Campus News

University Day and chancellor installation go virtual

Celebrations to honor the University’s 227th birthday and install its 12th chancellor will be scaled back but no less historic.

The Chancellor’s Medallion, given to The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1993 by John Sanders, was updated in 2013 by Pittsboro sculptor Pete Hinton with a sterling silver Chain of Office that includes links engraved with names of previous UNC chancellors, the Old Well and the Davie Poplar.
The Chancellor’s Medallion, given to The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1993 by John Sanders, was updated in 2013 by Pittsboro sculptor Pete Hinton with a sterling silver Chain of Office that includes links engraved with names of previous UNC chancellors, the Old Well and the Davie Poplar.

The University is planning two days of virtual events in October to celebrate the installation of Kevin M. Guskiewicz as chancellor and University Day, a pair of campus emails announced on Thursday. One email came from Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bob Blouin and the other from UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees Chair Richard Y. Stevens.

The installation will take place at 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 11. University Day will still be observed on Monday, Oct. 12 — without the traditional ceremonial event in Memorial Hall but via the University’s media and social media platforms.

“As you know, this fall has been a semester like no other before it. From remote learning to no fans at Carolina football games this month, everyone is making necessary adjustments and doing our best to roll with the changes,” wrote Stevens. “Among the changes we have had to make this fall involves University Day, celebrated every October 12, when we mark the birth of the University of North Carolina and public higher education in America. This year, it was to have the double distinction of honoring Carolina’s birthday and formally installing Kevin Guskiewicz as our University’s 12th chancellor.

“That, too, has been adjusted due to COVID-19, but will not dampen the historic significance of such an occasion.”

The Oct. 11 installation, Stevens explained, will be a small, invitation-only event livestreamed on the University’s YouTube channel. The link to watch the ceremony will be available on the installation website closer to the event. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, UNC System President Peter Hans and others will make brief remarks. In a keynote address, Chancellor Guskiewicz will share his vision for the University’s future.

Because of the virtual installation on Oct. 11, the University will not host a separate University Day ceremony on Oct. 12, Blouin wrote, and classes will be held as scheduled.

“We made this decision to allow our students, faculty and staff to remain focused on their important scholarly work, and we will celebrate University Day through special content posted on unc.edu, The Well and on our social media channels.”

The University’s schools and units are also planning other programming around installation and University Day.

In keeping with University Day tradition, Blouin added, Carolina will present Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Awards to a slate of deserving recipients, including Anuba Anand, Francis Collins, Mary Estes, Daniel Patterson, Peter Skillern and Marla Smith-Nilson. Nick Didow, associate professor of marketing in the Kenan-Flagler Business School, will receive the Edward Kidder Graham Faculty Service Award.

Blouin also announced that the Employee Forum will present its inaugural Rebecca Clark Staff Award for Moral Courage to James Holman, crew leader in Housekeeping Services. Rebecca Clark, a former UNC-Chapel Hill staff member, African-American political activist and civil rights organizer, fought against unequal pay and workplace discrimination. Clark is an important figure in the University’s history because she always stood up for her fellow workers and advocated for better working conditions.

Stevens closed his letter with a note of thanks. “This has been an extraordinarily challenging year,” he wrote, “and the Board of Trustees, and I are incredibly grateful for Chancellor Guskiewicz and his leadership.”