CHAPEL HILL – James (Jim) W. Dean, Jr.–currently dean of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School–will take over as UNC’s provost effective July 1, replacing Bruce Carney, who’s returning to the faculty after four years in the position.
WCHL’s Aaron Keck caught up with Dean Dean–soon to become Provost Dean–shortly after the announcement on Thursday afternoon.
Click below to listen to their conversation.
AARON KECK: What was your reaction when you heard the news?
JIM DEAN: I was really thrilled–I mean, it’s a tremendously important position for the University, and I knew that there had been a number of great candidates, both internal and external…so the fact that the Board of Trustees and our incoming chancellor chose me was really kind of mind-boggling.
AK: How long was the process? When did you officially find out?
JD: I had found out a couple of days ago…and the process itself was several months long, from the beginning of the application until today.
AK: You’ve been in administration at UNC for quite a while–do you think this is going to be a big transition?
JD: I think it is…Right now I have responsibility for one of the professional schools at the university, and with the new move I’ll have responsibility–indirectly, because there are deans of all the schools–but I’ll have overall responsibility for all the schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. So it’s certainly an order of magnitude more responsibility.
AK: What’s the number-one lesson you’ll take from your time as dean of the business school?
JD: I think probably it’s the importance of assembling a really strong team around you. I’ve been so blessed, at Kenan-Flagler, to have a team of really wonderful leaders working with me…and anything that I’ve accomplished has really been our collective accomplishment. And so I hope that we can have a similar team of wonderful people to work with. As you know, some of the top jobs at the University are still open, and so we’ll be trying to put that together over the next few months.
AK: It’s a time of transition for UNC–you’ll be working with the new chancellor, Carol Folt–have you had a chance to speak with her? What are your thoughts about working with her?
JD: I’m really excited…By coincidence, I was in New England last week and had a chance to go to Hanover and have breakfast with her. We talked about the possibility of this happening–and we hit it off immediately. She’s energetic, she’s smart, she’s got great plans for UNC–so I’m just thrilled.
AK: Was that an official interview?
JD: I think we were probably beyond the interview stage (at that point).
AK: Heading into the position, what’s your top priority?
JD: I think it’d be premature for me to say any priority right now. In the short term, my priority would really be in terms of activity–and that’s to try and get around campus as much as possible, as soon as possible, and learn from all the various people and the various schools, what are the issues that they’re concerned about. I think in fairness, the University’s reputation–or ‘brand,’ if you will–has suffered a little bit over the past few years–and one of the things that I want to try and work with (Carol) Folt and the rest of the leadership team is to put that all behind us and really start moving forward energetically from today onward.
AK: That’s obviously a big concern for everyone at UNC–what, on the flip side, is the thing that makes you most excited about the future?
JD: UNC is just a tremendous institution. It is one of the best institutions in the world–and I’ve been in touch with businesses, in my business life and in my academic life–and there’s just very few places with the combination of assets that UNC has. So the opportunity to serve at that level, at an institution of that kind of quality–it has to be one of the best jobs in the world. I couldn’t be more excited.
AK: Provost Jim Dean, thank you so much. You–you mentioned on Twitter, I think, that you’re going to have to change your Twitter handle from @DeanJimDean to something else–is it going to be “ProvostJimDean,” or will you come up with something just as clever?
JD (laughing): Well, “DeanJimDean” kind of wrote itself…I guess it’s probably just going to be “ProvostDean,” although I’ve been joking with my family that we’re going to change our family name to Provost–so I can be “Provost Provost” instead of “Dean Dean.”