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We hope to continue the discussion that began at our “Public Universities, the Humanities, and Education in North Carolina” event at the Carolina Club on October 10, 2015.

Program Description

North Carolinians are debating how our public schools and universities should best prepare students for future work in a changing global economy. In this evolving social context, some argue (as in other states) that public universities must focus on technical skills, which could mean that the UNC system’s teaching and research mission can no longer “afford the luxury” of giving equal emphasis to the humanities, the arts, and the social sciences. We will address the ongoing debate about education and the value of the liberal arts by asking University leaders, faculty members, and entrepreneurial-minded business thinkers to explain why they believe the humanities and arts may (or may not) still be essential for North Carolina’s public universities.

Our goal is to consider how the humanities and the arts can or should contribute to public education and public universities in North Carolina—and also how these contributions might be changing. Join the conversation about these important issues and add your views to the debate.

Speakers will include UNC System President Tom Ross and UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt. They will join the discussion with faculty colleagues Marianne Gingher (English and Comparative Literature) and Claude Clegg (African, African American and Diaspora Studies) and with innovative business leaders Michael Tiemann (Red Hat Inc.) and Bill Moore (RTI International). Two separate panel presentations will be followed by a discussion among the speakers and our audience.


Marianne B. Gingher, Professor of English, UNC-Chapel Hill

Tom Ross, President, University of North Carolina System

Michael Tiemann, Vice President of Open Source Affairs at Red Hat, Inc. and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts


Claude Clegg, Distinguished Professor, Department of African American and Diaspora Studies and History, UNC-Chapel Hill

Carol Folt, Chancellor, UNC-Chapel Hill

Bill Moore, Chairman of the Board, RTI International and Professor of the Practice of Finance, Kenan-Flagler Business School, UNC-Chapel Hill


Discussion with all speakers and our audience

Video of the Event

Alex Chavez, an undergraduate student at UNC, recorded this program as part of a documentary she is creating on the importance of the liberal arts and humanities and she graciously provided us with the raw footage. Unfortunately, due to technical problems, she was unable to capture the entire event. We are currently working on obtaining a complete video of the program. We’d like to extend a special thank you to Alex for attending and providing us with this recording. Check back in the future because we will share Alex’s documentary if it becomes available.

Speaker’s Remarks (click to access a .pdf copy)


Scroll through to see what people had to say about this event on Twitter. Want to add your thoughts on Twitter? Use the hashtag #unchumanities and we’ll feature your tweet below.

Photos from the Event

More photos are available on our Facebook Page

Photo Credits: Eric Johnson, Paul Bonnici

Summary of Salon-Style Lunch Discussions

The rich discussion that began during the panel presentations continued during the salon-style lunch portion of the program. Each salon table brought together five to eight people for a conversation on the following question: “Can we still afford the luxury of the liberal arts?”  The conversations were facilitated by UNC faculty members and members of the Program in the Humanities Faculty Advisory Board, who provided summaries of the themes at their tables.

To access a summary of those discussions, click here.

Media Related to the Event

Continue the Discussion

We created a Facebook event so we could continue the discussion that began on October 10. Feel free to post your thoughts, articles, tweets, videos, and whatever else relates to the importance of the humanities and liberal arts education here: