Day 2: Creating Chemistry in Asheville

Day two started with a visit to Chancellor Anne Ponder at UNC-Asheville.  UNC-A is an unusual place:  a small liberal arts school that graduates 700 students per year.  Chancellor Ponder got into university leadership early as well – she started her first presidency when she was my age.  So we had a lot to talk about

We dreamed widely about how our two schools can work together.  We have a lot in common:  UNC-A is a liberal arts school, and Carolina has a strong liberal arts tradition in our College of Arts and Sciences, a unit with which I’m quite familiar.

The chancellor and I left with a number of things to try to work on together to create efficiencies and enhance programs on both campuses.  A great reminder of how important it is to get to know the people involved with your critical partners.

Next stop was Asheville High School, the only high school in the city schools system and another critical partner for Carolina.  Last year, 17 of the top 25 students at Asheville High went to Carolina.  Steve Farmer, our admissions director, was with me, and we started off in Jenny Thomas’ honors chemistry class.

I talked with students in Jenny Thomas' AP chemistry class at Asheville High School.

I talked with students in Jenny Thomas' honors chemistry class at Asheville High School.

It was fun getting to talk about chemistry with these bright students.  I was so excited when they all took a Carolina pen and almost all of them said they would apply to Carolina.

Finally, we met with 200 seniors in the school auditorium.  We asked trivia questions and handed out Carolina T-shirts to the right answers.  I gave my pitch about a great research university and why it was the best place to come to college – and why Carolina was the choice.  There were lots of great questions and then plenty of inquiries to Steve Farmer.

When we left, Steve was mobbed by all the students who want to come to UNC.  When I go with him to a high school, I’m the second-most-famous person.  He’s the first.

And that’s how it should be.  I’m so glad all of these bright students love our university.

Asheville High School Principal Carol Ray was nice enough to open her school's doors to me.

Asheville High School Principal Carol Ray was nice enough to open her school's doors to me.

One Comment

  1. 1

    At Carolina we have School of Medicine faculty who earned undergraduate degrees with majors in literature or the humanities (e.g., English Lit., Medieval & Renaissance Lit., and Latin American Studies, to name just a few)along with minor studies in sciences such as chemistry or biology. Some of them have earned graduate degrees at our superb School of Public Health after attending medical school here or elsewhere. These folks are not only teachers and mentors of future health care providers but also very caring primary care physicians themselves–the ‘Marcus Welbys’ of today–who strive to give their patients the highest quality care possible. Perhaps a stronger connection between the liberal arts schools, like UNC-Asheville, and Carolina’s Health Care System and the related graduate schools (Medicine, Public Health, Pharmacy, Social Work, etc.) would provide opportunities for students who love literature and the arts and humanities to consider primary health care as a possible career path. We desperately need more primary care physicians in North Carolina, and liberal arts folks are people-oriented by nature. This seems like a window of opportunity to me.