Chancellor search committee selects ?rm to start selection

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Bill Funk represents his firm R. William Funk & Associates at the first chancellor search committee meeting on Monday.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the University paid R. William Funk & Associates $213,581 to conduct the 2007-08 search that selected Chancellor Holden Thorp. That amount was for the entire search. The article has been amended to reflect this change.

While the search for the University’s next chancellor is already underway, it has become clear that the 21-person committee leading the effort has a long road ahead.

But committee members won’t be making that journey alone.

At the first meeting of the chancellor search committee Monday, committee members selected R. William Funk & Associates to spearhead the hunt for Chancellor Holden Thorp’s replacement.

Thorp announced Sept. 17 that he will step down in June.

The search firm, represented at the meeting by its leading consultant Bill Funk, was unanimously chosen by the committee for the position.

But its experience comes at a price. The company has requested a fee of $120,000 to conduct the search, excluding general and travel expenses — costs that can drive the price up by tens of thousands of dollars.

Other candidates considered were Baker and Associates LLC and Storbeck/Pimentel and Associates.

“It’s striking to me that (Bill Funk), who is sort of at the peak of the pyramid in terms of search firms, is the most passionate and articulate about the positives of this University,” said Barbara Hyde, vice chairwoman of the Board of Trustees and the search committee.

“And that’s exactly what we need.”

Funk is no stranger to UNC. His well-known Dallas search firm has been tapped in past searches, including those that led to the hiring of Thorp, UNC-system President Thomas Ross and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney.

“Bill Funk is a standard in the field — I haven’t talked to anyone around the country who doesn’t know and admire Bill Funk,” said Kenneth Broun, former Chapel Hill mayor and former dean of the UNC School of Law.

“He is a walking encyclopedia of education and he will bring the people.”

Throughout the nation, utilizing a search firm to identify, screen and interview candidates has become increasingly commonplace in higher education.

UNC has been using search firms for years, and at similar costs.

The University paid $213,581 — some of which went to Funk’s firm— for the 2007-08 search for Thorp.

Carney said in September that money spent on search firms does not come out of the University’s budget, but from the UNC-Chapel Hill Foundation Inc.

UNC is one of 13 public universities in the Association of American Universities that has lost its president during the past 18 months.

“Presidential and chancellor attrition is epidemic around the country,” Funk said.

Despite competition with other universities, Funk said UNC’s jump in federal research funding will entice candidates.

He said UNC’s recent athletic, academic and administrative scandals can happen at any university and will not detract from the pool of qualified chancellor candidates.

Ross explained to the committee that the future chancellor must encompass multiple characteristics, including transparency, commitment to a liberal arts education and an understanding of the appropriate balance between academics and athletics.

While the committee hopes to have Thorp’s replacement in office by July 1, Ross said it is important that the decision is not rushed.

“The important thing is finding the right person,” Ross said. “There is competition — there is no doubt about that.

“But there is only one University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”

Contact the desk editor at university@dailytarheel.com

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