Geoffrey Neal, Assistant Curator at UNC at Chapel Hill Coker Arboretum

Geoffrey Neal, Assistant Curator at UNC at Chapel Hill Coker Arboretum

"I’m sure I’m not the first person to say this, but I’m going to say it anyway. My one bit of advice: put your phone in your pocket and walk across campus with your eyes open and your heads up. Because you are missing so much when you don't do that . . .

"This is such a beautiful space, and in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 years you’re going to be somewhere else. And you’re most likely going to be feeling pretty crappy, because you’ll be just starting out in a fairly low-paying this, that, or the-other, and you’re going to be worried about your car, and you’re going to have your head down for other reasons. So take the time you’ve got now and move through your spaces with your head up. Look at where you are—this is an amazing campus to be on, any time of the year, and to miss the changes because you’re concerned about what someone is doing on your little rectangle in your hand is not the way—in my mind—to learn how to be a human…I get a little sad when I say it, because I have a 16-year-old who has a little rectangle attached to his hand. And getting him out of that is a daily thing—it’s an absolute daily thing. I have to make sure that he’s interacting with this world. The world—not this little world that’s filtered by the little rectangle in his hand.

"I’m a firm believer in the philosophy of lifelong learning. I’m a firm believer in experiential education. You need to get your hands on it, and do it, to make it real. Certainly there’s things that can be taught by showing, but actually doing…there’s no other substitute for it.

"The space that we’re in has been there as a garden for over 100 years. And it was a pasture before that. It’s unique on a college campus that you’ve got 5 acres of prime real estate, quite frankly. It’s in the middle of campus, and it’s not got a building on it. It’s barely got a paved surface. To my mind, it’s just a treat to come in and be able to do that…it’s very fortunate that I happen to live here, and this happens to exist.

"I enjoy an unhurried, uninterrupted cup of coffee on a Saturday morning. That’s something that people just don’t get—at least once they get out of college.

"Recently, best cup of coffee is the Blue Ridge Blend that they’ve got here at The Meantime over at the Campus Y. Take your own cup in—it’s two dollars for a cup of coffee—a good cup of coffee, and they’re always nice when you go in…And it’s for a good cause—they’re using the money for scholarships. So if I’m on campus, that’s where I go."

We thank Geoffrey for his service to the Chapel Hill community. He works hard every day to make this campus more alive and more beautiful and for that we are extremely grateful. Let's show Geoffrey and the other people who work hard to keep campus running smoothly our appreciation. A simple greeting and thank-you goes a long way!

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