Spring, race, listening and reading


Hope folks enjoyed the weekend. It was magnificent in Chapel Hill. I finally planted the daylilies I have been thinking about for a few weeks. I don’t know if it is an act of foolishness or optimism to plant so early. We used recycled water from our rain barrel to water the new plants. Shopping for plants now is like going to the grocery store and reading nutritional labels. Is it drought resistant? How much water will it need?


One has to give Barack Obama credit for putting race on the table in his speech last week (especially since it has been there all along). Commentators, including NPR’s Daniel Schorr, admitted they may have been too quick to call this a “post-racial generation.” Obama’s speech gave us new ways to work through some old, but still aching, wounds. We are dealing with the remnants of some of those racial wounds here on the UNC campus now and throughout our larger community, in the wake of the horrific murders of UNC student body president Eve Carson and Duke graduate student Abhijit Mahato. Talking to people at the School of Public Health and around town, in the wake of Eve Carson’s horrific murder, it is clear that race is an even more urgent issue we must confront here on our home ground. The loss of these two promising students will be even greater if people feel less safe and if racial tensions are exacerbated. I am not sure what the School’s best role is in confronting these tensions. Naturally, we study, teach and conduct research on health disparities. But is there more we can or should do? I really want to encourage the Minority Student Caucus to help us think about this so we can do the right thing.


Last week, I mentioned upcoming faculty/staff forums. We will post times and dates/locations in the next couple days. One of our student leaders wrote and asked if it perhaps an oversight that I hadn’t mentioned students. I’m thrilled to have such careful readers! Actually, Felicia Mebane, Dave Potenziani, Mae Beale and I have been trying to nail down a plan for monthly lunches with students. Here’s what we are going to do. Every month, we will host a pizza lunch for up to 20 students. Students can sign up for a preferred month on a first-come, first-served basis. It’ll be a chance to tell us what you’re thinking and feeling and what you want us to know about and do. Ask us questions. We’ll do our best to get the answers if we don’t have them. We want to listen to our students and get to know them better.


I just finished a really interesting book called The Millennials Go To College. I’ll tell you more about it next week.

Happy Monday. Go Heels!

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