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Teams from UNC-Chapel Hill centers, institutes, schools, departments and student organizations gathered Jan. 30 to explore the needs of North Carolina and how they can align their work to help meet them. For eight years, the Engagement Units Summit, formerly known as Campus Dialogue, has convened as an opportunity for campus groups and community partners to network and build relationships that benefit North Carolina.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt, the summit’s keynote speaker, emphasized the importance of the University’s contributions to the state by highlighting the collaborative efforts of campus units and community partners.

“Our job is not just to educate the brightest young people and to do groundbreaking research,” Folt said. “Our job is to apply the best of what academia has to offer to the challenges facing the people of our state.”

Provost James W. Dean Jr. welcomed summit participants and thanked them for their commitment to public service and community engagement. Dean also congratulated the University for receiving the 2015 Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, which recognizes collaboration between institutions of higher education and their communities.

Dean said this classification was a reflection of “the breadth and depth of our local, state, national and global engagements that address issues of health, education, poverty, economic development and the world’s other greatest problems.”

This year’s summit began with a panel of local and statewide foundation executives who described North Carolina’s most pressing needs and funding opportunities. Moderated by Tom Lambeth, senior fellow at Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the panel included Dan Gerlach, president of Golden LEAF Foundation; Marilyn Foote-Hudson, executive director of GlaxoSmithKline Foundation; Lori O’Keefe, president of Triangle Community Foundation; and Leslie Winner, executive director of Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

During the afternoon session, summit attendees engaged in smaller break-out sessions to learn about topics such as proposal writing, pitching local and community-oriented projects on a federal level, and the food security challenges that North Carolina currently faces.

“This summit was extremely productive; the opportunities that you find when you get people together who are really interested in collaborating in public service are amazing,” said Bruce Cairns, chair of the faculty. “I leave here with a lot more work to do. Important work.”

The Carolina Engagement Council, which advises and assists the Office of the Provost in regard to engagement, engaged scholarship and social innovation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, sponsored the summit. The Council is committed to promoting Carolina’s mission of community involvement and public service and encourages meaningful interactions and connections between the university and the communities of North Carolina.

Story and photo by Rhonda Hubbard Beatty, Carolina Center for Public Service

Published February 2, 2015.