Folt era begins at UNC-CH as first female chancellor takes helm

jstancill@newsobserver.comJuly 5, 2013 


UNC chancellor-elect Carol Folt


— Carol Folt, UNC-Chapel Hill’s new chancellor, spent a busy but mostly out-of-sight first week getting to know the campus, making an appearance at the town’s Fourth of July fest and schmoozing with Gov. Pat McCrory.

Folt, who had been interim president at Dartmouth College for the past year, started the job July 1, succeeding Holden Thorp, who left to become provost at Washington University in St. Louis.

Folt, an aquatic biologist, is the first female chancellor.

Her first day on the job coincided with flooding in Chapel Hill and on campus, where some dorms had damage and the campus landmark known as the Pit resembled a swimming pool.

But Folt didn’t want to talk about calamity, or the scandals in athletics, African studies and fundraising that plagued the university in the past few years. She was looking ahead.

In an email to the campus, she wrote: “I just spent my first two days at Carolina as your new chancellor, and everywhere I go I can sense the optimism and belief in our University’s promising future.”

In a three-minute YouTube video, she talked about the value of public universities to society.

“There is something special about America’s great public universities,” she said. “They educate the majority of college graduates. Their outstanding faculties produce the research and ideas that will improve lives, open doors and be a force for good in the world. They are an investment, our best investment, in our nation’s future.”

She also talked about challenges at the university, though did not offer specifics. She said innovators often regard uncertain times as the greatest opportunities.

“At Carolina, like all universities today, we have our share of disruptions,” she said. “Yes, we have to confront those head-on, identify our problems and find solutions to deal with them.”

Folt is still assembling her leadership team. Avoiding the media her first week, she spent most of her time in internal gatherings as well as meetings with McCrory and legislative leaders in Raleigh on Tuesday.

She asked UNC-CH community members to email her at with two things they like best about the campus and two things that need to be improved.

“Even though I cannot answer each message, I promise I will read them all,” she said.

Stancill: 919-829-4559

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