Skip to content

University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

2012: A Year in Stories



Science’s ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ – An HIV prevention research study led by Myron S. Cohen was named the 2011 “Breakthrough of the Year” by the journal Science. The research found that early treatment with antiretroviral therapy reduced HIV transmission in couples by at least 96 percent. (

No. 1 best academic value – For the 11th time in a row, Carolina ranked first on Kiplinger’s list of the 100 universities and colleges that provide the best value to in-state students. The University ranked as the number one value in American public higher education because of its high-quality academics at an affordable price, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. (



Bus Hubbard: ‘it’s time to go’ – Bus Hubbard, UNC’s longtime tree expert, retired after 60 years with the University. For six decades, it was Hubbard’s job to climb the tallest trees on campus and cut out dead limbs and broken branches. (

New education minor launched – Carolina launched a new minor in education under a charge from Chancellor Holden Thorp and Dean of the School of Education Bill McDiarmid that called for an innovative approach to offering students a course of study that examines education topics and provides experiences working in classrooms. (


The call to solve real-world problems – The Great Recession thrust Carolina into the national spotlight as an exemplar of a top research university serving as a powerful engine of economic innovation and renewal. Thorp sought to empower faculty, students and staff to seek practical solutions to real-world problems. (

Academic theme launched on World Water Day – Carolina launched Water in Our World, a University-wide academic theme intended to mobilize the campus community around water issues for the next two years, on World Water Day. Tackling a key issue facing society was a top recommendation in the University’s 2011 Academic Plan, a statement of objectives, priorities and the roadmap for the future.(

NCAA announces final decision – The University received the NCAA’s ruling regarding violations involving the football program. Following a joint NCAA-UNC investigation, the NCAA levied sanctions beyond those Carolina had self-imposed. “We approached this investigation the way that you would expect of Carolina – thoughtfully, thoroughly and with full cooperation – and that was the right thing to do,” Thorp said. (


Carolina welcomes Obama – President Barack Obama visited Carolina to talk about college affordability and the plight of students who rely on federal loans to finance their education. A crowd of 8,000 filled Carmichael Arena to listen to the speech and become a part of history – it was only the seventh time a sitting president had visited UNC. (

School of Dentistry opens new building – The School of Dentistry opened the state-of-the-art Koury Oral Health Sciences Building, a 216,500-square-foot education and research facility adjoining the school’s existing structures. The building design was registered with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. (


Bloomberg: ‘Make a difference in others’ lives’ – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told Carolina’s newest graduates, “It’s all up to you – in your own way – to take what you learned here, and spread light and liberty wherever you go.” An estimated 5,683 undergraduate, graduate and professional students received degrees during Commencement weekend, which included a hooding ceremony for doctoral students. (

Professional schools celebrate grads – Professional schools across campus spent all year planning for their own Commencement ceremonies and receptions. In the gathering spaces of campus, it was a revolving door of set-ups, line-ups and clean-ups, each with its own set of special details. (

Medical students can earn M.D.-M.B.A dual degree – A new dual-degree program offering medical students the chance to earn a doctor of medicine and master’s of business administration degrees was announced. Graduates will be prepared to lead in all aspects of the health-care industry, said  William Roper, medical school dean and UNC Health Care CEO. (



Carolina Performing Arts celebrates ‘Rite 100’ – Carolina Performing Arts launched its eighth season with 46 performances ranging from dance to world music and a centennial celebration of the premiere of “The Rite of Spring,” the biggest endeavor undertaken by the organization. For “Rite 100,” Memorial Hall will play host to nine world and two U.S. premieres, as well as 11 related works commissioned by Carolina Performing Arts in 2012–13. (

Carolina’s ‘heart and soul’ retires after 40 years – Brenda Kirby, longtime University secretary and assistant to the chancellor, was the pillar of support for six chancellors, 25 chairs of the Board of Trustees and 32 student body presidents who came to rely on her as no other. During all of her 32 years in South Building, Thorp said, she was the first in the door in the morning and the last one out at night. (


Carolina Digital Humanities initiative launched – The digitalization of billions of materials has ushered in a new era of data super-abundance. Carolina ensured it would remain in the forefront of exploring this vast new territory with the launch of the Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative, made possible by a $1.39 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It will build on the work of the Digital Innovation Lab, co-directed by professors Robert Allen (American Studies) and Richard Marciano (Information and Library Science). (

Modest pay raise for employees – The $20.2 billion state budget for fiscal 2012–13 included a modest pay raise for teachers and state employees, the first in four years. All employees also were granted an additional five days of vacation, to be used in 2013. (


Olympic dreams for two Carolina families – Two proud Carolina families traveled to London to cheer for the red, white and blue – and especially their children, who were competing in the 2012 Olympic games. Getting these athletes ready for such world-class competition was truly a family effort. (

Campus welcomes Class of 2016 – The 3,914 newest Tar Heels in the Class of 2016 were among the most academically qualified in University history. Nearly 79 percent ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class, and 43 percent ranked among the top 10 students of their class. (


Thorp to step down in 2013 – Thorp announced he would resign as chancellor at the end of the academic year and return to a role he always loved: chemistry professor. Four days later, the University community rallied to convince Thorp to reconsider, but he remained resolute that his decision was best for the University and his family. (

Rawlings touts liberal arts – Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities, spoke on campus about the enduring value of a liberal arts education. “The jobs of tomorrow don’t exist today, so you better be educated with the ability to think for yourself, to be adaptable and flexible in order to be ready for this rapidly, constantly changing environment,” he said. (

Cracking the top 10 in federal R&D spending – Carolina rose to 9th from 16th among U.S. research universities for federal funding devoted to research and development in fiscal 2010, a new ranking based on data compiled by the National Science Foundation showed. Faculty also secured about $767 million in contracts and grants from all sources in fiscal 2012. (


Beloved education leader dies – William Clyde “Bill” Friday, the longest-serving president of the multi-campus University of North Carolina, died at age 92. Fittingly, he died on Oct. 12, University Day. Thorp told the audience in Memorial Hall: “Our state has lost one of its most remarkable citizens. His influence on public higher education in North Carolina and across the nation is legendary.” (

Two elected to Institute of Medicine – Scientists Myron S. Cohen and Terry Magnuson were elected to the Institute of Medicine, the health and medicine branch of the National Academy of Sciences. Cohen and Magnuson push the University’s total number of institute members to 22. (

Genome Sciences Building dedicated – With the dedication of the Genome Sciences Building on University Day, Carolina researchers are better prepared to meet new challenges in the rapidly evolving field of genome sciences. Located at the geographical center of campus, the building is designed to foster collaborations at the intersection of different disciplines. (



Special delivery for a grad student – Emily Brewer, a doctoral candidate in English and comparative literature, helped to deliver a baby at a bus stop on Columbia Street when a Latina woman went into labor. “This woman didn’t even know my name, and I didn’t know hers, but I’m part of her birth story,” she said. “It’s something I will never forget. I don’t speak Spanish, but I speak Mom.” (

Chancellor search gets under way – In four separate public forums, the Chancellor Search Committee heard input about the qualities people want to see in Carolina’s next chancellor. The consensus: someone much like Thorp who shares his vision for and connection to Carolina, and who will build on what Thorp has accomplished. (


A 22nd national title for women’s soccer – Carolina’s women’s soccer program claimed its 22nd national championship with a 4–1 victory over Penn State in the 2012 NCAA Women’s College Cup championship match. Coach Anson Dorrance has led the team to an impressive 21 NCAA crowns and one AIAW (pre-NCAA) title in the 34-year history of the program. (

Myrick named Rhodes Scholar – Rachel Myrick, a senior who is majoring in political science and global studies with a minor in creative writing, was named Carolina’s newest Rhodes Scholar. Since the U.S. Rhodes Scholar program began in 1904, 48 Carolina students have been selected. (

Independent academic reviews presented – Former N.C. Gov. Jim Martin and the national management consulting firm Baker Tilly presented to the Board of Trustees findings from their independent reviews focusing on academic issues and the recent policies, procedures and controls the University put in place. Thorp had requested both reviews last summer following irregularities discovered in the African and Afro-American studies department. See the story on page 1 for more information. (