Friday to work with honors students

When the James M. Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence opens at the University, some students can expect to have an opportunity to learn from an icon in American higher education.

UNC President Emeritus William C. Friday will be setting up a new office in the Johnston Center, which was formally dedicated Oct. 12 as part of University Day events that commemorate the laying of the cornerstone of Old East -- the nation's first state university building.

Friday, who retired last month as longtime executive director of the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust in Chapel Hill, has been named University distinguished professor, effective Oct. 1.

"The appointment recognizes Bill Friday's unparalleled service to this University and will herald his continued work both with Carolina's honors students and in the area of leadership training," said Interim Chancellor William O. McCoy. "We will also tap Bill's expertise in other University issues with which his vast experience can be helpful.

"Bill Friday's interest in remaining close on our campus at this stage of his career is a wonderful opportunity for Carolina, especially our students," McCoy said. "We are so fortunate to have a person of his caliber in a position to continue engaging students and others in the University community during their journey of learning in Chapel Hill."

The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, which had been led by Friday, was among the key donors to the $7.4 million, privately funded Johnston Center, to be housed in the newly renovated and expanded Graham Memorial Building on north campus.

The center will help house first-year seminars, one of several initiatives aimed at strengthening the University's academic offerings to new students. The seminars match small groups of no more than 20 freshmen with outstanding faculty members those students might otherwise not meet until their junior or senior years.

The center also will headquarter the honors program and Carolina Leadership Development, an office overseeing student leadership and citizenship enhancement programs, as well as a new Office of Undergraduate Research.

Friday's specific duties haven't been finalized. His possible activities include small-group discussions that would give students an opportunity to meet with groups such as alumni, civic and business leaders, non-profit group representatives, and the like to discuss issues of mutual interest, said James Leloudis, who will direct the Johnston Center as associate dean for honors.

"It will be a joy to work with students once again," Friday said in a letter to McCoy about the appointment.

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