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The Daily Tar Heel

New Provost Adjusts to Hectic Days

Taking his hectic schedule in stride, the new provost found time to confer with the chancellor, talk to an outside expert about research doctorate programs, take a tour of Manning Hall and discuss Native American issues at UNC with a faculty member -- all before squeezing in a bite to eat at noon.

"I need seven hours of sleep," Shelton said. "Now I'm getting six, maybe 5 1/2."

Shelton, who came to UNC from his post as vice provost for research at the University of California Office of the President, is now in his fifth week as the University's provost and executive vice chancellor.

He said such a dual role is necessary to keep UNC's business decisions and academic vision in sync. Shelton's provost hat requires him to focus on academia, while his other role gives him a broader look at what it takes to operate a university. The provost, who is the University's second-in-command, is accountable to the chancellor for the conduct, coordination and quality of the University's academics and researching efforts.

Overlooked finishing touches in Shelton's office might be a reflection of how he spends much of his time: roaming outside the bounds of South Building.

A full day of work begins at 7 a.m., but by 10 a.m., Shelton's morning had already featured two other meetings with Chancellor James Moeser and Charlotte Kuh, a member of the National Research Council.

Although he likes to return home at 7 p.m., Wednesday's work would not end until after a dinner with the Executive Committee of the Faculty Council ending at 9 p.m.

After Shelton's meeting with Kuh, he rushed off to the School of Information and Library Science in Manning Hall for a tour and a meeting.

"We're very pleased Robert is with us," said Joanne Marshall, dean of the School of Information and Library Science, who led on the tour.

Shelton's inquisitive nature shone through during the extensive tour of Manning's infrastructure, as did his role as a family man. "I remember this book," Shelton said, excitedly pulling "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" from the shelf of the library's children's collection. "I read this book with my children."

Throughout their discussion, Shelton spoke seriously of the need for planning in case the state cuts funding for UNC. Marshall asked if Shelton and the chancellor would support creating an undergraduate major in information and library science, an example of the lobbying that consumes much of Shelton's time.

"What you have at Chapel Hill, or any top-notch educational facility, is very smart, very energetic people who have great ideas that you can't possibly allocate everyone's desires due to limited resources," Shelton told Marshall.

While walking back to South Building for his next appointment, Shelton talked about the toll of his hectic schedule.

Despite his sleep deprivation, Shelton said he's adjusting to his new responsibilities. "It's like when you start a new class," he said. "There's so much to learn, and you don't know how you're even going to catch up. But it's interesting, and there's a lot to do and a lot to learn."

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