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BOT hears from new UNC leaders, discusses future plans for undergraduate research

Taliajah "Teddy" Vann, a candidate for student body president, sits by the in Old Well on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022.

The UNC Board of Trustees introduced new deans and community leaders during its meeting on May 19.

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz acknowledged commencement weekend after the graduation of over 6,100 students. He said of those, 788 were first-generation college graduates. 

“This is a class that persevered — they overcame so much throughout the pandemic,” Guskiewicz said. 

The BOT also discussed undergraduate research with presentations from the Office for Undergraduate Research. 

What’s New?

  • Student Body President Taliajah “Teddy” Vann gave remarks on her new appointment.
    • “I’m just really excited to work in this space," Vann said. "I think that I've got the opportunity to meet a lot of really incredible people just in the Board already and also just in these different meetings. And so I’m really excited to be able to utilize those connections for the benefit of our students over the course of the year."
    • Vann said her main focus right now is to fill UNC Student Government and that she will continue to fine-tune her policy platform for the upcoming academic year. 
  • According to Guskiewicz, the Rapidly Emerging Antiviral Drug Development Initiative has been awarded 65 million dollars for the initial three years of the initiative. 
    • Guskiewicz said it will support research on antivirals to give insight into future disease outbreaks. 
    • “It’s preparing for that next pandemic or that next serious health crisis that we may face, but it will be led by Dr. Ralph Baric and several UNC-Chapel Hill colleagues," Guskiewicz said. 
  • Guskiewicz introduced the University's new deans and senior leaders. He said UNC is assembling an incredible leadership cohort.
    • Raul Reis will begin his role as the dean of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media on July 1st.
    • Valerie Howard will become the next dean of the School of Nursing on August 1.
    • Janet Guthmiller will be the next dean of the Adams School of Dentistry. She will begin on October 15. 
    • James W.C.White will begin on July 1st as the new dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.
  • Troy Blackburn, who is the associate dean for undergraduate research, presented on the importance of undergraduate research at UNC.
    • Blackburn said the OUR will launch a new curriculum in the fall called IDEAs in Action which will require all undergraduate students to engage in original research.
    • “In addition to the traditional honors theses and volunteer experiences and for-credit experiences, we’ve developed infrastructure which will allow students to get credit for doing research with faculty through study abroad, through biotech firms, through governmental agencies — so outside the university and not just inside the university,” Blackburn said.
  • Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences are courses that emphasize active student research where students are immersed in the research process with a professor.
  • Sabrina Robertson, a teaching associate professor at the UNC Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, gave additional remarks about the CURES curriculum. 
    • “These research experiences help students develop skills that are translatable both in a laboratory setting, but also outside of the laboratory setting,” Robertson said. “It helps students promote positive attitudes about science generally, and it also increases the likelihood that these students will pursue careers in STEM.”
    • Michael Fisher, who is an assistant professor in the UNC Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, said CURES classes have been implemented in a variety of undergraduate courses, including English, history, political science, public policy, chemistry, biology and biomedical engineering. 
  • Malcolm Turner, the vice-chair of the Audit, Compliance and Risk Management Committee, said the committee voted to approve the Risk Assessment and Fiscal Year 2023 Internal Audit Work Plan.
  • John Preyer, the chair of the Budget, Finance and Infrastructure Committee, said the committee voted to approve the ordinance regulating traffic and parking on Aug. 15.

Who is on the BOT?

  • It consists of 13 members, including eight selected by the UNC Board of Governors, four appointed by the N.C. General Assembly, and the UNC student body president who serves as an ex-officio member.

What’s next?