Thursday, October 16, 2008

Solving Great Problems

Sunday, October 12, was a great day for Carolina. For one thing, it was the University’s birthday. For another, it was the day we installed our new Chancellor, Holden Thorp.

After taking what must be the longest oath of office anywhere—administered by Patricia Timmons-Goodson, a UNC-Chapel Hill alumna and justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court—Chancellor Thorp talked about his vision for the future of the nation’s oldest public university.

If you’re thinking about joining us in Chapel Hill, his remarks, which are available here, are worth reading in their entirety. And if you’re not yet thinking about UNC, and you’re the kind of person who hopes to change the world, the following three paragraphs are especially worth reading:
This is the right time for a Carolina education. It may be the most challenging period our state and nation have ever faced. But thanks to my years at Carolina, I am filled with an enduring hope that derives from the unquenchable idealism of our students and their interest in the world's great problems.

So imagine that a student could come to Chapel Hill to major in Mandarin and international studies while addressing global health. Or major in chemistry while addressing global warming. Or major in American Studies while addressing poverty or youth violence.

We can come together as an intellectual community to address the world's great problems. We can do it without dismantling or realigning our existing academic structure. And students can do their work on the great problems inside the classroom and as part of their academic life. Because of our guiding principle of academic excellence plus service, Carolina is perfectly suited to redefine higher education in this way and to leverage our young peoples' interests in the great problems to enhance their academic success and position them to lead us.
If you want to help solve our greatest problems, and if you want to be positioned to lead us through the challenges we face, then this is a great day to think about Carolina. Regardless, we are here to help you, and we wish you well.

--Stephen Farmer