Speeches

Campaign for Carolina

Carolina Chancellor KMG with three students in front of a blue screen with white letters that say

Eight years ago, you went on a mission to build the roadmap for this campaign alongside so many people here tonight.

You will forever be regarded as the visionary architect of the Campaign for Carolina, building the roadmap and the team to help bring us to this moment tonight. You have been an incredible partner to so many of us. Thank you for all you have done and will continue to do for Carolina! And we would not be here today without all of you. Thank you for joining us. It is without question – a GDTBATH!

Because of the generosity, dedication, and hard work of the people here tonight and thousands of others like you, generations of UNC-Chapel Hill students, faculty, and staff will benefit from what we have accomplished through the Campaign for Carolina. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for our great university.

It feels just right that we are gathered here this evening in the Eddie Smith Field House named by Eddie in honor of his late father, a tangible example of the remarkable vision and generosity that’s been demonstrated during this campaign. To Eddie and our beloved Jo and Chris and your family, thank you for your love and support.

I talk so often about how our world-class faculty are at the heart of our university. Sadly, we have lost two in the last day: Fred Brooks, who founded our computer science program, and Jo Anne Earp, former chair of the department of health behavior in our top-ranked Gillings School of Global Public Health. Please keep their families in your thoughts and prayers.

When we launched the Campaign for Carolina, we began by asking our community a question. We asked, “What are you for?” This question was not a rhetorical one. We put up chalkboards around campus for students to write answers. We asked faculty and researchers to share ideas. We listened to alumni and supporters. We wanted everyone who cares about Carolina to think about their vision for the future. Our promise was this: At Carolina, you can find innovators, educators and young minds who are curiously thinking and dreaming about that future.

At Carolina, we are built for this. We are built to create a better future. We are built to ensure that the next generation — or, as our founders called them, the rising generation — inherits a University that embodies the promise of excellence, the commitment to serving the public, and the dedication to solving the grand challenges of our time. I remember gathering under that big tent on Polk Place in October 2017, when we announced a $4.25 billion goal that many of us thought was ambitious under normal circumstances and since then we have faced so many challenges as you know.

Meeting with my senior leadership team in mid-March 2020, I didn’t know how we were going to teach classes and conduct our critical research, much less continue our work on this campaign. And yet together, we persevered. We didn’t miss a beat. Hit that campaign goal a year early, and we are stronger today than anyone could have ever imagined. Why? Because as the University of North Carolina – The University for North Carolina – and The University of the People – we know we have a responsibility to stay the course and help society adapt to the challenges of the day.

I often think of Anne Cates, Class of 1953. Her life’s work has been to serve and lead at Carolina. She was the first woman to chair our Board of Trustees. A few years ago, Anne was asked why she dedicates herself to our mission. Her answer stuck with me. She said: “Because that’s where the future is.” We must always be focused on that future – and that’s what this Campaign has always been about – our future!

We are called to serve our state, and more recently, our nation and the world. We do it really well and have many examples to prove it! We will always work to shine a light on the biggest challenges of our day. We are a work in progress. We have been for 229 years and we will be for at least another 229.

As Chancellor, a faculty member of 27 years, a Carolina parent and an ambassador for our great University, I have the opportunity to see the impact this Campaign is already having. You’ve heard from Righteous, Landon and Brenda about how their lives changed when they heard they received a scholarship to go to Carolina. You’ve heard from Dr. Carey and the impact of her research on patient care. You saw in that video the breadth of impact this campaign has had on every corner of our campus.

I see that impact at the center of it all, our iconic landmark, the Old Well, where I witness profound moments across generations of Tar Heels whose lives have been changed by this place. Every day, I look out of my window from the South Building at the Old Well. I see people taking pictures in their Carolina blue caps and gowns. I see visiting high school students and parents snapping selfies. On the first day of class each semester, I watch the line down Cameron Ave. grow of students waiting to take their first sip.

I witness marriage proposals, alumni sharing memories together and Tar Heel grandparents bringing little ones to run around the brick walkways and imagine a Carolina future. I’ve taken those photos with my family and many of you have done the same with your friends and family.

My goal is that every member of our community, every North Carolinian, and every graduate and generous supporter will always be proud to take that photo in front of the Old Well.

This Campaign makes me so proud because of our commitment to the public good. I am proud of our vision for the future. And I am proud of the way this campaign will transform our university in ways that will be felt for generations. When our students today bring their own grandchildren to run around the brick walkways and take that photo.

For that, and all you have done for Carolina, Thank you.

Before we close the program, I want to bring up a few people to join me as we toast our university and the lasting impact of your generosity:

  • Dave Boliek, Chair of the Board of Trustees
  • Peter Hans, President of the UNC System
  • The Campaign Steering Committee
  • David and Jenny Routh
  • And my wife Amy

Janora, Lisa, Brenda, Landon and Righteous, please join us!

As they are making their way to the stage, I invite you to join us for the dessert reception and music to follow. I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank the incredible team who made tonight possible. Together, let’s celebrate what we have accomplished and the Bright future of our wonderful university.

Please raise your glass for a toast. To the University of North Carolina, our beloved home, and to its glorious future. Go Heels! We only light the Bell Tower blue for very special occasions, and this is a special occasion. We have just finished what will be known as one of the largest campaigns ever for a public university and the largest for any university in the South!

Now, it’s my pleasure to share that through the Campaign for Carolina you have helped us raise over $5 dollars. Hark the Sound!

Join me in the alma mater.