On University Day, Optimism For Carol Folt

Carol Folt receives applause after taking the oath of office.

CHAPEL HILL – A new era officially dawned at UNC on a drizzly afternoon Saturday, as Carol Folt took the oath of office as Carolina’s eleventh chancellor.

“It is a precious gift to be here,” she said, “and I am deeply honored to be Carolina’s 11th chancellor, home of the nation’s first public university, with its legacy of excellence and public service.”

Chancellor Folt’s official installation was the highlight of University Day, marking the 220th anniversary of the laying of UNC’s first cornerstone on October 12, 1793. About 2500 people, most from the UNC community, were on hand to welcome her to office.

“Like all of you, I am deeply inspired by Carolina’s history and its higher purpose,” Folt said. “I have confidence in our people, and I believe in the capacity of the great public university to help build a just, safe, more prosperous, and sustainable world.”

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Folt takes the oath of office.

UNC System President Tom Ross presided at the ceremony and State Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarah Parker administered the oath of office. Also present were North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, who spoke of the challenges facing the new chancellor—”UNC is great,” he said, “but because of increased competition throughout the world, UNC must become even greater”—and Board of Governors chair Peter Hans, who issued a call for unity.

“(Folt) will have our support,” said Hans. “She will need that from all of us, because this is a demanding role, and North Carolinians are counting on her.”

And while there are many challenges facing UNC today—ranging from a persistent budget crisis to an ongoing transformation of the nature of higher education—Saturday’s mood was optimistic, as speakers from across the Carolina community voiced their confidence in UNC-Chapel Hill’s first female chancellor.

The future holds great challenges, but under Chancellor Folt’s leadership, Carolina will meet those challenges,” said Board of Trustees chair Lowry Caudill. “We will continue our historical mission and expand our reach and our impact throughout North Carolina and the world.”

UNC-Chapel Hill faculty chair Jan Boxill agreed. “Judging from your first 100 days, I am confident that we chose the right chief executive,” she said, addressing Folt. “Your energy and commitment to learn about NC…not only brings fresh eyes and creative ideas to old problems,  but serves to restore our faith in the Carolina Way  and our commitment to holding ourselves to the high standards we are proud of.”

System president Ross concurred, noting that he decided on Folt as his choice for chancellor early in the search process–and his confidence hasn’t wavered. “She has demonstrated sound judgment, savvy, intellect, energy, wisdom, and empathy, along with a commitment to excellence in all we do,” he said.

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Tom Ross speaks at University Day.

General Alumni Association Board of Directors chair Robyn Hadley echoed the general sentiment, with a nod to Folt’s status as UNC-Chapel Hill’s first female head. “It is a great honor to bring well-wishes to our eleventh chancellor, as she–yes, she–sets sail on this journey to take our nation’s first public university to greater heights in its 220th year,” Hadley said.

And Folt herself expressed that same optimism in her own address, which tied UNC’s future to its long and storied history.

“I believe that Carolina can indeed be the leader in shaping the path for the great public university in America,” she concluded. “We can show how you do it–to be the one that preserves excellence in innovation, access and affordability, a deep commitment to the state, and gather strength to innovate and meet new challenges.

“It is the privilege of my life to be here. Together, we can make history.”

Formerly interim president of Dartmouth College, Carol Folt took office as UNC chancellor on July 1.

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President Ross places the Chancellor’s Medallion around Carol Folt’s neck.

University Day 2013

About 2500 attended the ceremony.


Carolina Community Hopeful For The Future Led By Carol Folt

CHAPEL HILL – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s future rests in the hands of its first female chancellor and brings a storied career to a storied program.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” Faculty Council chair Jan Boxill said.


“I think everyone in the community’s been on pins and needles now for the last six or seven months,” Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said.


“I am exceptionally proud of the person that we found,” General Alumni Association Board of Directors Chair Eric Montross said.


“I’m just incredibly excited to be working with Carol,” Student Body President Christy Lambden said.


“I’m really happy for Carolina and I’m happy for Carol Folt,” UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp said.

Those members of the Carolina Community joined with numerous people who told Chapel Hill-Carrboro through WCHL on Friday just how excited they were to have Dr. Folt joining the Carolina Family. Hundreds of people were seen with smiles on their faces at the events on campus that ushered in the new chancellor.

The last of those voices was that of current UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp who remains in office until July 1 when he takes his new position as provost at the University of Washington in St. Louis.

Chancellor Thorp said he’s also very happy for himself in the culmination of this process as it shows how his hard work throughout the five years in office has paid off.

“I feel that if we were doing a good job boosting the faculty productivity, the student demand, and the sense of community at Carolina, then whenever I left—it turned out to be this year—great people would want to come do it,” Chancellor Thorp said. “And for someone like her to be attracted to come to Chapel Hill and do this job makes me feel absolutely great, and it should make everybody who loves this university feel great.”

He said the result of the search process finding as many strong candidates as it did is evidence enough to support that. However, he said the choice of President Tom Ross capped that result.

As Chancellor Thorp mentioned, the relationship between faculty and administration has been a major focus and is key for any university’s success. The chair of the Faculty Council at UNC, Jan Boxill was grinning ear-to-ear Friday when she said just how excited she was to be working with Chancellor-elect Folt.

“I think for faculty, it’s the best choice we possibly could have had,” Boxill said. “I think Carol’s got so much dynamite. When she interviewed, you could just feel the connection, and I think with all of us on the committee. She asked really interesting questions and got the answers that she didn’t expect, and she didn’t know what to expect.”

UNC is a public institution with more than 29,000 students; Dartmouth is a private college with just more than 6,000.

While some may wonder if the jump in size would have any effect on her ability to serve, Chancellor Thorp said Chancellor-elect Folt’s resume speaks for itself.

“I think that Carol Folt, with her record of scholarship and coming from a great place like Dartmouth College where she’s been a long-time administrator and even had nine months as president, I think she is the most qualified chancellor that we could possibly imagine,” Chancellor Thorp said.

Dr. Folt has been at Dartmouth for 30 years and began her career there as a professor. Over the years, she worked through the hierarchy of administrative roles, a quality Boxill said was a major selling point to the search committee, on which she served.

“She had been every administrative position as well as faculty position, so the credentials were just perfect for us, I think,” Boxill said.

Associate Professor of Sociology Denise Anthony served as chair of the Faculty Planning Committee that helped to draft Dartmouth’s latest strategic plan. As a colleague of Chancellor-elect Folt, she said even in just nine months at the helm, she has served a major role in planning for the future of Dartmouth and, in a way, like few others have done it.

“Carol really wanted to do something different here to have the community develop the plan,” Anthony said. “She was instrumental in creating a variety of committees who then worked with people from all across campus—having conversations, working groups—to develop the plan through this sort of wide-spread engagement of the community.”

Friday’s announcement also sets in motion another very important process: the search for UNC’s Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor.

Last summer, Bruce Carney announced that he would be stepping down from the position to go back to the classroom. A search committee was then formed and the beginning stages of the process were set in motion—like posting the job description and creating a website at which people can submit for it. A 21-member panel was created—just as one was for the chancellor search. However, when Chancellor Thorp announced he would not be returning, that process was put on hold because the University’s second-in-command ultimately has to be able to work with its new leader.

UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said Friday’s events were just the start of a roughly 18-month window of major administrative projects for the University.

“You’re going to see a lot of the University initiatives become more public,” Cunningham said.” A lot of the strategic planning, thinking, and a capital campaign that we’re thinking about launching here shortly—to really talk about the future of North Carolina, where do we fit in higher education throughout the country, where are out priorities going to be within the institution, and then her entire leadership team with have to pull together to garner the resources to achieve the results of the plan that we’re going to lay out.”

While “Big Time College Athletics” is a major point of focus in the nation’s top universities, and with the recent NCAA investigation into the University’s football program, how Chancellor-elect Folt handles athletics along with overseeing the academics and other areas of UNC will be something the public likely keeps its eyes on. Cunningham said he’s confident she’ll be able to hit the ground running on day one.

“Carol’s a great leader, and she will fit into the ACC governance structure exceptionally well,” Cunningham said. “I’m looking forward to her leadership campus-wide and assisting her as best we can from an athletics standpoint. The ACC’s an incredibly strong conference; it has great rivalries, great tradition, and we’re doing everything we can to make it better.”

Another member of UNC’s administration that’s just getting started is Student Body President Christy Lambden. He took office on April 2.

President Lambden said few people get to be in office at the start of an administration like he will.

“It’s absolutely a challenge for the student body and for the whole University to be taking on, but I think more than anything it’s just incredibly exciting,” President Lambden said. “I think that as student body president, you get the opportunity to sit down and think for and plan for more than a year in advance, and I think with a brand new chancellor who’ll be planning out her vision for the University, I think I’ll have that unique opportunity. So, I’m very excited.”

You can hear all of these reactions and much more including full interviews from Friday’s announcement by visiting our website, Chapelboro.com.

Chancellor Thorp said there’s still a lot to accomplish in his time remaining at UNC. Chancellor-elect Folt has returned to Dartmouth College to finish out her duties as interim president. She will take office at UNC on July 1.