Trustees ask Thorp to stay


Chancellor Holden Thorp leaves his office in South Building Monday afternoon after announcing he will step down in June. He has been chancellor since 2008.

The chorus of voices calling on Holden Thorp to stay on as chancellor grew significantly louder Wednesday, with the University’s Board of Trustees offering its own unanimous appeal.

Support for Thorp emerged quickly after his Monday announcement he would step down following two years of grappling with one of the largest academic scandals in UNC history.

At a Tuesday meeting of the general faculty, members voted overwhelmingly to ask UNC-system President Thomas Ross to decline Thorp’s resignation, though Thorp told faculty he still plans to step down.

At Wednesday’s emergency meeting of the Board of Trustees, members said Thorp was not on the phone when they drafted the formal resolution and do not know what his reaction will be since he was traveling Wednesday.

But Thorp did call into the meeting at the beginning and continued on the line for some of it, which was held mostly in closed session.

“This is Holden,” a voice echoed from the phone in the middle of a long table.

“This is South Building,” responded Sallie Shuping-Russell as members of the board erupted in laughter. Shuping-Russell is chairwoman of the budget, finance and audit committee of the board.

The board’s emergency meeting was called to discuss “personnel matters,” which ended in members confirming a new appointment ­— the interim vice chancellor for advancement.

The position was left vacant after Matt Kupec resigned when an investigation was launched into his use of University travel funds alongside Tami Hansbrough, a major gifts officer. Hansbrough, mother of former basketball star Tyler Hansbrough, resigned two days later.

Julia Sprunt Grumbles, who helped co-found the Carolina Women’s Leadership Council and was a member of the steering committee for one of UNC’s largest fundraising campaigns, will now take the position, at least while the search is conducted for Kupec’s permanent replacement.

Grumbles, a UNC alumna, was the most senior ranking woman at Turner Broadcasting where she served as corporate vice president before coming to Chapel Hill in 2006.

Lizzy Hazeltine, internship director for the minor in entrepreneurship, said she has worked alongside Grumbles for more than a year, and that Grumbles was heavily invested in the minor.

“Julia brings out the best in everybody she’s around. No question, she is a competent leader, a strong professional and a great mentor,” she said.

The Carolina First Campaign raised more than $2.3 billion. Out of that, women gave more than $470 million under Grumbles’ leadership.

“Julia Sprunt Grumbles is a devoted, engaged alumna who has made important contributions to the University’s fundraising efforts,” Thorp said in a press release.

Pro-Thorp rally

Support for Thorp will not end at the trustees’ meeting, as a student and faculty rally has been planned for Friday, said Nikita Shamdasani, student body secretary.

The student rally will occur on the steps of South Building from noon to 1 p.m., and faculty will be holding a broader rally from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will also be a petition students can sign.

Shamdasani said student groups that Thorp has been involved with in the past, such as Mipso Trio and the Clef Hangers, will attend.

“We want a lot of students to be congregated, to show Chancellor Thorp how much we want him to stay.”

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