Launch of the Campaign for Carolina Gala

"Most importantly as we launch a $4.25 billion campaign today, we do so accepting the great responsibility – to use every dollar to advance the public good."

The Campaign for Carolina's gala celebration is held at the Dean E. Smith Center on October 5, 2017, on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)


For All Kind: the Campaign for Carolina Gala Celebration

Fri., October 6, 2017,

Dean E. Smith Center



The best way to move someone is through storytelling. Here at Carolina we are blessed with a wealth of great people with amazing stories, and we are in the South where storytelling is an art and a science! You’re seeing people on this stage whose stories perfectly show this. Students like Tarik and Paula, who remind us why we do what we do. Faculty like Shawn and Cheryl, who forge the future right before our eyes. And our emcee and alumna, the fabulous Brooke, who quite literally puts herself on the frontlines in America every day in search of truth.

It always comes down to our people, who they are and what they care about, and nowhere has that been clearer than in the early stages of this campaign. It starts with Blueprint for Next – the 1st unifying strategic framework for the future of Carolina in our history – and it can be distilled to a single page. It rests on two pillars – the essence of Carolina rising from thousands of voices and echoing Charles Kuralt when he called Carolina the University of the People – of and for the public, and Innovation Made Fundamental.

Now the tough work begins – implementation – dreams and big ideas have to amount to something, in order to mean anything. It’s starting well:

  • From Fred Eshelman’s breath-taking gift of $100 million to build an Institute for Innovation that shot the School of Pharmacy to the top;
  • To John and Marree Townsend’s $50 million gift announced this morning, to leap frog the Ackland, Kenan Flagler, Arts and Sciences, and athletics.
  • It’s the 3rd straight record year for our fundraising — nearly $1.7 billion already raised – from thousands of generous Tar Heels and friends across the world.
  • And another very moving gift to come tomorrow.

We’ve set a high, bold goal. Our future demands it, and we can achieve it. Our campaign goal is $4.25 billion. Take a breath – $4.25 billion dollars. An historic goal for an historic university – the nation’s first public university – fitting because of who we are, what we stand for, and what we intend to accomplish. Most importantly as we launch a $4.25 billion campaign today, we do so accepting the great responsibility – to use every dollar to advance the public good.

Four critical priorities guide us, starting, as always with our students. We have amazing, humble, funny, brash, brilliant, determined students and providing them exceptional experiences is our mission. As times and knowledge and the pace of life changes we must change, to make sure we are preparing the new graduate to lead in a more diverse, global, faster-paced world than ever before. Every school and program is undertaking major curricular and teaching innovation, increasing experiential and global learning, and modernizing spaces and technologies to optimize student’s success in classrooms, the workplace, athletic fields, and in a virtual Carolina that will be just a click away.

Next, of course, is our faculty. Our faculty make Carolina work. They want to change the world, as they long have been doing in all fields from the humanities to the professions. They want to educate their students to be even more successful and creative than they already are. Our faculty and staff are some of the most caring and compassionate people you’ll ever meet, with serious skills and talents, who want to solve wickedly complex problems for others, create new fields and enrich the human condition. We are going do what it takes to recruit, retain and continue to invest in a world class faculty, and we’ll target for growth high-potential, high-reward research, as well as the basic creativity-based research in new and emerging areas that is our core strength.

Third, our innovation and impact. Discoveries made here have changed North Carolina, saved countless millions of lives, built industries and improved futures of people here and around the world. With support from the state and federal government, we’ve risen to be a preeminent global research university – only 7 universities in America have more federally supported research. Just Wednesday, I attended the launch at Pfizer of a $100 million gene therapy facility in Sanford, powered by Dr. Jude Samulski and his teams’ more than 30 years of research. On the same day, several professors, led by Anastasia Ivanova, received a $61 million award to lead NIH efforts in asthma treatment. All in a day’s work at Carolina.

With our capacity and strength, we need to see more of this – we must move great ideas with commercial promise and social impact more quickly to markets and do even more to solve challenges – in health care, K-12 education, social services, public policy, law, and the environment. I believe unequivocally that the measure to which great research universities will be judged in the future is their ability to accelerate innovation.

And, our fourth priority is to identify key Strategic Initiatives that leverage the strength of this university as a whole to meet our highest goals. Here are 3 of the first:

Arts Everywhere, with its $350 million goal imbeds the arts in every part of our campus, builds on a belief in the unique power of the Arts to inspire creativity and empathy, and a dream to see our historic campus become the leading arts and cultural center of all public universities in America.

We have another dream – to see Carolina grow from a $1 billion to a $2 billion enterprise with far-reaching impact to the state and the nation. The Institute for Convergent Science is a $450 million ambitious plan to accelerate the new and powerful scientific convergence of the physical and life sciences that is igniting new discoveries and industries across the nation, right here in North Carolina. Together with other initiatives, you’ll see the speed, scope and impact of our research juggernaut accelerate with great benefit to North Carolina and beyond.

The Carolina Edge is the biggest dream of all – it’s the single biggest initiative in our history and it’s at the heart of our identity and vision. We are going to raise $1 billion in scholarships and aid to give our students an edge and to make good on our promise to remain of and for the public, tearing down barriers to a great education for talented, determined students from all backgrounds, and helping them become leaders of tomorrow. While others may be turning from this public mission, we are turning towards it. Giving our students the Carolina edge. This is what we stand for. This is what we will achieve.

Leonardo DaVinci once said, “Once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” Speaking of looking skyward with purpose – please watch video.

[Campaign Video Plays]

For. All. Kind. Three simple, powerful words – ever and always, the soul of our public spirit. That video shows the people, places, grit, and creativity that bind us to this place.

Every day, I see the faces of this university. People, like our beloved housekeepers, program leaders, behind the scenes administrators, faculty, graduate students, and coaches – who live our mission and give of themselves with humility, grace and kindness. Every day, I walk the places we love so much. The stacks at Davis Library, on brick pathways past stately trees, to feel joy at the Old Well. This place is our home, regardless of where we, as Tar Heels, choose to make our presence felt. Every day, I feel the energy, creative tension, and curiosity— that is Carolina – at national Championships, in the Pit, at poster sessions, at graduation with thousands of graduates decked out in Carolina blue robes.

When I came to Carolina, I was struck by three defining aspects of the Tar Heel spirit: its humanity and power; a fascination with discovery and the determination to achieve; and the extraordinary pledge to serve others – reaching every corner of the state and the world. And every day, I’m filled with gratitude and honored to be the Chancellor of this special university.

We stand at a moment of great change. A moment where everything making us unique is on the line and when we must push ourselves even harder to achieve the hopes and dreams I hear every day. To advance, we have to be working towards something that matters, something we stand for. And that comes from people’s hearts. For me, nothing beats talking with students, or faculty about their lives and ideas – well, except maybe taking selfies with them. When I look out at 4000+ new students at convocation, I know that every single one of them has a story, has a dream. They light up so brightly when they share their passions, talk about changes they want to see, and express their determination to be a part of making something important happen.

Passions inspired, changes needed and new outcomes imagined. These are the human feelings that propel our community. They fuel our drive to achieve excellence, they boost our desire to serve and discover. As a university we can do many things but in the end achievement will be about our community’s human feelings, their beliefs and hopes. We need to take care of the precious trust of our people by supporting them so that they can accomplish great things.

My Grandmother grew up in a tiny village in Albania, so off the grid that even today you will see donkey carts along with old cars on the bumpy village road. She had belief, hope, determination, and hard work, and I learned from her no dream was too big, and never, never stop trying. After she died, I found in her things a series of poems that she had been copying out over and over in English in her wobbly hand, she was almost 90 years old and had been in America for more than 60 years, and she was still determined to improve her English. I know you all have similar origin stories of the people and circumstances who make you are who you are, whose inspiration draws you to this place.

In my first speech as chancellor, I spoke of how the origin and enduring principles – for the public, lux et libertas – make Carolina the place and people that we love. Today, we recommit to upholding that grand purpose for future generations. We honor and remember what we, what Carolina is for.

We are for our mission of serving the public. We are for the eternal and transformational value of education. We are for creativity and discovery, born here to save lives and change futures everywhere. We are for diversity and inclusion, for increased opportunity, access, and presence for those who have been wrongly excluded in the past. We are for our students, we are for our faculty, and we are for our staff

We are for Carolina. When we live these values amazing things happen, and that my friends is Carolina. Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel in space famously said, “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” I’d love you to join me in turning your imagination to the horizon. Look closely, think deeply about what you want to see there. Everyone will have her or his own vision, but keep looking. When our eyes are focused out there, when we take the long view, our imaginations, our determination and the Tar Heel spirit will drive us to innovate and to bring positive change to the state, the nation, and the world. Thank you.