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Pick-a-provost: Announcement selecting Bruce Carney as provost is surprising; process bypassed formal selection committee

Chancellor Thorp’s announcement last week that interim provost Bruce Carney would be taking the position permanently pending trustee approval came as a surprise.



After conducting an extensive search, which included a 17-member search committee, a $72,800 payment to a search firm, additional payments for candidate expenses and a review of about 70 applicants from universities across the nation, the chancellor decided to select Carney to fill the University’s No. 2 administrative position because “there just wasn’t a match” among the finalists.



The search committee narrowed the applicant pool to four candidates that they recommended to the chancellor.



One finalist dropped out after taking a job at the University of Michigan. The other three came to Chapel Hill for interviews and a public presentation.



If the three vetted candidates weren’t good matches, then the UNC community deserves a chance to decide, based on its own assessment, whether Carney is the right man to permanently hold the job of provost.



By all accounts, Carney has done an outstanding job as interim provost. Carney successfully managed the position following Bernadette Gray-Little’s departure. But he did not participate in the same review procedures as the three finalists who were selected by the search committee in January.



Regardless of Carney’s experience at UNC, neither the community nor the original search committee has had an opportunity to properly assess his ability to carry out the responsibilities of provost.



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On paper, Carney seems well-qualified. Like Thorp, Carney has been at UNC for a considerable amount of time, beginning his tenure in 1980 as a physics professor. He has been an associate dean and is the Samuel Baron Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy.



But students, faculty and other administrators should have been given the opportunity to assess Carney as a provost candidate. That was the original reason for the formation of the search committee.



The community shouldn’t have to accept the chancellor’s choice based solely on his word that Carney has “done an outstanding job” as an interim.



If the other three candidates weren’t good matches, then please show us, in detail, why Carney is.