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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Wayne Blair bids farewell to Employee Forum delegates

On his last day at Carolina, University ombuds Wayne Blair received lifelong honorary delegate status, a standing ovation and a tearful farewell from delegates at the Feb. 7 meeting of the Employee Forum.

Wayne Blair

“It’s 13 years to the day since I first came here. At the time I said I’d be here five years, max,” Blair said. A native of Jamaica who grew up in Brooklyn and graduated from Columbia University in New York, Blair said that he grew to love Carolina while working here.

“I’m a Tar Heel. I never expected to be a Tar Heel, but I’m a Tar Heel,” he said.

Blair announced in December that he had taken a new position as ombuds person for the Asian Development Bank, an international development finance institution dedicated to reducing poverty and increasing the quality of life in Asia and the Pacific.

In his new job, Blair will travel the world, spending time in each of the bank’s 32 offices from Frankfurt to Fiji.

“I want you to be well aware that’s what it took to break me away from Carolina,” he said.

Later that day, Chancellor Carol L. Folt announced that associate University ombuds Laurie Mesibov will serve as interim director of the University Ombuds Office, aided by assistant University ombuds Victoria Dowd.  A committee has been appointed to search for candidates nationally and internationally to fill the director’s position.

In an update from the Task Force on UNC-Chapel Hill History, history professor James Leloudis told delegates that the task force is focused on telling aspects of University history on McCorkle Place through signage, physical changes and virtual storytelling.

The physical work will be done at the site of the Unsung Founders Memorial, a 2005 statue with 300 figurines representing the men and women of color—enslaved and free—who helped build Carolina.

“That memorial has been sinking into the ground,” Leloudis said. “The figures are up to their knees; we are working with a landscape architect and hope to make it more of a contemplative, reverent space.”

Other changes to McCorkle Place will be less visible, he said. Signs equipped with Bluetooth beacons will send alerts to the smartphones of passersby with links to online information.

In another presentation, LGBTQ Center director Terri Phoenix urged delegates to take Safe Zone training to learn more about resources available on campus. Phoenix said the center also works with employees on issues such as family planning options and hormone therapy no longer being covered by health insurance plans.

In new business, delegates discussed ways to give more impact to the resolutions they pass. Chair Shayna Hill recommended tying resolutions to panel discussions or follow-up actions. Lori Haight, chair of the communications and public relations committee, volunteered to take up the issue of within that committee.