UNC’s Chancellor Steps Down

UNC Leader, Carol Folt, UNC Chancellor
Carol Folt will no longer lead UNC after the end of this academic year (photo credit: Antony-22).

Carol Folt, who has served as the Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 2013, has announced that she will step down from her position overseeing the university at the conclusion of this academic year, the 225th in the university’s storied history. Before arriving at UNC Chapel Hill, Folt served as the interim president of Dartmouth College, a school at which she worked for three decades — and a school that we suspect regrets not appointing her its permanent president to succeed Jim Yong Kim (who happened to also resign from his position overseeing the World Bank this week, an appointment that led him to leave Dartmouth).

Folt arrived at UNC in the midst of one of the university’s most significant scandals. She ended up overseeing an investigation into whether the school’s star athletes essentially coasted through their academics at the university, some with poor literacy skills. It was alleged that the school even created more or less fake classes just for star athletes — so they could get by. And while the NCAA did investigate these claims, as our regular readers may remember, the NCAA ultimately took no action against MJ’s alma mater.

Carol Folt, A Bold and Steady Carolina Steward

And while Folt would usher in an era of great achievement for the university during her years as its leader, we’d like to focus this post on the brave decision she announced in conjunction with her planned resignation — the removal of the base and plaques from a Confederate campus monument, a monument that has drawn the ire of so many. In Carol Folt’s own words, “I have authorized the removal of the base and commemorative plaques from the Confederate Monument site in McCorkle Place. As chancellor, the safety of the UNC-Chapel Hill community is my clear, unequivocal and non-negotiable responsibility…No one learns at their best when they feel unsafe…While I recognize that some may not agree with my decision to remove the base and tablets now, I am confident this is the right one for our community – one that will promote public safety, enable us to begin the healing process and renew our focus on our great mission.”

Folt’s decision to remove the base and commemorative plaques of the highly controversial monument on Carolina’s campus is, to us, emblematic of her stewardship of the university: steady, bold, and just. She does the right thing even when it’s not always popular. We are excited to see where she ends up next. With Dartmouth embroiled in a lawsuit related to the sexual harassment of students by professors in the school’s psychological and brain sciences department, we wouldn’t be too surprised if Folt returned to Dartmouth to lead the College on the Hill — even if there’s no opening at the top right now.


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1 Comment

  • D Poplar says:

    Folt’s tenure was a debacle and marked by a feckless leadership style and a lack of backbone. The school has not righted its sense of self and direction after the academic scandal. The fundraising while she was there is a testament to the great affection alumni and friends of the university of all descriptions have for Chapel Hill, not any role in her part. She never had the courage to take a stand on principle on “Silent Sam” and instead relied upon students to do what she never had the courage to insist upon (except in private). And her stealthy and unilateral removal of the remainder of the monument without consultation this was both cowardly and likely against state law. I agree that Silent Sam should have been removed, but Folt never was willing to take a strong stand as leader in an open manner; rather she just preferred lurking in the shadows and occasionally tossing out a timid pronouncement or two aimed at offending neither side while maintaining her professional viability. She was effectively fired by the Board of Governors yesterday due to her last gasp of incompetence and triangulation. Good riddance. I hope that UNC hires a strong leader who—whether one agrees with her convictions or not—will be willing to stand and be counted, not merely looking to dance between raindrops.

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