At two airports hundreds of miles apart, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney saw two directions for the School of Dentistry.
In San Francisco, he met Jane Weintraub, a dentistry professor at the University of California, San Francisco. As the director of the university’s Center to Address Disparities in Children’s Oral Health, she displayed a background in research that appealed to a core mission of the UNC: serving the state.
Halfway across the country at O’Hare International Airport, Carney conducted another interview, this time with a candidate with more administrative and industry experience.
“In the end, it was that difference that led to the choice,” Carney said, declining to identify the other candidate or his institution.
In a decision that reflected the research and community-oriented priorities of the School of Dentistry, Carney and Chancellor Holden Thorp extended the deanship to Weintraub, bringing an end to a search that drew out for 16 months after failing in its initial attempt.
Barring a rejection by the Board of Trustees at her confirmation Thursday, Weintraub will assume the deanship July 1, with a recommended annual salary of $320,000.
“We have somebody the rest of the dental community will sit up and take notice of,” Carney said, adding that Weintraub’s research background will help “make the most out of” a more than $100 million construction project underway for the Dental Sciences Building.
Barbara Rimer, dean of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and chairwoman of the dentistry dean search committee, said the school will benefit from Weintraub’s background in public health — an expertise that could better address the dental needs of chronically underserved parts of the state.
After announcing the decision to dentistry faculty Tuesday, Carney said in an interview that he preferred Weintraub to Gregg Gilbert, a dentistry professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who received an offer in May to succeed John Williams as dean.
Carney said Weintraub’s gender did “not directly” factor into his decision, though he did consider diversity. Last year’s provost search received criticism for not producing any female candidates.
“I believe that the school needs to pay more attention to the up-and-coming generation,” he said. “She had a better grasp and dedication to that.”
With Weintraub, Thorp filled the fourth of five deanships that have become vacant in his first three years as chancellor. Thorp said Weintraub raised concerns at the negotiating table with projected budget cuts, and the career prospects of her husband, Christopher Barker, who will become director of strategic alliances for enabling technologies in the School of Medicine.
“We had a lot of work to do to help her feel like she could be successful here,” said Thorp, whose mandated 5 percent budget cut will force the dentistry school to prepare for about $400,000 in cuts effective July 1.
With another four vice chancellor roles vacated during his chancellorship, Thorp has had two fewer vacant posts among both the dean and vice chancellor ranks than his predecessor James Moeser.
Weintraub said her experience in the University of California system will prepare her for the looming budget cuts facing the University.
“People in Carolina are very concerned with this coming year, she said. “But we’ll handle it.”
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