YOURS AT CAROLINA
From its founding, our University has weathered many storms. While Carolina remained open throughout the
Civil War, the University’s endowment was lost because
of the war. Buildings fell into disrepair, and student
enrollment declined. In late 1870, the trustees decreed
that all faculty salaries would end on Feb.
1, 1871, and on the blackboard in one of
the remaining classrooms someone wrote:
“February 1, 1871. This old University has
busted and gone to hell.”
A global influenza epidemic hit Chapel
Hill and the University in 1918 and
claimed many lives, including UNC President Edward Kidder Graham.
In the 1930s, Frank Porter Graham led
UNC through budget cuts and economic
calamity by making tough decisions to keep doors open.
Faculty paychecks were cut, spending on the institution
declined, but Carolina continued to welcome students
every fall and graduate them each spring. It was not an
easy world that those new alumni moved into each
May; they saw evidence of a coming war in Europe, and
the students who arrived in 1934 made it their mission
to reach out to other nations, creating the Class of 1938
scholarships for students to study abroad. The hope was
such an effort would contribute to world peace. The
scholarships, and the hope, continue to this day.
In the 1960s, civil unrest touched Chapel Hill, and
elsewhere, during a national atmosphere of protest and
demand for change. And 30 years later, the early 1990s
are remembered for another fiscal crisis at the University
coupled with deep, fractional debates involving America’s enduring issue of race and, in this case, the existence of a free-standing building to anchor the study of
the African-American experience.
Those events, and others, took Carolina to her core.
Each time, we continued on, borne by history dedicated
to the audacious principle of public higher education for
the people of North Carolina.
This past year is another in which bad news will be
part of Carolina’s experience.
The budget pressures are grave. The University’s
compact with the state of North Carolina appears at
risk. As this academic year unfolds, decisions will be
made on our campus to find the best paths out of this
crisis. And those paths will be found. Students were welcomed this fall, and others will graduate next spring.
They will remember a Carolina, as we all do, where
ideas were tested, where discoveries were not merely
made but celebrated, and where lives were changed.
A year’s worth of news reports about our football
program also has left a mark on Carolina. For those of us
who care about our University as we do a family mem-
ber, we are saddened. We wish for things to be different.
Regardless of the outcome of this sad saga over the
coming weeks, as alumni of this remarkable place, please
remember: This fall, let’s say in October, there will be a
Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill when the sun monopolizes a cloudless sky of a blue with which we are all
familiar. The temperature will not exceed 72. The grass of
Kenan field will be as green as we remember it to have
been when we were students. On the field, playing a
game, there will be a team of young, determined 18- to
22-year-olds who have, since their earliest memories,
dreamed of being in that place, at that moment, representing our University in intercollegiate athletics, one of
the hallmarks of American public higher education.
Carolina will endure. We’ll come together as a family
in many athletic venues and cheer the students who
compete and proudly represent Carolina. But we’re
comforted and will forever understand and celebrate
that the value of our Carolina diplomas will continue to
be earned in the classrooms and laboratories where
gifted teachers and cutting-edge researches inspire future
leaders and try to solve the world’s most pressing problems. That remains the Carolina Way.
Yours at Carolina,
Douglas S. Dibbert ’ 70