UNC's next provost has 3 1/2 months to resolve all the issues in his personal and professional life and get ready for a move across the country.
Although Robert Shelton said he still has innumerable tasks to complete in his job with the University of California system, he said he looks forward to his transition to UNC, where he will take office Feb. 1.
"The chancellor and I talked about the optimal start date and put the date we arrived at after our conversation before the Board of Governors," he said. "I know any time you're recruiting, you want the person there tomorrow, but there are always loose ends to be tied up."
Shelton was approved officially by the BOG on Oct. 13 after review by the Board of Trustees and Chancellor James Moeser. The appointment marked the end of a nationwide search that began when Moeser came to campus in August.
Shelton will hold the position of provost and executive vice chancellor, making him the head of academic, administrative and operating affairs at UNC.
Although he has accepted the post officially, he said he has not yet made his decision public to his colleagues in the UC Office of the President. "We haven't made the announcement yet - we need to coordinate it with the folks in Chapel Hill," he said.
But Shelton said he had left an individual voice-mail message for each member of the physics department at UC-Davis, where he is a professor and former chairman of the department.
He also broke the news to his three children - prior to the BOG's approval, Shelton had only told his wife, Adrian, of the possible move. "My whole family knows now, and they are all very excited," he said.
Shelton said there are a number of tasks left for him to tackle before he becomes a member of the UNC community. Among other duties he hoped to see to fruition, he said he would help UC-Davis find a senior faculty member to carry on his duties in the physics department.
"The nature of these jobs is that you are always going to have a long list of things currently active," he said.
Despite these challenges, Shelton said he is eager to begin as the University's provost. "I am thrilled, and I have been interested all along, since I put my hat in the ring to compete," he said. "I'm just very excited to be working with (Moeser), and I am very pleased with the agenda set up for my wife to make sure she has a career path in Chapel Hill."
He said once he gets to campus, some of his immediate priorities probably will include recruiting faculty, allocating money from the $3.1 billion higher education bond if it passes Nov. 7 and tackling issues of accessibility for all students.
"I feel excited and overwhelmed about everything that needs to be done - but that's one of the things that attracted me (to UNC). The possibilities are unlimited at Carolina."
Shelton's appointment coincides with the selection of Nancy Suttenfield as the vice chancellor for finance and administration. Suttenfield, vice president of finance and administration at Case Western Reserve University, will take office Nov. 20.
Shelton and Suttenfield's appointments and Moeser's recent induction as chancellor mark the start of a new trio at UNC's helm. "With the three of us new, we're all extremely energetic and have no preconceived notions, except that we want to make Carolina the best university we can."
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