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Year in review:
2023-24

The 2023-24 academic year at UNC-Chapel Hill was one to remember. Tar Heels earned national championships. The University said goodbye to a longtime leader and welcomed a new interim chancellor. A brilliant sophomore won on Jeopardy! The entire Tar Heel community helped one another when tragedy struck. Students, faculty and staff continued to spearhead research and work to improve North Carolina and beyond. 8,000-plus students began their Tar Heel journey and over 6,700 became Carolina alumni.

Take a look back at some of the biggest stories that shaped this year.

Fall semester

The Class of 2027 moves into campus

Over 8,000 new Tar Heels arrived on campus in August, ready to begin an exciting new journey. From budding entrepreneurs and researchers to ballroom dancers and environmental scientists, these students brought their own unique backstories, skills and passions to Chapel Hill.

    Press the play button to see Carolina's Week of Welcome

A new look for the Old Well

Following a summer of renovations, the Old Well reopened on Aug. 20, the day before the start of the fall semester, with new accessibility features. The iconic campus symbol now features a sloped pathway that connects the surrounding brick pavers with the upper platform of the Old Well.

A student using a wheelchair approaching the fountain of the Old Well on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Helping each other through tragedy

The Carolina community experienced pain and fear in ways we should never have to one week into the fall semester when faculty member Dr. Zijie Yan was killed in a campus shooting incident on Aug. 28. In the following days, Tar Heels mourned the loss of Yan and leaned on each other for support.

A hand holding a lit candle at a vigil.

A national leader

Carolina ranked fourth among public universities in U.S. News & World Report’s 2024 Best College rankings, also holding first place among public institutions in the best value category. The University ranked 22nd overall among public and private universities, moving up seven positions from the prior year.

South Building on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Always innovating

Innovate Carolina, the University-wide initiative for innovation and entrepreneurship, hosted a dedication to the new Innovate Carolina Junction on Sept. 27. Located at 137 E. Franklin St./136 E. Rosemary St., the Junction is part of Chapel Hill’s Innovation District and serves as the home of Innovate Carolina, the Launch Chapel Hill startup accelerator and several University-linked ventures. Carolina is the nation’s only Top 4 public university with a hub located in a downtown innovation district immediately adjacent to its campus.

Crowd of people mingling at Innovate Carolina Juncture

Driving the Tar Heel state

One way Carolina remains committed to serving the state is through the Tar Heel Bus Tour, a trip taken by Carolina faculty members and senior administrators to learn about the University’s work throughout the state and hear from North Carolinians about their needs and how Carolina can partner to help solve challenges they face. This 2023 Bus Tour, held in October, took 75 Tar Heels to 19 counties, making 21 stops and covering 1,000-plus miles.

The Tar Heel Bus Tour bus driving through a street in Whiteville, N.C.

‘A servant leader’

Following the fall semester, Kevin M. Guskiewicz stepped down as chancellor after five years in the role and left the University he'd called home since 1995.

His leadership was marked by growing institutional achievement, launching new initiatives, leading the University through a pandemic, ushering in new schools and departments, and enhancing Carolina's service to the state with the launch of and the return of the .

    Press the play button to hear the Carolina community thank Guskiewicz.

Spring semester

Carolina welcomes a new leader

One of Lee H. Roberts' earliest impressions after becoming interim chancellor in January was how much Tar Heels love Carolina. In turn, Roberts made it known how invested he is in the success of the state's flagship university.

“I care an awful lot about this state and its future. I’m honored to be in this role, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to help Carolina fulfill its destiny, which could not be more crucial for our state,” Roberts said.

    Press the play button to learn more about Roberts and his start at Carolina.

A take two on Jeopardy!

A Carolina sophomore got a second go at what’s typically a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Rotimi Kukoyi’s appearance as the youngest contestant in the Jeopardy! quiz show’s Second Chance Tournament aired Jan. 9, more than five years after he competed in the Teen Tournament as a ninth-grader. Kukoyi won with a final amount of $16,001.

Rotimi Kukoyi posing for a portrait on the set of Jeopardy!

“The Time is Now”

Carolina hosted its 43rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture and Awards Ceremony Jan. 18. Michelle Alexander, a civil rights lawyer and author of the acclaimed “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” spoke and made it clear why “The Time is Now” served as the event’s theme. “There is such a thing as being too late,” she said.

A woman, Michelle Alexander, speaking from a podium on a stage at a lecture.

Tar Heels jump around for victory over Duke

Tar Heels got to celebrate a pair of men's basketball wins over Duke this season, including a home triumph Feb. 3. Check out some of the scenes from the Dean E. Smith Center and Franklin Street as Carolina fans jumped around for victory.

    Press the play button to go inside the Carolina basketball game day experience.

Match Day 2024

Students from the UNC School of Medicine took the next step in their careers on Match Day, held March 15. A few days earlier, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy students did the same and Adams School of Dentistry students matched with postdoctoral programs throughout March.

A medical student smiling and reacting with awe as she opens up an envelope during a Match Day event.

The arts are everywhere at Carolina

For the eighth time, Tar Heels celebrated the annual tradition of Arts Everywhere Day April 12. They sang, danced, painted, mingled with the Poetry Fox and much more.

Overhead image with two people's hands seen finishing paintings, one of which is of the Old Well.

Carolina celebrates the Class of 2024 under the lights

The newest Tar Heel alumni were treated to a first-of-its-kind Saturday night ceremony at Kenan Stadium (fireworks included) and heard from astronaut Zena Cardman ’10, ’14 (MS), who told them in her keynote speech to make their own definitions of success as they began their next chapters.

    Press the play button to look back at the graduates' big night.

Top stories of the year