Carolina Arts & Sciences spring 2018

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A L S O I N S I D E : • Interning in D.C. • The Ferris Legacy • Alumni English Majors










Theo Dingemans


The right chemistry

College of Arts & Sciences

Chemistry was not my strong

• • • • • • •

suit in my undergraduate years at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. I got through Chemistry I and II all right, but Organic Chemistry was a reckoning that made me rethink my career. Thirty years later, as the dean of the College of

Looking over early designs for our Institute

Arts & Sciences, I have gained

for Convergent Science with Ed Samulski

a new appreciation for the

(red shirt), one of our giants of chemistry.

stellar chemistry faculty we have at the University of North

Carolina at Chapel Hill. They are not only researchers and inventors who are making groundbreaking contributions to the field, they are excellent teachers in the classroom and mentors to the students who will become the next generation of innovators. It’s no small feat to be recognized as one of the top-ranked departments in the nation, with a record number of National Academy of Sciences members. Carolina chemistry’s pathway to excellence started with a vision decades ago: Bring talented faculty here early in their careers, provide them with legendary mentors, a collaborative atmosphere and the resources they need to flourish, and they will go on to accomplish great things. This led to a culture of collaboration that has made Carolina distinctly different, with chemists working alongside engineers, computer scientists, applied mathematicians and physicians to solve real-world problems to the benefit of the state, nation and world. This model has served as the catalyst for our new department of applied physical sciences and has informed the vision for our new Institute for Convergent Science. It’s also a winning formula that we are working to apply to other disciplines. I do believe that collaboration and our common goal of being a university “of the public, for the public” is what sets Carolina apart from its peers.


CAROLINA ARTS & SCIENCES | SPRING 2018 | Director of Communications: Geneva Collins Editor: Kim Weaver Spurr ’88, Associate Director of Communications Staff Multimedia Specialist: Kristen Chavez ’13 Designer: Linda Noble

Carolina Arts & Sciences is published semi-annually by the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and made possible with the support of private funds. Copyright 2018. | College of Arts & Sciences, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Campus Box 3100, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3100 | 919-962-1165 |

Kevin Guskiewicz, Dean Chris Clemens, Senior Associate Dean, Natural Sciences Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld, Senior Associate Dean, Social Sciences and Global Programs Abigail Panter, Senior Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education Robert J. Parker, Jr., Senior Associate Dean, Development, and Executive Director, Arts & Sciences Foundation Terry Rhodes, Senior Associate Dean, Fine Arts and Humanities Kate Henz, Senior Associate Dean, Administration & Business Strategy

Arts & Sciences Foundation Board of Directors, Spring 2018 • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Sunny H. Burrows ’84, Atlanta, GA, Chair M. Steven Langman ’83, London, UK, Vice Chair Kevin Guskiewicz, Chapel Hill, NC, President Terry Rhodes ’78, Chapel Hill, NC, Vice President James Klingler ’98, ’99, Chapel Hill, NC, Treasurer Robert J. Parker, Jr., Chapel Hill, NC, Executive Director and Secretary Amy B. Barry ’91, Wellesley, MA Eileen Pollart Brumback ’82, New York, NY Thomas C. Chubb III ’86, Atlanta, GA Mark P. Clein ’81, Chevy Chase, MD G. Munroe Cobey ’74, Chapel Hill, NC Ann Rankin Cowan ’75, Atlanta, GA William R. “Rusty” Cumpston ’83, Monte Sereno, CA Luke E. Fichthorn IV ’92, Brooklyn, NY Druscilla French ’71, ’78, Chapel Hill, NC J. Henry Froelich III ’81, MBA ’84, Charlotte, NC Cosby Wiley George ’83, Greenwich, CT John C. Glover ’85, Raleigh, NC Henry H. Hamilton III ’81, Katy, TX William T. Hobbs II ’85, Charlotte, NC Heavenly Johnson ’05, Chicago, IL Steven H. Kapp ’81, MBA ’90, Philadelphia, PA Wendell A. McCain ’92, Chapel Hill, NC Aurelia Stafford Monk ’85, Greenville, NC John T. Moore ’88, Saint James, NY Andrea Ponti ’85, London, UK R. Alexander Rankin ’77, Goshen, KY David S. Routh ’82, Chapel Hill, NC Tready Arthur Smith ’92 BSBA, Tampa, FL Benjamin J. Sullivan, Jr. ’75, Rye, NY Patricia Rumley Thompson ’66, Atlanta, GA Marree Shore Townsend ’77, Greenwich, CT James A. Wellons ’86, Philadelphia, PA Elijah White Jr. ’84, Houston, TX J. Spencer Whitman ’90, Charlotte, NC Cecil W. Wooten III ’68, ’72, Chapel Hill, NC


2 Two centuries


forever young

Few academic departments in the nation can measure their age in centuries. Carolina chemistry can.

More features

Donn Young



Dynamic duo

Saving an endangered language 16


15 weeks in D.C.


Analyzing political accountability abroad


Winning words

PLUS: A $10 million gift for the College, a playwright who illuminates African-

Donn Young

American history, recognition for a


poet’s debut publication.

COVER PHOTO: Assistant professor of


Alumni Up Close


The Scoop


Carolina Quoted


Chapter & Verse

inside back cover

rising star in mathematics and a student

chemistry Bo Li has won some of the top awards given to young scientists. She works alongside foundational members of the department like Kenan Professor of Chemistry Royce Murray, who came to Carolina in 1960 and remains on the faculty. (Photo by Steve Exum)


Stay Connected to the College via web, social media Magazine: News: Social media: @unccollege Dean Guskiewicz on Twitter: @unccollegedean


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Chemistry at Carolina


Steve Exum

• LEFT: Bo Li is one of Carolina chemistry’s rising young stars. Behind her is Royce Murray, who has been with the department for nearly six decades and for whom Murray Hall is named.

B Y PAT T Y C O U R T R I G H T ( B . A . ’ 7 5 , M . A . ’ 8 3 )

n the four years since she has come to UNC-Chapel Hill, Bo Li has won recognition after recognition for her work in understanding how bacterial small molecules may help defend the body against infectious diseases, with an eye toward developing the next generation of antibiotics. Top awards include some of the most prestigious honors given to young scientists: a New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, and a Rita Allen Foundation Scholars Award for biomedical research. Li, an assistant professor of chemistry, was attracted to the chemistry department’s collegial atmosphere and the opportunity to collaborate with infectious disease researchers across campus, including pharmacy, medicine and biology. In April, Carolina chemistry will celebrate its 200th birthday. A key secret to reaching this venerable milestone and achieving an international reputation has been to invest in generations of promising young scientists like Li and to provide them with the tools they need to thrive. Today, young scholars continue to work alongside foundational members of the department — people like Royce Murray, who has been on the faculty for 58 years. Investing in rising stars has been a hallmark of the department since the William F. Little era. Little came to Carolina as a chemistry instructor in 1956 and nine years later, at age 35, became chair. Regarded as the heart, soul and continued


Steve Exum

energizing force of the chemistry department, he created a congenial environment in which excellence was expected and success was widely celebrated. Rather than hiring more senior faculty, as was done elsewhere to raise a department’s profile, he hired promising young scholars, invested significant resources in furthering their research and aided them in getting tenure, trusting that many would remain at Carolina and continue to contribute. In five years, Little nearly doubled the number of faculty members — up to 30 — and elevated the department’s stature. He understood that bringing in new faculty required expanding lab space well beyond Venable Hall, chemistry’s home since 1925, so he aggressively sought funding to build Kenan Labs, which opened in 1971. “With improved lab space, you can do a better job recruiting the best and brightest faculty and students, so getting Kenan built was huge,” said renowned inorganic chemist Joe Templeton, Francis Preston Venable Professor of Chemistry, who has been at Carolina since 1976. Likewise, the Carolina Physical Science Complex, which broke ground in 2004, has had a significant impact on recruiting the current generation of scientists. “That kind of huge investment pays off for decades, and Bill really started that thinking long ago,” Templeton said. Little also was a driving force behind the creation of Research Triangle Park and Research Triangle Institute. His first love, though, was the chemistry department, then-Chancellor Holden Thorp said when Little died in 2009. “He created a culture where the coins of the realm were wisdom and encouragement. He was a giant,” said Thorp, who studied under Little in the 1980s and became chemistry chair in 2005. (Thorp went on to serve as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, then Carolina’s chancellor; he is now provost at Washington University in St. Louis.)

N.C. Collection, University Libraries

UNC’s chemistry department dates its origins back to the hiring of its first professor, Denison Olmsted, who taught chemistry and mineralogy, arriving in Chapel Hill in 1818 and staying for eight years. As the chemistry department grew, it attracted the man who would become known as the founding father of Carolina chemists, Francis P. Venable, in 1880. Almost immediately, Venable set the department on a quest for knowledge. He was the first faculty member to hold an earned Ph.D., (instead of an honorary doctorate) and

N.C. Collection, University Libraries


• TOP: Chemistry department chair Jeffrey Johnson teaches graduate students in “Synthetic Organic Chemistry.” As the department celebrates its 200th birthday, he says “this is a pivotal time for Carolina chemistry.” • BOTTOM LEFT: Denison Olmsted, the first professor hired by the chemistry department in 1818. • BOTTOM RIGHT: Francis P. Venable, dubbed the “founding father of Carolina chemists,” also served as the University’s president.

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N.C. Collection, University Libraries Steve Exum

N.C. Collection, University Libraries

sciences which investigates … the synthesis and analysis of matter.” That definition only scratches the surface of what chemistry involves today, said Maurice Bursey, but the question was a good starting point. Bursey, an award-winning professor emeritus of chemistry, wrote the departmental history Carolina Chemists, published in 1982 to celebrate the centennial of Venable’s arrival at UNC. Another book, seven years later, focused exclusively on Venable. Venable retired in 1930, but two of his students, John Motley Morehead and William Rand Kenan Jr., would go on to profoundly influence the trajectory of 20th-century American industry — as well as UNC’s way forward. After completing chemistry courses • TOP LEFT AND RIGHT: When Royce Murray arrived in 1960, faculty members were working in 1891, Morehead teamed with a Canain labs in the sprawling ranch-style Venable Hall. (Old) Venable was torn down in January dian inventor to seek an inexpensive 2008 to make way for (new) Venable. • BOTTOM: Chemistry graduate student Andrew way to produce pure aluminum. One Chan (with Bo Li) uses a blue-white screen to isolate mutant bacteria deficient in making an experiment created a dark, glassy rock — antibiotic. This method helps determine the bacterial genes involved in the synthesis of the calcium carbide. antibiotic, so that these genes can be used to guide the discovery of new antibiotics. When calcium carbide was placed in water, it released acetylene gas, and in 1893 was named to the first endowed chair at UNC, the when the colorless gas was mixed with air, it burned brightly, Mary Ann Smith Professorship, to “teach both the science of Venable and Kenan found. chemistry and its experimental application to the useful arts.” It would take several more years, but the perseverance In 1900, Venable moved from the chemistry department of Venable, Kenan and Morehead led to the world’s first in Person Hall to South Building, where he served as UNC’s commercial calcium carbide plant, which later became president for 14 years. During his tenure, Venable oversaw a Union Carbide. Acetylene is still used for welding and significant increase in both students and faculty. He returned metal cutting and as a raw material in the synthesis of many to the chemistry department as chair in 1914. organic chemicals and plastics. (For more on these “Kings of His exams always began with the question, “What is Chemistry,” visit continued chemistry?” The acceptable answer was: “that branch of


N.C. Collection, University Libraries

N.C. Collection, University Libraries


Steve Exum

In the second half of the 20th century, the chemistry department grew both in rank and prestige. When Murray arrived in 1960 (just a few years after Little), the faculty numbered fewer than 15 and all worked from labs in the sprawling ranch-style Venable Hall. There were two National Academy of Sciences (NAS) members in the department, and Murray — an analytical chemist with research interests in electrochemistry, molecular design and sensors — brought that number to five by 1991. Today, the nearly 50 faculty members include seven NAS members. Murray has amassed just about every major honor in his field, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, plus fellowships in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as being named editor of the preeminent journal in his field, Analytical Chemistry. University administrators have turned to • TOP LEFT: William “Bill” Little was known as the “heart, soul and energizing force” of the Kenan Professor of Chemistry and former the chemistry department. When he became chair in 1965, he understood early on the department chair to help guide the design of importance of investing in bright young faculty. • TOP RIGHT: Royce Murray (left) and new lab facilities — first Kenan Labs, and later, chemistry colleague Oscar Rice in Rice’s Venable Hall office. • BOTTOM: Chemistry the physical science complex. graduate student Taylor S. Teitsworth (with James Cahoon, left) uses a cryogenic For the latter project, Murray formed probe station, which allows her to perform electrical measurements on semiconductor a building committee of chairs whose nanowire materials at very low temperatures. departments would be housed in the new the $5 million gift that funded the naming of Murray Hall. facilities. That group, plus the architect’s belief that a building Caudill, an accomplished analytical chemist and should adapt to its users’ needs, helped ensure the project’s entrepreneur, co-founded Magellan Laboratories in 1991 and success, Murray said. served as worldwide president of pharmaceutical development One building bears his name, thanks in large part to one for Cardinal Health when it acquired Magellan. He is a of his former students. Lowry Caudill, who did his senior past chair of Carolina’s Board of Trustees and is an adjunct research in Murray’s lab before graduating in 1979, provided

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professor of chemistry. The science complex’s new chemistry building is named after Caudill and his wife, Susan. Ask another Little devotee, Maurice Brookhart, about Carolina chemistry, and the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of Chemistry points to a track record of success. He described the department as a booming research enterprise that remains strong in the core areas of organic, inorganic, physical and analytical chemistry while expanding in materials science, biological chemistry, catalysis and applied sciences. “We’re not doing things much differently than other top-20 chemistry departments in terms of the way we’re structured and the way we teach — we’re just really good!” said Brookhart, an award-winning chemist in catalysis and NAS member, who joined the faculty in 1969 and retired three years ago. The widespread spirit of cooperation continually brings in good young faculty and keeps them here, he added.

FACULTY WITH A COLLECTIVE GOAL One of those rising stars is Jillian Dempsey, who came to Carolina in 2012 to establish her vibrant research program in physical inorganic chemistry. continued

Jon Gardiner

Steve Exum

Grant supports female chemists

• TOP: Maurice Bursey (left) and James Cahoon. Bursey taught at Carolina for 30 years before retiring in 1996. Cahoon came to UNC in 2011 to further his work on novel semiconductor nanowires and nanomaterials. • BOTTOM: A grant from the Clare Boothe Luce Program will support new graduate fellowships for women in chemistry. The program, with a mentoring component, will be led by Jillian Dempsey (right).

B Y PAT T Y C O U R T R I G H T ( B . A . ’ 7 5 , M . A . ’ 8 3 )

Carolina chemistry has had a proud history of female faculty members since Linda Spremulli joined the faculty in 1976. Keeping that legacy alive by encouraging women chemists to pursue academic careers is a priority of the department. A recent $300,000 grant from the Clare Boothe Luce Program will support new graduate fellowships for women in chemistry and create a mentoring program to support them while they are at UNC. Research has shown that a lack of both mentoring and female role models contributes to women in chemistry leaving the tenure track, said Jillian Dempsey, the grant’s principal investigator and program director. She sees this program as a way to develop an atmosphere for fellowship recipients and other female graduate students to interact more closely with women faculty members. “I envision this program as a way to address some of these ‘leaky pipeline’ issues, where women have the goal to pursue a Ph.D. but then decide on alternative careers, frequently because they don’t have role models or a support structure. We want to fix those leaks,” said Dempsey, assistant professor of chemistry. The two-year fellowships will begin in fall 2018, with the first recipients notified later this spring. Since it first offered grants in 1989, the Luce program has been a source of private support for women in science, mathematics and engineering.


followed Sloan and Packard fellowships. Cahoon serves as the UNC site director of the Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network.

BENEFITING SOCIETY Within a department of exceptional researchers, professor Joseph DeSimone has an unparalleled entrepreneurial track record. With nearly 200 patents to his name and multiple startups under his belt, DeSimone has been an innovator in fields as diverse as creating environmentally safe processes for high-performance plastics to developing bioabsorbable surgical devices. DeSimone, Chancellor's Eminent Professor of Chemistry at UNC, is one of only a handful of people nationwide who have been elected to all three branches of the U.S. national

N.C. Collection, University Libraries

N.C. Collection, University Libraries

“I was excited to take on this lofty goal of building a lab, knowing I had the support of some really wonderful people,” the assistant professor said. “That’s what distinguishes our department — having faculty with a collective goal, a great department instead of individual faculty who simply want great research programs in their own labs.” Dempsey and her lab are studying next-generation catalysts for artificial photosynthesis with an eye toward developing renewable, high-energy fuels from inexpensive, abundant reactants. In 2015, she received a Packard Fellowship, and she is also a recipient of an NSF CAREER Award and a Sloan Fellowship. In recent years, Dempsey has seen an uptick in the number of talented young scientists joining the faculty and, in turn, the department’s response in meeting their unique needs — including meetings geared toward junior faculty or female

• LEFT: Maurice Bursey (center in this undated photo) wrote the departmental history Carolina Chemists, published in 1982, and another book seven years later on Francis P. Venable. • RIGHT: Joseph DeSimone (right) with his first doctoral student, Valerie Ashby (far left), around 1990. DeSimone is one of Carolina’s most accomplished professors and entrepreneurs. Ashby is now dean of Duke University’s Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. • FACING PAGE: Unidentified graduate students in a chemistry lab; note the mouth pipetting technique, long since prohibited for safety reasons.

chemists. In addition, a new Clare Boothe Luce Program led by Dempsey will support fellowships for women in chemistry (see sidebar, page 7). For associate professor James Cahoon, coming to Carolina in 2011 provided the opportunity to further his work on novel semiconductor nanowires and nanomaterials. “At the time, this was a relatively new research direction for Carolina chemistry,” said Cahoon. Semiconductors are used in a range of technologies, from solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity to microprocessors that drive computers. Cahoon’s group uses a multidisciplinary approach involving chemistry, physics, materials science and engineering to advance their research. Like his prize-winning colleagues, in 2016 Cahoon received an NSF CAREER Award, and last year the University awarded him a Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty. Those honors

academies — medicine, engineering and sciences — among his many other honors. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded DeSimone the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation. “The department has always been highly encouraging of faculty members’ entrepreneurial activities, recognizing that discoveries in the lab not only advance our discipline, but also have the potential to impact society,” said DeSimone, who has also been a champion of diversity in STEM. His most recent work has been in advanced manufacturing, where DeSimone’s technology — known as continuous liquid interface production, or CLIP — has reimagined 3-D printing. His Silicon Valley company, Carbon (co-founded with UNC professor Ed Samulski and Alex Ermoshkin, formerly of DeSimone’s UNC lab) uses CLIP technology to fabricate parts up to 1,000 times faster than other 3-D printers on the market. The materials produced have

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N.C. Collection, University Libraries

Chemistry Milestones, 1818 – 2018

optimal properties for use in diverse industries — from athletic footwear to consumer electronics to medical devices. An Adidas running shoe called Futurecraft 4D was manufactured using Carbon technology and went on sale in January. The award-winning polymer scientist has been connected to Carolina for nearly three decades. “My research effort over time has grown to involve a wide range of disciplines,” he said, “so having a home in one of the best chemistry departments in the country, joined with the ability to collaborate with world-renowned experts in immunology, biology, pharmacology and other areas has been a huge motivator in making Carolina my home institution for most of my career.” DeSimone’s first Ph.D. student, Valerie Sheares Ashby, is just one example of Carolina chemistry alumni who have gone on to do great things. Ashby received her undergraduate and doctoral degrees in chemistry in 1988 and 1994, respectively. She returned to UNC to teach in 2003 and became the first female and first African-American chair of the chemistry department in 2012. In 2015, she was named dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences at Duke University. When the department of chemistry celebrates its 200th birthday during the weekend of April 20-21, DeSimone and other chemistry legends will celebrate the past and look to the future. That future currently rests in the hands of department chair Jeffrey Johnson, the A. Ronald Gallant Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, who came to UNC in 2001. “This is a pivotal time for Carolina chemistry. Going forward, we want to capitalize on Carolina’s strengths in energy, materials science and the interface with biomedical fields,” said Johnson. “We also want to increase our touch in interdisciplinary, highly collaborative projects that benefit society.” In any area, though, it’s the people who make a difference, he added. “Since the beginning, people have always been the calling card of our department, and their collegiality and shared sense of purpose make Carolina chemistry unique.”

• 1818

Denison Olmsted becomes UNC’s professor of chemistry and mineralogy

• 1852

Smith Hall, the first chemistry building (which included a teaching lab), opens

• 1875

Chemistry moves to Person Hall

• 1880

Francis P. Venable becomes sixth professor of chemistry and first UNC faculty member with an earned Ph.D.

• 1891

John Motley Morehead does graduate work in chemistry with Venable

• 1893

William Rand Kenan Jr. graduates with senior thesis on the identification of calcium carbide

• 1900

Francis P. Venable becomes president of UNC

• 1909

Daisy Burrows Allen is the first woman to graduate with a B.S. in chemistry

• 1925

Venable Hall is dedicated

• 1927

Lillie Fielding Poisson Cutlar is the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry

• 1953

Second half of Venable Hall is dedicated

• 1956

William F. Little joins the UNC faculty

• 1960

Royce W. Murray is appointed assistant professor of analytical chemistry

• 1965

Eddie Lee Hoover is the first African-American student to earn a B.A. in chemistry

• 1971

Kenan Laboratories opens

• 1974

Slayton A. Evans Jr. becomes the department’s first African-American faculty member

• 1976

Linda L. Spremulli becomes the first female faculty member

• 1985

Morehead Laboratories opens

• 1990

Joseph DeSimone becomes assistant professor at UNC

• 2004

Ground is broken for the Carolina Physical Science Complex

• 2007 First of the new chemistry buildings, W. Lowry and Susan S. Caudill Laboratories, opens • 2008

Holden Thorp, former department chair, becomes UNC chancellor

• 2010

Murray and New Venable halls open

• 2012

Valerie Sheares Ashby becomes first female and first African-American department chair

• 2016

Joseph DeSimone receives the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation

• 2018

Chemistry celebrates its bicentennial



n a cold morning last f a l l , p rof e s s o r s B i l l Fe r r i s a n d M a rc i e C o h e n Fe r r i s we re s i t ti n g i n th e coz y k i tc h e n o f th e i r d ow n tow n C h a p e l H i l l h o m e , re f l e c ti n g o n b e i n g re c r u ite d to C a ro l i n a i n 2 0 0 2 . Mugs of coffee and plates of homemade blueberry bread helped to keep the conversation flowing, with periodic interruptions from dogs Roper and Albe, who were playing at their feet. The kitchen is often the spot for endof-class gatherings. Note the directions given to students: “We have two exuberant white labs who are over-thetop with energy and love. Be prepared for uncontrollable jumping and face-licking.” In 2001, Bill, an authority on Southern literature, folklore and blues music and an accomplished documentary photographer/filmmaker, had just finished a four-year stint as chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, appointed by President Bill Clinton. Marcie, a scholar of food studies, Jewish studies and material culture, was wrapping up a Ph.D. in American studies at George Washington University. Then-Chancellor James Moeser went to visit Bill in his Washington, D.C., office to see if he would be interested in a position at UNC, as the Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History and senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South. (Bill had founded the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, the nation’s first regional studies center.) “I told Chancellor Moeser I would be honored, that I had spoken at UNC, and it was the crossroads for my field, which is the study of the South,” said Bill, who is a native of Mississippi. “The day we drove from Washington to Chapel Hill, we were listening to bluegrass on WUNC radio. It was a Saturday night, and ‘Back Porch Music’ was on,” added Marcie, who grew up in Arkansas. “We looked at each other and said, ‘This sounds right. This feels right.’”



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DYNAMIC DUO AMIC DUO Faculty couple Bill Ferris and Marcie Cohen Ferris are retiring, but their collective contributions to Southern studies and support for the university they love is far from over. B Y




’ 8 8





• Bill and Marcie Ferris in the kitchen of their Chapel Hill home. “We’ll continue our support for students and for UNC,” Bill promises. As they enter a new chapter in their lives, Marcie adds: “We are deeply grateful of the relationship that we have together.”


Moeser said Bill and Marcie, who will retire at the end of the spring semester, “are both great teachers. Students flock to their classes. They have brought great distinction to Carolina, which is, unquestionably, the center of the universe in Southern studies.”

S u p p o r t fo r U N C ’s p re s s a n d a rc h ive s In a TEDx talk in Durham in July 2016, Bill shared, “I love to tell my students an African proverb that says, ‘When an old woman or man dies, a library burns to the ground.’ It’s with that sense of urgency that folklorists preserve the stories, the places and the memory of the South.” That sense of place is a powerful thread that runs throughout much of the Ferrises’ scholarly work. Indeed, when you meet Bill and Marcie, one of their first questions is often, “Where are you from?” They have produced five awardwinning books between them on various aspects of Southern history and culture since coming to Carolina — all of them with UNC Press. Marcie wrote Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South (2005) and The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region (2014), and Bill’s informal trilogy is Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues (2009), The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists (2013) and The South in Color: A Visual Journal (2016). Elaine Maisner has been the couple’s acquiring editor on all five books. “Bill and Marcie are very open to discussion and being edited but — and as an editor, I prize this — they both have very well-developed visions for what they want to do and of the impact and importance of their projects,” she said. “Visual culture is often just as important as textual culture in their work.” Marcie has served on the press’ board of governors, and Bill has helped to broker connections with other

writers, often encouraging them to send in book proposals. (As former folklore student Katy Clune notes: “Bill has the world’s biggest Rolodex.”) That same support of UNC Press extends to the University Libraries’ archives, particularly the Southern Folklife Collection and the Southern Historical Collection. “That’s such an important piece for me about Bill, his deep connection and love for the archives and the library,” Marcie said. “They’ve put up with Bill’s vigilance. He produces an incredible volume of stuff.”

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Aaron Smithers, an assistant in the folklife collection, can share specifics about the size of Bill’s “stuff,” which “is over 400 linear feet, about 200,000 items … films, sound recordings, letters, personal papers, prints and negatives, fieldwork interviews and more.” (In photographic materials alone, there are about 10,000 prints and negatives and 16,000 color slides.) “The thing about Bill is he is a documentarian who’s very interested in creating content beyond his own vision,” Smithers said. “That’s something that has driven and inspired a lot of his

• FAC I N G PAG E , TO P : Bill Ferris in his fall “Southern Music” class. In a commemorative photo album that students presented to him at the end of the class, they wrote: “He understands these worlds with his heart.” • FAC I N G PAG E , B OT TO M : Bill listens to final class presentations. The syllabus for the course notes that Southern music “reflects the region’s politics, joy, struggle, religion, poverty, art, resistance, blistering heat, cooling rain, and cornbread, greens and iced tea.” • B E LOW: Bill in his office in the Love House and Hutchins Forum, home of the Center for the Study of the American South.

work, that belief that there is use in him capturing things that may benefit other researchers.” Tom Rankin, a fellow documentary photographer, filmmaker and folklorist, is a professor of the practice at Duke University. He has known Bill since the early 1980s. He helped him winnow his massive photo collection in the UNC archives down to the 100 color images featured in The South in Color. Bill has been taking pictures since age 12, when he got a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera for Christmas. “Bill is so intuitive about what he documents,” Rankin said. “He responds in the moment, freshly and naturally and instinctively. … His pictures tell a story. In an age where everybody has a

camera at their disposal, Bill is driven by what’s happening first, and the camera is his tool.” Marcie’s family papers are also in the archives, and Bill is always working with library staff to secure new collections. They both rely heavily on library resources for their classes and take students for research trips to Wilson Library. Their daughter, Virginia, a graduate of UNC’s School of Information and Library Science, has carried on the family passion; she’s an archivist at NC State. “For me, it’s like being a kid in a candy store. I have all of these ideas, but no other place would allow you to realize them,” Bill said. “Beginning with my own collection, which was sitting

on dusty shelves for most of my life — they’re now digitizing and streaming these materials online, making them accessible to me and to the world.”

I m p a c t o n th e f i e l d of S o u th e r n s tu d i e s Harry Watson, Atlanta Alumni Distinguished Professor of Southern Culture, was director of the Center for the Study of the American South when Bill was hired. He said Bill really helped the center “come alive,” acting as “a spark plug for all kinds of ideas and projects,” from consulting on cultural tourism ventures like the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby to forging partnerships with the Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance. Bill’s massive online open course, “The American South: Its Stories, Music and Art,” developed through Coursera, has reached approximately 27,000 students around the world. Watson also got to observe Bill as a teacher, since many of his on-campus classes meet in the Love House and Hutchins Forum, the historic house on Franklin Street that serves as the home for the center. “Bill has an eclectic curiosity and imagination, and he can charm the birds out of the trees. He opens up possibilities where other people see impossibilities — and students love that,” Watson said. “Bill is not there to lecture them about what they can’t do; he really wants to hear about what they can do. They get permission from him to stretch their wings in a way that honestly is rare.” For the past several years, Watson has served as co-editor with Marcie of Southern Cultures, the journal published by the center. Watson helped to found the journal in 1993. As a historian, he said it’s been rewarding to work with a colleague who approaches potential journal topics from a different perspective. “Marcie has helped to steer the journal in more cultural directions, to open up other avenues,” he said. continued


Watson said their greatest contribution to UNC has been in the growth of Southern studies across the University. It’s an area of concentration in the department of American studies. Marcie helped to recruit that department’s current chair, Elizabeth Engelhardt, the John Shelton Reed Distinguished Professor of Southern Studies. She first met Marcie when she was an early career scholar and Marcie was president of the Southern Foodways Alliance. Marcie has helped to grow Jewish studies and food studies at UNC. Students can major in religious studies, with a concentration in Jewish studies, and they will be able to minor in food studies beginning in fall 2018. “Marcie’s book Matzoh Ball Gumbo was at the forefront of what we do in Southern studies today, examining how global diasporas influence and continue to be a part of the story of the American South. It’s a book that was really forward-looking and intellectually weighty,” Engelhardt said. “And in The Edible South, I felt like there was no one else who could write that book and take a 500-foot view of change over time in a scholarly and cultural way.”

M e nto r s h i p of s t u d e nt s Josh Parshall was recruited to UNC to pursue a master’s in folklore while sitting on the deck of the Ferrises’ Chapel Hill home. He went on to pursue a Ph.D. in American studies, becoming one of the first two students in May 2017 to graduate from the new doctoral program. He’s now director of the history department at the Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, Miss. “So many people will tell you ‘You meet Bill and Marcie Ferris, and good things will happen from there,’” said Parshall, who created a blues-concert-

like poster along with fellow Ph.D. graduate Elijah Gaddis to celebrate their dissertations. That memento now hangs in Bill and Marcie’s home. Clune (M.A. folklore ’15) works for the vice provost for the arts at Duke University. She said Marcie’s gift “is her willingness to teach other women in academia or the professional

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world how to navigate multilayered challenges, whether it’s writing a thesis or advocating for yourself at work.” Clune said Bill has left a lasting impression “by the way he is in the world. He is someone who has accomplished an incredible legacy by being kind. He’s always willing to connect people, and that comes back

• FAC I N G PAG E , TO P : Marcie Cohen Ferris poses with students in her fall class, “Mamas and Matriarchs: A Social History of Jewish Women in America.” • FAC I N G PAG E , B OT TO M : Marcie opens the class by playing Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move.” “This is my soundtrack,” she says. • L E F T: The class discussion focuses on American Jewish women and feminism. “I was a young woman during this movement and was incredibly shaped by everything we are talking about,” Marcie says.

A n ew c h a pte r

in dividends much later. In today’s political context, where everything is so divisive, that’s a really important lesson.” Penny Rich, an Orange County commissioner who has a personal chef business, has catered end-of-class gatherings in the couple’s kitchen for a dozen years, introducing students to healthy local food and Jewish specialties like pecan kugel. “They are extremely caring of their students,” she said. “At the end of the day, when we’re cleaning up, Marcie always encourages the kids to take home leftovers. It’s just second nature for them.” Marcie said it’s been rewarding to collaborate with many of those former students as colleagues, taking that professor-student relationship to a new level. “They are working for crucial arts and historical organizations and with publications and important news venues,” she said. “These are really significant professional spaces in a changing and evolving South, and these former students are now leaders and important voices for the humanities.”

After 16 very fruitful years at UNC, they both say it’s time to explore the next phase in their lives. They want to spend more time traveling and having extended visits with family — Marcie’s vibrant mother, Huddy Cohen, lives in town — as well as devoting their energy to new professional adventures and opportunities. They wrap up their teaching duties this spring, but “we’ll continue our support for students and for UNC,” Bill promises. Marcie has joined the Orange County Food Council and is working on another book on North Carolina’s contemporary food scene. Bill, the storyteller, has many more stories to tell. It’s in his DNA. (His grandfather lays claim to being raised on “cornbread and recollections.”) He is working on a number of projects, including curating

an exhibition of civil rights photographs, many drawn from the UNC archives, to be held in Montpellier, France, in fall 2018. Dust-to-Digital, a company in Atlanta, is creating a boxed set of his films and recordings. He has been consulting with a group of Vietnamese scholars on developing a book modeled after the massive Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (1989), which he co-edited. “In 1997, when I appointed Bill Ferris chair of the National Endowment of the Humanities, he was already a legend to those of us who revered his passion for documenting and explaining Southern culture,” former President Clinton said, in reflecting on the Ferrises’ work. “I knew he would protect and strengthen the NEH when it was under fire. He was made for the challenge, with his worldclass storytelling and his ability to argue with good-natured humor. “He and Marcie have made invaluable contributions to our understanding of both the interesting differences and the common humanity of America at its best.”

AWARDS & ACCOLADES The scholarship of Bill and Marcie Ferris has been widely recognized. Here are just a few of the major honors they have received.

BILL FERRIS • Charles Frankel Prize for the Humanities, bestowed by President Bill Clinton • France’s Chevalier and Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters • Blues Hall of Fame inductee • Top Ten Professors in the United States by Rolling Stone • American Library Association’s Dartmouth Medal

MARCIE COHEN FERRIS • James Beard Foundation nominee for Matzoh Ball Gumbo • UNC’s Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching • International Association of Culinary Professionals’ Jane Grigson Award • Southern Living magazine’s “30 Incredible Women Moving Southern Food Forward” • “Best Books about Food of 2016” for The Edible South


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• ABOVE: American studies assistant professor Ben Frey hosts a weekly Cherokee Coffee Hour to encourage students to speak the language in a social setting. • FACING PAGE: A sandwich board with a welcome written in Cherokee greets customers at Jackson’s Grocery in Birdtown, North Carolina. Frey and a UNC linguistics colleague received a grant to encourage local stores in the Cherokee community to conduct business in their native language. B Y


Saving an Endangered Language




alk past Abernethy Hall Room 102 on any given Friday afternoon during the semester and you’ll likely hear sounds of an endangered language wafting through the halls. “Siyo.” (Hello.) “Osigwotsu?” (How are you?) “Osigwo.” (I am fine.) “Ihina?” (And you?) “Osda!” (Great!) It’s “AniKahwi,” Cherokee Coffee Hour, for students interested in learning to speak Cherokee. American studies assistant professor Ben Frey ’05 started the coffee hour in 2013 after returning to UNC-Chapel Hill as a Carolina Postdoctoral Fellow for Faculty Diversity. It is one of many ways

he is working to revitalize the Cherokee language. Indigenous people have spoken Cherokee in North Carolina for 11,000 years. Now, only 238 people — 1.4 percent of the 17,000 citizens of Eastern Band of Cherokees — speak the tribe’s Kituwah dialect. Most of them are 65 and older. Preserving a culture’s language is important for many reasons, Frey said. Unique knowledge and traditions held by these cultures can offer solutions for today’s pressing challenges, from environmental sustainability to health care. Connecting to one’s heritage helps individuals and communities understand who they are.

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Fortunately, Frey’s research on how language use declines — or shifts — offers a path forward to revive this endangered language.

A personal journey Frey’s Cherokee language education began while he was a German and linguistics major at UNC in the early 2000s. A citizen of the Eastern Band, Frey grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Cherokee was not taught at home. His grandmother was among the Cherokee youth removed from their homes, placed in boarding schools and punished for speaking the language by a U.S. government bent on eradicating native cultures. While she and Frey’s

great-grandmother spoke Cherokee to each other when they didn’t want the children to understand, they did not pass on the language. Frey discovered he had a talent for languages while learning German in high school and pursued it at Carolina. During the summer of his sophomore year, he decided to put his acquisition skills to work learning his ancestral tongue in Cherokee, North Carolina, from cousins who oversaw the tribe’s language program. Frey continued improving his Cherokee fluency while completing his degree at UNC and, later, during a year-long Cherokee master/apprentice program at Western Carolina University and while earning master’s and doctoral degrees in German at the University of WisconsinMadison. It was his doctoral research in language shifts that provided insights that would inform his work to revitalize the Cherokee language. Frey’s research compared the way language shifted in two very different settings: the German-speaking communities of eastern Wisconsin and the Cherokee-speaking communities of western North Carolina. Both communities experienced cultural discrimination that curbed use of their native language. Frey expected to find that the use of Cherokee had declined to a greater extent than German because of the government’s eradication effort. To his surprise, Frey found that use of German in the Wisconsin communities declined more. The reason for both shifts: the evolution of social network structures away from native languages due to industrialization, urbanization and tourism. Across the country during the 1800s and 1900s, enclaves of nonEnglish-language speakers shifted their language to English out of necessity. “Understanding the mechanics of how a language shift happens gives you a window into how it might go the other way,” Frey said. “So, if we’ve broken down social networks in order to shift a traditional language to English, presumably a way to shift back is to build them up.”

Creating social structures It should be as easy for students to learn Cherokee as it is to learn Spanish or German, Frey said. Students in his Cherokee classes learn by listening, reading, writing, using conversation tools and doing exercises. But language `is also about social interactions and context. Helping restore those interactions within the Cherokee community in North Carolina is key. “We went to a restaurant in Yellow Hill, the governmental seat of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and the menu was in English and Spanish,” Frey said. “We need it in Cherokee.” Frey and UNC linguistics colleague Misha Becker have received a grant to encourage local businesses in the Cherokee area to conduct business in their native language. The two have distributed window decals and sandwich boards that announce, “We support the Cherokee language,” and phrase cards customers can use to conduct business in Cherokee. Starting the process with local businesspeople provides a platform for expanding use of Cherokee across the community, but reviving a language requires much more. “Think about all the things you interact with that are in English — novels, music, radio, art, entertainment, social media memes, YouTube videos,” Frey said. “All of those things are necessary for people to experience in Cherokee, too.” Frey has teamed with UNC music scholar Mark Katz, director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, to bring hip hop artist Joshua Rowsey to Cherokee to encourage music making among students at the Cherokee immersion school. This spring, Frey plans to bring UNC students to the Second Annual

Undergraduate Cherokee Language Symposium at Western Carolina to interact with college students from across the country who are also learning Cherokee. Frey’s revitalization efforts have found fertile ground in students like UNC sophomore Brooklyn Brown. A native of the Birdtown community of Cherokee and a first descendant of the Eastern Band, Brown wants to help her community bring the language back. “The Cherokee language could be gone in a few decades,” Brown says. “We need all the support we can get to change that. I hope to be a part of the fight to save Cherokee and be able to pass this on to generations.” AMERICAN INDIAN AND INDIGENOUS STUDIES AT UNC North Carolina boasts the largest Indian population east of the Mississippi. UNC’s American Indian and indigenous studies (AIIS) area in the American studies department honors that distinction by offering an undergraduate major, a minor and a Ph.D. concentration. Undergraduates may take Cherokee to fulfill their foreign language requirement. AIIS’s interdisciplinary faculty study and teach the histories, contemporary experiences, languages, culture and political statuses of indigenous people living in and beyond the United States. UNC’s American Indian Center, established in 2006, supports AIIS by building community among Native American students, connecting UNC students, faculty and staff to native communities, and collaborating on research, class projects and student support. The center also supports assistant professor Ben Frey’s weekly Cherokee Coffee Hour.





15 Weeks in D.C.

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Courtesy of Andrew Brennen

• PREVIOUS PAGE: The rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building. • TOP LEFT: Andrew Brennen, interning at the Obama Foundation, met former Vice President Joe Biden at the National Portrait Gallery when Barack and Michelle Obama’s official portraits were unveiled in February. “Every day I am surrounded by folks who have already moved on from jobs and careers that I have only dreamed of,” said the junior political science major. • TOP RIGHT: Mateo Cyrpa Carvalho, a sophomore public policy/political science double major, discusses work with Gloria Nlewedim in the office of U.S. Rep. David Price (D-N.C.). He says

interesting. • RIGHT: Lucy Russell, a sophomore public policy major interning for a U.S. senator, said she was drawn to the UNC Honors Seminar program because it combined practical classroom instruction with immersive experiences.


“ here’s a saying around here: If you want to understand this town, read the tax code.” That’s how John Scott opens his lecture, “Budget and Taxes Part 1.” The town — you guessed it — is the nation’s capital, and Scott, a UNC research associate professor based in Washington, is standing in front of a PowerPoint in a large seminar room, 27 students listening attentively. The large glass windows in the fifth-floor room lack a view of the iconic white marble buildings recognizable from movies and television, but no matter. The students in the UNC Honors Seminar on Public Policy and Global Affairs already know them well. They are working at internships in the U.S. House and Senate and Cabinet-level agencies. They are working at nonprofits

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unexpected events such as January’s government shutdown has kept the semester

and think tanks, associations and research centers. They are mastering the Metro system, deciphering policy-speak, soaking up the fabulous and free museums, blanching at the prices of D.C. restaurants. “Nothing compares to actually being in the center of the nation’s policy hub,” said Karla Guadalupe Garcia, a senior and public policy major interning at the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. “From our coworkers to our neighbors, everyone is doing important and meaningful work.” For 15 weeks every spring, students in the program spend four days a week at prestigious internships in the city’s corridors of power. Thursday is their day in the classroom. Mornings are spent taking a seminar led by Scott, UNC public policy chair Dan Gitterman, or

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other faculty affiliated with the program. Afternoon seminars are usually with a guest speaker and are often at the speaker’s place of work. Site visits this semester have included visits to the Pentagon, Politico and the Institute of Peace. Scott’s Week Two class on tax code had a ripped-from-the-headlines air; less than a month before, Congress had passed the largest tax reform package in more than 30 years. After wrestling with such questions as What is a tax? Why do we have taxes? How do taxes function as ideological tools?, the students headed off to a working lunch at Burson Cohn & Wolfe, a global public relations and communications firm (see sidebar, page 22). Later in the day, they visited the offices of Pew Charitable Trusts, where Scott directs Pew’s retirement savings project, to chat with two recent UNC graduates who work at the nonprofit.

• LEFT: A night out at a pizzeria in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood. • BOTTOM LEFT: Ying He, seated, confers with co-workers Megan Campbell and Meg VanDeusen at Feedback Labs, a consortium of nonprofits that helps make governments, NGOs and donors more responsive to their constituents. This was the sophomore public policy major’s first visit to Washington — “as an international student, I wanted to enrich my U.S. experience by having an intern-

Dick (junior, political science and economics) and Elisa Moore (junior, global studies and French), standing, confer with

The internship program in D.C. dates back to the late ’90s, said Gitterman, who has overseen the program as faculty director since 2011. The Honors Seminar on Public Policy and Global Affairs is open to anyone with a 3.0 GPA, not just Honors Carolina students, and earns 14 credit hours for the semester. Students from all majors can apply, although the preponderance, not surprisingly, are from public policy, political science and global studies. “It’s a fairly competitive application process. We’ve tried to meet increasing demand by taking more and more students, but about 30 is as large as we can go,” said Gitterman. He would love for public policy to be able to offer a fall internship program in addition to the spring one to accommodate more students.

The program has ongoing relationships with many internship sites (some through UNC alumni connections), but students research the internships and apply on their own. The assignments must be approved in advance, and the internship hosts must pledge to engage students in substantive policy-related work. Elisa Moore, a junior majoring in global studies and French, has conducted primary source research in the National Archives and prepped her boss (former Ambassador Norm Eisen) for major media appearances during her internship at the Brookings Institution. She said one aspect of the program she hadn’t appreciated in advance was “how much access we would get to certain things just based on the kindness of UNC alumni. … I’m very excited each

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Kelsey Landau and Andrew Kenealy.

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ship.” • BOTTOM RIGHT: Brookings Institution interns Caelan

week to see who is coming to speak to us or who we get to go meet.” Mary Katherine Falgout, a junior majoring in public policy with a minor in social and economic justice, is interning at the National Women's Law Center. “I am working on child care policy advocacy. Some of my tasks include writing blogs, drafting tweets and reporting daily on talk of child care in the media,” she said. She envisions law school in her future and appreciates the opportunity to work with public interest lawyers. Five of the 27 interns this semester have jobs on the Hill in Senate or House offices. Julia Herring, interning for Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Florida), has attended briefings and hearings, written memos and recommendations, and fielded continued


Interns Meet Former White House Communications Chief


nterns quickly discover that one of the perks of participating in the UNC Honors Seminar on Public Policy and Global Affairs is ample opportunity to network with Carolina alumni in influential positions in Washington. Week Two of the 2018 internship program, for example, included a lunchtime chat with Don Baer, chair of Burson Cohn & Wolfe, one of the world’s largest global communications agencies. Baer ’76 has had a heady career in media and law. After UNC (B.A., political science), London School of Economics (master’s, international relations) and University of Virginia (J.D.), he had a brief stint practicing at a New York law firm in the 1980s before switching to journalism, eventually covering politics and national affairs for U.S. News & World Report. He left to join the Clinton White House, first as chief speechwriter and later as director of communications and senior adviser to the president. From 1998 to 2007, he was a top executive at Discovery Communications. He has been at Burson Cohn & Wolfe

whom have never spent an extended period in a major city, Gitterman has developed a mentor system. All interns are assigned to one of four recent UNC alumni who went through the program themselves and now work in the capital. The mentors hold dinners and regular check-ins with the students, who stay in a dorm-style residence in the city. There are also some formal social and cultural activities built in, including an evening at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. A weekend excursion to New York City in April will provide this year’s group of interns the opportunity to meet Volcker Alliance President (and former UNC System President) Tom Ross, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni and Bloomberg

LP chairman Peter Grauer (all are UNC undergraduate or law school alumni) and take in a Broadway show. Asked to reflect on her early impression of the internship, sophomore and Senate intern Lucy Russell replied, “This has been the most unique experience of my Carolina journey so far. … I have been exposed to new career paths, have met fellow Tar Heels with a passion for public service, and have reaffirmed my gut feeling that I can be an agent of change in D.C. and beyond. … [UNC alumni] are always willing to offer life guidance, career support or just a listening ear. It is incredible how passionate they are for supporting their alma mater, and it makes me very grateful to be at UNC.”

(known as BursonMarsteller before a recent merger) since 2008. Baer has been involved with the UNC public policy internship program for the past three years, sharing career advice and Chapel Hill anecdotes with the students. He noted that the exchange is as valuable for him as it is for them. • Don Baer ’76, now chair of global communications giant “I’m blown away Burson Cohn & Wolfe, chats with interns about his career, which by their credentials, the includes stints in the White House as President Bill Clinton’s experiences they’ve had, communications director and as a top executive at Discovery by their level of maturity, Communications. their insight. They seem urging them to do the same. a lot more put together than students in At UNC, Baer worked on The my era, myself included. More focused, Daily Tar Heel, was involved in student directed, energized,” he said. “I’m struck government, interned at a congressional by how many I’d like to have work here.” office and chaired the Carolina At the January lunch at Burson, he Symposium, a speaker series. regaled the students with memories of “It was a great all-in experience for covering the Iran-Contra scandal as a me,” he said of his college days. “I had journalist and what working in the White extraordinary professors. … I had a lot House was like. (He does a killer Bill of people watching over me.” Clinton impersonation.) “Meeting Don Baer was such a “I always tried to follow my interests. privilege,” said intern Elisa Moore after the I always wanted to work on issues that lunch. “Hearing his stories was so cool!” mattered,” he said of his eclectic career,

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Geneva Collins

phone calls from influential individuals. “I really enjoy the balance of accountability, enthusiasm and liberty in this program,” said the sophomore majoring in political science and history. “While the real world is much more challenging than I ever imagined, the learning experience is far more rewarding as well.” Working four days a week in an office gives students a taste of what life after graduation is like — but it doesn’t exempt them from course work. There are extensive readings, plus regular assignments — drafting op-eds, speeches and policy briefs, for example — for students to develop their research, writing and presentation skills. To support the students, many of

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• Katharine Aha

Analyzing political accountability abroad

Druscilla French fellowship helps a Ph.D. candidate advance her research on ethnic minority coalitions in East-Central Europe. BY DIANNE GOOCH SHAW ’71

When Katharine Aha walked into a Carolina undergraduate class on “Politics in EastCentral Europe,” she had little knowledge of the subject matter. But an inspirational professor brought the topic to life with memoirs, documentaries and a talk by a leader of the Polish Solidarity Movement. That course shaped her future academic interests. Today, Aha is a UNC-Chapel Hill doctoral candidate in political science, and that same professor, Milada Vachudova, is chair of the curriculum in global studies and her dissertation adviser. “A second class with Dr. Vachudova and a Burch Field Research Seminar in Vienna, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia made me know I wanted to continue researching this part of the world and pursue an academic career,” Aha added. “I’ve always been interested in minority rights and politics in the United States, and my work is expanding my interests to an international context.” Aha studies the ability of ethnic minority political parties in East-Central Europe to join governing coalitions in nationstates as they transition from authoritarian rule to democracy. After the fall of communism in Slovakia and Romania, for example, sizable Hungarian minority populations chose to form political parties to represent their interests instead of joining a mainstream Romanian party. How do these parties interact with existing Romanian parties? Do minority party members benefit from such coalitions, and how does it affect the country’s transition to a democratic government?

Testing her theories required extensive work with data from these countries. Private support was critical, and a Druscilla French Graduate Student Fellowship enabled her to complete this work. “Last summer I was able to compile voting and economic data sets for elections in Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania to understand how voters hold political parties accountable,” Aha said. “It’s crucial work that I could not have completed without this fellowship.” Drucie French, who received a B.A. in English in 1971 and an M.A. in communication in 1978, both from Carolina, is a strong advocate for supporting graduate education. She went on to receive a Ph.D. in depth psychology and mythological studies from the Pacifica Graduate Institute. “Universities are a three-legged stool: There are undergraduate students and faculty, but there are also graduate students who are an integral part of how a university works, particularly at a large public university like Carolina,” French said. “Graduate students are necessary to attract and maintain great faculty. They provide teaching assistance, and they are a critical part of the research process that makes us attractive for public and private grants.” Returning to UNC was Aha’s first choice for her Ph.D. program, which is part of the Center for European Studies, one of only five in the nation to be designated as both a National Resource Center by the U.S. Department of Education and a Jean Monnet Center of Excellence by the European Union. She earned a master’s in diplomacy and international relations from Seton Hall University. “UNC is one of the best universities to study European politics,” she said. “We have opportunities to work with scholars from all over the world.” In addition to advancing her research, Aha has honed her teaching skills, teaching the very course that inspired her future studies. “My goal is to help students look at issues through different lenses and be able to analyze and draw conclusions. I like the diversity at UNC. These differing perspectives make discussions richer and my interactions with students deeper.” ➤ Dean Kevin Guskiewicz announced in February that 57 graduate students across the College of Arts & Sciences received fellowships funded by private support for the 20182019 year, including a new cohort of Druscilla French Graduate Fellows. Increasing support for graduate students has been a priority for Guskiewicz. The new awards include Thomas S. Kenan III Graduate Fellows, James Lampley Graduate Fellows (see alumni profile on Lampley on page 26), and Dean’s Graduate Fellows. The fellowships were funded thanks to new gifts to the College, plus funds from an existing unrestricted endowment. See a complete list online at



WINNING WORDS Three UNC English majors diverged from traditional career paths but value their studies and the power of language that they learned.

The stickwork artist BY KIM WEAVER SPURR ’88

• Patrick Dougherty uses a network of volunteers to help with his larger-than-life sculptures — “It helps to humanize the process.” Dougherty says when you’re trying to elicit feelings and emotions through art, “that’s not unlike creating a great novel.” The inspiration for the sculptures was a clay animal-shaped pouring vessel in the Ackland’s collection.

Audrey Shore

Audrey Shore

Audrey Shore

“Step Right Up” is a fitting name for Patrick Dougherty’s outdoor sculpture at the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill. That’s essentially what

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he’s been inviting the public, fascinated with his larger-than-life stick sculptures, to do for the last 30 years. Step right up. Walk around. Go inside. Look up and down. Explore.


“When you’re trying to have a conversation with the public, and to elicit feelings and emotions through your work, that’s not unlike creating a great novel. There was a lot of value in learning what makes something have resonance and power.” — PAT R I C K D O U G H E RT Y

The saplings used to make the sculpture, primarily maple and gum, were donated by Duke Forest and Triangle Land Conservancy and harvested with the help of a network of volunteers. Their support helps to “embed the work in the community,” Dougherty said. The experience has been a homecoming of sorts for Dougherty (English ’67). He went on to earn a master’s in hospital and health administration from the University of Iowa in 1969, and returned to Carolina’s art department for postgraduate work in 1981 and 1982. Dougherty said his time in the English department helped him to think about the conventions writers employ in making an exciting narrative, and he applies that to his art. “When you’re trying to have a conversation with the public, and to elicit feelings and emotions through your work, that’s not unlike creating a great novel,” he said. “There was a lot of value in learning what makes something have resonance and power.” He also values his postgraduate studies and the visiting artist program. To this day he remembers clay artist Susan Peterson saying “It’s just as easy to be a national artist as a local artist, but you have to want to be in the nation.” For Dougherty, that has meant creating nearly 300 sculptures all over the United States and the world, from Scotland to Japan to Belgium to France. He’s constructed works for botanical gardens, children’s museums, universities, a winery, a zoo, even the U.S. Embassy in Serbia. “It has involved a lot of rental cars and meeting thousands of people and working with hundreds of organizations,” he said. He has received numerous awards, including a Factor

Prize for Southern Art and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. His work has been featured in a book, numerous media outlets and a documentary. Still fame is elusive, Dougherty said, adding that “when I come home, my wife says, ‘the yard needs raking.’” After working with sticks eight hours a day, he still does his own yardwork? “I love physical activity and working. It’s been good for me,” he said. The work is indeed physical, bending and shaping sticks all day, three weeks at a time, in all kinds of weather. But Dougherty has no intention of slowing down. Right now he has installations scheduled through 2019. When asked if he considers himself an environmental artist, Dougherty said the context of his work has changed over the years. People are now more willing to accept it as being temporary. “It reminds people of all of the moments they might have had,” he said. “It’s a bird’s nest, that first kiss under the lilac bush, a forest you took a walk in, a significant moment. “A lot of times people will ask me, ‘what does it mean?’ And I say, ‘it’s more about how it makes you feel.’” ➤ Watch a video about Dougherty at

Kristen Chavez

“There’s intrigue in thinking about what it would be like to stand inside a teapot, and we made one big enough for Aladdin to come out of,” Dougherty said. “There’s also the excitement of productivity that we assign to a stick, starting from childhood. It’s a drumstick, a piece of a wall, all of the things that you can imagine.” A clay animal-shaped pouring vessel in the Ackland’s permanent collection caught Dougherty’s eye and served as the inspiration for five mammoth vessels constructed on the museum’s “front lawn” (the side facing Columbia Street). “Step Right Up” will be on display through August 2018; it’s the first major site-specific outdoor art installation by the museum in nearly 20 years.

• Elizabeth G. Taylor, who came back to campus to deliver this spring’s Frank Porter Graham Lecture, says an English degree has been one of the keys to her success.

The health care advocate BY PAMELA BABCOCK

Elizabeth G. Taylor considered priesthood and later landed in law school. Now she has found her calling fighting for the rights of low-income individuals and families to have access to health care. continued



Taylor (English ’76) is executive director of the National Health Law Program (NHeLP), founded in 1969 at the UCLA School of Law. For nearly five decades, the nonprofit’s lawyers have litigated cases around the country and provided expertise to advocates at the state level. NHeLP is considered the national expert in Medicaid law and policy. “Right now, we have been working overtime,” Taylor said, noting the organization’s 2017 efforts to fight the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its current work to stem cutbacks to Medicaid funding and changes to the essential nature of the program.

“On the most practical level, I make my living using words to convey ideas, to persuade and to excite people. And studying great literature gives you an appreciation of the power of language and ways that language can be used to inspire and educate people.” — E L IZ A B E T H G . TAY LO R NHeLP has grown significantly since Taylor joined in 2014, from an operating budget of about $5 million and staff of 31 to a more than $7.5 million budget and 43 employees. It has offices in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Carrboro. Much of the growth “is in recognition of how important our work is to protecting essential health care for low-income people,” said Taylor, of Chevy Chase, Maryland. “There’s an increasing awareness that our country is stronger if everybody has access to health care. And we’ve been at the center of this fight for a very long time.” Taylor said an English degree has been a key to her success: “On the most practical level, I make my living using words to convey ideas, to persuade and to excite people. And studying great literature gives you an appreciation of the power of language and ways that language can be used to inspire and educate people.” It also opens up worlds that one can’t otherwise access, she said. “There’s nothing in my life that gives me an understanding of slavery, but Toni Morrison opens that door up for me a little bit,” Taylor said. “Sylvia Plath gives me a glimpse into what it’s like to battle depression. And Faulkner, whom I studied at Carolina, helped me to articulate the conflict between the things about the South that I’m proud of and the horrible things about southern heritage,” Taylor said. Before NHeLP, Taylor was principal deputy associate attorney general at the U.S. Justice Department, working to defend federal health care initiatives and other issues. She also had a stint at a private litigation firm and early in her career clerked for Justice Harry Blackmun on the U.S. Supreme Court. Carolina is a Taylor family tradition. Her father, mother and

her mother’s seven siblings attended UNC. After graduation, Taylor won a fellowship designed to encourage students who might be headed in other directions to consider the ordained ministry. In her second year at Yale Divinity School, although she loved what she was studying, she wasn’t sure she was ready for ordination. “I needed to figure out what my motives were and where I was going to do the most good,” she said. A year later, she was enrolled at the University of Virginia Law School. To honor their parents’ commitment to education, Taylor and her brother Bill (’66) endowed the William and Ida Taylor Honors Research Fellowship. Taylor returned to campus in February to deliver the Frank Porter Graham Lecture on “Health Care’s Seven Dirty Words.” One of Taylor’s fondest memories at Carolina is the day an English professor handed the class an exam. “Write like angels,” he said before slipping out of the room. “Literature gives you words for emotions and it teaches you to use words like music,” Taylor said. “Literature makes life richer. It’s about beauty. It’s about understanding. And it’s about using language effectively. We need more English majors, not fewer.”

The sports announcer BY PAMELA BABCOCK

Jim Lampley (English ’71) is more poet than pugilist. But his ability with words has made him a king of the ring. The announcer has spent four decades in network television, most recently as the voice of HBO's “World Championship Boxing,” where he has called the blow-by-blow of many of the sport's most significant bouts. Lampley said his English degree has helped him to thrive in a difficult and competitive profession, as it did for announcers like the late Dick Enberg and Keith Jackson, both grammar fanatics who were so good in part because of their way with words. “Over the years, thousands of young people have come to me looking to emulate what I’ve managed to do,” Lampley said. “I always say to them, everybody wants to do this as a sports fan. But what’s going to set you apart? Language skills. In live television commentary, it’s all about language skills.” Lampley grew up in Hendersonville, North Carolina. His father, a World War II bomber pilot, died when Lampley was 5, and his family moved to Miami when he was 11. At Carolina, Lampley nearly flunked out. But he loved reading novels, fiction and drama, so he majored in English by default. “I was hoping it would stimulate me enough to go to class. … At the end of the day, that saved me — it helped me to get my act together.”

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Courtesy of HBO

Muhammad Ali — defeated Sonny Liston at the Miami Beach Convention Center in 1964. “Cassius Clay was my ultimate hero,” Lampley recalled. “You could never have designed a bigger hero for a white kid who grew up during the civil rights movement in a small town in the South being taught to resist all the pernicious elements of racism.” The four-time Sports Emmy Award-winner has been at the mic for many of the sport’s most dramatic moments — from the biggest upset in heavyweight championship history (Buster Douglas’ defeat of Mike Tyson in 1990) to the triumph of 45-year-old George Foreman over Michael Moorer in 1994. He was also there for the showdown between Lennox Lewis and Tyson in 2002 and an epic confrontation between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in 2015. In 2015, Lampley was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Last year, he signed a long-term extension with HBO that will keep him as the host of all HBO Boxing telecasts as well as anchoring the sport’s only studio-based interview program, “The Fight Game with Jim Lampley,” for years to come. In inking the deal, HBO Sports Executive Vice President Peter Nelson noted that Lampley’s “high journalistic standards, historical knowledge of the sport and enthusiasm for sharing the backstories of the fighters who enter the ring enriches the broadcast experience.”

In high school, he recorded himself providing commentary as he played a tabletop football game. After college, he won a talent contest and worked as a college football sideline reporter for ABC. Later, he paid his dues on “Wide World of Sports,” traveling to novelty events such as demolition derbies and wristwrestling competitions. He also covered 14 Olympic Games, first for ABC and later for NBC. His most memorable moment was being in the arena for the 1980 U.S. hockey victory over the Soviet Union at Lake Placid. In 1987, Lampley left ABC and landed a job at HBO. Lampley was always a boxing aficionado. At 14, he saved lawn-cutting money to witness one of the greatest upsets when Cassius Clay — who later changed his name to

Courtesy of HBO

• ABOVE: Emmy Award-winning sports announcer Jim Lampley tells young people interested in his profession that “in live television commentary, it’s all about language skills.” • RIGHT: From left, Andre Ward, Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman prepare to call an HBO World Championship Boxing card.

Today, Lampley is based in Del Mar, Calif., and runs Atticus Entertainment, a production company that develops projects for HBO and other networks. For HBO, Lampley did a one-hour retrospective when Ali died in 2016. “I pointed out that no other sport produces meaningful sociopolitical figures that can change their cultures the way boxing does,” said Lampley. “Only boxing produces a Muhammad Ali.” “Fighters have a unique pipeline to the public heart.”



Jennifer Calais Smith

• John and Marree Townsend’s gift will support a wide range of strategic initiatives in the College of Arts & Sciences, from digital humanities to campus makerspaces to faculty fellowships.

A plan and a partnership: $10 million gift supports strategic initiatives BY MEREDITH TUNNEY

John and Marree Townsend’s commitments to UNC-Chapel Hill over the years have been both plentiful and purposeful — and none more so than their most recent $10 million gift to the College of Arts & Sciences to establish the Townsend Family Strategic Initiatives Fund and the Marree Shore Townsend Fellowship in the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. This gift was part of the Carolina couple’s $50 million investment, which kicked off the public phase of the University’s Campaign for Carolina last October. THE PLAN The Townsend Family Strategic Initiatives Fund, which will provide continuous support for the College’s highest priorities over the next 10 years, was born from conversations with Dean Kevin Guskiewicz and learning about his formal strategic plan for the College, “A Road Map to Boldness.” “Kevin’s strategic plan is tied to real outcomes, which he has clearly articulated,” John (English ’77, MBA ’82) explained. “This vision gave Marree (political science ’77) and me the confidence in him to use our gift where it would have the most impact.” Guskiewicz put the Townsend’s gift to work right away, sending 20 more

students on study abroad experiences. Funds from the Townsend Family Strategic Initiatives Fund will also be used to cover recruitment and salary for a fixedterm faculty member in art photography. Students majoring in studio art can focus on art photography, a concentration area that is growing in popularity. In addition, part of the Townsends’ gift will support digital humanities projects over the next two years. Faculty and students will have access to materials and records of human cultural activity that were once available only to specialists. When recalling the first time he took John and Marree through one of the BeAM (Be A Maker) makerspaces on campus, Guskiewicz noted, “I could see their eyes light up.” “Their gift will support the programming and the graduate students who help keep the operations of BeAM going,” said Guskiewicz. In addition to strategic initiatives, the Marree Shore Townsend Fellowship in the Institute for the Arts and Humanities is providing Julia Haslett, an assistant professor in the department of communication, with support to pursue her work on a film about environmental conservation and British botanical exploration in southwest China. Faculty fellowships are critical in recruiting and retaining the best faculty. John, a member of the IAH Advisory Board, established this endowed fellowship in Marree’s honor, which he presented to her on her birthday. A PARTNERSHIP “It’s an incredible partnership with the Townsends,” Guskiewicz said. “Tying

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their giving to the areas that have the most return on investment is a testament to how much they care about the College.” John is retired as a senior adviser with Tiger Management Corp., after more than 30 years in investment management and banking. Reflecting on his career, John speaks proudly of where he started out and eventually retired from — at companies founded by fellow UNC alumni. In 1982, after graduating from UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School with an MBA, John went to New York to begin his career at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, an investment bank founded by Dick Jenrette ’51. From there he spent 15 years with Goldman Sachs before moving on to Tiger Management, a hedge fund founded by another prominent alumnus, Julian Robertson ’55. Marree owns Marree Townsend Interiors in Greenwich, Conn. “Coming back to Chapel Hill and hearing what is going on firsthand is such an important part of my continued support of Carolina,” Marree explained. Her involvement as a member of the Arts and Sciences Foundation Board of Directors and John’s roles on many University boards, including as co-chair of the Campaign for Carolina leadership committee from 2015-2017, bring them back to campus several times a year. A true Carolina family, John and Marree note that their fathers are alumni, as are their two daughters, Merritt ’06 and Louise ’09. John’s mother, Beverley Chalk Townsend, is also a 1953 graduate. “Carolina is a place that we both love, and giving back is definitely a shared enthusiasm between us,” John said. “We have been extraordinary beneficiaries of our educations at UNC and it has been an important part of our lives and whatever success we’ve achieved.”


with a focus on Southern artists, including Thornton Dial and Ronald Lockett, which were successful in the Carolina community and beyond. Their gift to UNC is composed of two parts: the Caldwell Family Artist-in-Residence Fund and the Caldwell Family Fund for the Ackland Art Museum, both of which will build upon an existing synergy between the two campus areas. “It was neat to see that the collaborative spirit was already there,” Nevin said. “What was missing — and what could really help tie the two together in a meaningful way — was help leveraging the resources.”

The Caldwell Family Artist-inResidence Fund will bring a visiting artist, representing any field in the arts, to campus each year to work directly with undergraduate and graduate students and faculty members. The Caldwell Family Ackland Fund will allow the museum to acquire artwork by the artist-in-residence, or other artists focused on the American South, for the permanent collection. It will also support A COLLABORATIVE SPIRIT exhibits at the museum that celebrate art When Nevin and her family began the related to the American South. discussion to create a fund, she realized “This is an entirely new kind of gift that there was already a “beautiful for us,” said Katie Ziglar, director of the connection” between the department of Ackland Art Museum. “We are excited American studies and the Ackland Art to work with an academic department, Museum, referencing previous exhibits such as American studies, to bring in

CREATING A MEANINGFUL GIFT Nevin hopes this gift can inspire other Carolina alumni to think about ways in which they can continue to make this effort as robust and beneficial as possible to both the department of American studies and the Ackland. “It was exciting to think collaboratively into how a gift would look between two areas that meant so much to us as a family,” she said. “It was just as fun dreaming this up as it will be to see the gift actually take shape.” Nevin is currently a managing director for TSWII Management Company. She and her husband, Lindsay, live in Charleston, South Carolina, with their three children.

SP Murray


different types of artists so that students will have interactions with authentic, deeply interesting people both inside the Ackland and elsewhere on campus.” The first two artists-in-residence visited campus this spring. They are Ronni Lundy, a James Beard awardwinning food writer and memoirist, who wrote the book Victuals, and Theresa Gloster, a painter, sculptor, textile artist and beautician. “The Caldwell family very wisely defined art and artist in the widest possible terms,” said Elizabeth Engelhardt, chair of the department of American studies and the John Shelton Reed Distinguished Professor of Southern Studies. “That generous breadth allows the department to collaborate on who and what the museums and classrooms of the future can be.” Nevin, who currently serves as chair of the Ackland National Advisory Board, hopes that this gift will continue to evolve and offer learning opportunities for the entire community for years to come. “The yearly process will continue to provide additional opportunities for enrichment, from choosing the artistin-residence to working with graduate students in the department to executing a series of events for an Ackland exhibit,” she said.

• Kate Caldwell Nevin (left) with Mary Lawson Burrows ’20 and Molly McNairy at a reception for the Ackland Art Museum exhibition, “Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment.”

Caldwell family gift will encourage collaboration between American studies, Ackland Art Museum BY KAYLA A. BLEVINS ’16

When the Caldwell family decided they wanted to give back to UNC-Chapel Hill — a place that left a lasting impression on each of them — it made sense that their gift would revolve around American studies and the arts. Their appreciation and love for these two areas goes back to their time as Carolina students. Kate Caldwell Nevin ’99 and her father, Hacker Caldwell ’74, were both American studies majors. Nevin’s brother, Hardwick Caldwell ’09, was an art history major. “Creating the gift would not only be a collaborative effort from a family perspective, but it would also be collaborative in joining all of the things we loved most about Carolina,” Nevin said.

“It was exciting to think collaboratively into how a gift would look between two areas that meant so much to us as a family. It was just as fun dreaming this up as it will be to see the gift actually take shape.”



Jafar Fallahi

he said. “I completed all my pre-med courses, but I decided that medicine wouldn’t be my chosen path.” After working for several years in independent film and TV commercial production and meeting his wife, Wendi Sturgis, who was working for a tech startup, Yong developed an interest in digital design and technology. Knowing that technology was the future, he enrolled in the intensive multimedia design and production program at New York University and has been with MLB since 2003. Yong and Sturgis, who is an alumna of Georgia Tech and chair of its advisory board, wanted to support their universities and maximize their impact by giving sooner rather • Dean Kevin Guskiewicz (left) celebrated Alex Yong and Wendi Sturgis’ gift than later. Their gifts are reflective of their at Carolina’s For All Kind campaign kickoff in October. The couple’s support passions. In addition to significant planned benefits scholarships, the Learning and Writing Center and diversity initiatives in gifts to the College that benefit scholarships, the department of computer science. technology and innovation in the Learning and Writing Center, Learning and Writing Center gift helps and diversity initiatives in the department of computer science, ensure students’ success the two have created an immediate-use fund for the Learning BY MARY MOOREFIELD and Writing Center.

What do biology and classics have in common? In terms of subject matter, nothing really. Except that you can major in both as part of a broad liberal arts education — and use that diverse background as a launching pad to a successful career. Those were the first steps along the path for Alex Yong ’90, now senior product designer for Major League Baseball, where he is responsible for the design of Yong developed a love of UNC-Chapel Hill early. “I fell in love with Carolina upon my first visit while I was still in high school,” he remembered. “Even a few years before, I remember seeing an aerial view of Kenan Stadium and the campus while watching a football game on TV and thinking, ‘What a beautiful university!’” The connection continued to grow as he became involved in activities on campus. “Once I matriculated at UNC, my opinion of our university only went higher. I loved how accessible my professors were, even in larger classes. I joined the crew club my freshman year. Several of the guys who I rowed with were brothers at Chi Psi fraternity, and I pledged there my sophomore year. I feel blessed that I am still close to many of my fraternity brothers and friends.” But a biology and classics double major? How did that happen? “When I started at Carolina, I was a biology major on a pre-med track, but I took a Roman archaeology course with the incredible Professor Gerhard Koeppel and was hooked,”

“We believe strongly that all college students, no matter their background, should have every resource available to ensure their ultimate success. We know that a UNC-Chapel Hill degree will change the trajectory of a person’s life forever.” — A L E X YO N G “The Learning and Writing Center is available for all Carolina students at all academic levels, but it is particularly helpful to first-generation and transfer students — 40 percent of the students who visit the center are from these two groups,” Yong said. “We believe strongly that all college students, no matter their background, should have every resource available to ensure their ultimate success. We know that a UNC-Chapel Hill degree will change the trajectory of a person’s life forever.” “I know firsthand the huge impact a strong technical education can have on your life,” Sturgis said. “I strive to be a role model for young women (both at work and with charities), and by creating a computer science diversity initiative fund, I hope to make the path a little easier for women and students from groups traditionally underrepresented in this field to pursue a path in technology.” Yong said they both feel fortunate that their college experiences shaped their lives in more ways than just academics. “We felt it was important to make our commitments earlier in life to support the capital campaigns of our universities and to help ensure that our alma maters have the resources they need to continue their commitment to excellence.”

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Shining a spotlight on African-American history Mike Wiley’s Leaving Eden debuts at PlayMakers BY DEE REID

when he discovered a historic tale that inspired him to write his first play. It changed his life. The play is about Henry “Box” Brown, who used an unlikely prop to escape a life of slavery in 1849. He climbed into a wooden crate in Richmond, Virginia, and shipped himself north to freedom. Brown arrived safely in Philadelphia and spent his remaining days as a free man. “I gravitated to the character,” said Wiley, who had struggled to find his own path in life. After writing One Noble Journey, Wiley took his one-man, one-prop drama on the road to educate and entertain audiences of all ages. He won support through the National Black Theatre Festival, then produced, marketed and performed the play to schools, libraries and small venues. It was a hit. Wiley was encouraged to pursue an MFA in dramatic art at UNC-Chapel Hill; he graduated in 2004. He kept writing plays that spotlight challenging chapters of African-American history. Audiences clamored for his oneman portrayals of Jackie Robinson and Emmett Till and a musical about unsung heroes of the civil rights movement. Wiley has served as a distinguished visiting professor at Carolina and Duke. He has presented his works in the United States and abroad. For these achievements and “contributions to humanity,” he received the 2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award on University Day last October. Wiley has won acclaim for creative versatility, as he morphs on stage into roles spanning gender, race and age. He embodied 36 characters in his play about the killing of Till. “[His] solo works ... feel like an

Kristen Chavez

Mike Wiley was a young actor in 1999

• Mike Wiley in the rehearsal hall of the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art. Wiley’s latest play, Leaving Eden, will premiere in April at PlayMakers.

evening spent among an intense community of people, united at times and divided at others by a common dilemma,” wrote local theater critic Byron Woods. It took Wiley a while to find his calling. He grew up in the ’70s and ’80s with a hard-working single mother in Roanoke, Virginia. He was bused across town to recently desegregated public schools, where he didn’t always feel welcome. He tried out for school plays and once got to portray Abraham Lincoln. “I loved being someone else,” he said. In 1989, during the summer before the Berlin Wall came down, he was among 15 American teens invited to perform with 15 Russian counterparts in Moscow and Stalingrad. “That was my first taste of what touring with a troupe of actors was like,” he said. “It was a beautiful moment.” Wiley became the first in his family to get a four-year degree, from Catawba College in Salisbury. Afterward, he traveled with a Shakespeare company and a children’s theater, where he learned the business of touring. His most stunning achievement came from a collaboration with his students at Duke and Carolina in 2010,

who helped him research stories of the Freedom Riders in the summer of 1961, about civil rights activists helping to desegregate public buses in the South. That inspired The Parchman Hour, the musical Wiley wrote, produced and directed with a student cast. His students performed at Carolina and across the South, including at the 50th Freedom Riders’ reunion in Mississippi. Wiley directed another production of the show at PlayMakers Repertory Company in 2011, drawing yet more acclaim. His newest play, Leaving Eden (at PlayMakers April 4-22), is a timely but hopeful fable of a fictional Southern town facing immigration, racism, economic woes and the rise of a dangerous demagogue. He will also premiere an ensemble version of his one-man play, Blood Done Sign My Name, at Raleigh Little Theatre in May. Wiley especially loves to present his plays to young people, through his company Mike Wiley Productions, based in Pittsboro. He tells them that acting allows them to escape by trying on other people’s lives. “We can be heroes.” ➤ Learn more at www.mikewiley



Mathematics’ Canzani named a Sloan Fellow ‘rising star’ mathematics, has been awarded a 2018 Sloan Research Fellowship. The fellowships are given to earlycareer scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as “rising stars,” the next generation of scientific leaders. The recipients are recognized for being among the very best scientific minds working today. The Sloan is among the most prestigious awards given to young scholars. Canzani’s research is dedicated to studying solutions to the Schrödinger equation, which was derived by the physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1926. This equation describes how a quantum system evolves over time. Her research focuses on understanding the behavior of wave functions that solve Schrödinger’s equation — the mathematical formulation for studying the energy levels of quantum mechanical systems like atoms. The Sloan Fellowship will allow her to dedicate more time to this complex research as well as collaborating on this

Courtesy of Yaiza Canzani

Yaiza Canzani, an assistant professor of

• Yaiza Canzani’s Sloan Fellowship, awarded to “the next generation of scientific leaders,” is the first Sloan for the mathematics department in about 10 years.

project with several colleagues. Richard McLaughlin, chair of the mathematics department, noted that the last time the department had a Sloan Fellow was about 10 years ago. “Yaiza’s remarkable results on the

Schrödinger equation bridge many areas of mathematics and physics, including partial differential equations, geometry, statistical mechanics, random matrix theory, quantum mechanics and number theory,” McLaughlin said.

Air Force ROTC named best small detachment in Southeast

UNC’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 590 was recently named the best Kristen Chavez

small detachment in the Southeast region. The Southeast region encompasses 38 detachments in nine states and Puerto Rico, and is the largest region by cadet population in the AFROTC. Detachment 590 currently has 36 cadets. The award, presented by the United States Air Force, was given based on UNC’s excellent achievements in five assessment categories, including production, education, recruiting and retention, university and public relations, and cadet activities. The department of aerospace studies and the Air Force ROTC are part of the College of Arts & Sciences and have been on campus since 1947, the year the U.S. Air Force was founded. UNC’s Detachment 590 has an award-winning history (winning No. 1 small detachment in the Air Force for 2012-2013 and back-to-back wins in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 as best small detachment in the Southeast). “I’m exceptionally proud of our cadets for their impressive academic, fitness and leadership achievements during academic year 2016-17,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Cates, department chair and professor of aerospace studies and commander of Detachment 590. “Thanks to the well-rounded experience provided by UNC, Detachment 590 graduates are positively impacting the Air Force now and will for years to come.”

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Bautch receives $6 million NIH outstanding investigator award biology department, has been awarded a $6 million Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Bautch is the Beverly Long Chapin Distinguished Professor and co-director of the UNC McAllister Heart Institute. She is also a member of the Integrative Program for Biological and Genome Sciences and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute provides global leadership in research, training and education to prevent and treat heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders. The award will support the research of Bautch’s lab, which centers on the molecules and processes that control development and disease. The lab’s major focus is the study of how blood vessels form and are patterned during development, and how these processes are disturbed or co-opted during diseases such as cancer. The project, “Molecular and Cellular Control of Angiogenesis,” will allow Bautch and colleagues to open new directions in understanding how blood vessels form during development and function in the adult.

Courtesy of Victoria Bautch

• BELOW: Victoria Bautch (seated, center) with members of her research lab.

University Libraries

Victoria Bautch, chair of the

#Throwback This 1986 photo shows Colin Palmer (second row, fourth from right), with his history department colleagues. That year he became the first African-American to chair a department at UNC. Did you take a class with Professor Palmer? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at

Pioneering professor honored for contributions to Carolina

Colin Palmer became the first African-American chair of a department at UNC-Chapel Hill when he was appointed to lead the history department in 1986, a post he held until 1991. Before that, he chaired the curriculum in African and Afro-American studies from 1980 to 1988 and for two years — from 1986 to 1988 — actually led both academic units, a feat that many of his former colleagues still admire today. Palmer, a scholar of the African diaspora and Dodge Professor Emeritus of History at Princeton University, was honored at the 14th annual African-American History Month Lecture in February with the Award for Scholarly Distinction. He was also named as the most recent honoree of the University’s Bridge Builders scholarships. Palmer said in a phone interview that when he first came to UNC-Chapel Hill to chair the curriculum in African and Afro-American studies, it “was undergoing a lot of turmoil.” As he reflected on that time, Palmer said, “I think I succeeded in not only bringing stability to the program but also in elevating its prestige. … It became a department after I left the chairmanship, but I helped to lay the groundwork.” The curriculum is now known as the department of African, African American and diaspora studies. A 1989 letter from then-College of Arts & Sciences Dean Gillian Cell to Chancellor Paul Hardin echoed that sentiment. “Under his [Palmer’s] leadership … the curriculum grew in reputation both on and off campus and became the largest such program in terms of enrollment in the country.” Joseph Jordan, director of UNC’s Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, noted that Palmer was also recognized for his scholarship, calling him “a giant in African-American and diaspora studies.” “African-American studies had been around since the mid-’60s, but for the most part any international focus tended to be on Africa. When he came along, he led us toward the diaspora and a new understanding of black people in the world.” ➤ Read more about Colin Palmer online at



Parr Center wins $10,000 award to support Ethics Bowl philosophy department, has received a $10,000 diversity and inclusiveness grant from the American Philosophical Association for the National High School Ethics Bowl. The grant will support regional high school ethics bowls in under-served communities, focusing on outreach to diverse high schools, and will help provide financial support for qualifying teams to travel to Chapel Hill this spring. The APA awarded funding for projects aimed at increasing the presence and participation of women, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ students, people with disabilities, people of low socioeconomic status and other underrepresented groups. Each year, student teams from across the United States exercise their philosophical and ethical muscles as they analyze topical issues in the

Courtesy of the Parr Center for Ethics

The Parr Center for Ethics, based in the

• The National High School Ethics Bowl gives student teams from across the United States the chance to exercise their philosophical and ethical muscles as they analyze topical issues.

National High School Ethics Bowl. Last year, 3,924 students from 413 teams representing 281 schools competed in 32 regional competitions for their chance to compete in the national championship. The performance of each team is judged on the basis of how clearly,

Kristen Chavez

staff and alumni who have been an instrumental part of UNC-Chapel Hill’s international activity. Rudi ColloredoMansfeld, senior associate dean for social sciences and global programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, highlighted the diverse work that units within the building undertake to • The FedEx Global Education Center is a vibrant hub for many of the College’s and University’s global programs. make a global impact here and abroad. FedEx Global Education Center The center was built in 2007 to celebrates 10 years bring together units committed to international education. The building is a he FedEx Global Education Center tangible demonstration of the University’s celebrates its 10th anniversary this commitment to global education, and academic year. it creates a hub for the campus’ global In November, the center hosted activity, with space for student and faculty a reception in recognition of the services, academic instruction, and milestone, reflecting on Carolina’s global programs and research. achievements and honoring the faculty, The 80,000-square-foot building


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articulately and perceptively the students develop the positions they decide to take; their ability to communicate respectfully and collaboratively; and their willingness to take diverse viewpoints into account. The 2018 National High School Ethics Bowl will be held April 20-22.

is home to UNC’s global and area studies centers, six of which have been designated National Resource Centers by the U.S. Department of Education. It also houses International Student and Scholar Services, the Study Abroad Office, and academic programs including the curriculum in global studies and the TransAtlantic Masters Program, among other units that support the University’s international activity. The FedEx center hosts hundreds of lectures, exhibitions, conferences and international films throughout the year. The building’s auditorium is named for South African leader and human rights activist Nelson Mandela. ➤ Learn more about special events at Watch a video at of students, staff and faculty reciting an excerpt from Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom in several of the 25 languages UNC offers to students.



Q U O T E D When national and international media need experts to comment on and analyze news and trends, they turn to Carolina faculty and alumni. Of course, College of Arts & Sciences faculty members often make news of their own with groundbreaking research findings. Here are just a few examples; see more at HuffPost

USA Today

“We are on the verge of becoming

a spacefaring species, and I feel privileged to be invited into an extraordinary conversation, pushing the frontiers of science, exploration and discovery at NASA.” — Lisa Pratt, (botany B.A. ’72, geology M.S. ’79) after being named NASA’s planetary protection officer

“There are many misconceptions about OCD. One is that it is only about germs or perfectionism. People with OCD might have a variety of different types of obsessions and compulsions.” — Jon Abramowitz, professor of psychology and neuroscience, on obsessive-compulsive disorder

The New Yor k Ti mes

South China

“The only sensible solution — in my view — is to accept the

Morning Post

problem and then engage with it, rather than, say, sanitizing the work to remove the problem in the first place.”

“The problem is not population size. It’s poor

— Tim Carter, music professor, on how Broadway revivals can revive gender stereotypes and romanticize problematic relationships

urban management.

— Yan Song, director of the Program on Chinese Cities, on the risks to megacities

The New Yor ke r


The Local Palate

“What would sustained economic

development — respectful and meaningful economic development — look like here? We think it would be around traditional foods and foodways.” — Bernie Herman, American studies professor, speaking about Virginia’s Eastern Shore



— Keith Payne, professor of psychology and neuroscience and the author of The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live and Die

The Washington Post’s “Monkey Cage” blog

“Carrying out executions, it appears, requires

specialization and practice. Without specializing in it, few counties can do it.”

— Frank Baumgartner, political science professor and the author of Deadly Justice: A Statistical Portrait of the Death Penalty




Kristen Chavez

BY E VA N A B O D I K E R ’ 1 8

• ABOVE: Evana Bodiker in her favorite writing spot, the Music Library Glass Room in Wilson Library. She said in an article in the creative writing program’s newsletter, “For a young poet, this is so reassuring in terms of my future as a writer. … It’s still hard to believe a book of my poetry will be out in the world for people to read.”

The greenhouse humidity moved down our backs like the sweat beads on our Pimm’s cups hours before in the garden bar. She was our tiny liaison, so that he and I might say the right words that evening more easily, a tender empress fluttering overhead until she chose to land on his university sweater first. Her frayed wings burned cobalt in the late London afternoon. She let me touch her next, climbing onto my fingers like they were sugar, her gentle trapeze teasing my skin. He misread her name on the placard, morphe, but later he christened her accurately: morpho. For the rest of the day, I dreamed of her on my slouched shoulder, my body an accomplice in her disappearing act.

➤ Evana Bodiker is a senior pursuing majors in English and religious studies and a minor in creative writing. “Blue Morpho” is one of the poems featured in her new poetry collection, Ephemera (Texas Review Press, spring 2018). She won the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize for Ephemera, which is composed largely of poems written in her intermediate and advanced poetry courses at UNC. In a blog interview with the press, she said, “In another life, I would have been a naturalist or an entomologist. I love how intricate insects’ lives are … [they] represent ephemerality to me. … Ephemera are things only enjoyed for a short period of time.” Find more books by College faculty and alumni at

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Photos by Mary Lide Parker ’10


Conserving Corals in the Caribbean Justin Baumann, a Ph.D. student in the College’s department of marine sciences, works alongside Mariko Wallen, a local diver, in Placencia, Belize. To gather data on how certain types of coral respond to stressors (like warmer water temperatures), Baumann partnered with Fragments of Hope, a Belizean NGO dedicated to conserving coral reefs in the Caribbean. Over the course of six days, his team collected 12 colonies of coral, cut them into 312 pieces, and then transplanted them onto underwater tables. Baumann will spend the next year monitoring their growth. Learn more and watch a video at


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As the home of all first- and second-year students, and 85 percent of UNC’s juniors and seniors, the College of Arts & Sciences represents the heart of Carolina academics. Gifts to the Arts and Sciences Annual Fund help shape the academic journey of every Tar Heel. In 2017, gifts to the Annual Fund helped: • Approximately 35 percent of College undergraduate students explore other cultures through study abroad experiences. • Recruit and retain 100+ top-tier faculty. • Update and renovate creative learning spaces— where students work to find solutions to real-world problems. • Fund more than 30 research opportunities across disciplines—providing College undergraduates with significant opportunities to learn by doing through hands-on research projects.

Make your gift to the Annual Fund today, and help shape the Carolina Experience for even more Tar Heels.

To learn how you can help make a difference, contact Ashlee Bursch, Director of Annual Giving, at (919) 843-9853 or

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