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Chancellor Thorp joins ranks of administrators who also teach


Vice Chancellor Winston Crisp

One of the busiest men at UNC is about to add another helping to his already full plate.

Chancellor Holden Thorp will soon join the few who have tackled the challenge of balancing teaching with administrative duties when he begins teaching Introduction to Entrepreneurship in the fall.

Teaching classes as an administrator is no easy task, but it makes the job more rewarding, according to those who have done it.

Among the ranks is Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp, who is teaching Advanced Leadership Development. He said making time for the two tasks is not easy.

“You don’t get to do less of your job,” he said. “You have to put in as many hours as it takes.”

From his @ViceCrispy Twitter account, Crisp tweeted on Monday, “Preparing for first class of semester. Excited to be teaching again. The job is always more fun when I get to be in the classroom.”

“You have to make time for the things you care about,” Crisp said in an interview. “But I have to be vice chancellor first. If I can’t get that done and teach, I can’t teach.”

Ty McNeil, one of Crisp’s students, characterized Crisp’s teaching style as personal.

“He has a laid-back teaching style, which is kind of surprising since he’s an administrator,” McNeil said.

But sometimes senior administrators just can’t find the time to teach classes.

James Moeser, UNC’s chancellor from 2000 to 2008, taught when he was an academic dean at the University but chose to devote 100 percent of his time to his administrative duties after becoming chancellor.

“I was happy when I was teaching, but I knew that I made the right decision in not trying to balance teaching when I had a job that demanded all of my attention, as chancellor,” Moeser said.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney taught astronomy courses upon arriving at the school in 1980 until he became an administrator in 2004.

Though he said he would love to teach introductory astronomy again, his job as provost is too demanding with 27 people reporting to him directly.

Thorp, who taught chemistry at UNC before becoming chancellor, decided to teach Introduction to Entrepreneurship because he saw a need for it at the University.

“The minor in entrepreneurship is capped at 100 people, but we get far more applicants than that,” Thorp said. “The class provides a bigger venue for folks who want to see what we do.”

Thorp said he is prepared for the inevitable challenges. He will work with two faculty members, Buck Goldstein and John Akin, to take turns leading lectures.

“We’ve built a system that should be able to handle whatever happens, and I get to step in and teach when I get tired of doing important stuff,” Thorp said.

But he said he knows his job as chancellor comes first.

“My main job is to run the University, but I’ll participate in the class enough to be a part of it,” he said.

Despite the difficulties that experienced administrators know Thorp will face, they are optimistic about his capability.

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“Holden is co-teaching with people, so that helps,” Carney said. “He is really excited about this. I can see he wants to lend a hand and get involved.”

Moeser agreed. “I’ve known others who have done it, and there’s a strong team of people that he’s working with,” he said.

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