As the new Dean of the Graduate School at UNC, Dr. Suzanne Barbour is working to train the next generation of scholars while ensuring that students interested in non-academic career paths and non-traditional students have meaningful programs to help them advance in their careers.

After barely a month on the job, Dr. Barbour got a crash course on the state of North Carolina by joining other faculty and administrators on the Tar Heel Bus Tour.

“It was absolutely fantastic,” Dr. Barbour said. “We spent three days touring the southeast of the state.

“We started out in Siler City. We went as far east as Wilmington. We saw the middle of the state, got to see some of the hurricane-ravaged parts of the state, and it was really important to me for a number of reasons.”

Dr. Barbour — who was formerly with the University of Georgia — got an introduction to the state of North Carolina and its residents on the trip. She met with graduate students in Lumberton who were involved in hurricane relief, including one student who was helping community members with a water problem.

“There was one student, for example, who was helping community members to filter their water after the hurricane. Sometimes these private wells get contaminated and so he had unique strategies to help folks keep their water clean.”

Dr. Barbour said it was fascinating to be on the bus tour with people from different disciplines who all had the same goal.

“They all have one thing in common,” she said, “and that is that they love Carolina. They love the state of North Carolina and they were excited to see how how the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is making a difference across the state.

“It was a really unique opportunity. I’m very, very grateful that I got the opportunity to participate.”