Second Decade: Rebirth with Research Focus

The Carolina Population Center's second decade began as Director Tom Hall worked to rebuild relationships with University departments. Even before he became Director in 1974, there was widespread debate within the University as to the Center's fate. Some departments even recommended that CPC be disbanded.

Around 1976, the University administration came to the conclusion that CPC could survive but only if CPC halted technical assistance activities and focused on building a research center. Hall, a Professor of Health Administration, resigned in 1977, as his charge of stabilizing the Center was complete.

J. Richard Udry was appointed the new Director of the Center. As a sociologist trained in scholarly research, Udry was able to bridge the gap between the Center and those in the University calling for a research-based population program. Appointed Director in August of 1977, Udry set about reshaping CPC into a research-based Center. Interview clip: Udry recalls talks with University administrators prior to being appointed Director [VIDEO].

In his first month as Director, Udry changed the Center's structure so that membership in the Center was through the Fellows program, and the mission of the Center was to serve the research and training needs of the Fellows. This fundamental shift was the single most important change in the Center's history, and in a very short time the University administration became ardent supporters of the Center's work. Interview clip: Udry states his vision for CPC [VIDEO].

Fellows, who were UNC faculty with current academic appointments and who also had a significant research focus in population studies, became the core of the Center. Udry's vision was that Fellows were a multidisciplinary group of faculty members who constituted the Center as a permanent institution. The first group of 33 Fellows was appointed by Udry in 1977, and they quickly adopted a set of rules that defined the way the Center operated. Since 1977, Fellows have been responsible for electing new members. The Fellows program continues today with the same rules that were established in 1977.

Udry also created a Fellows Advisory Council, a group of five Fellows who represented different academic disciplines. The first Council had Fellows from the Departments of Economics, Obstetrics, Biostatistics, Political Science, and Maternal and Child Health. Council advised the Director on a broad range of issues from policy changes to funding developments to space allocations. To this day, Council remains an important advisory group to the Director. Interview clip: Turchi, Bilsborrow, and Suchindran recall the end of the Faculty Associates program and the start of the Fellows program [AUDIO]. View memo from Udry announcing formation of Fellows Council.

To facilitate the research conducted by the Fellows, Udry reorganized the Center's support structure. The Academic Programs Office and the International Programs Office were phased out, and all operations of Center services were organized into five cores: Administration, Computer Services, Library, Editorial Services, and Statistical Consultation. View 1978 CPC Organizational Chart. View 1983 CPC Organizational Chart. Interview clip: Udry talks about establishing the foundational elements of CPC [VIDEO].

As a result of the change in the Center's mission, USAID-funded technical assistance projects at CPC closed out, and the Center initially became much smaller. Several USAID projects completely ended such as POPLAB, Technical Information Services, and numerous international projects. Some of the projects spun off into their own entities, including nonprofit organizations that are now known as Family Health International, IntraHealth, Ipas, and Population Services International. The adult products store Adam & Eve also has its origins from research conducted by graduate research assistants at CPC.

Udry focused on obtaining funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), both to support research projects directly and indirectly through the provision of support services. In 1977, NIH funded Udry's AdSex project (which existed with NIH funding until 1999). In 1979, CPC received its first P30 Population Center grant from NIH, which provided support for the Center's infrastructure. This application was based on eligible research grants headed by Robert Gallman (Economics), John Gulick (Anthropology), John Kasarda (Sociology), Ronald Rindfuss (Sociology), Alan Treloar (Obstetrics & Gynecology), Udry (Maternal and Child Health and Sociology), and Bradley Wells (Biostatistics).

CPC received support from other sources such as the National Science Foundation, Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Department of Agriculture, March of Dimes, and the Population Council. The project that led to the creation of one of the Center's large demographic research projects, the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey in the Philippines, was initially funded by Nestlé. This project researched the ways that infant feeding patterns impacted infant health. Receiving industry monies for such a study caused great debate at CPC, requiring the Fellows to vote on whether to accept the funds, and requiring negotiations and approval at the Vice Chancellor–level at UNC.

During CPC's second decade, the training program became firmly rooted in the organization's research mission. In 1979, the Center received a training grant from NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) during its first T32 NICHD National Research Service Award funding cycle. This funding, which provided support for predoctoral trainees and postdoctoral scholars, enabled the Center to establish rules that trainees are provided funding for a minimum of nine months, bringing stability and strength to the training program. The rules also established that each trainee must have a preceptor who is a CPC Fellow, ensuring that their training was closely aligned with current research at CPC. Interview clip: Udry talks about changes to the training program in the late 1970s [VIDEO].

Support for training activities was also received from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Compton Foundation. This support allowed international students to receive training at CPC, and U.S. students interested in international research to train in other countries. Between 1979 and 1984, the training program averaged 20+ predoctoral trainees and six postdoctoral scholars each year. Don Thomas, Training Coordinator, cultivated a strong community of trainees interested in multidisciplinary scholarly research.

CPC began providing dedicated office space to Fellows, encouraging collaboration across disciplines and use of CPC services to support research. By the end of the decade, the number of professional staff who supported the newly funded research programs increased dramatically, especially in Computer Services. During this decade, Computer Services provided data entry and programming analysis services, initially with keypunch cards hand carried to the campus computation center, then using computer terminals with remote printout picked up at the center. In 1983, the first IBM microcomputers were purchased, and in 1984, CPC installed the first PC-based Novell network on the UNC campus. The initial file server had six connected PCs, one dot matrix printer, 40 MB of hard disk space, and WordStar and Lotus 1-2-3 software.

CPC began to broaden the concept of population research, thanks to integrated research based on multipurpose, multidisciplinary surveys on the environmental, economic, behavioral, and social aspects of demographic change and health outcomes. For example, in the first years of the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey, it became clear that women who were breastfeeding their babies were far less likely to become pregnant, indicating that breastfeeding may be used as a contraceptive method. This insight was not unique to CPC, but CPC was organizationally positioned to incorporate nutrition and related disciplines into its interdisciplinary program. Interview clip: Guilkey and Akin talk about multidisciplinary research projects [AUDIO].

CPC held steadfast to its interdisciplinary nature. In 1983, Udry wrote in the Center grant application to NIH, "...We have begun to recognize that many substantive research problems can only be understood by combining the expertise of the social/behavioral sciences and the demographic approach with the expertise of the biomedical sciences. Udry's team working on adolescent sexual behavior and Popkin's team working on infant-feeding patterns illustrate the foundation we are building in biosocial approaches to population research."

CPC held its first Distinguished Lecture in 1985, welcoming Kingsley Davis of Stanford University, who presented "The Demographic Foundations of the Women's Movement."

As the decade closed, CPC was a small manageable Center that was very active in research, and had a reputation as being one of the best population centers in the world.

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