Five finalists are in the running to be dean of UNC-Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences.
The candidates, chosen by a search committee, will visit the university for a series of public forums in the next few weeks. The person hired will succeed Karen Gil, who has been dean since 2009.
The College of Arts and Sciences is the largest academic unit and the core of the university, home to 16,000 undergraduates, including all students in their first two years. It includes 40 academic departments and 2,700 graduate students.
▪ Kim Barrett, dean of graduate studies at the University of California, San Diego, where she is a professor of medicine. A native of the United Kingdom, she holds chemistry degrees from University College, London and her research focuses on digestive diseases.
▪ William Easterling, dean of Penn State University’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences since 2007. He has three degrees from UNC, and is an internationally known expert on the effect of climate change on the global food supply.
▪ Kevin Guskiewicz, senior associate dean for natural sciences at UNC, where he leads centers on both sport-related traumatic brain injury and the study of retired athletes. His research focuses on concussions, and he has served on special committees of the NCAA, the NFL Players Association and the National Football League. He has degrees from West Chester University, University of Pittsburgh and the University of Virginia.
▪ Laurie Maffly-Kipp, a former UNC professor who has been humanities professor at Washington University in St. Louis. At UNC, she taught religious studies and American studies; her research is focused on African-American religions and religion on the Pacific borderlands. A professor at UNC for 24 years, she left in 2013 for Washington University, where former UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp is now provost. Maffly-Kipp has degrees from Amherst College and Yale University.
▪ Keith Whitfield, vice provost for academic affairs at Duke University, where is a psychology and neuroscience professor. Before coming to Duke in 2006, he spent much of his career at Penn State University. He holds degrees from the College of Santa Fe and Texas Tech University.
Guskiewicz and Maffly-Kipp are most well known at UNC, where both were on key internal faculty committees shortly after the discovery of the long-running academic and athletic scandal, in which no-show classes in African and Afro-American studies helped keep athletes eligible to compete.
Maffly-Kipp served on a three-member faculty subcommittee that issued a report on athletics and academics in 2012. The report raised professors’ concerns about athletics, but another faculty leader, Jan Boxill, had suggested revisions to the draft to avoid further “NCAA issues.” In subcommittee emails obtained by The News & Observer, Maffly-Kipp questioned why Boxill was trying to make late changes in the report.
After the N&O published a story about the tension between Boxill and the subcommittee, UNC’s Faculty Executive Committee voted in 2013 to back Boxill. The committee, which at the time included Maffly-Kipp and Guskiewicz, issued a statement that the group had “complete confidence in her judgment and integrity.”
Later, an investigation by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein showed that Boxill was implicated in the scandal — having steered student athletes to the classes, given them improper help and suggested grades for them. Boxill resigned in February, several months after the university took action to dismiss her.