Didow to direct new public service center

"Write to the University When You Need Help."

That phrase served as the University's unofficial motto in 1916 when Edward Kidder Graham was president. His philosophy was that Carolina belonged to the people of the state, and when citizens needed help, the University should provide it.

Now, Nicholas M. Didow will continue the University's tradition of helping the state's residents in his new capacity as director of the Carolina Center for Public Service. Didow's appointment was effective Sept. 1 and confirmed by the Board of Trustees.

The Carolina Center for Public Service will build upon the University's strong legacy of good works by connecting its students, faculty, staff and other resources with the citizens of North Carolina and beyond. The center -- one of a few such university-based "clearinghouses" in the country -- has been called a gateway that will connect Carolina's resources with the needs of citizens.

Didow brings a wealth of experience that will serve the Carolina Center for Public Service well, said Richard Richardson, provost.

"Anyone who has worked with Nick immediately recognizes and appreciates the deep sense of responsibility he feels for giving something back to his community, University and state," Richardson said. "When he sees a need, he isn't content with waiting for others to address it. His willingness to roll up his shirt sleeves and be part of the solution makes Nick the ideal choice to head the Carolina Center for Public Service."

Although Carolina is a major research institution, its public-service efforts have been decentralized, making it hard for people off campus to know exactly what services exist or how to find them.

The Carolina Center for Public Service will seek to change this by offering "one-stop shopping" where anyone with a public-service question or need can contact the center, and officials will try to find helpful University resources.

If Carolina doesn't have an appropriate resource, center officials will attempt to find help somewhere else or otherwise marshal University resources to address emerging issues and problems across the state.

Similarly, Carolina faculty, staff and students seeking to become engaged in public-service activities can look to the center to provide leadership, coordination and expertise.

About 7 percent of Carolina's budget supports public service, according to the University's Office of Institutional Research. Last year, Carolina reached more than 400,000 people across the state of North Carolina via its public-service activities.

Didow, who holds a doctorate in marketing from Northwestern University, also serves as an associate professor at the Kenan-Flagler Business School.

His public-service experience includes heading the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools' Board of Education, and participating in two separate chancellor's task forces addressing labor code and licensing issues. He co-taught "Economics, Ethics and Impacts of the Global Economy: The Nike Example" in 1998, a widely acclaimed course that looked at the international ramifications of businesses moving overseas.

He also has served on the Chapel Hill Drug Action Committee, helped launch a pre-school at University United Methodist Church, sat on the Methodist Foundation Board of Directors and coached softball for the Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation League.

A native of Monroe, Didow earned his undergraduate and master's degrees from Carolina.

"I enthusiastically support efforts to better connect the various assets and intellectual resources of this campus with the people of this state and nation," Didow said. "The Carolina Center for Public Service is a natural step in the progression of my professional and personal interests and activities, and I am delighted with the prospect of leading this exciting new endeavor in the University's history."

Specifically, the Carolina Center for Public Service will:

* Increase the University's ability to respond to the state's public-service needs;

* Provide a way for citizens, community leaders, legislators and government officials to learn about public service at Carolina;

* Strengthen Carolina's partnerships with public and private organizations;

* Support community-based education and public-service activities;

* Promote public service and community-based education among faculty, staff and students; and

* "Tell the story" of the University's public service to the people of North Carolina.

Secretary Shalala to help launch Carolina Center for Public Service

The official kick off for the Carolina Center for Public Service will take place Sept. 24, at 3 p.m. on Polk Place. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala will be the featured speaker. Faculty and staff are encouraged to attend the free event.

Next article
Previous article
Table of contents
Front Page

To UNC-CH Home Page