Chancellor Carol Folt Says She Is Embracing Change

CHAPEL HILL – UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said that Carolina is moving forward from past scandals and embracing change through new leadership and policy adjustments.

“I’m very proud of Jim Dean, and Bubba Cunningham’s very deep into the institution look at how we are going to support our athletic students from recruitment all the way to graduation,” Folt said.

The three leaders formed the Student Athlete Academic Working Group in August. Dean, UNC’s top academic officer, said Wednesday to a Board of Trustees committee that the working group was not making just a “casual effort” to improve the connection between athletics and academics. He said that changes would be implemented this academic year.

Folt said that this attitude of “embracing change” is in part due to the new era of  top leadership. Both she and Dean were named to their respective positions this summer. Bubba Cunningham is now two years into his role as Director of Athletics.

Folt laughingly told the Trustees Thursday that she had been at the helm of the University for 88 days and not a second of the time had been boring.

“That, too, is a gift when you come to a new place, people are always thinking about the future,” Folt said. “They aren’t sitting, thinking about what they did yesterday. They are anticipating what is needed to be strong and ready for tomorrow.”

Earlier this month, the Rawlings Panel issued a report on the role of athletics in campus life. It was commissioned by former UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp.

Along with the Student Athlete Academic Working Group and the Rawlings Report, efforts have been on-going across campus in examining athletic/academic relations. Folt said the Carolina will be announcing other, similar initiatives in the coming weeks.

Folt said that there are several other areas where UNC is making significant progress as well.

“I think that Carolina Counts, which of course predates me, is something that I’m proud of because it indicates that people are willing to rethink the way that we do business.”

Carolina Counts was a program that began in 2009 to help the University become more efficient. The projects completed so far have reduced recurring annual State costs by over $54 Million.

Folt said she is also satisfied with the work being done to rewrite UNC’s sexual assault policy, as well efforts to encourage entrepreneurship.

“The real Carolina story is about entrepreneurship and innovation,” Folt said. “Because that is a core value here, that already sets up people who don’t just embrace change, but want to live that.”

Folt took over as the University’s leader on July 1, replacing Thorp, who is now provost at Washington University in St. Louis.  Folt previously served the interim president of Dartmouth College.

UNC’s Jan Boxill & Jim Dean Talk Athletics/Academics

CHAPEL HILL – Jan Boxill, UNC’s Faculty Chair, said Wednesday that significant progress has been made in achieving “balance” between athletics and academics at the University. In the wake of scandals that continue to haunt Carolina, the pressure is on to make changes and prevent future indiscretions.

“We can be a model for other Division I athletic programs,” Boxill said. “That doesn’t mean that we will reach complete agreement among the faculty as no policy will.”

In mid-July, Boxill was accused by the Raleigh News and Observer of a cover-up regarding information about UNC’s athletic program

Boxill told WCHL News that she was cast in a negative light by the N&O for trying to help the University’s image during tumultuous times with the NCAA, the media, and even the public. UNC faculty issued a statement supporting Boxill after the article was published.

Photo by Dan Sears

Photo by Dan Sears

While addressing a committee of the Board Trustees Wednesday, Boxill said that the work of the Faculty Council’s athletics focus group had been tedious, but that it was on a path toward progress.

Efforts have been on-going across campus to strengthen relationships between academics and athletics. The Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes was reorganized and now reports to Dean’s office.

Earlier this month, the Rawlings Panel issued a report on the role of athletics in campus life. It was commissioned by former UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp.

Boxill said that report was discussed by the Faculty Council on September 13 and will be dissected more thoroughly next month.

Chancellor Carol Folt and Provost Jim Dean both assumed their respective positions this summer. Boxill said this has given her a fresh perspective on Carolina’s strengths and weaknesses.

“Their visible presence and willingness to learn from all of us has presented opportunities for the faculty to find solutions to our old and new problems,” Boxill said.

Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham, Folt, and Dean together formed the Student Athlete Academic Working Group in August.

Dean said Wednesday that the three leaders were not making just a “casual effort” to improve the connection between athletics and academics

“And this group, because of the nature of the people who are on the group, is not a group that will be making recommendations,” Dean said “There is no one for us to make recommendations to. We will be making changes.”

UNC Provost-elect Jim Dean

UNC Provost-elect Jim Dean

He added that he, Folt, and Cunningham were going through “everything that has to do with student athletes with a fine-toothed comb.”