Chemistry was not my strong suit in my undergraduate years at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. I got through Chemistry I and II all right, but Organic Chemistry was a reckoning that made me rethink my career. Thirty years later, as the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, I have gained a new appreciation for the stellar chemistry faculty we have at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They are not only researchers and inventors who are making groundbreaking contributions to the field, they are excellent teachers in the classroom and mentors to the students who will become the next generation of innovators. It’s no small feat to be recognized as one of the top-ranked departments in the nation, with a record number of National Academy of Sciences members.
Carolina chemistry’s pathway to excellence started with a vision decades ago: Bring talented faculty here early in their careers, provide them with legendary mentors, a collaborative atmosphere and the resources they need to flourish, and they will go on to accomplish great things.
This led to a culture of collaboration that has made Carolina distinctly different, with chemists working alongside engineers, computer scientists, applied mathematicians and physicians to solve real-world problems to the benefit of the state, nation and world. This model has served as the catalyst for our new department of applied physical sciences and has informed the vision for our new Institute for Convergent Science.
It’s also a winning formula that we are working to apply to other disciplines. I do believe that collaboration and our common goal of being a university “of the public, for the public” is what sets Carolina apart from its peers.