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At an event to honor Carolina’s veterans Nov. 17, Chancellor Carol L. Folt referenced Carolina’s first veteran: Gen. William R. Davie, the Revolutionary War soldier who laid the cornerstone of Old East in 1793.

“We have a tradition, and we want to keep and intensify it,” said Folt. “We owe you an enormous debt of gratitude.”

Tar Heel Tribute was an afternoon luncheon at the Carolina Club to show Carolina’s appreciation for faculty, staff, students and alumni who have served in the armed forces.

Folt said the more we know about the veterans on our campus, the better services the University can provide.

“You have a perspective and a life experience that is quite extraordinary, and you share that just by being who you are and by being a part of this university every single day,” said Folt. “It’s my hope, and the hope of everyone here, that we can continue to make it easier and better for you every year.”

Felicia Washington, vice chancellor for workforce strategy, equity and engagement, welcomed the attendees, who represented more than 60 different departments at Carolina. Washington said the luncheon would become an annual event to show support and gratitude for Carolina’s veteran community.

“We cannot thank you enough for your commitment,” said Washington.

During the first part of the program, attendees heard from Edward Purchase, Carolina’s Clery Act compliance specialist who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and keynote speaker Russell Edmister, a Vietnam veteran with both a bachelor’s degree in business and an MBA from Carolina.

Since retiring from IBM after 39 years in 2007, Edmister has completed more than 130 video interviews of North Carolina military veterans to create video oral histories for the Military Collection at the North Carolina Archives in Raleigh.

He offered advice on how to honor veterans in everyday life.

“You find them where they are, shake their hands and say, ‘thank you for your service,’” said Edmister before asking those in attendance stand and shake the hands of those around them.

Speaking about the resources available for Carolina’s veterans were Desirée Rieckenberg, senior associate dean of students; Matt Brody, associate vice chancellor for human resources and Camille Brooks, assistant equal opportunity/ADA officer.

All encouraged faculty, staff and students to self-identify as veterans with the University. Brody said hiring veterans was not only an obligation for Carolina, but also an opportunity.

“Veterans make excellent employees,” said Brody.

At the close of the luncheon, Jacob Hinton, president of the Carolina Veterans Organization, spoke about the organization’s work and pointed attendees to a table where attendees could collect information on resources, programs and organizations for veterans at Carolina.

To learn more about resources for veteran students, visit For employees, visit

Tar Heel Tribute was sponsored by the Carolina Veterans Organization, the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of Human Resources and UNC Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.

Story by Courtney Mitchell, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Photo by Shae Allison

Published: November 17, 2014

Updated: November 18, 2014