Six doctoral students have graduated with a Ph.D. in May 2016: Rory Bradley, Matt Feminella, Janice Hansen, Heidi Hart, Steffen Kaupp, and Annegret Oehme. This year’s graduating class was also significant because it included the last UNC-only doctoral student. Eighty years ago, Dr. Frederic Edward Coenen was awarded the first PhD in Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 131 sheepskins later, Matthew Feminella will receive the last UNC-only German PhD on May 8, 2016. This marks the endpoint of a very long and proud tradition of German Studies, possibly the oldest free-standing PhD program in German in the southeast.
This is, however, in reality less an endpoint than a transition point, for it also highlights a truly auspicious beginning: UNC German has moved from a free-standing PhD program, to an innovative, indeed unique private-public joint doctoral program sponsored by two world-class institutions: the Carolina-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies.
Thus, as we celebrate the completion of one era, we also celebrate the great success of this new venture. The tradition continues, but in a different form that builds on the strengths of UNC’s legacy program, with Duke’s strengths in the field of German Studies. The first PhD graduate of the Carolina-Duke partnership received her degree in May 2015; this spring we will “hood” 5 more Carolina-Duke PhD’s, bringing the overall total to 9!