Chancellor Holden Thorp to step down in June


Following a series of damaging scandals that consistently called the effectiveness of his leadership into question, Chancellor Holden Thorp announced Monday he will step down at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

With the announcement, Thorp becomes the most senior UNC official to leave his job in connection with a rocky period for the University that began with NCAA investigation into its football program.

“Nobody asked me to make this decision,” Thorp said in an interview, adding that the stress of the scandals have weighed on his family. “Over the weekend Patti (Thorp) and I talked about how much we’ve been through the last 2 and a half years, and the future of the University and came to the conclusion.”

Thorp said stepping down will give him a clear mind to ensure that the the current reviews of the University’s academics are finished correctly, and it will allow the University, and his family, to move forward.

“I think that’s an orderly transition, one that just gives everybody a chance to move forward,” Thorp said. “Including my family, we’re pretty worn out. I’ve got a teenage daughter who wants to live in a neighborhood again.”

Chairman of the Board of Trustees Wade Hargrove will form the search committee for Thorp’s replacement. During this search, the search for the new provost to replace Bruce Carney will be put on hold, and plans will be released within the coming days about any changes in Carney’s plan to step down, if any.

Hargrove said in an interview that he and members of the board have spent the last day attempting to dissuade Thorp from stepping down.

“It’s a sad day for the University,” Hargrove said. “The chancellor has inherited a set of problems, not of his making, and has done an exemplary job in trying to address those problems in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. We will miss his leadership greatly.”

Thorp said he will return to the faculty, and hopes to teach chemistry as well as continue some of the entrepreneurship classes.

“It’s going to be awesome,” Thorp said.

Here is an excerpt of the UNC press release:

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp intends to step down at the end of this academic year because he says it’s best for the future of the University.

Thorp notified UNC President Tom Ross on Sunday (Sept. 16) of his intent to resign, effective June 30, 2013. Thorp told Ross that he is willing to stay beyond June 30, if needed, to avoid any gap in leadership until a successor can be in place.

“Chancellor Thorp’s love of and devotion to UNC-Chapel Hill are beyond question,” Ross said. “I have accepted his announcement with considerable sadness, but fully understand he is acting in what he believes to be the best interests of UNC-Chapel Hill and the entire University. Whether you’re measuring the quality of its students, the productivity of its faculty, or the benefits of its world-class research, Carolina has made great strides during his tenure.”

Said Thorp, “I will always do what is best for this University. This wasn’t an easy decision personally. But when I thought about the University and how important it’s been to me, to North Carolinians and to hundreds of thousands of alumni, my answer became clear.

“Over the last two years, we have identified a number of areas that need improvement,” Thorp said. “We have a good start on reforms that are important for the future of this University. I have pledged that we will be a better university, and I am 100 percent confident in that. We still have work to do, and I intend to be fully engaged in that until the day I walk out of this office.”

By announcing his intentions now, Ross said that Thorp can devote his full attention and focus over the next nine months to making sure that the problems identified on the campus have been fully corrected and that the many new policies, procedures and safeguards that have been implemented to prevent similar issues in the future are adequate and represent best practices.

“It will also allow for an orderly transition in leadership, an important consideration given that the campus is without a chief development officer and the provost has announced his intention to retire, as well,” Ross said. “I will, of course, be working closely with UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees Chair Wade Hargrove to quickly launch a search for a successor.”

Said Hargrove, “Holden has the full support of the Board of Trustees, and we have tried to talk him out of this decision. I respect his unwavering commitment to always do what he thinks best serves the University. Holden Thorp has done an exemplary job as chancellor, especially in improving a wide range of processes and academic and fiscal management procedures. It is inspirational to see the passion that Holden has for the University and the positive impact a research university can have on society.”

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