UNC, the nation’s oldest public university, turned 226 years old Saturday with a celebration that reflected on tradition and looked toward the future.
Faculty gathered Saturday morning at the Old Well dressed in formal regalia and carrying banners, proceeding into Memorial Hall as the UNC ceremonial band played to honor UNC's birthday — University Day.
The day commemorates the anniversary of Oct. 12, 1793, when the cornerstone of Old East, the first building constructed on UNC's campus, was laid and public higher education in the United States began.
Reflecting on UNC’s past two centuries, University Day was meant to allow faculty and community members to express their pride about the institution's traditions as a global leader in teaching, learning and discovery.
“But we also understand that we are beyond our past history as our University becomes more diverse, more global, more technological and more engaged with the challenges and opportunities of our own time," interim Chairperson of the Faculty Lloyd Kramer said.
More specifically, this year’s University Day theme focused on service to the state of North Carolina and UNC being both of and for the public.
“Our University is our state, and we belong to the towns and communities that we serve,” interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said during his address. “While we are formally known as the University of North Carolina, we might better be known as the University for North Carolina.”
From working to address issues such as the hurricane impact on the coasts, the opioid epidemic, rural communities' limited access to healthcare, food insecurity and more, Guskiewicz said UNC is focused on serving all 100 counties of North Carolina.
The goal is to continually reaffirm former UNC President Edward Kidder Graham’s commitment to service, Guskiewicz said.