On hearing news of the pending resignation of chancellor Holden Thorp, UNC faculty rallied to save their leader.  On one level, the outpouring of support is understandable.  Everyone can see the unfairness of Thorp’s situation.  But the contrast between the faculty’s sudden assertiveness and its earlier passivity is striking. 
Since the cloud of scandal descended on UNC in 2010, faculty have struggled to find their voice.  The NCAA had come to town for the first time in decades, academic integrity had been thrown to the winds, and our leaders consistently left us in the dark.  But until last week, there were no emergency faculty meetings, no demonstrations in front of South building, no demand for answers and information, no efforts to coordinate with other campus groups, and no move to rein in the forces that had caused our fall from grace.

Yet within minutes of the announced resignation, the faculty sprang into action against the one outrage they would not stand for: a change in leadership.  Faculty members worry that our Trustees might now appoint a chancellor who would not share their values.  To those outside the university, the faculty’s newfound urgency must have looked curious indeed.  Content to fiddle while the university’s image burned, faculty acted spontaneously to protect the chancellor when they saw a threat to long-term interests.

But a basic concern for the values of integrity, honesty, and accountability should have stirred them to action long ago.  The irony is that bracing criticism from the faculty may have been exactly what Holden Thorp needed to hear.