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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Folt calls for full and honest rendering of campus history

A group of African-American students calling themselves the "Hate Fighters" demonstrsate outside Saunders Hall to call attention to institutional racism on campus.

This photo from 2001 shows a group of African-American students calling themselves the “Hate Fighters” demonstrating outside Saunders Hall to call attention to institutional racism on campus.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt has charged a newly formed task force with ensuring all members of the campus community have the opportunity to “learn about Carolina’s history, values and contributions to society.”

The action, which Folt announced in a letter to the campus community last week, is part of the comprehensive approach to examining campus history that the University Board of Trustees called for on May 28 when it voted to rename Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall.

At the same meeting they voted to rename Saunders, trustees passed two other motions – one to develop new curation and education initiatives, and the other to place a 16-year freeze on renaming historic buildings.

“An honest and thoughtful account of Carolina’s history will encourage people to reflect on how race, class and privilege have shaped the University and the nation,” Folt said. “In telling our full history, we have the chance to educate our students and community, and to respectfully engage in difficult dialogues that encompass varying perspectives. In this way, we can truly honor our tradition of excellence and make Carolina ever stronger for the future.”

To carry out the board’s directive, Folt appointed three co-chairs to the task force. They are:

Cecelia Moore, historian and content specialist on University history, will serve as project manager for the task force.

Folt said the task force will:

The task force will appoint working groups for each of these topics and seek broad participation from students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members, Folt said.

The first projects will focus on historical interpretations of Carolina Hall and of McCorkle Place, which will be reported to trustees in November.

An audit of existing information about Carolina’s history, along with a study of a public space and online orientation programs will take place throughout the year and be reported on at the May Board of Trustees meeting.

“The task force has a big job ahead and the outcome of their efforts will only be effective if it is a collaborative and engaged process,” Folt said in her email letter. “I strongly encourage you to participate when asked for your involvement.”

To learn more about the project, contact Moore at cecelia_moore@unc.edu.