In Memoriam – Dottie Holland

The GCPR community mourns the loss of our beloved founding director, Dorothy “Dottie” Holland (1944-2019). Inspired by the 2008 Community Engagement Summit for UNC – Chapel Hill faculty, sponsored by the Carolina Center for Public Service, Dottie had a vision for inviting faculty from different disciplines to collaborate on a white paper about past and current traditions in engaged scholarship from their respective fields.  Ever the consummate mentor, she secured a small grant from the Center to hire two graduate students from Anthropology to assist with documenting the discussions and writing the white paper.  In 2010, the students were co-authors for a publication in Collaborative Anthropologies, titled “Choices, actions, methods, and strategies for engaged scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”  From there Dottie grabbed the hands of several faculty to join her in realizing her vision for a university-wide Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research Program.

Now in its 6th year, the Certificate has awarded more than 30 summer research fellowships and supported hundreds of students through its core courses and sponsored workshops.  Nine students have completed the Certificate and over twenty others are in the pipeline for completion.  As a powerful force with a deep sense of humanity, Dottie served as the founding GCPR Director for four years and with Melvin Jackson as the Community Co-Director.  Together, they adeptly assembled a committed Board, established goals and structure for the curriculum, and negotiated financial support from the University for stipends for community mentors and student seed grants.  In tribute to her beloved grandfather, Ashby Gaines Holland, Dottie has left a legacy gift to GCPR to fund the Holland Seed Grant Awards. Read more about Dottie’s extraordinary life here

Donations in memory of Dottie to the Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research may be made here.


Certificate in Participatory Research

The Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research (GCPR) is an interdisciplinary certificate program for graduate students at UNC Chapel Hill seeking training in the theoretical bases, rationale, methodologies, challenges, and motivations for carrying out research in equitable partnership with communities, instead of on communities.

For an overview of the GCPR program, please view the following presentation: Overview of the UNC Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research

Participatory Research: Critical Dialogues / Stories from the Field featuring Professors Leslie Robertson and Terre Satterfield (Day 1 Video and Day 2 Video)


Please note that there is a Graduate Certificate in Qualitative Studies currently housed in the School of Education. These are complementary but not overlapping certificates. For information about the Graduate Certificate in Qualitative Studies  (GCQS), please contact Dr. Sherick Hughes, Professor of Education and Founder and Director of the GCQS Program (, or visit their website at