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Keep the Spark of Curiosity: A message from Chancellor Guskiewicz

Dear Carolina Community,  

As Chapel Hill grows quieter, and we take a well-earned break before the spring semester, I wanted to say thank you. Our community has met this year with resilience, perseverance and commitment to each other. As we look to the spring semester, still with uncertainty before us, I know we can keep growing, keep innovating, and keep building on what we’ve achieved together.  

At Winter Commencement last weekend, I talked about uncertainty — both the burden of it and the necessity. I know how much our minds crave patterns, predictability, and security, and how hard it’s been to grapple with nearly two years of unwelcome changes in our daily lives. But uncertainty is also a necessary condition for growth, for learning new things and being open to new ideas, for imagining a better life and building a better world. Uncertainty leads to wonder. 

“The one thing that will propel you through the best and darkest moments of your life and career, the one thing you cannot let anyone take away from you, is your curiosity,” said Frank Leibfarth, a brilliant faculty member in the chemistry department in the College of Arts & Sciences and our Winter Commencement speaker. “You need to keep that spark alive no matter what the world throws at you.” 

I’m proud of the way this campus — all of you — have held onto that spark this semester. Curiosity is the antidote to cynicism, Leibfarth argued, an absolute requirement for believing that progress is possible. I see that spirit everywhere at Carolina.  

I hope the next few weeks offer a chance to step back and recharge, to let your mind wander and your curiosity deepen. I’m headed to the mountains, where I plan to  spend time with people I love and think about where I want to devote more time and energy this spring. 

Wherever you’re headed, whoever you’re with, I hope it’s a time for wonder. I’ll see you in a couple weeks. 

Sincerely, 

Kevin M. Guskiewicz 

Chancellor