The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday May 26th

The University receives kudos from Board of Trustees for libraries and research

The Board of Trustees met in the George Watts Hill Alumni Center in March 2017.
Buy Photos The Board of Trustees met in the George Watts Hill Alumni Center in March 2017.

Correction: A previous version of the article incorrectly attributed Geoffrey Sayre-McCord. The article has been updated. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error. 

The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees met Thursday to discuss current events on campus, the library’s commitment to serving students and the philosophy, politics and economic (PPE) minor.

Meanwhile, with student body president campaigns starting this week, current president Elizabeth Adkins looks ahead to her own replacement, who will take office in April. Adkins made jokes about her retirement to the rest of the board.

“Bill, only a few more months until I’m gone,” Adkins said. 

In updating the board on the state of UNC-CH, Chancellor Carol Folt announced the University had surpassed one billion dollars in research expenditures for the first time. 

Folt added that a recent article said UNC-CH has 20 of the most highly-cited scientists in the world.

Folt also announced that UNC-CH will be launching a new website specifically designed to be effective on mobile devices in the coming weeks. This is the first major overhaul of the website in nearly a decade.

“One of the things we’re most proud of is that search elements are much better,” Folt said. “We wanted it to be almost like you were searching on Google.”

University Librarian Elaine Westbrooks gave a presentation detailing how UNC-CH’s libraries continue to serve as a research hub for all students in the digital age.

Westbrooks said the UNC-CH library system began with one book, "The Work of the Right Reverend Father In God, Thomas Wilson," in 1792, which was subsequently lost. Today, the library owns almost 10 million volumes. The current collection includes two new copies of "The Work of the Right Reverend Father In God, Thomas Wilson," which Westbrooks promised would not be lost, emphasizing the libraries’ commitment to preservation.

On top of nearly 10 million volumes, the library owns 26 million manuscripts and 3 million photographs, films and other artifacts.

“Our collections are a key asset of the University,” Westbrooks said. “It is our responsibility to preserve them that all be in the scholar record.”

Westbrooks also emphasized the library’s commitment to academic innovation.

 “This is not your grandmother’s library,” Westbrooks said.

Westbrooks highlighted the virtual reality gaming station in the Undergraduate Library, the touch-screen Google Map in Davis Library and the new Makerspaces on campus. 

“I invite everyone to come to the library,” Westbrooks closed. “Just come, and engage. Work with the wonderful experts that we have. Discover the collections. Discover the exhibitions. Be alive in a space that is dynamic.”

Director of the UNC-CH Philosophy, Politics and Economics program Geoffrey Sayre-McCord followed Westbrooks with a presentation on the joint program between Duke University and UNC-CH.

“Let me start with the core idea,” Sayre-McCord began. “PPE — Philosophy, Politics and Economics — is committed to exploring the intersection of those three disciplines. And it’s worth mentioning that each of the disciplines inherently ignores crucial aspects of the other disciplines.”

Sayre-McCrod explained that the PPE minor allows students to move beyond the traditional borders of each discipline by exploring how social and political institutions approach questions of efficiency and markets while dealing with questions of rights and justice.

To graduate with the minor, students take a gateway PPE-specific class, a Capstone and three other approved courses. Weekly reading groups, speaker series and weekend seminars enhance the curriculum. 

The number of students enrolled in the minor falls just below 350, although it has been steadily growing since its inception at UNC-CH.

Junior Malik Jabati took to the podium to explain how the PPE minor has influenced his college experience.

“It’s helped me grow as a student, a thinker and a person,” Jabati said. “I think my intellectual and political sphere of conception has definitely expanded.”

Sayre-McCord closed by looking to the future of PPE at UNC-CH. The department is considering expanding the minor into a major and is looking at creating a five-year BA/MMA track. In refining the minor, Sayre hopes to build the alumni network, establish a “bespoke” study abroad with King's College in London and the National University of Singapore and continue a visiting assistant professor’s program.

“This is the most exciting presentation that I’ve heard in the two and a half years that I’ve been on this board,” Keyes said as Sayre-McCord took his seat. “It’s the greatest presentation I’ve heard since Elaine Westbrooks.”

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