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A year of
community and resilience

Year in Review

The 2019-2020 academic year started with the traditional excitement of welcoming new Tar Heels to campus and ended unpredictably, with students leaving campus early and graduation ceremonies postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In between, Tar Heels earned prestigious academic honors and national championships, welcomed Kevin M. Guskiewicz as the University's 12th chancellor, celebrated milestones and discovered how resilient the Carolina community really is.

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Fall Semester

Back to school

The Carolina community grows a little bigger each August, as thousands of new first-year, transfer and graduates students officially become Tar Heels and new faculty and staff members begin their Carolina careers.

This year, the University welcomed 4,195 first-year students, 852 transfer students and 2,130 graduate students. The new class represents 97 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, and 21% of the students are the first in their family to go to college.

Students run through a tunnel of people.

A historic gift for Carolina

In September, alumnus Walter Hussman and his family generously invested in the future of journalism and the media professions by making the single largest gift to the University’s journalism and media school. With the $25 million gift to Carolina, the school became the Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

“Journalism is so important to America’s democracy, it’s so important to our future, and it’s so important to reestablish the trust with the public,” Walter Hussman said at the time. “I believe the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and its journalism school can be leaders in this endeavor.”

The exterior of Carroll Hall.


Kevin M. Guskiewicz named Carolina’s
12th chancellor

After serving as the interim chancellor since February 2019, the UNC Board of Governors appointed Guskiewicz to the role permanently December. A neuroscientist, academic leader and concussion researcher, Guskiewicz has been a member of Carolina’s faculty for more than two decades.

In his first act as the University’s new chancellor, Guskiewicz announced a $5 million investment to help UNC-Chapel Hill reconcile its past and improve its future.

The Tar Heel state

As a university built for the people, public service is at the core of Carolina’s mission. Throughout the 2019-2020 academic year, the University celebrated the founding purpose.

Students, faculty and staff dedicated thousands of hours to helping our communities by performing service projects and participating in outreach programs while also making community-changing discoveries and creating a better future for all of North Carolina through research.

Over fall break, nearly 100 faculty members and senior administrators traveled across North Carolina to learn more about the state they serve. The knowledge they gained informs the work they do in Carolina classrooms, offices and labs.

Learn more about our impact
    Serving all North Carolinians
    The Tar Heel Bus Tour

Spring Semester

A remote spring semester

In March, the Carolina community made the best out of a challenging situation when campus closed all non-essential business in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Faculty members transitioned 97% of courses to remote learning and programs and vital services moved online. Despite the distance, Tar Heels around our state and country were still learning, conducting research and working to improve their communities.

A photo of a zoom call on a laptop.

Graduation celebrations

Instead of turning their tassels in Kenan Stadium on May 10, the Class of 2020 went to Carolina in their minds for what would have been graduation day.

A celebration video watch party on UNC-Chapel Hill’s social media channels on May 10 created an opportunity to recognize the achievements of our nearly 7,000 graduates and to show the Class of 2020 that the Tar Heel community is supporting them.

The Bell Tower lit up in Carolina blue.

Top stories of the year