Meeting Reports

Meeting Overview
March 2024

Portrait of Ramsey White in cream color suit and grey background.We’ve noted for the past several years that Carolina is on a roll on many fronts: rising in national rankings, admission applications, research funding, free speech, open inquiry, civil discourse, and athletics. Now that progress is accelerating under the direction of our volunteer Board of Trustees, Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts, and his team. Still greater achievements lie ahead.

As Trustees’ Chairman John Preyer often emphasizes, UNC-Chapel Hill aims to be the top public university in the world. After the progress of the past few years, we’re well on our way. Our new School of Data Science and Society and our School of Civil Life and Leadership are renowned national models of innovative higher education.

“Since I joined you last, we have announced two undergraduate degree programs in Data Science,” Interim Chancellor Roberts said during our Board’s March meeting. “The School of Civic Life and Leadership officially launched a minor. That launch, along with Dean Jed Atkins’ hiring, represent major milestones in our efforts to establish Carolina as a thought leader in productive civic engagement in our country, which we all know is essential to our democracy.”

 


Surging applications

And we’re not done yet – far from it. Carolina’s rising global reputation and exceptional value are attracting continually more and better students.

Interim Chancellor Roberts noted during our meeting that Carolina is experiencing “a very strong increase in applications.” Some highlights:

•  The incoming freshman class drew almost 68,000 applicants, a 51% increase over the past five years.
•  Transfer applications are up 67% over the past five years.
•  The admittance rate is about 35% for in-state students and 7% for domestic out-of-state students.

 


Growth focus areas

To help map out Carolina’s next wave of growth and advancement, Interim Chancellor Roberts has established four working groups of faculty leaders, administrators, and trustees examining four areas:

1. Student Enrollment.
“Our state is growing and diversifying rapidly,” Roberts told our Board. “But Carolina has not grown significantly. Accordingly, every year we admit a smaller percentage of North Carolina’s graduating high school students. This working group is going to be looking at enrollment as well as revenue development and online learning.”

2. The Campus Master Plan, including Porthole Alley’s redevelopment, residence halls, student health and wellness centers, and various repairs and renovations.

3. Artificial Intelligence.
“We need to ensure that Carolina is a thought leader,” Roberts said. “This is threefold: How do we deploy AI to our faculty, students, and staff? How doe we use AI to improve operational efficiencies? And probably most important, what are our priorities for research and scholarship?”

4. Applied Sciences.
“There is increasing demand for a number of our differentiated specialties,” Roberts told us. “These include Biomedical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Data Science, and Applied Physical Science. There is tremendous demand for students with these degrees. We have significant strengths in these areas.”

Roberts ended his remarks to the trustees by telling them that his office door in South Building “is open both literally and figuratively.”

“I welcome this Board’s questions, concerns, and advice,” he said. “Thank you for the opportunity to serve this remarkable institution and our great state.”

 


Town-gown unity

Chairman Preyer, an alumnus and entrepreneur who lives in Chapel Hill, said he is pressing to improve Franklin Street “as the University’s front porch.” He said: “I’m a big believer that the integration of the University and the town is essential to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill being the number-one public university in the world. We’ve got some work to do there with the town.”

Chairman Preyer introduced two local business leaders invested in the success of the town and the University: alumnus Antonio McBroom and Town Council member Elizabeth Sharp.

Portrait of Antonio McBroom in Grey Suit with off-white and black patterned background.

McBroom

McBroom, a 2008 Morehead-Cain graduate in mathematics and African-American Studies, began as a Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream scooper while at Carolina and now owns 23 Ben & Jerry’s franchises from Washington, D.C. to Houston, headquartered in Chapel Hill. The Chatham County native is expanding his business into Starbucks franchises.

“Through my experience at UNC getting a well-rounded education, then doubling down on the principles that this university instilled in me, I’ve been able to create an extraordinary life,” McBroom told our Board. “I’m very indebted to this university, and I appreciate both the University and the Town of Chapel Hill for being this special place. There aren’t many places where somebody with my background, who looks like me, can come and build a business the way that I did here.

“This is a special place for an entrepreneur. My vision is that as we continue to build our partnership with the town and the University, Chapel Hill becomes a true tourism destination on top of the amazing college experience that we offer students. We’re uniquely poised to seize the moment and become an even more special place than we already are.”

Portrait of Elizabeth Sharp in blue shirt inside restaurant.

Sharp

Sharp, a graduate of the University of Virginia, Tulane University, and the California Culinary Academy who married a Tar Heel, owns two Chapel Hill restaurants with him and plans to open a third one – the Proximo tapas eatery – in the former Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe space on Franklin Street, which closed during the 2020 Covid-19 outbreak.

“The reason we moved here is because Carolina and Chapel Hill are so inextricably intertwined,” Sharp told our Board. “I have been a lot of places, and I have never been to another college town where the line between town and gown is so beautifully permeable. To us, Franklin Street is the heart of that. We want to be part of making sure that the heartbeat is really strong. … Between us as entrepreneurs, you all as representatives and decision-makers for the University, and the town of Chapel Hill, we can really make cool things happen here. Go Heels!”

 


Thanking student leaders

Before the March meeting concluded, our Board gave standing ovations to thank outgoing Student Body President Christopher Everett, a member of the Board, and Lauren Hawkinson, President of the Graduate and Professional Student Government, for their service to Carolina.

Everett and Hawkinson reviewed the highlights of their tenures.

“Moving forward,” Hawkinson said, “I implore this Board and everyone in this room to remember the graduate and professional students on campus.”

Portrait of Lauren Hawkinson in navy shirt and Carolina blue skirt in front of the Old Well.

Hawkinson

Preyer told Everett the Board has enjoyed working with him. “You have done a fantastic job as Student Body President,” he said. “I really hate to see you go.”

Portrait of Christopher Everett in black suit sitting at conference table.

Everett

Everett, who plans to attend law school, said he owes his success to God. “It’s been amazing,” he said. “I really can’t believe that it’s been an entire year. It truly has been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve here. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

 

 


Meeting Materials


Past Meeting Reports

January 2024 Meeting Report
November 2023 Meeting Report
September 2023 Meeting Report
March 2023 Meeting Report
January 2023 Meeting Report
November 2022 Meeting Report
September 2022 Meeting Report