The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday April 1st

Provost Shelton Faces Full 1st Day

As Robert Shelton takes on his first day as UNC's provost, he will be rifling through e-mails and catching up on the issues that will soon demand his full attention.

And University officials say Shelton has a full plate waiting for him.

Shelton will be taking on the position of provost and executive vice chancellor today, making him the head of academic, administrative and operating affairs at UNC, as well as the second-in-command below Chancellor James Moeser.

Prominent issues waiting to be tackled include defining a clear academic plan, working on campus finance issues, dealing with the impending bond construction and the recruitment and retention of top-notch faculty.

But Moeser said Shelton will spend his first few days familiarizing himself with his new surroundings, much as Moeser himself did in August.

"His first day will not be unlike mine -- getting to know the campus and establishing personal relationships and just finding his way around," Moeser said.

"It will be exactly like what I went through."

Shelton was approved officially by the Board of Governors on Oct. 13 after review by the Board of Trustees and Moeser. He comes to UNC from his post as vice provost for research at the University of California Office of the President.

UNC officials said they have full confidence in the new provost's ability to acclimate himself to the University's environment and that his transition into administrative duties will be smooth.

"I have every confidence that he will know what to do when he gets here," said Dick Edwards, who has served as interim provost since July and will assist in Shelton's transition.

Shelton said he will spend his first few days catching up on issues, meeting people and reviewing e-mails. He said he knows he has a lot of adjusting to do to get in the swing of things. "I can't wait to get focused on activities in Chapel Hill," he said.

University administrators gave divided opinions on exactly what activities he should tend to first. Sue Estroff, chairwoman of the Faculty Council, said attracting and retaining high-ranking faculty are high on her list of priorities.

"Faculty need more than just a salary -- they want to surround themselves with the best undergrad and graduate students, be ensured parking spaces and have ample research leave, as well as state-of-the-art resources with which to conduct that research," Estroff said. "You can only pay people with a Carolina blue sky for so long."

Edwards said the provost's attention quickly will be drawn to issues "firstly related to the University's budget and secondly to the construction that will start soon, due to the passing of the bonds."

Sue Kitchen, vice chancellor for student affairs, felt the Master Plan will also demand Shelton's attention.

"He has already been briefed on that issue, as well as on the capital improvement bonds," she said. "He will be an important voice concerning these issues."

And Dean Bresciani, vice chancellor for student affairs, said that deciding which issues to focus on first will be a balancing act. "The provost's responsibility at an institution like Chapel Hill are so broad," Bresciani said. "It's a challenge sorting through all of them and finding the best way to balance the missions of this University, which are teaching, research and service."

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