The School's naming ceremony and celebration

November 03, 2008
On Friday, September 26, 2008, UNC students, faculty, and alumni joined together in the Hooker Atrium for the long awaited naming ceremony. The school officially unveiled its new name as the “Gillings School of Global Public Health” (SPH) on a commemorative board in the Atrium, outside of the Hooker Research Center, and across all glass doors in the school. The ceremony was followed by a picnic buffet reception.

The naming ceremony began at 11 am with a welcome speech from Chancellor Holden Thorp, which emphasized the responsibility that comes with living up to the new name. He stated that the school should be “globally eminent by serving communities and people in North Carolina.” The theme of thinking globally and acting locally was echoed in speeches by Dean Barbara Rimer, Ms. Lauren Thie (co-president of the SPH Student Government), and Dr. Dennis Gillings. Dr. Gillings encouraged students and faculty to step up their game “because the gift only means something because of the students and faculty.” He also emphasized setting higher standards because “the 21st century is an exciting time for issues of public health.” Mrs. Joan Gillings added that “we hope many seeds are being sown with our gift centered here in North Carolina and will reach around the world.”

The celebration following the naming ceremony reflected the themes of acting locally and sustainability emphasized by the distinguished speakers. Most of the food served was locally grown and the plates, cups, and forks were compostable, a somewhat unique characteristic for an event this size at UNC. The Big Fat Gap created a festive and jovial ambience with their live folk music. Faculty, alumni, and students ate together and socialized in the Atrium, the Rosenau auditorium, and the outside patio.

Students who attended the naming ceremony and celebration were eager to be a part of this exciting point in SPH history, and some were wary of the new responsibilities that Dr. Gillings proposed. First year masters students in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Jeanette Reyes and Leslie Chinery, responded that they “don’t know the effects [of the naming], but because the name is adding global, we hope that the global influence will not take away from the local.” Rahul Patel, a junior in the BSPH program in the Health Policy and Management department believes that the Gilling’s gift “helps public health and gives a sense of prestige as well as more responsibility on us and future students around the world.”

Want to know more about events at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health? Check out the SPH website.


Got ideas for stories about students? Involved in interesting events coming up? Email Alice or Chirag, student assistants in the SPH Office of Student Affairs.

Last updated February 25, 2009