The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday October 25th

Provost role often leads to higher of?ce

UNC is undergoing its fourth national search for a high-level administrator in four years.

Three years ago the University searched for a Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and selected Holden Thorp. A year later, a national search put him in the chancellor’s office, meaning another search for the College.

And this year, a search is underway to find a new executive vice chancellor and provost — the No. 2 administrative position at UNC and its chief academic officer.

The woman who previously held the job, Bernadette Gray-Little, was selected this summer to lead the University of Kansas.

UNC’s provost position is a major stepping stone for further leadership positions. Those involved in the search said this is a selling point and challenge of the post. Gray-Little’s predecessor, Robert Shelton, now leads the University of Arizona.

Dr. Shelton Earp, director of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, will be leading the search for Gray-Little’s replacement. Earp has experience with administrative searches and served on the committee that selected former Chancellor James Moeser.

He said the ideal candidate to fill the provost’s office is someone with an academic background and administrative experience. He said beyond that, few characteristics of the new post are set in stone.

The committee will submit three names to Thorp, who will make the final decision.

He said he hopes to submit the names by January, but realizes this is an ambitious timeline.

In recent years, a trend has emerged of selecting high-level administrators from within the ranks of UNC.

Thorp was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences before becoming chancellor. He took the dean spot a year earlier after being pulled from the chemistry department. The new dean of the college was also an internal candidate.

McKay Coble, chairwoman of the faculty, said with homegrown talent in the chancellor’s office and the college, an outside candidate might bring new ideas to the table.

But she added that UNC shouldn’t rule out selecting an internal candidate and that there are bound to be good applicants at UNC.

“UNC breeds its own leaders,” she said. “We have to embrace the potential that it could be one of us, but we also have to embrace that it might be someone from the outside.”

Carney steps up again

In the meantime, the provost job is being filled by Bruce Carney, who has held multiple administrative roles in the past few years — few on a permanent basis.

The provost position is the second interim role Carney has filled in the past year. He acted as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences last year while UNC looked for a permanent replacement.

Carney said he wasn’t planning on acting as provost, but that he’s trying to be helpful.

“Somebody had to do it,” Carney said, laughing. He said his experience working in administrative roles for several years made him a good candidate for the temporary position.

Carney, who has been at UNC since 1980, was a professor in the physics and astronomy department before moving to administration.

While the search continues, Carney will have his hands full. Sitting on the University’s budget committee, he must cope with significant cuts, which he called “a constant series of tiny crises.”


Contact the University Editor at udesk@unc.edu.

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