When Barbara Entwisle was director of the Carolina Population Center, she faced more than $800,000 in cuts during her first two years at the helm.
But despite its challenges, the center doubled the amount of grants it received under her eight-year tenure. By the time she left that role in 2010, the center was second in grants only to the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
And now, the University as a whole will put its faith in her to produce similar results in another troubled budgetary climate.
Entwisle was named vice chancellor for research — a post she had held on an interim basis since Aug. 1 — effective last Friday after being approved by the Board of Trustees the day before.
Entwisle, also a sociology professor, has worked for the University for 26 years.
“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to address the many challenges of the position and to move the University forward in its research mission,” she said.
Bruce Carney, executive vice chancellor and provost, said her vast experience with research on campus separated her from the other two finalists, David Lee of the University of Georgia and Kimberly Espy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who held similar posts at their respective universities.
While all three were qualified, Carney said neither of those schools prepared their candidates for the intensity of research at UNC that Entwisle has experienced for a quarter century.
“So many things went into the recommendation,” he said. “She’s a better match to the needs of this research-intensive campus.”
Entwisle said her main goal is to foster more interdisciplinary collaboration, rattling off a lengthy list of departments she has worked with.
She also wants to bring more attention to innovation and entrepreneurship by stressing that it has a broader definition than what people generally consider.
The key to achieving both of those goals, she said, will be to put together multidisciplinary teams of researchers to tackle various issues.
Chancellor Holden Thorp, the champion of on-campus innovation and entrepreneurship, praised Entwisle’s selection in a press release Thursday.
“She understands multidisciplinary research — a hallmark of this University — extraordinarily well and has the skills and insights we need to help keep Carolina competitive nationally,” he said.
Entwisle said that in the short term, the biggest impediment to her goals is the economic situation at both a state and national level.
But despite that uncertainty, the University has seen increases in research funding for 14 years in a row, bringing in $803 million last year.
“I’m hoping that we can continue that,” Entwisle said.
Carney said the selection of another interim candidate after a long search is no reason to write off the search process. The University has also appointed its current dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, vice chancellor for student affairs, provost and chancellor from within.
“Considering how much money the people are responsible for, spending $100,000 on someone like Entwisle — whose budget is probably $20 million — that’s worthwhile,” he said.
“Probably half the deans came from outside, and that’s acceptable … Although outside people can bring new perspectives, the advantage of an internal person is they’re already here.”
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