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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Remarks from University Day 2017

The chairs of the Faculty Council and Employee Forum traditionally speak at University Day. This celebration of the University’s 224th birthday featured talks by two women who are new in these roles. The University Gazette is publishing the transcripts of the remarks by both Shayna Hill of the Employee Forum and Leslie Parise of the Faculty Council.


Employee Forum Chair Shayna Hill

Remarks by Shayna Hill, chair of the Employee Forum

Oct. 12, 2017

My name is Shayna Burke Hill and I am the chair of the UNC Employee Forum, and I am a homegrown Tar Heel.

Growing up in Chapel Hill meant field trips to wonder at the beauty of plants at the Botanical Garden, to reach for the stars at Morehead Planetarium and to experience the joys of music right here in Memorial Hall.

I learned to swim at the Bowman Gray Pool, and I sat quietly in the back of Peabody as my mother attended night classes to earn her Ph.D.

As an undergrad, I jokingly told freshmen that Chapel was my great-grandfather.  Today, I hold two degrees from Carolina.

My life has been enriched and my heart has been touched by the many UNC employees whose efforts helped make those experiences possible.

Now, years later, I am here on their behalf.

We are administrative specialists, groundskeepers, front desk clerks, accountants, executive assistants, dental assistants and parking control officers.

Most of us will serve this great university without much notice.

We will not be published and buildings will not be named after us.

When history blinks, we will be all but forgotten.

Despite this, through our tireless efforts, we support day-in and day-out, as the official poem of the Employee Forum beautifully states, “behind you, before you, beside you, with you.”  And as we serve, we are enriching lives and touching hearts.

The 17th century philosopher Blaise Pascal said it best, “The strength of a person’s virtue should not be measured by their special exertions, but by their habitual acts.”

Please join me in showing heartfelt gratitude to all those who offer their faithful service as UNC employees.


Faculty Chair Leslie Parise

Remarks by Leslie Parise, chair of the Faculty Council

Oct. 12, 2017

 Thank you Chancellor Folt, Provost Blouin, Gov. Cooper, President Spellings, members of the Board of Governors, the Board of Trustees, students, staff and faculty.  It gives me great pleasure to greet all of you on this 224th birthday of UNC. I’ve been a faculty member at Carolina for more than 29 years, and I thought I knew a reasonable number of you, but we have more than 3,800 faculty.  As the new chair of the faculty, I’ve enjoyed meeting so many more of you along with many wonderful students and staff.  It is my privilege to serve you as I learn from you.  I’ve also been inspired by my wonderful Faculty Executive Committee, who works closely with me on issues of importance to our community.

One thing that has always excited me about Carolina is a collaborative spirit like no other. I’ve seen this in my usual role as chair of biochemistry and biophysics, where collaborations occur across many schools, centers and institutes among scientists. But what is equally exciting in my role as chair of the faculty is to hear about all the collaborations between very different disciplines.  This is evident in the maker spaces across campus, where science, art and design come together, or in first year seminars where arts, humanities and sciences merge. This collaborative spirit feeds into our very entrepreneurial culture that further taps business and law.

And, of course, our students are the ultimate inspiration.  I was especially struck last week during a Campaign for Carolina event in hearing the stories of two articulate Covenant Scholars who described their difficult paths to Carolina, one young man of color who aspires to become a federal prosecutor and politician, and the other, a 40-year-old single mom who’s always dreamed of attending Carolina and finally made it here through sheer determination. These are the types of stories that keep us going.

I’d like to end with a quote from my current “non-science” bedtime reading from Victor Hugo, which is “There is nothing like dreams for engendering the future.” So let’s keep dreaming big and working together to make things happen. Thank you.