A look back at 2023-24

By Johnny Andrews, University Photographer

萝莉研究所 photographers play a special role in documenting life as a Tar Heel and what makes UNC-Chapel Hill so special. They鈥檙e at the big ceremonies and celebrations, but also capture candid moments from across campus.

With the 2023-24 academic year in the books, University Photographer Johnny Andrews looked back at some memorable photographs from key moments of this year at 萝莉研究所 and shares the story behind them.

Collage of four students sitting in blue chair in places in their hometown


Incoming first-year students pose for portraits in their respective hometowns across North 萝莉研究所 during the summer of 2023, prior to their arrival at UNC-Chapel Hill. Clockwise from top left are Chi-Chi Okoye among the skyscrapers of downtown Charlotte, Tsini McCoy at Kituwah Mound, a sacred site in Bryson City, Haygen Warren on his family farm in Faison and Sophie Wiss in a stream that runs past her home in Carrboro.

For this portrait series, a 萝莉研究所 Blue chair was driven out to various parts of the state. I collaborated with the students to determine a favorite location within their hometown that best represents them or the area where they grew up while also asking them to share what they hope to accomplish at 萝莉研究所. These locations also highlight the geographical diversity of the state, from downtown skyscrapers to more pastoral areas.

Time’s up

Students are reflected in mirrors for sale on the grounds of the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower during the annual 萝莉研究所 Thrift sale on Aug. 18, 2023.

As university photographers, we often cover the same events year after year, so I鈥檓 always looking for different angles or perspectives that still effectively tell the story. After noticing the Bell Tower reflected in the mirrors, it was just a matter of setting up and waiting for a student to walk through the frame.

Football players jump in front of fans in the stands

Under the lights

萝莉研究所 football players dance and greet students during the annual Weeks of Welcome pep rally at Kenan Stadium on Aug. 19, 2023. Those in attendance were treated to a new visual presentation that included blue stadium lighting, also to be used during home football games.

The new blue light show is very cool as a spectator, but it does present a technical challenge for photographing the event. Fortunately, there was also a random strobe effect of white light present. I pre-focused on the students in the front row, since follow focusing with dark blue light is incredibly difficult, then waited for the right moment with the white light. I made several dozen images, but everything came together in a couple of them, from the players celebrating to the students cheering.

Students carry books and bags on a city sidewalk

Exploring Ireland

Students in the 萝莉研究所 Global Launch program shop for groceries and supplies in Limerick, Ireland, on Sept. 2, 2023, prior to the start of their fall semester classes at the University of Limerick.

Incoming 萝莉研究所 students who participate in the 萝莉研究所 Global Launch program study at one of several international campuses during the fall semester and, upon completion of their coursework, are guaranteed enrollment at 萝莉研究所 in the spring. Their courses abroad are credited toward their eventual University degree.

Students standing at overlooking by the Scottish countryside

The Scottish countryside

Students in the 萝莉研究所 Global Launch program tour a castle in Stirling, Scotland, on Sept. 9, 2023, prior to the start of their fall semester classes at the University of Stirling.

After spending several days with 萝莉研究所 Global Launch students in Ireland, I met up with those studying in Scotland. These students are getting to know a new group of future classmates just a few months removed from high school while exploring a foreign landscape. For many, this is the first time spent outside the United States. As I document their experience, I鈥檓 looking for special moments, particularly when they put down their smartphones. I saw a moment in this student鈥檚 face when he gazed out on the Scottish countryside.

Woman looking at phone in the rain

Up close and personal

The Tar Heel Bus Tour stops off at the UNC Institute for Marine Sciences on Oct. 19, 2023, in Morehead City. Participants were able to get hands-on experience with marine life and learn about how our state鈥檚 coastal ecosystems work.

The bus tour provides a yearly opportunity for faculty and staff members to learn about our state, visit communities that many 萝莉研究所 students call home, see the University鈥檚 impact on North 萝莉研究所 and interact with people and programs that can inform their teaching and research.

Person in dinosaur costume at Old Well

Thirsty dinosaur

A person dressed in an inflatable dinosaur costume approaches the Old Well fountain on Nov. 28, 2023, as their mother (obscured by the columns) makes a picture of them.

According to the dinosaur鈥檚 handler, she was on campus to surprise her father, a faculty member, for this birthday.

Car lights in front of the Old Well

Lighting up the night

The Old Well is adorned with holiday lights during this long exposure image made on the evening of Nov. 28, 2023.

This image was made with a camera on a tripod to keep it steady during the long exposure. With this method, the headlights and taillights of any car passing through the frame will turn into light trails in the final picture. It was fortuitous that a bus happened to pass by at the exact moment this picture was made, thus creating taller light trails that framed the Old Well itself.

Mother kisses daughter on cheek in front of Old Well

A mother-daughter moment

Graduating senior Madison Pittman gets a kiss on the cheek from her mother, Lisa Pittman, at a pre-graduation photo shoot at the Old Well on April 4.

Every year, about a month prior to the Commencement ceremony, seniors clad in graduation regalia make their way to the Old Well for commemorative photos. I鈥檓 always searching for genuine moments that happen beyond the posed pictures.

If a parent happens to be at the shoot, it鈥檚 almost guaranteed they will visibly show their pride and admiration at some point, so I keep my camera ready. I watched and made images as this mother adjusted her daughter鈥檚 graduation clothing and then kissed her on the cheek. The kiss only lasted for a split second, but I was happy to have captured the moment.

Graduate in cap and gown yelling in celebration

It’s a celebration

The 萝莉研究所 Latinx Center held their annual Exitos ceremony to recognize and celebrate the graduating members of their community on May 9 at the Genome Sciences Building.

Herrison Chicas, who received his doctorate degree in organizational behavior from the Kenan-Flagler Business School, celebrated during the event.