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The Daily Tar Heel

Duke and UNC overlook the rivalry with visiting professorship

UNC Bell Tower and Duke Chapel diptych
DTH Photo Illustration.

The Nannerl Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professorship at UNC and Duke is working hard to overcome rivalries on the court by encouraging collaboration in the classroom. 

Former UNC Chancellor James Moeser set up the program in honor of Nannerl Keohane, a former president of Duke University. The professorship aims to promote collaboration and enhance intellectual life at both universities.  

The Director of the Entrepreneurship Center at Kenan-Flagler Business School, Ted Zoller, works with his counterpart at Duke to identify four professors outside of UNC and Duke. Zoller said selected professors have a significant impact in their field of study that both UNC and Duke want to gain insight from. 

“We identify visiting professors who can enlighten the academic light of both Duke and UNC,” Zoller said. 

Through this program, UNC and Duke identify gaps they want to fill. Recently, both universities were interested in cutting-edge entrepreneurial curriculum. So, UNC and Duke identified a list of high profile individuals known for their work in entrepreneurship, vetted them and sent out invitations to engage with both universities and advance ongoing work.

Selected professors spend time at both universities for a year. They conduct research and host seminars, engaging faculty and students at UNC and Duke. Zoller said this contributes to the intellectual environment at both universities.  

One of these professors is Tom Byers, who teaches entrepreneurship at the School of Engineering at Stanford University. He collaborated with professors at Duke and UNC from 2016-2018. 

Byers received an invitation to complete the Keohane professorship. He came to North Carolina multiple times to visit classes, give talks, engage with students and conduct research. 

“The Keohane professorship allowed me to work on some research that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do,” Byers said. 

Byers gave a seminar on ethics and entrepreneurship at UNC. Caroline Dooley, a senior international business and entrepreneurship major, saw Byers speak at the Entrepreneurship and Ethical Action Colloquium she attended in the fall of 2018.

“Tom came and spoke at our fall (colloquium) last semester and gave a talk on ethics,” Dooley said. “He talked about how innovation is a function of creativity and teamwork.”

UNC and Duke have a unique opportunity to work collaboratively, and Zoller said considering how geographically close they are to one another, they can combine to become a powerhouse. Byers agreed.

“There is this incredible opportunity for them to do more together,” Byers said. “This professorship builds bridges between UNC and Duke.”

Thanks to the Nannerl Keohane Professorship, Zoller said UNC and Duke are advancing entrepreneurship research at a national level.

“While we are fierce competitors on the basketball court, when it comes to academics, we complement one another greatly,” Zoller said. 

Although UNC and Duke work together to enhance the academic environment of both universities, they are well aware of the big game on Wednesday. 

When asked who will win, Zoller did not hesitate to answer. 

“Oh, UNC is going to win,” Zoller said. “There’s no question. Duke is overrated. I’m thinking 89-84 UNC.”

Byers, on the other hand, said he is staying neutral on who he wants to win.

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