Clark takes personal approach in mentoring students
Charest, first HR department leader, to retire
Appointment to endowed professorship: Arthuf Champagne
Decorations & Distinctions
Clark takes personal approach in mentoring students
When Fred Clark came to Carolina from Florida to teach
Spanish in 1967, he wasn’t even interviewed.
“They offered me a position in the mail back in those days,”
Fred Clark received the Massey Award for his leadership in
launching innovative mentoring programs for students.
He had never seen Chapel Hill when he left in his car.
“I remember I drove up from Florida. It was about two in the
morning and I was in Carrboro and there was almost nothing there then and I
thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is Chapel Hill.’”
He finally found the Holiday Inn and the next day he “found
the University and realized what a great place it was.”
Nearly 40 years later, Clark has found no reason to go
anywhere else. Last spring, he found himself surprised by a phone call from
Chancellor James Moeser, who informed him he had won a 2006 C. Knox Massey
Distinguished Service Award.
Clark is now a full professor and internationally recognized
expert in Brazilian theater. As a senior member of the Portuguese section of the
Department of Romance Languages, he is a popular teacher of Portuguese and
Brazilian literature — both in the language and in translation — and has served
as dissertation chair for several generations of graduate students in the
Romance languages. His other duties have included interim chair of the Romance
languages department and assistant dean in the General College.
Currently, as associate dean of academic services, he has
responsibility for the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes, Learning
Disabilities Services, the Learning Center, the Summer Bridge Program,
chemistry and mathematics tutorials and the Writing Center. He is integral to the 13 Carolina
Testing and Orientation programs held each summer, is a faculty mentor to the
Carolina Scholars and, most recently, serves as faculty coordinator of the
Carolina Covenant Faculty Mentoring program.
He also spearheaded a new Covenant Scholar Mentor Program
that began this fall. “It is one
thing to perform these roles,” wrote a colleague in her recommendation, “but
quite another to do them the way he does.”
‘Number six out of seven’
He grew up outside Gainesville, Fla., in a family of four
girls and three boys that had a spread of 18 years between youngest and oldest.
Clark was “number six.”
His father was a contractor with little more than a
grade-school education, his mother a nurse. When Clark went off to the
University of Florida in Gainesville, his father thought it was good his son
was going to school but had no concept of how it would change his son’s life.
When Clark earned his Ph.D., his father’s idea of it was, “You’re a doctor
During his last few months in graduate school in Florida,
Clark went to Spain to work in the national library and collect material for
his dissertation from 17th century manuscripts. He returned to Spain to finish
his research after joining the Carolina faculty.
He was contracted to teach Spanish, but because he had done
a minor in Portuguese, he taught both before moving exclusively into teaching
His Ph.D. is in 17th century Spanish theater, but over the
years, both his teaching and research interests migrated to South America and
the study of 20th century Brazilian theater.
More than 20 years ago — he can’t remember the exact year —
Clark discovered yet another love when he started working in the advising
program then housed in South Building. Later, he served as a faculty adviser in
the College of Arts and Sciences and kept on a path that would eventually
intersect with Shirley Ort and her idea for what would become the Carolina
Covenant program, now in its third year.
When Ort, the University’s director of student financial
aid, developed the idea for the Covenant program, she knew it had to be more
than just a financial package. Through the program, Ort wanted to build an
ongoing relationship, an emotional bond, between the student and the
institution. And to help make that happen, Ort knew she needed somebody on the
faculty with the know-how to create a mentoring program — and to be that lead
It is here that the Brazilian theater expert entered center
When Ort asked Clark to run the program, he couldn’t tell
When people talk about accessibility in higher education,
they are talking about financial barriers that can keep qualified students from
underprivileged backgrounds from attending college.
When Clark talks about accessibility, he is talking about
his relationship to the students -- and the telephone.
During an hour-long interview, Clark’s phone kept ringing
and Clark kept picking it up.
“I can almost never let a phone go,” Clark said.
He can’t ignore a phone because by doing so he could be
ignoring students needing his help right away, or thinking they do, which in
Clark’s mind is all the same.
In fact, he gives his students his home number, too, because
he understands that problems don’t always happen during office hours.
As sophisticated as they are, as smart as they are, they are
still just kids, Clark said. Many of them, when they have a problem, feel as if
they have to solve it immediately. Sometimes, all that takes is a reassuring
voice on the other end of the phone.
“My whole idea is to personalize this and I think that is
what we are trying to do as a university. We are trying to personalize
Carolina, from the chancellor down, to make it a personal experience and not to
let it be this bureaucratic thing you would find at a really huge university.”
But personalized attention also requires face-to-face
contact, which is something Ort thought of when she gave Clark a budget to have
lunch and dinner with Carolina Covenant scholars.
The covenant is not just about finding a way to get top
students from disadvantaged backgrounds into college and out debt-free. It’s
about helping them to get through successfully once they are here. And to be
successful once they leave. And that is what all those lunches and dinners are
really about, Clark said.
The program has brought positive national attention to
Carolina and, recently, to Clark. In a Sept. 27 story on the Carolina Covenant
in USA Today, a Covenant scholar credited Clark with helping her find out she
had a learning disability. After knowing she had it, she learned to compensate
well enough to keep her grade point average at 3.6.
Clark describes working with this groundbreaking program as
the best years of his career. But he also takes pains to point out that none of
this is about him.
“This program will live beyond us,” Clark said. “This is a
program that will really characterize Chancellor (James) Moeser’s tenure here.
It is a big part of his legacy because it is something that is very dear to him
and he has been very supportive.”
The same could be said of the University Board of Trustees
and the state legislature, Clark said. Both have demonstrated strong support
for need-based financial aid, one of the key components of the funding formula
for the program.
His colleagues, both advisers and faculty members and administrators,
regularly join him for these dinners and lunches with students and are no less
reluctant than he in passing out their phone numbers to students.
“All of these
folks are in on it so that we can make this a very personal experience so that
the students and the parents feel comfortable in asking for something. Our big
thing is don’t be embarrassed to ask for it. It’s out there.”
Charest, first HR department leader, to retire
Laurie Charest, the University’s long-serving associate vice
chancellor for Human Resources (HR), will retire on Jan. 31, 2007.
David Perry, the interim vice hancellor for finance and
administration, made the announcement to deans, directors, department chairs,
business managers and HR facilitators on Oct. 12.
“Laurie is the first and only human resources professional
to hold this important administrative position at Carolina, and has performed
her duties with exceptional wisdom and dedication from 1990 to the present
moment,” Perry said in the announcement.
“Her departure early next year will leave a void we all will
be challenged to fill. All her
colleagues look forward to suitable opportunities in the coming weeks at which
to express, individually and collectively, our thanks and gratitude for her
Perry said that discussions of transitional planning for the
vacancy in this position, as well as the search process for Charest’s eventual
successor, are in their earliest stages.
Charest earned her undergraduate degree at Carolina and
holds a master’s degree in public administration from N.C. State. She left her
job at Duke University, where she was director of employment and human resource
information systems, to come to the University to take charge of the newly
created HR department.
Charest, in her message to HR staff, said she would leave
with a sense of great pride in their many accomplishments and “with great
confidence in each of you.”
“While it is hard to imagine getting up each day and not
coming in to face the ongoing challenges of this job which I have lived and
breathed with you for many hours of each day and night for 16 plus years, I
believe that, after over 30 years in higher education administration, the time
is right to retire,” Charest wrote. “I look forward to returning to the role of
private citizen, to loving my alma mater from without instead of within, and to
enjoying time and life with family and friends.”
She closed by thanking employees for their outstanding work
and adding, “I cannot imagine a finer group of HR professionals — UNC-Chapel
Hill is very lucky.”
Appointment to endowed professorship
ARTHUR E. CHAMPAGNE
Title: Class of 1989/ William C. Friday Distinguished
Department: Physics and Astronomy.
Education: Ph.D., Yale University.
At Carolina since: 1990.
Classes taught at the graduate level: Stellar Interiors,
Nuclear Reaction Theory, Electricity and Magnetism.
Classes taught at the undergraduate level: Introductory
Mechanics, Introductory Electricity and Magnetism, Modern Physics, Nuclear
Physics, Introductory Astronomy.
Research focus: Nuclear astrophysics (i.e. stellar and
galactic evolution, stellar explosions, origin of the elements).
Major publications: Review articles in Reviews of Modern Physics,
Annual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science, Philosophical transactions of
the Royal Society; recent Physical Review Letter that revises a key nuclear
reaction in stellar burning as well as the age of the galaxy.
Major honors: Fellow, American Physical Society 2001.
Little known fact: Rock/blues guitar for 31 years; a
couple of gigs in Raleigh last year — no money made.
About the endowment: The Class of 1989 Distinguished
Teaching Professorship honors William C. Friday, the former UNC system
president who served the University for nearly 40 years. The professorship in
the College of Arts and Sciences was endowed in 1994 by the Class of 1989 and
numerous private donors. The gift of $333,000 was supplemented with $167,000 in
state funds from the Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund to create a
$500,000 endowed professorship.
An investigator at FPG Child Development Institute, Catlett
has received the 2006 Mary McEvoy Service to the Field Award from the Division
of Early Childhood (DEC). DEC is the largest international professional
organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for individuals with
exceptionalities, students with disabilities, and the gifted.
The award recognizes Catlett’s significant contributions to
improve the lives of
young children with special needs around
the globe, their families and those who work on their behalf.
University Child Care Center
Also known as Victory Village, the University Child Care
Center is the winner of the 2006 VIVA! Garden for Schools contest. The awards,
announced Sept. 28 by plant and flower grower VIVA!, recognize 50 child-care
centers nationwide for excellent gardens. The award to the center came in the
category of “Best Garden Plans.”
A group of parent volunteers spent the past year and a half
converting an 850 square-foot corner of sandy and unused playground into the
award-winning outdoor space. Funding for the garden has come entirely from
gifts and donations.
Senior lecturer in the Department of Biology, DeSaix is the
winner of the 2006 National Association of Biology Teachers’ Four-Year College
Biology Teaching Award. The award recognizes a four-year college educator who
demonstrates creativity and innovation in teaching.
DeSaix received the award during the group’s annual meeting
in Albuquerque, N.M., earlier this month.