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Fellow Bears – Spring 2023

Karen Barton

Associate Professor of Geography, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Sustainability Karen Barton. Photo by Woody Myers

April 25, 2023

As we near the close of another academic year, it is an opportunity to reflect on the past and look to the future. This spring issue focuses on stories of personal growth and learning, many of which highlight the work of faculty, staff, and alumni planting seeds of inspiration in others and watching those seeds bloom into personal growth. Stories like these are all around us at UNC, and I hope these examples bring you the same sense of Bear pride they bring me.

At UNC, we commit daily to creating a supportive, welcoming, and caring culture, and we put people and community first. For example, some of you may have participated in the 40th anniversary of the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center, the first named cultural center in Colorado history. ‘The Garvey’ was founded to assist students who identify as Black or African American, and it has been a cornerstone of the university, building a diverse, inclusive, and equitable campus community where everyone is welcome.

We are fortunate to have tremendous faculty at UNC who inspire our students, including Associate Professor of Geography, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Sustainability Karen Barton. Barton won her 9th Fulbright Award, considered one of the most widely recognized, prestigious scholarships in the world. Since 2007, Barton has traveled across five continents to bring learnings and global perspectives to the classroom.  

Another remarkable member of the UNC community is fall graduate and a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Shukuru (ShaQ) Rushanika, (’22). When I first met ShaQ, I was immediately impressed by his deep curiosity and commitment to bettering his community. His passion has served as an inspiration to me, and I was honored to join his family in celebrating his many accomplishments at our December Commencement. In this issue, you can read about his fascinating academic journey, undergraduate research on breast cancer and hopes for the future as he begins Princeton University’s Prospective Ph.D. Scholars program as a future physician-researcher.

There is much to celebrate this spring as we honor five of our best and brightest alumni at UNC’s annual Honored Alumni Awards event March 25. I am so impressed by these distinguished alumni whose achievements in leadership and service inspire us all. We will share tribute videos of them and their nominators via email later this spring.

 I encourage you to look for opportunities to cultivate relationships with people and strengthen your community. I am reminded daily that “Once a Bear, Always a Bear” is more than just a lighthearted sentiment to shout during Commencement. It is a belief that defines our unique and welcoming campus community, and I am proud to count you as part of the Bear family. 


Andy Feinstein

Andy Feinstein, President

The Rowing, Not Drifting 2030 Strategic Plan can be found online at: