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UNC-Chapel Hill explores “Food for All” with 2015-2017 campus theme

April 28, 2015

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will come together at a common table when it examines food and food studies as its 2015-2017 university-wide academic theme. “Food for All: Local and Global Perspectives,” which builds on Carolina’s 2012-2015 “Water in Our World” focus on global water issues, will challenge all areas of the University to examine wide-ranging topics from food cultures and nutrition, to food security, world hunger, agricultural economics, resource management, sustainable development, climate change and international trade.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt will give a preview of the theme at a special session of The William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education’s “What’s the Big Idea” lecture series on April 30.

“‘Food for All’ is the perfect successor to the ‘Water in Our World’ theme,” said Folt. “With alliances like UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Global Research Institute and the UNC Nutrition Research Institute, Carolina can leverage its world-class resources to guide our focus on food over the next two years. Through this initiative, we can bring our community together to address this global issue that plays a critical role across many facets of our society — culture, health and the economy.”

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Global Research Institute proposed the food theme, which coincides with its own individual exploration of the topic, as the third in its continuing series established in 2009. With each new theme the institute recruits a group of expert fellows to campus, providing faculty, students and staff the opportunity to creatively engage with some of the world’s leading scholars on the topic.

“We chose this theme, in part, because of the important role that food has played in our local community and region,” said Peter Coclanis, director of the Global Research Institute.

The institute has historically chosen global themes that resonate with the U.S. South.

“Food is very much at the heart of cultures worldwide,” said Coclanis. “The agrarian history of the South makes us no exception. As a region, we also have important political, economic, cultural, health and social intersections with food.”

UNC-Chapel Hill is an international leader in food cultures and nutrition and the Chapel Hill community, the Research Triangle and other area universities have also long embraced food research and studies.

The UNC Nutrition Research Institute, in Kannapolis, North Carolina, is one of the premiere institutes of its kind, studying ways to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent, treat and cure diet and lifestyle-related diseases and disorders. The department of American studies’ folklore program, The Center for the Study of the American South’s “Southern Cultures” journal, the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, the Gillings School of Global Public Health, the School of Medicine and the Carolina Population Center are also world-renowned for their work on food studies, diet and nutrition.

The food theme’s steering committee will be lead by co-chairs Alice Ammerman and Marcie Cohen Ferris, both UNC-Chapel Hill faculty members with diverse experience and deep-rooted interest in food issues and food studies.

Ammerman is a professor in the Department of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health and director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Her current research is focused on nutrition programs and policies associated with obesity and chronic disease prevention, sustainable agriculture as it relates to improved nutrition, and social entrepreneurship as a sustainable approach to addressing public health concerns.

Ferris, a professor in the Department of American Studies and coordinator for the department’s Southern Studies Program, has taught and conducted research on both food in American culture and the foodways and material culture of the American South. This work is reflected in her current book, “The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region” (UNC Press, 2014). Ferris is a past president of the board of directors of the Southern Foodways Alliance.

“There is no more important topic in the world than food,” said Ferris. “In food lies a range of dynamics like family, class struggle, ecological exploitation, connection to place, creativity and flavor that have long defined the American South. Through ‘Food for All’ we are able to extend our analysis beyond the Carolina family to the world.”

The goal of the steering committee is to motivate conversation and research about food-focused scholarship and public engagement on a campus, state, national and global level.  It will also encourage and support food-related activity, such as new courses, digital humanities projects, film and documentary work, speaker series, scholar and artist-in-residence programs, performing arts events and services projects across the campus, the Triangle community and North Carolina.

The multidisciplinary committee includes faculty, staff, student, community and local university partners:


Maureen Berner, School of Government

Peter Coclanis, Global Research Institute & Department of History

Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld, Department of Anthropology

Amy Cooke, Curriculum for Environment and Ecology

Molly De Marco, Department of Nutrition

Elizabeth Engelhardt, Department of American Studies

James Ferguson, Global Research Institute

Sharon Holland, Department of American Studies

Christian Lentz, Department of Geography

Beth Mayer-Davis, Department of Nutrition

Thomas Oatley, Department of Political Science

Eliana Perrin, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention & School of Medicine

Jay Swaminathan, Kenan-Flagler Business School

Samantha Buckner Terhune, Global Research Institute & Honors Carolina


Claire Lorch, North Carolina Botanical Garden

Scott Myers, Carolina Dining Services


Rossi Anastopoulo, Undergraduate, Global Studies

Will Chapman, Graduate, Nutrition

Christina Chauvenet, Graduate, Maternal and Child Health

Claire Hannapel, Undergraduate, Geological Sciences

Beth Hopping, Graduate, Nutrition

Anna Youqi Tang, Undergraduate, Chemistry & Math


Sarah Blacklin, NC Choices

Nancy Creamer, NCSU Center for Environmental Farming

Betsy and Alex Hitt, Peregrine Farm

Ricky Moore, Saltbox Seafood Joint

Andrea Reusing, Lantern Restaurant

Karen Stanley, NC Department of Health and Human Services

Published April 28, 2015.

Carolina launches fundraising campaign to honor life and legacy of Dean Smith

April 28, 2015

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in consultation with the Smith family and with its full support, has launched a fundraising campaign for student assistance to honor the life and legacy of legendary men’s basketball coach Dean E. Smith, who died Feb. 7, 2015.

The campaign will raise money for The Dean E. Smith Opening Doors Fund, which will make college a reality for outstanding undergraduates from lower-income families and enable professionals in education and social work to pursue advanced degrees.

“The world knew Coach Smith as a great basketball coach, but the Carolina family knew him as a great teacher and humanitarian. His care for his players was for life,” UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt said. “He was a force for good and a remarkable pioneer, promoting equality, civil rights and respect for all. This fund will be a fitting tribute, opening doors to opportunity for many just as he did.”

To be funded by private gifts and matching University dollars, The Dean E. Smith Opening Doors Fund will be the first at UNC-Chapel Hill to support both undergraduate and graduate students. Recipients will exemplify Coach Smith’s qualities of leadership, service and excellence.

A teacher and humanitarian, Dean Smith was an outspoken advocate for equality and fairness in collegiate athletics and civic affairs. On the court, he brought standout player Charles Scott to Chapel Hill in 1966 as the University’s first African-American scholarship athlete, essentially introducing diversity to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Off the court, Smith was active in the local Civil Rights movement and pushed local business owners to desegregate. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2013.

Smith was the head coach of the Tar Heels from 1961 to 1997, retiring as the winningest coach in college basketball. He led the Tar Heels to national championships in 1982 and 1993, to 13 ACC Tournament titles, 11 Final Fours, and an NIT championship, and directed the United States Olympic Team to a gold medal at the 1976 Summer Games. More than 95 percent of his lettermen graduated.

Coach Smith taught us that excellence could be achieved through hard work, dedication and thorough understanding,” said Eric Montross, a two-time All-American at Carolina who starred on Smith’s 1993 NCAA title team. “Coach also believed in empowering motivated individuals by teaching them how to use their own tools to achieve their goals. This funding endeavor will give the priceless gift of opportunity through higher education.”

The campaign to support The Dean E. Smith Opening Doors Fund will solicit endowment gifts to generate revenue in perpetuity. Based on current attendance costs at UNC, the fund will provide annual $5,000 need-based scholarships for undergraduate students to help them cover college expenses; graduate awards will be up to $30,000 annually for a full scholarship, although smaller amounts also will be awarded to provide a range of resources, such as funding for innovative research, travel and dissertation stipends. The campaign has no set goal or duration, but officials hope to award the first scholarships to students entering Carolina in the fall of 2015.

Gifts to the fund will be divided evenly among the three areas targeted for support. The University will match all gifts dollar for dollar with non-state funds that the chancellor can use at her discretion to meet a campus priority, further leveraging the impact of donor contributions. The matching dollars will support Dean E. Smith Scholars at the undergraduate level, because of this population’s broad presence on campus.

People can make an online gift to the fund at For more information, contact the UNC Office of University Development at
or (919) 962-4385.

Published April 28, 2015.

Chancellor Folt honors 71 students for academic, service leadership

April 27, 2015

Seventy-one talented, driven students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were honored on April 22 with the University’s most prestigious awards for academic achievement and leadership.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt presided at the annual Chancellor’s Awards ceremony. Executive Vice Provost Ron Strauss, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp, and 2014-15 student body president Andrew Powell presented academic, student leadership activities, and student-selected undergraduate teaching and staff awards.

“Awards that reward excellence honor individuals today and also foster excellence for future classes and generations,” said Chancellor Folt. “Carolina is grateful to the 2015 Chancellor’s Awards recipients for their extraordinary contributions to our university and for the example they set for students and staff who will follow in their footsteps.”

For a list of award recipients, click here.

Published April 27, 2015.

Chancellor Folt discusses her research at water lecture

April 24, 2015

Before she became UNC-Chapel Hill’s chancellor – listening, learning, making tough decisions – Carol L. Folt already was an internationally recognized environmental scientist – researching, learning, making key discoveries.

April 23, she returned to her roots, sharing her knowledge of toxic metals and water during an hourlong lecture at FedEx Global Education Center. The talk focused on her research examining the harmful effects of mercury and arsenic on humans and ecosystems.

Her expertise and hands-on research attracted a crowd of more than 200 students, faculty members, staff and community members who filled the Nelson Mandela Auditorium to listen to the chancellor speak about her work.

“We’re not at a place where we can be complacent about the quality of our water,” Folt said. “It’s something that we do need to deal with, and we need to deal with it straight on.”

The Global Research Institute, UNC Global, the Water Institute at UNC, the Water in Our World steering committee and the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering sponsored the lecture.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt's lecture was titled “Water in Our World: Past Is Present, Future Is Fragile, But We Can Make a Difference”
Chancellor Carol L. Folt’s lecture was titled “Water in Our World: Past Is Present, Future Is Fragile, But We Can Make a Difference”

It served as the finale of the three-year, campus-wide “Water in Our World” theme, which featured more than 150 presentations including lectures, film screenings and theater performances pertaining to water. Folt previously said that arriving as chancellor in the midst of water theme made her feel even more certain that Carolina was the place for her because it is a subject so close to her heart professionally and personally.

“I continue to be inspired by the way Carolina’s students, faculty and staff are taking on one of our biggest global challenges in a truly collaborative way,” Folt said in previewing the lecture.

Carolina’s long history of water research and activity was contextualized in opening remarks by Jamie Bartram, director of The Water Institute at UNC in the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Because Folt’s research directly impacts global water problems and influences environmental policies, it seemed fitting that her lecture wrapped up the three-year theme period, said Peter Coclanis, director of the Global Research Institute and an Albert Ray Newsome Distinguished Professor of History in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Although her research interests range widely, in aquatic biology she has become known as one the world’s leading experts on serious problems posed by arsenic and mercury in the water,” Coclanis said.

Folt earned a bachelor’s degree in aquatic biology and a master’s degree in biology at the University of Carolina, Santa Barbara before attending the University of California, Davis for a doctorate in ecology. She also completed postdoctoral work at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station of Michigan State University prior to serving as a professor of biological sciences, faculty member and administrator at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire for 30 years.

During the lecture, titled “Water in Our World: Past Is Present, Future Is Fragile, But We Can Make a Difference,” Folt recalled her years of fieldwork at a Superfund site, which investigated the effects of mercury and arsenic in water. The research ultimately influenced environmental policies and regulatory standards.

“[Mercury and arsenic] gets right into the water that people drink, they start getting into the food that we eat,” she said.

Folt also discussed the importance of facing water issues head-on now in order to help future generations. With freshwater lakes only renewing their water every 100 years and groundwater requiring 300 years to be renewed, actions taken today effect future populations.

“Our water carries memories of things that happened on the planet prior to the day we’re here,” she said. “The decisions of the people before us have created the water we have today. The decisions we make today will create the water for future generations.”

Research and teaching conducted at universities — particularly UNC-Chapel Hill — are a significant way to not only identify water problems, but also find the solutions to issues, she said.

“We’re taking on all these problems in Chapel Hill and we have people ready to work and to make a real difference,” she said. “I think it is one of the most exciting times to be a part of a great university.”

Story by Brandon Bieltz, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Published April 24, 2015

Morehead-Cain Foundation names Class of 2019

April 24, 2015

The Morehead-Cain Foundation – home of the first merit scholarship program in the United States – is proud to announce its class of 2019.

This fall, Morehead-Cain will welcome to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 59 new Morehead-Cain Scholars from across North Carolina, the United States, and the world. The class of 2019 includes: 34 scholars from North Carolina and 25 scholars from outside North Carolina, including:18 scholars from 10 different states; four scholars from the United Kingdom; a scholar from Canada; a scholar from China; and a scholar from South Africa

The Morehead-Cain Scholarship covers all expenses for four years of undergraduate study at UNC-Chapel Hill. In addition, it features a distinctive program of summer enrichment experiences designed to support students as they learn and grow. During the course of four summers, scholars will have opportunities to complete an outdoor leadership course, commit themselves to public service in the U.S. or abroad, conduct research at sites around the world, and gain experience in private enterprise.

The Summer Enrichment Program is complemented by the Morehead-Cain Discovery Fund. With financial support, scholars are encouraged to more deeply explore their interests, whether they involve studying under celebrated artists, attending leadership retreats, or obtaining wilderness first responder certification. From researching renewable energy technologies in Europe to tracing the path of native bumblebees in the Patagonia region of Chile, Morehead-Cain Scholars have the resources to pursue educational opportunities wherever they may find them.

As set out in the program’s founding documents, selection criteria for the Morehead-Cain are leadership, academic achievement, moral force of character, and physical vigor. Morehead-Cain recipients are chosen solely on the basis of merit and accomplishment.

Currently, more than 200 Morehead-Cain Scholars study on campus, making outstanding contributions across the full range of University life. From student government to community service to the performing arts, Morehead-Cain Scholars play a prominent role in Carolina’s vibrant student community. For example, during the past ten years five student body presidents, four student attorneys general, and four honor court chairs have all been Morehead-Cain Scholars.

Within the past 15 years, 14 Morehead-Cain Scholars have won Rhodes Scholarships to England’s Oxford University, one of the world’s most competitive and prestigious awards for graduate study. Since the first Morehead Scholars graduated from Carolina in 1957, 31 of UNC’s 34 Rhodes Scholars have been Morehead-Cain graduates.

Morehead-Cain Scholars have accounted for 24 of the University’s 36 Luce Scholars and 19 of Carolina’s 32 Truman Scholars, among the nation’s most generous and distinguished awards for graduate study. Twenty-seven Morehead-Cain Scholars have won Fulbright Fellowships.

For the complete list of scholars, click here.

Published April 24, 2015.

English professor’s book of poems was a 2015 Pulitzer finalist

April 22, 2015

Reel to Reel, a book of poems by Alan Shapiro, Kenan Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing in the College of Arts and Sciences, was a 2015 finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.

Shapiro has been teaching at UNC-Chapel Hill since 1995.

The Pulitzer web site describes the book, published by The University of Chicago Press, as “finely crafted poems with a composure that cannot conceal the troubled terrain they traverse.”

Reel to Reel moves outward from the intimate spaces of family and romantic life to embrace not only the human realm of politics and culture but also the natural world, and even the outer spaces of the cosmos itself.

Reel to ReelDavid Orr of The New York Times wrote: “Shapiro is a master of the middle tone (as well as most of the formal techniques in poetry’s capacious toolbox), and he probes the deeper places of the self with a skilled psychologist’s gentle persistence. A delicately disquieting collection.”

Last October, Shapiro won the North Carolina Award for Literature, the highest civilian honor in the state.

Born and raised in Boston, Shapiro is the author of 12 books of poetry (including Night of the Republic, a finalist for both the National Book Award and The Griffin Prize); two memoirs (Vigil and The Last Happy Occasion, which was a finalist for the National Book Circle Critics Award in autobiography); a novel (Broadway Baby); and a book of critical essays and two translations.

Shapiro’s poems have appeared in more than 40 journals and magazines, including The New Yorker. He has received the highest prize for a North Carolina poet, the Roanoke-Chowan Award, twice. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and other awards from the Los Angeles Times, the Folger Shakespeare Library, Wellesley College and the Poetry Society of America.

Read the poem, “Reel to Reel,” published in The New Yorker.

Read more about Shapiro. Read more about the Pulitzer winners and finalists.

Published April 22, 2015.

Carolina College Advising Corps show there is life after high school

April 20, 2015

For the most part, the young advisors of the Carolina College Advising Corps spend their days focused on how to get students to college. As part of the national College Advising Corps, these recent UNC graduates are placed in high-need schools across North Carolina, guiding students in college searches, SAT signups, and applications for admission and financial aid.

That leaves precious little time for tackling an even more fundamental question: why go to college?

“A lot of the time, when I speak to students and I’m trying to help them plan what they want to do and find out what their interests are, I get blank stares,” said Alex Lucas, the Advising Corps representative at Dalton L. McMichael High School in Mayodan, North Carolina.

That gels with national research that shows many low-income and first-generation students don’t have a clear sense of how a college degree relates to personal goals or career aspirations.

“I just know that if I can connect them, start a budding interest in some area, I know they’ll push themselves that much harder to complete high school, to attend a community college, or go on to a four-year degree, or aspire to something they never imagined, like a graduate degree,” Lucas said.

And last month, she tackled that challenge in a big way. After nearly a year of planning, Lucas hosted a school-wide symposium on career and college options. The entire student body of McMichael High School, from freshmen to seniors, took part.

The idea was straightforward: give students the chance to learn about the working world directly from school alumni, local businesspeople, and civic leaders from Rockingham County.

“My starting point was finding out what my students were interested in,” Lucas said. “I surveyed the whole school and found the careers that had the highest level of interest, and then began recruiting my professionals.”

To pull off a school-wide event, Lucas had to recruit more than fifty people across a range of career fields, almost all with some connection to the school or the local community. Most traveled to Mayodan to meet with students in person; a few spoke and took questions through internet video chats.

Every student in school had the chance to sign up for multiple sessions, allowing students to match up with speakers who shared their interests.

In one room, a McMichael High alum who now works for Cary-based SAS talked about the perks of a software engineering career. Down the hall, the local sheriff explained why many law enforcement personnel are required to have a college degree. And a Mayodan photographer talked about all of the behind-the-scenes work — from marketing to accounting — required to run a studio.

“We wanted to get people the kids could relate to,” said school principal Duane Whitaker. “People who are in our community, invested in our community.”

The goal, Lucas stressed, was to make the future a little more tangible for students who have a hard time picturing life after high school.

“When you look at the titles of these professional people — like a broadcast journalist or a computer engineer — you think they’re going to be someone big and important that you could never talk to,” Lucas said. “But I want students to see that they’re just a person — a person who was once in high school, just like them. If they follow the educational path they need to follow to be successful, they can get there, too.”

As students hustled between career workshops at the end of the day, that message seemed to be resonating.

“This is awesome!” screamed 11th-grader Lexi Blackard, running up to Lucas during a break. “This is such a great opportunity for everyone. Thank you for caring!”

By Eric Johnson, Office of Scholarships and Student Aid

Published April 20, 2015.

Student organizations host “Hunting Ground” screening

April 17, 2015

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill community continued its dialogue about sexual assault April 16 as Chancellor Carol L. Folt and nearly 400 students, faculty and staff gathered at Carroll Hall for a discussion and screening of “The Hunting Ground” documentary.

The event was hosted by student organizations including Carolina Advocating for Gender Equity, St. Anthony Hall, One Act, Project Dinah, Students United for Reproductive Justice, Carolina Union Activities Board and Sigma Phi. Representatives from other campus and community advocacy organizations were also there to provide support.

The discussion focused on how college campuses can better meet the needs of survivors and included Folt; Annie Clark and Andrea Pino, former Carolina students and sexual assault rights advocates; and Melinda Manning, former assistant dean of students.

Rebecca Macy, L. Richardson Preyer distinguished chair for strengthening families, associate dean for academic affairs and professor in the School of Social Work, helped moderate the panel, along with Taylor Lammert and Claire McLaughlin, co-chairs of Carolina Advocating for Gender Equity. Topics ranged from advocating for reforms in sexual assault policies to working to improve resources for survivors.

“We are all trying to understand how to make it easy,” Folt said. “The last thing we want to do is make it difficult for someone who has just gone through a trauma to find resources.”

The documentary, which opened nationwide last month, discusses rape on college campuses by following the stories of students who are survivors. After the screening, Clark and Pino participated in a question and answer session with the audience.

“The first part of changing the problem is acknowledging it,” Clark said. “UNC is a microcosm of what is happening across the country and is also a greater reflection of our culture at large. It’s not just about this campus. It’s on all of us as students, as faculty, as administrators to address this problem and also prevent it. We do need to talk about it. …  I hope that tonight can be the starting point to having those in-depth conversations.”

Lammert said the goal of the event was to facilitate conversations on sexual assault to help improve Carolina.

“The conversation does not end when you leave Carolina, but it will end when you stop talking about it,” said Pino, who credited Folt for being the only chancellor to participate in a panel discussion about the film.

“We are not declaring victory in any way,” Folt said. “I am here because I really want to continue to work on this area.”

By Brandon Bieltz, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Published April 17, 2015

Locklear named Udall Scholarship recipient

April 17, 2015

Joseph E. Locklear, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, has been awarded the Udall scholarship to help him pursue a career in native health care, addressing the problem of addictive behaviors among tribal populations.

The Udall Foundation in Tucson, Arizona, named for Morris Udall and Stewart Udall to honor their positive impact on this nation’s environment, public lands, and natural resources, and their support of the rights and self-governance of American Indians and Alaska Natives, bestows the Udall Scholarship on students committed to careers in the environment or, for American Indian and Alaskan native applicants, students pursuing health care or tribal public policy. Scholars must demonstrate leadership potential and academic achievement.

Locklear is UNC-Chapel Hill’s first American Indian Udall scholar, and he is one of 50 Udall scholars nationwide for 2015. The recipients were chosen recently from among 464 candidates nominated by 222 colleges and universities. Locklear brings the number of Udall Scholarships awarded to Carolina students to 15 since their establishment in 1996. The award will cover tuition, books, room and board up to $5,000 for Locklear’s junior year.

Locklear, from Rowland, aspires to earn an M.D./Ph.D. and become a research physician, relying on his background and education to help build better doctor-patient relationships within Native American communities. Strong connections are essential to adequately address addictive behaviors and preventable diseases.

As a member of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Minority Student Recruitment Committee, Locklear has already found success reaching out to others. He has served on multiple recruitment panels for prospective students and their parents where he shares personal stories of promoting diversity and inclusion across campus.

Locklear’s successful efforts to help restore UNC-Chapel Hill’s chapter of Phi Sigma Nu, the largest Native American fraternity in the United States, further demonstrates his commitment to community-building and support of native peoples. As current treasurer for the Carolina Indian Circle, he coordinated fundraising efforts for the 28th annual powwow in March.

His overlapping interests in research science and health care led Locklear to UNC-Chapel Hill’s Science Enrichment Program last summer, where he discovered through clinical shadowing the need for greater representation of Native American professionals in the health care field.

“I am very fortunate to have been granted this honor,” Locklear says. “It feels great to know I am one step closer to reaching my goal of working in health care within Native American populations. I aspire to live up to the ideals of the Udall scholarship and have a positive influence on my community.”

The son of Tina Locklear of Rowland and Johnny Locklear of Raeford, Locklear was invited into Honors Carolina as an incoming first-year student in the fall of 2013. In addition, he was awarded the Gates Millennium Scholarship, which provides financial support to outstanding minority students.

Marco Barker, Senior Director for Education, Operations, and Initiatives and Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Education, states that the, “selection of Joseph Locklear as a Udall Scholar speaks volumes to how American Indian students at Carolina are committed to not only leaving their heel print but to also giving back to their native communities on campus and beyond. This scholarship affirms Locklear’s passion, vision, and life’s mission of impacting health disparities among Native Americans and his dedication to scholarship, leadership, and diversity.”

Published April 17, 2015.

Noted historian William Powell left his mark on state

April 16, 2015

William Stevens Powell, the acknowledged dean of North Carolina historians, died April 10 at age 95 in Chapel Hill.

Powell was the author or editor of more than 100 books, pamphlets and articles about North Carolina and its history. As a professor at Carolina from 1973 to 1986, he taught North Carolina history to more than 6,000 students. Thousands more learned about the state through Powell’s carefully researched reference books: “The North Carolina Gazetteer,” the six-volume “Dictionary of North Carolina Biography” and the “Encyclopedia of North Carolina.”

Without Powell, would we have ever figured out that Enola in Burke County got its name from the word “alone” spelled backwards? Or that the name of Quewhiffle Creek in Hoke County is probably a mispronunciation of the Gaelic word for “smuggler”? Or how Tar Heels really got their name?

“Bill Powell’s contributions to our understanding of the history of North Carolina are truly remarkable, both in quality and quantity,” said Bob Anthony, curator of the North Carolina Collection and director of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center. ”I simply cannot imagine my North Carolina Collection colleagues and I trying to do our research and reference work without the ‘Powell trilogy.’“

For more casual history readers, Powell wrote “North Carolina: A History.” He also wrote textbooks on North Carolina history for elementary and middle school students as well as the college text “North Carolina Through Four Centuries.” His “First State University: Pictorial History of the University of North Carolina” has been through multiple editions and still remains a go-to reference for the University’s first 200 years.

As a boy growing up in Statesville, Powell shared courthouse benches with Civil War veterans, listening to their stories. That fascination with history continued the rest of his life – a fascination not so much with dates as with the people and political forces that shaped their times.

Powell graduated from Mitchell Junior College in 1938 and from Carolina in 1940, then served in the Army in World War II. After the war, Powell returned to Carolina to get a master’s degree in history and a bachelor’s degree in library science. He became a researcher for the North Carolina Department of Archives and History then served as the librarian of the North Carolina Collection from 1951 to 1973. He then taught history at the University from 1973 to 1986, writing volume upon volume of history about his home state well into his retirement.

“I got my most thorough introduction to North Carolina history when I worked as a graduate student intern on the ‘Encyclopedia of North Carolina History,’” said Cecelia Moore, University historian. “Even at 83, Mr. Powell was highly capable with a computer and email. I quickly came to value his knowledge, his energy and his ability to negotiate the backstage spaces and stairwells of Davis Library.”

Over the years, Powell received many honorary degrees and other accolades. In 2000, he received the North Carolina Award for Literature and in 2008 he was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.

“Countless Tar Heels learned about the place they call home through his talks to alumni clubs, local history organizations and professional organizations,” Anthony said. “There wasn’t a corner of the state he would not travel to if invited to lecture. The resources he produced during his 70-plus years as a ‘professional North Carolinian’ will continue to be much consulted and appreciated in the years to come.“

Powell is survived by his wife and fellow researcher of 63 years, Virginia. He is also survived by his three children John Powell of Raleigh, Charles Powell of Concord and Ellen Feild of Lynchburg, Virginia, 11 grandchildren and one great grandson.

A private memorial service will be held at a later time. Memorial contributions may be sent to the William S. Powell Fund at North Caroliniana Society, c/o Wilson Library, Campus Box 3930, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-8890 or to Duke Homecare and Hospice at 4321 Medical Park Dr. #101, Durham, NC 27704.

By Susan Hudson, University Gazette

Published April 16, 2015