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Coordinates: 35°54′30″N 79°3′0″W / 35.90833°N 79.05°W / 35.90833; -79.05

The University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill
Motto Lux libertas[1]
Motto in English Light and liberty[1]
Established December 11, 1789[2]
Type Public[3]
Endowment $1.91 billion[4]
Chancellor Holden Thorp[5]
Faculty 3,295[6]
Students 28,136[3]
Undergraduates 17,895[3]
Postgraduates 8,275[3]
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S.[3]
Campus University town
729 acres (3.0 km2)[7]
Former names University of North Carolina
Colors Carolina blue and white[8]
Nickname Tar Heels[8]
Athletics NCAA Division I FBS
27 varsity sports[9]
Affiliations AAU, ACC, UNC[10][11][12]
Logo of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Endowment, faculty, and student data is for 2007. Endowment of foundations included in total.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC, North Carolina, or simply Carolina)[13] is a public research university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States. First enrolling students in 1795, UNC is one of multiple schools to claim the title of oldest public university in the United States[14] and is one of the original eight schools known as a Public Ivy. Today, the university is the flagship of the consolidated University of North Carolina system.

All undergraduates receive a liberal arts education and have the option to pursue a major within the professional schools of the university or within the College of Arts and Sciences from the time they obtain junior status. In both teaching and research, UNC has been highly ranked by publications such as BusinessWeek and U.S. News & World Report. The university forms one of the corners of the Research Triangle in addition to Duke University in Durham and North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

UNC has a strong history in athletics, most notably in men's basketball and women's soccer. The North Carolina Tar Heels share rivalries with other Tobacco Road schools and have provided many olympians to United States teams. The student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel has won national awards for collegiate media, while the student radio station WXYC provided the world's first internet radio broadcast.



Chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly on December 11, 1789, the university's cornerstone was laid on October 12, 1793, near the ruins of a chapel, chosen because of its central location within the state.[15] Beginning instruction of undergraduates in 1795, UNC is the oldest public university in the United States to award degrees in the eighteenth century.[16][17]

During the Civil War, North Carolina Governor David Lowry Swain persuaded Confederate President Jefferson Davis to exempt some students from the draft, so the university was among few in the Confederacy that managed to stay open.[18] However, Chapel Hill suffered the loss of more of its population during the war than any village in the South, and when student numbers did not recover, the university was forced to close during Reconstruction from December 1, 1870 until September 6, 1875.[19]

The Old Well, a symbol of the University, stands at the heart of campus

Despite initial skepticism from university President Frank Porter Graham, on March 27, 1931, legislation was passed to group UNC with the State College of Agriculture and Engineering and the Women's College to form the Consolidated University of North Carolina.[20] In 1963, the consolidated university was made fully coeducational. As a result, the Women's College was renamed the "University of North Carolina at Greensboro," and the University of North Carolina became the "University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill."[21] Predating the other two schools by 98 years, UNC became the de facto flagship university of the new statewide system.[22][23][24]

During the 1960s, the campus was the location of significant political protest. Prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, protests about local racial segregation which began quietly in Franklin Street restaurants led to mass demonstrations and disturbance.[25] The climate of civil unrest prompted the 1963 Speaker Ban Law prohibiting speeches by communists on state campuses in North Carolina.[26] The law was immediately criticized by university Chancellor William Brantley Aycock and university President William Friday, but was not reviewed by the North Carolina General Assembly until 1965.[27] Small amendments to allow "infrequent" visits failed to placate the student body, especially when the university's board of trustees overruled new Chancellor Paul Frederick Sharp's decision to allow speaking invitations to Marxist speaker Herbert Aptheker and civil liberties activist Frank Wilkinson; however, the two speakers came to Chapel Hill anyway. Wilkinson spoke off campus, while more than 1,500 students viewed Aptheker's speech across a low campus wall at the edge of campus, christened "Dan Moore's Wall" by The Daily Tar Heel for Governor Dan K. Moore.[28] A group of UNC students, led by Student Body President Paul Dickson, filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court, and on February 20, 1968, the Speaker Ban Law was struck down.[29]

From the late 1990s onward, UNC expanded rapidly with a 15% increase in total student population to more than 28,000 by 2007. This was accompanied by the construction of new facilities, funded in part by the "Carolina First" fundraising campaign and an endowment that increased fourfold to over $2 billion in just ten years.[30][31] Professor Oliver Smithies was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2007 for his work in genetics.[32]

Notable leaders of the university include the 26th Governor of North Carolina, David Lowry Swain (president 1835-1868); and Edwin Anderson Alderman (1896-1900), who was also president of Tulane University and the University of Virginia.[33] The current chancellor is Holden Thorp, appointed at the age of 43 after less than 1 year as Dean of Arts & Science.[34]


UNC's 729-acre (3.0 km2) campus is dominated by two central quads: Polk Place and McCorkle Place.[35] Polk Place is named after North Carolina native and university alumnus President James K. Polk,[36] and McCorkle Place is named in honor of Samuel Eusebius McCorkle, the original author of the bill requesting the university's charter.[37] Adjacent to Polk Place is a sunken brick courtyard known as the Pit where students will gather, often engaging in lively debate with speakers such as the Pit Preacher. The Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower, located in the heart of campus, tolls the quarter-hour. In 1999, UNC was one of sixteen recipients of the American Society of Landscape Architects Medallion Awards and was identified as one of 50 college or university "works of art" by T.A. Gaines in his book The Campus as a Work of Art.[35][38]

The university's campus is informally divided into three regions, usually referred to as "north campus," "middle campus," and "south campus." North campus includes the two quads along with the Pit, Frank Porter Graham Student Union, and the Davis, House, and Wilson libraries. Almost all classrooms are located in north campus along with several undergraduate residence halls.[39] Middle campus includes Fetzer Field and Woollen Gymnasium along with the Student Recreation Center, Kenan Memorial Stadium, Irwin Belk outdoor track, Eddie Smith Field House, Boshamer Stadium, Carmichael Auditorium, Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, School of Government, School of Law, George Watts Hill Alumni Center, Ram's Head complex (with a dining hall, parking garage, grocery store, and gymnasium), and various residence halls.[39] South campus includes the Dean Smith Center for men's basketball, School of Medicine, UNC Hospitals, Kenan-Flagler Business School, and the newest student residence halls.[39]

Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower

A new satellite campus, Carolina North, to be built on the site of Horace Williams Airport was approved in 2007. This is planned to be primarily a research park with expanded science facilities, but will also add classrooms and residence halls to cope with future increases in student population.[40]


The principles of sustainability have been integrated throughout much of UNC- Chapel Hill. In the area of green building, the university requires that all new projects meet the requirements for LEED Silver certification and is in the process of building the first building in North Carolina to receive LEED Platinum status.[41] UNC’s award-winning co-generation facility produces one-fourth of the electricity and all of the steam used on campus.[42] In 2006, the university and the Town of Chapel Hill jointly agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 60% by 2050, becoming the first town-gown partnership in the country to do so.[43] Through these efforts, the university achieved a “B+” grade on the Sustainable Endowment Institute’s College Sustainability Report Card 2009.[44] Only 14 out of 300 universities received a higher score than this.

Old Well and McCorkle Place

The most enduring symbol of the university is the Old Well, a small neoclassical rotunda based on the Temple of Love in the Garden of Versailles, in the same location as the original well that provided water for the school.[45] The well stands at the south end of McCorkle Place, the northern quad, between two of the campus's oldest buildings, Old East, and Old West. Also located in McCorkle Place is the Davie Poplar tree under which the university's founder, William Richardson Davie, supposedly selected the location for the university. The legend of the Davie Poplar says that if the tree falls, so will UNC.[46] Because of the tree's questionable health from damage caused by severe weather such as Hurricane Fran in 1996, the university has planted two genetic clones nearby called Davie Poplar Jr. and Davie Poplar III.[46] The second clone, Davie Poplar III, was planted in conjunction with the university's bicentennial celebration in 1993 by President Bill Clinton.[47][48] Another university landmark is Silent Sam, a statue commemorating soldiers who died fighting for the Confederacy. The statue is controversial as some claim that the monument invokes memories of racism and slavery. Others think that Silent Sam is simply a piece of the rich heritage of the South.[49] The statue of a soldier holding a gun is not fitted with any ammunition, therefore, it is a benign soldier. The "unarmed" soldier was erected in 1913 to be a commemoration to honor the school's "Confederate heroes."[50] The Morehead-Patterson bell tower was commissioned by John Motley Morehead.[51] He is also grandfather to the benefactor of the prestigious Morehead Scholarship.


South Building, administrative offices of the chancellor and College of Arts and Sciences


UNC offers 71 bachelor's, 107 master's and 74 doctoral degree programs.[52] The university enrolls more than 28,000 students from all 100 North Carolina counties, the other 49 states, and 47 other countries. State law requires that the percentage of students from North Carolina in each freshman class meets or exceeds 82%.[53]

At the undergraduate level, students spend their first two years at UNC working to fulfill "perspective" requirements. English, social science, history, foreign language, mathematics, and natural science courses are required of all students, ensuring that they receive a broad liberal arts education.[54] The university also offers a wide range of first year seminars for incoming freshmen. After their sophomore year, students move on to the College of Arts and Sciences, or choose an undergraduate professional school program within the schools of medicine, nursing, business, education, pharmacy, information and library science, public health, or journalism and mass communication.[55]

Honor code

The university has a longstanding honor code known as the "Instrument of Student Judicial Governance," supplemented by an student-run honor court to resolve issues with students accused of academic and conduct offenses against the university community.[56] Faculty are forbidden to punish students caught cheating in any way, such as with failing grades, without permission of the court.[57]


Louis Round Wilson Library

UNC's library system, which comprises a number of individual libraries housed throughout its campus, holds more than 5.8 million volumes in total.[52] UNC's North Carolina Collection is the largest collection of holdings about any single state nationwide.[58] The library has an extensive Southern and rare book collection, housed in Wilson Library. The university is home to ibiblio, one of the world's largest collections of freely available information including software, music, literature, art, history, science, politics, and cultural studies.[59][60]

The Davis Library, situated near the Pit, is the main library and the largest academic facility and state-owned building in North Carolina.[48] The R.B. House Undergraduate Library is located in the same general area. Wilson Library, which was the university's main library prior to the construction of Davis, now houses special collections, rare books, and temporary exhibits.[61]

UNC School of Public Health

Rankings and reputation

University rankings (overall)

ARWU World[62] 38
ARWU North & Latin America[63] 31
USNWR National University[64] 28
WM National University[65] 36

In 2009, the U.S. News & World Report ranked UNC Chapel Hill 5th among the nation's top public universities.[66]

The university was named a Public Ivy by Richard Moll in his 1985 book The Public Ivies: A Guide to America's Best Public Undergraduate Colleges and Universities, and in later guides by Howard and Matthew Greene.[67][68] Many of UNC's professional schools have achieved high rankings in publications such as Forbes Magazine, as well as annual U.S. News & World Report surveys.[69][70] In 2009, U.S. News & World Report ranked UNC business school's MBA program as the 20th best in the United States. In 2005, Business Week ranked UNC business school's Executive MBA program as the 5th best in the United States.[71] Other highly ranked schools include journalism and mass communication, law, library and information studies, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, public health, and city and regional planning.[72][73][74][75][76] Nationally, UNC is in the top ten public universities for research.[77]

UNC's undergraduate program is ranked 28th in the United States by the U.S. News & World Report and is consistently ranked among the nation's top five public universities, just behind UC Berkeley, University of Virginia, UCLA, and the University of Michigan.[78][79] Kiplinger's Personal Finance has also ranked UNC as the number one "best value" public school for in-state students.[80] Similarly, the university is first among public universities and ninth overall in "Great Schools, Great Prices", on the basis of academic quality, net cost of attendance and average student debt.[81] Along with one of the nation's most acclaimed undergraduate honors programs in a public institution, UNC also has the highest percentage of undergraduates studying abroad for any public institution.[52][82]


Graham Memorial

For decades UNC has offered an undergraduate merit scholarship known as the Morehead Scholarship (currently named the Morehead–Cain Scholarship). Recipients receive tuition, room and board, books, and funds for summer study for four years. Since the inception of the Morehead scholarship program, 25 alumni of the program have been named Rhodes Scholars.[83] North Carolina also boasts the Robertson Scholars Program, a scholarship granting recipients the opportunity to attend both UNC and neighboring Duke University.[84] Additionally, the university provides merit-based scholarships, including the Carolina and Pogue Scholars programs, which offer full scholarships for out-of-state students.[85]

In 2003, Chancellor James Moeser announced the Carolina Covenant, which provides a debt free education to low-income students who are academically qualified to attend the university. The program was the second in the nation (following Princeton) and the first of its kind at a public university. Around 80 other universities have since followed suit. [86]

North Carolina has the second largest number of Rhodes Scholars among public universities (43 since 1902) behind only the University of Virginia.[87] Additionally, many students have won Truman, Goldwater, Mitchell, Churchill, Fulbright, Marshall, Udall, and Mellon scholarships.[88]


Tip-off of a basketball game against Duke at the Smith Center

The school sports teams participate in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision and Atlantic Coast Conference.[11] The NCAA refers to UNC as the "University of North Carolina" for athletics.[8] As of Fall 2009, the university had won 37 NCAA team championships in six different sports, eighth all-time.[89] These include twenty NCAA championships in women's soccer, six in women's field hockey, four in men's lacrosse, five in men's basketball, one in women's basketball, and one in men's soccer.[90] The Men's basketball team just won its 5th NCAA basketball championship in 2009, the second for Coach Roy Williams since he took the job as head coach. Other recent successes include three consecutive College World Series appearances by the baseball team from 2006 to 2008.[91] In 1994, the university's athletic programs won the Sears Directors Cup "all-sports national championship" awarded for cumulative performance in NCAA competition.[92] Consensus collegiate national athletes of the year from North Carolina include Rachel Dawson in field hockey; Phil Ford, Tyler Hansbrough, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, James Worthy and Michael Jordan in men's basketball; and Mia Hamm (twice), Shannon Higgins, Kristine Lilly, and Tisha Venturini in women's soccer.[93]

Mascot and nickname

Rameses at the 1957 Victory Bell football game

The university's teams are nicknamed the "Tar Heels," in reference to the state's eighteenth century prominence as a tar and pitch producer.[94] The nickname's cultural relevance, however, has a complex history that includes anecdotal tales from both the American Civil War and the American Revolution.[94] The mascot is a live Dorset ram named Rameses, a tradition that dates back to 1924, when the team manager brought a ram to the annual game against Virginia Military Institute, inspired by the play of former football player Jack "The Battering Ram" Merrit. The kicker rubbed his head for good luck before a game-winning field goal, and the ram stayed.[95] There is also an anthropomorphic ram mascot who appears at games.[96] The modern Rameses is depicted in a sailor's hat, a reference to a United States Navy flight training program that was attached to the university during World War II.[97]

Celebration on Franklin Street after victory over Duke


The South's Oldest Rivalry between North Carolina and its first opponent, the University of Virginia, was prominent throughout much of the twentieth century.[98] September 2008 saw the 117th meeting in football between the two teams. The bitterness of this rivalry has been superseded by somewhat less historical in-state competition with Duke University, and North Carolina State University. North Carolina's rivalry with Duke is particularly intense in basketball.[99] With a combined eight national championships in men's basketball, both teams have been frequent contenders for the national championship for decades. As the two schools are located just eight miles (13 km) apart, the students and fans of both schools are focused in their mutual disdain.[99][100]

Traditionally, the students exchange pranks with North Carolina State before major athletic competitions, such as painting their Free Expression Tunnel blue in 2006.[101] In retaliation, NC State students travel to Chapel Hill and paint campus landmarks red and a group has been found to be on UNC campus during the week of the yearly matchup between NC State and UNC's football teams playing the NC State fight song and alma mater[102] After important basketball victories, there is a tradition for students to rush downtown to Franklin Street, which the police close to traffic. People converge at and around Franklin and Columbia Streets near campus and light bonfires.[103]

School colors

Statue of Rameses near Kenan Memorial Stadium

Since the beginning of intercollegiate athletics at UNC in the late nineteenth century, the school's colors have been Carolina blue and white.[104] The colors were chosen years before by the Dialectic (blue) and Philanthropic (white) Societies, the oldest student organization at the university. The school had required participation in one of the clubs, and traditionally the "Di"s were from the western part of North Carolina while the "Phi"s were from the eastern part of the state.[105] Society members would wear a blue or white ribbon at university functions, and blue or white ribbons were attached to their diplomas at graduation.[105] On public occasions, both groups were equally represented, and eventually both colors were used by processional leaders to signify the unity of both groups as part of the university.[106] When football became a popular collegiate sport in the 1880s, the UNC football team adopted the light blue and white of the Di-Phi Societies as the school colors.[107]

School songs

Notable among a number of songs commonly played and sung at various events such as commencement, convocation, and athletic games are the university fight songs "I'm a Tar Heel Born" and "Here Comes Carolina".[108] The fight songs are often played by the bell tower near the center of campus, as well as after major victories.[108] "I’m a Tar Heel Born" originated in the late 1920s as a tag to the school's alma mater, "Hark The Sound".[108]

Student life

Commencement (graduation) ceremony at Kenan Memorial Stadium

Organizations and activities

Most student organizations at UNC are officially recognized and provided with assistance by the Carolina Union, an administrative unit of the university.[109] Funding is derived from the student government student activity fee, which is allocated at the discretion of the student congress.[110]

The largest student fundraiser, the UNC Dance Marathon, involves thousands of students, faculty, and community members in raising funds for the North Carolina Children's Hospital. The organization conducts fundraising and volunteer activities throughout the year and, as of 2008, had donated $1.4 million since its inception in 1999.[111]

The student run newspaper The Daily Tar Heel is ranked highly by The Princeton Review,[112] and received the 2004-05 National Pacemaker Award from the Associated Collegiate Press.[113] Founded in 1977, WXYC 89.3 FM is UNC's student radio station that broadcasts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Programming is left up to student DJs. WXYC typically plays little heard music from a wide range of genres and eras. On November 7, 1994, WXYC became the first radio station in the world to broadcast its signal over the internet.[114][115] A student-run television station, STV, airs on the campus cable and throughout the Chapel Hill Time Warner Cable system.[116]

The Forest Theatre

The athletic teams at the university are supported by the Marching Tar Heels, the university's marching band. The entire 275-member volunteer band is present at every home football game, and smaller pep bands play at all home basketball games. Each member of the band is also required to play in at least one of five pep bands that play at athletic events of the 26 other sports.[117] UNC has a regional theater company in residence, the Playmakers Repertory Company,[118] and hosts regular dance, drama, and music performances on campus.[119] The school has an outdoor stone amphitheatre known as Forest Theatre used for weddings and drama productions.[120][121]

Many fraternities and sororities on campus belong to the Pan-Hellenic Council, including Interfraternity Council, Greek Alliance Council, and National Pan-Hellenic Council. Fifteen percent of undergraduates are Greek.[122] UNC also offers professional and service fraternities that do not have houses but are still recognized by the school. Some of the campus honor societies include: the Order of the Golden Fleece, the Order of the Grail-Valkyries, the Order of the Old Well, the Order of the Bell Tower, and the Frank Porter Graham Honor Society.[123]

Student government at Carolina is composed of an executive branch headed by the student body president, a legislative branch composed of a student-elected student congress, and a judicial branch which includes the honor court and student supreme court.[124] The Judicial Reform Committee created the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance, which outlined the current Honor Code and its means for enforcement in 1974.[125] Prior to that time, the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies along with other campus organizations supported student concerns.[126]


Lenoir Dining Hall was completed in 1939 and opened for service to students when they returned from Christmas holidays in January 1940. The building was named for General William Lenoir, first chairman of the Board of Trustees of the university in 1790. The new Rams Head Dining Hall seats 1,300 people and has a capacity for serving 10,000 meals per day. It has one large dining area, two medium size dining areas, food service staff offices, kitchen, food preparation areas, storage and a Starbucks coffee shop.[127]

Rams Head Dining Center was opened to the students in March 2005. It includes the Rams Head Dining Hall, the End Zone Sports Café, and the Rams Head Market. It was opened to offer more food service options to the students living on south campus.[128]


Old East residence hall, built in 1793

On campus, the 33 residence halls are grouped into thirteen "communities," varying from the Olde Campus Upper Quad Community which includes Old East, the oldest building of the university, to modern communities such as Manning West, completed in 2002.[129][130] Along with themed housing focusing on foreign languages and substance-free living, there are also "living-learning communities" which have been formed for specific social, gender-related, or academic needs.[131] An example is UNITAS, sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, where residents are assigned roommates on the basis of cultural or racial differences rather than similarities.[132] Three apartment complexes offer housing for families, graduate students, and some upperclassmen.[133] Along with the rest of campus, all residence halls, apartments, and their surrounding grounds are smoke-free.[134] As of 2008, 46% of all undergraduates live in university-provided housing.[135]

Notable alumni


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External links

Simple English

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
File:Old Well and McCorkle Place
The Old Well
Motto Latin: Lux libertas
"Light and liberty"
Established 1789
Type Public
Endowment $2.2 billion
Chancellor Holden Thorp
President Erskine Bowles
Professors 3,295
Staff 6,261
Students 28,136
Undergraduates 17,628
Postgraduates 8,177
Place Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
Campus Suburban
729 acres (3.0 km²)
Athletics NCAA Division I FBS
Colors Light blue and white
Nickname Tar Heels
Mascot Rameses the Sheep
Fight song I'm a Tar Heel Born
Memberships AAU, ACC
References: [1][2][3]

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) is a university in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It was founded in 1789. UNC is the oldest public university in the United States.


  1. "Quick Facts". UNC News Services. 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  2. "Organizational Chart" (PDF). UNC Office of the Chancellor. 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  3. "Student Data". UNC Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
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