Summer Reading Program

This annual project, directed by the New Student and Family Programs office, introduces incoming students to intellectual life at Carolina. On the day before the fall semester begins, new students join small-group discussions on a selected book that they read during the summer. The late chancellor Michael Hooker introduced the Summer Reading Program in 1999 to add more intellectual content to orientation. It has proved to be a popular and sometimes controversial addition.

In 2002 the book selection committee chose Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations, by Michael Sells, inspired by what they saw as the need for Americans to better understand Islam after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Conservative journalists publicized the selection and helped encourage public criticism of Carolina for its choice. The Family Policy Network (FPN) filed suit against the university (Yacovelli v. Moeser) on behalf of several students, claiming that the requirement violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. FPN lost in court and on appeal, while the university offered students who did not wish to take part in discussions the option of writing a paper instead.