It’s the season for goodbyes on campus. Graduation next week will send off more than 400 Journalism undergraduates and about 35 masters and PhDs. They all head to the next stop. It’s a wonderful sense of goodbyes for most. New adventures. New cities. New jobs. New challenges.
And in the midst of the goodbyes are awards—awards and awards and more awards. You feel the power of recognition in those accomplishments. I don’t believe that awards are the measure of a life. But this season students in the school have won so many peer reviewed scholarly research paper submissions and national professional competitions, that I am truly moved by the sense of accomplishment. Not just our students’ accomplishments, but those who got them to this point: faculty mentors and coaches.
Last week we learned JOMC students won a first place Webby, second Place National Sports Emmy, a first place finish in regionals and a follow up bid to the National Student Advertising Competition’s championship in Boca Raton, and three national Mark of Excellence radio first place finishes. I’m sure there are more wins, I am just having trouble keeping track of the drumbeat of success.
There were some major goodbyes this week. Bill Cloud who left a successful career in the news business to join the school as professor of journalism and a pied piper of editing skills said his goodbyes. He followed a series of UNC professors who came out of newspapers and drilled accuracy, grammar and writing with comas and clarity into their students. He was an evangelist for new technology but admitted the advent of twitter and mobile first and all things digital was daunting for the most open of professors who attempts to prepare students for every platform’s demands.
And a final goodbye. A few hundred showed up on a glorious Carolina Saturday afternoon to say goodbye to Chuck Stone, a professor for 14 years at the school, Stone’s career as a newsman and columnist spanned the entire drama of the civil rights movement. He covered everyone from Martin Luther King to Malcolm X , was a White House correspondent and a Capital Hill aid to Adam Clayton Powell, and a columnist who defined an era of Philadelphia. In Chapel Hill he turned students into citizens of the world and made them laugh and think. Students of his flew in from as far away as Miami to pay tribute to a teacher who pushed reporters to be audacious and truthful.
After all the tributes by colleagues, and institutions and leaders, Chuck Stone’s son Charles Stone III said the final goodbye and stole the show. The resume didn’t mean as much to him as his father’s gift of swing: the ability to live in the moment, in the zone, in the space where improvisation soars. Chuck Stone was a man of huge accomplishments. For his son, the magical moments with his Dad were the true accomplishments.
Goodbyes can be sad when one doesn’t experience them regularly. However, at a University, every spring season brings goodbyes. It is part of the cycle of change and continuity that keeps a school alive to the present, aware of its history and pointed to the future.
I hate goodbyes. But in a Carolina week like this I find myself energized by the power of touching lives as they begin, as they change and as they celebrate accomplishments and lives well lived.