More than 300 people, including the building’s namesake, celebrated the official opening of Roper Hall on Sept. 18. Carolina’s state-of-the-art new home for medical education is located on the former site of Berryhill Hall on Medical Drive.
Named for Dr. Bill Roper, former UNC School of Medicine dean, CEO of UNC Health and interim president of the UNC system, Roper Hall offers innovative spaces where students can hone clinical skills and collaborate with learners from across the medical campus and state.
“This is a special evening to celebrate both our medical students and Dr. Bill Roper,” said Dr. Wesley Burks, current medical school dean and UNC Health CEO. “For our medical students, Roper Hall is built in a unique way — around you and your experience as a student here. It really is the beginning of your journey, as you go out from here to serve our patients and change how we practice medicine.”
In the past, UNC medical students trained in Berryhill Hall, which opened in 1970. In 2016, North Carolinians approved the Connect NC bond, from which $68 million went toward the new medical education building. Construction on the 172,000-square-foot structure began in early 2020, with many generous donors contributing funds to shape the facility’s resources for student learning, connection and well-being.
“The work that will be done in this space is a reflection of Carolina’s unwavering commitment to serve through education, and it will further empower Carolina’s pursuit of excellence as the leading global public research university in the nation,” Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said. “Dr. Roper, thank you for your leadership, your mentorship and encouragement throughout my tenure and beyond. … The naming of this state-of-the-art facility really is a tribute to the impact that you’ve had on so many people here, and we’re grateful. You’re an inspiration, and I’m so excited that you are here to receive this amazing honor this evening.”
Roper Hall provides six floors of training space, featuring cutting-edge technology and intentionally crafted interiors, from large classrooms to dedicated seminar rooms, group and individual study spaces, a 240-person Active Learning Center, a student lounge, wellness center and more.
“Unquestionably, this is the medical school of the people of North Carolina,” said Roper as he took the podium to deliver remarks. He received a standing ovation from attendees. “It’s a great personal honor for me that this building is named Roper Hall. But it’s been an even greater honor and a privilege for me to be able to work with all of you — and the wonderfully dedicated others — across more than a quarter of a century. Thank you very much.”
Though the event marked the official opening, Roper Hall was already open for classes, providing meeting and study space for both first- and second-year students. This fall’s newly admitted Class of 2027 stands at 204 learners, and the School of Medicine – the largest medical school in the state – will continue expanding class size to an eventual 230 students per year.
Other speakers at the event included UNC System President Peter Hans, School of Medicine Executive Dean Dr. Cristen Page and second-year medical student Theresa Dickerson.
“As we open this new building, every time you walk past, I hope it reminds you of the power of vision and the courage it takes to see beyond what is in front of you,” Dickerson said. “On behalf of UNC medical students, I say thank you to the investment that has been made for our education and our future careers so that we can take care of the constituents of North Carolina.”