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(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Campus Briefs

Community Comes First

American Indian Students Walking on CampusCarolina’s future depends on everyone building a more inclusive University community by doing the hard work of addressing racial equity, inclusion and structural racism.

That’s a primary goal of the University’s strategic framework Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good, which will guide the University’s strategic investment and decisions with a three-year time horizon. And it’s why the first strategic initiative focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion.

The work is already happening. Led by the Build Our Community Leads and the newly formed University Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, representatives from every school and division are working in centralized, coordinated ways to move on issues of racism, equity and inclusion.

Sixteen faculty and staff recently revised the initiative’s goals and opportunities under the direction of initiative co-captains Sibby Anderson-Thompkins, special adviser on equity and inclusion and interim chief diversity officer, and Amy Locklear Hertel, the chancellor’s chief of staff. The revisions also reflect input on making Carolina more equitable and inclusive from the Roadmap for Racial Equity, a document authored by some of Carolina’s faculty who are Black, indigenous or people of color. In this feature, The Well talked with the co-captains about their plans, work underway by faculty, staff and students and about the influence of current issues and movements.

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Teaching Equity in Dentistry

Dr. Sylvia A. Frazier-Bowers discusses her role as Assistant Dean of Inclusive Excellence and Equity Initiatives at the Adams School of Dentistry. Her goal entering her position was to be an advocate working to change the mindsets of stakeholders when it comes to equity and to teach people to be conscious of inclusivity and equity, which is now being incorporated into the School’s curriculum. “Equity refers to fairness,” said Dr. Frazier-Bowers, speaking about the importance of the word equity in health care and how it differs from the word “equality.”

She further explained that if two groups are given the same amount of a resource, one may still be at a disadvantage if they started out further behind. When it comes to health care, equity may actually mean giving some people more help just to overcome existing disparities.

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The Carolina Covenant in Action

Since the first class of scholars enrolled in 2004, the Carolina Covenant has been awarded to more than 8,900 students whose contributions and successes are, collectively, a testament to the University’s unwavering commitment to excellence. Through a combination of grants, scholarships and work-study jobs, the Carolina Covenant provides eligible low-income students the opportunity to graduate from Carolina debt-free. In return, Covenant Scholars bring to UNC-Chapel Hill strengths and talents that are critical to the University’s mission to serve as a center for research, scholarship and creativity and critical to its goal of teaching the next generation of leaders. When the University attracts the highest talent and the greatest diversity of views and backgrounds to Carolina, all students benefit, not just Covenant Scholars.

“As we reflect on the impact the Carolina Covenant has had on thousands of students over the past two decades, we are also celebrating how the University has benefited from the perspectives, skills, knowledge and wisdom these scholars bring to Carolina,” said Candice Powell, director of the Carolina Covenant.

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Focus Carolina: Sarah Verbiest

Sarah VerbiestSarah Verbiest is committed to improving care for children and families in North Carolina. Through her work in developing programs for new mothers and ensuring her research includes racial equity and cultural diversity, she champions Carolina’s service mission.

A public health social worker, she is a clinical associate professor and director of the Jordan Institute for Families in the UNC School of Social Work. She is the executive director of the Collaborative for Maternal and Infant Health in the UNC School of Medicine.

Through these roles, she promotes engaging families at each stage of life and advocates for partnering with communities and diverse stakeholders in identifying problems and their solutions.

Verbiest was one part of a team that developed the Fourth Trimester Project, a collaborative at Carolina that includes the Schools of Medicine, Social Work, Information and Library Science and the Gillings School of Global Public Health. The team developed a website, newmomhealth.com, that provides information new mothers and their families need and was developed based on research with community partners and families. “We’ve engaged with new moms over time and really brought their voices into the work,” she said.

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The Graduate School’s Diversity & Student Success Program Earns Prestigious Award

Members of the Graduate Schools DSSThe Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) and ETS presented The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) with the 2020 ETS/CGS Award for Innovation in Promoting Success in Graduate Education: From Admission through Completion. Dr. Suzanne Barbour, dean of The Graduate School, accepted the co-sponsored award on UNC-Chapel Hill’s behalf during a post-meeting event of the virtual CGS 60th Annual Meeting.

The award recognizes promising, innovative proposals to enhance student success and degree completion at the masters and doctoral levels while promoting inclusiveness. The winning institution is selected on the strength of its proposal to meet the award’s goals and to serve as a model for other schools. The winner receives a two-year, $20,000 matching grant.

This year’s winner, The Graduate School of UNC-Chapel Hill, will build on the work of its Diversity and Student Success (DSS) team which strives to create an environment where students are equipped to not only survive but to thrive during their tenure as graduate students. The current racial unrest, the Black Lives Matter movement, and COVID-19 have elevated the importance of DSS’s work. DSS/The Graduate School will pilot the development of intersecting learning communities for both graduate students and faculty/departments to continue building upon innovative diversity and equity efforts, to address various components of systemic racism, and to create an inclusive and welcoming climate for all graduate students.

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Strengthening the STEM Workforce Through Diversity

Bolatito Babatunde '21 and Dr. Sidney Wilkerson-Hill discuss a project in his chemistry lab.The Chancellor’s Science Scholars (CSS) program is challenging preconceptions and creating a more inclusive scientific culture. “The Chancellor’s Science Scholars program does not exist to give underrepresented minorities a chance — that is not the correct way to look at it,” said Richard Watkins ’14 (Ph.D.), program coordinator for CSS.

“What we are doing is creating the best scientists the world has ever seen, and there is not a certain look to that. There is no rhyme or reason to who ends up being the best — you don’t know who will have that breakthrough that’s going to save the world.”

Take UNC-Chapel Hill graduate Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett ’14 (Ph.D.), the National Institutes of Health’s lead scientist for coronavirus research. Corbett, one of the world’s top researchers, helped develop a COVID-19 vaccine. She earned her B.S. from the University of Maryland, where she was a Meyerhoff Scholar — the model for the Chancellor’s Science Scholars program.

“If it weren’t for the Meyerhoff program, we might not even have hope right now,” Watkins emphasized. “We are in a time when science is as important as the military to our national security. By investing in these scholars, we are investing in our future.”

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Kate McNulty Joins The Graduate School as Associate Dean for Student Affairs

Kate McAnultyKate McAnulty, whose leadership roles within graduate education have focused on strategic initiatives supporting graduate student academic success, diversity, professional development and wellness, has been selected as The Graduate School’s associate dean for student affairs. Her first day will be Feb. 1.

McAnulty most recently served as associate dean of graduate studies within the California Institute of Technology. In that role, she provided academic counseling and guidance, responded to crises involving graduate students, coordinated accessibility services and advocated for graduate student needs, among other responsibilities.

Before joining Caltech in 2016, McAnulty had served in several prominent roles within graduate education at Kent State University (2010-2016), including assistant dean and director of graduate student services within Kent State’s Division of Graduate Studies.

Among her accomplishments at Kent State, McAnulty created a professional development program for graduate students and the Complex Conversations video monologue series as a resource for teaching assistants; developed the Graduate Dean’s Award, recognizing student diversity; and expanded the university’s annual Graduate Research Symposium from 40 to 310 presentations.

She was a recipient of Kent State’s President’s Excellence Award for 2013, the Office of the President recognizing “her tireless devotion to improving the graduate student experience and providing a clear respect for the value of student voices.”

Suzanne Barbour, dean of The Graduate School, said she was excited to welcome McAnulty to her new role at UNC-Chapel Hill. “Kate is a visionary and compassionate leader with a strong commitment to graduate students, graduate education and diversity, equity and inclusion. I look forward to leveraging Kate’s deep expertise in graduate student affairs and admissions to optimize our processes to ensure that The Graduate School addresses the needs of all of our graduate students.”

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