As UNC-Chapel Hill trustees gathered for
their July meeting, Chancellor Carol Folt announced appointments to two positions. Rumay Alexander will serve as interim Chief Diversity Officer, leading the
continuing effort to make Carolina’s campus as inclusive as possible. Folt also announced the appointment of
Kim Strom-Gottfried to the role of Director of Ethics, Education and Policy
Management. The cabinet level position was created to coordinate and oversee
policies and procedures on a university-wide basis, among other responsibilities. The unrest
taking place across the country weighed heavily on the minds of trustees as they
gathered for their meeting. Like most of you in this room, I have been
deeply troubled by the events that have gone on in our country over the last
several weeks and months. We need to have earnest, intentional
honest conversations so that we can understand each other better. Chancellor Folt echoed those sentiments
saying that Carolina’s effort to foster conversations on campus – even difficult
ones – will continue and expand. I think there’s going to be a lot of work
done in orientation, and not just about safety issues but also about
conversation. We feel lucky here that our officers have a good relationship with
our students. You know that’s been something that they care deeply about.
Keeping that relationship positive is something student body president and
trustee Bradley Opere wants to highlight when classes resume in the
fall. We’ll be starting out the semester by hosting a public forum where we’ll be
able to invite a lot of students to come in and hopefully we’ll be able to tell a
different story around the country on how police and students can be able to
relate. Carolina’s School of Media and Journalism – winner of the 2016 national
championship in the Hearst Journalism Awards competition – was in the spotlight
during most of the trustees’ meeting. We are producing civic leaders, we are
producing folks who are critical thinkers and those who are
entrepreneurial. They’re going to invent tomorrow’s media, totally rooted in the
values of journalism and democracy. Students, faculty and alumni from the M-J school told trustees about the ways they’re preparing for the
industry’s future, the strength of the Carolina alumni base
and what makes their program unique. Being a journalist came first, and I
think that emphasis is, in my opinion, what makes our school rise to the top. A lot of my colleagues my age who went
to journalism schools they were taught how to make beautiful pictures, and the
truth is that the biggest value is being a journalist. Hearing from students and
faculty is always a highlight, and a priority for university leaders. It’s a very active board, very involved
in many ways, but all of us on campus know that the really very special part
is getting to be with the students and with the faculty, and so I think this was
a great example of bringing that forward. Trustees will hold their next meeting
and September.