It is the week of Thanksgiving, and since the football game frenzy ended Saturday, it seems like an awful lot of people have left town. Days like this, clear, sunny, Carolina blue, make me very glad to live in Chapel Hill. I had to go to the Apple store over the weekend for a charger, and the mall was so full that I could barely find a parking space. It is such a disconnect to see a jammed parking lot and realize that millions of people who want jobs cannot find them, because there are a lot fewer to be had. Things are improving, and many economic indicators are trending up, but real change is frustratingly slow. I just want to put it in fast forward.
I attended the Davie Awards dinner last week when Dennis Gillings, James Moeser, Richard Stevens and Linda Garou were recognized for outstanding service to the University and society. From the UNC website, “The William Richardson Davie Awards are among the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s most prestigious awards. Given by the Board of Trustees, it recognizes extraordinary services to the University or society.”
Barbara Hyde, whose family has been extremely generous to UNC Chapel Hill, especially its support of leadership initiatives, introduced Dennis Gillings. She said, “In 2007, with one stroke of a pen, Dennis Gillings shifted the paradigm of what it means to teach and practice public health. In doing so, he enabled Carolina to accelerate the delivery of public health solutions in North Carolina and around the world.” Dennis came to this country, never having seen UNC, with few financial resources, and became an acclaimed member of the faculty who went on to start Quintiles Transnational, a global company which transformed the conduct of clinical trials. Dennis and Joan Gillings gave our School a transformational gift that keeps on giving.
Especially in this difficult economy, with substantial cuts to the School occurring over three years, we would not have had funds to invest in innovation without their gift. I am grateful every day for that gift.
I was really glad that James Moeser, former Chancellor, received a Davie Award that night. When James got up and spoke about all the people who, through their leadership, had helped him lead more effectively, he was an exemplar for the best of leadership.
Cutting for Stone is a book Richard Krasno told me about when we talked at the Davie dinner. It is a fascinating book about twin brothers who were the children of a secret union between an Indian nun and a British surgeon. The twins come of age in Ethiopia in a time of revolution. I’ve read about the first 100 pages, and it is totally absorbing, a story of medicine, love, culture and public health (because everything is public health), especially a topic we care deeply about—maternal mortality in childbirth. I can’t wait to read more.
Have a great week and Thanksgiving. I am so thankful to have been given the privilege of service at this School. I hope that next by Thanksgiving, the economy is chugging along at a very healthy pace.
Happy Monday. Barbara