people of goodwill are coming together to make positive things happen in the world. I’m glad we have a campus culture that celebrates those connections and faculty members who think hard about opening those opportunities for all.
Kevin M. Guskiewicz