UNC dedicates Michael Hooker Research Center, designed to serve growing public health research needs

August 31, 2005
CHAPEL HILL — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Public Health dedicated its new $38.6 million state-of-the-art research facility, named the Michael Hooker Research Center on Wednesday, August 31, 2005. More than 300 people were on hand as the ribbon was cut in the facility’s atrium.”Carolina’s School of Public Health is a leader, in academics, research and community service,” Chancellor James Moeser said at the ceremony. “This excellent new facility gives our researchers – both faculty and students – new tools to carry on research that is vital to people here in North Carolina and around the world.”

Moeser was among university and state officials speaking at a dedication ceremony for the new 125,000-square-foot facility – which more than doubles the school’s laboratory research space with 31 new laboratories as well as conference rooms with advanced audio-visual capabilities, classrooms and offices. The building features a three-story atrium with a cafi, couches, chairs and tables for informal gatherings.

School of Public Health Dean Dr. Barbara K. Rimer said, “In these laboratories, our faculty and students are investigating the link between nutrition and cancer risks, finding ways to protect the safety and purity of our air and drinking water, searching for vaccines for infectious diseases like SARS, studying the role of genes in the development of cancer – just to name a few of the exciting research projects already under way here.”

The facility is named in memory of UNC Chancellor Michael Hooker, who died after a battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 53 in 1999. Hooker had been a catalyst for planning the building and getting it included in the N.C. Higher Education Bond Referendum approved by voters in 2000.

“Michael Hooker believed strongly in the importance of public health research and in the exceptional caliber of the work being done by faculty and students in the School of Public Health,” said Dr. William L. Roper, dean of UNC’s School of Medicine, vice chancellor for medical affairs and chief executive officer of the UNC Health Care System, as well as former dean of UNC’s School of Public Health.

“He would have been very proud to see this modern, well-equipped building that will support so much critical work to benefit for people in our state and throughout the world.”

Chancellor Hooker’s widow, Carmen Hooker Odom, who is N.C. Secretary of Health and Human Services, also spoke at the ceremony, fondly remembering her late husband’s love for UNC.

Funding for the facility, located at 135 Dauer Drive, adjacent to the school’s Rosenau Hall and McGavran-Greenberg Hall, is through the following sources: the 2000 state bond referendum ($13.4 million), overhead receipts generated by competitively awarded faculty research grants overhead ($15.2 million) and private gifts to the Carolina First campaign ($10 million).

Carolina First is a comprehensive, multi-year, private fund-raising campaign to support Carolina’s vision of becoming the nation’s leading public university.

“This state-of-the-art research center is an excellent example of how we have put to use the bond money, along with university funds and private donations, to create a facility that will pay back the investment many times over in improvements to the lives of people in North Carolina and around the world,” said N.C. Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, who spoke at the dedication ceremony.

“We are grateful to the people of the state who passed the bond issue, the North Carolina General Assembly, the UNC Board of Governors and to the faculty, staff, students and supporters of the UNC School of Public Health. The dedication of this building is but a beginning of the wonderful things that lie ahead for this school and the people it serves.”

For more information on the Michael Hooker Research Center.

For further information please contact Ramona DuBose by email at ramona_dubose@unc.edu