In this time, she has served two medical deans, six chancellors, 32 student body presidents and 69 trustees.
Earning an annual salary of $150,000, Kirby has not only overseen schedules but also drawn up her experience to offer advice.
“My job has been to be the chancellor’s right hand,” she said. “From time to time, when an issue comes up it is my job to tell them what it is about and how it should be handled.”
In this capacity, Kirby has also been an adviser to student government, said Zealan Hoover, student body vice president.
“I must stop by at least once a week, if not more often, and sit down and talk to her,” he said. “She is really just a great mentor to students and genuinely interested in what we have to say and what is going on.”
Kirby’s retirement is going to leave an enormous role to fill in the chancellor’s office, said Wade Hargrove, chairman of the Board of Trustees.
“I don’t think Brenda is replaceable,” he said. “She is a wealth of institutional knowledge and wisdom.
“We will miss her greatly.”
That feeling was commonplace Thursday as word spread of her retirement.
“I’m very sorry to see her go,” said David Bevevino, former student body vice president. “She’s invaluable to the institution, so that’s going to be tough — big shoes to fill.”
Thorp said a replacement will be found as quickly as possible so Kirby can work with her replacement to ensure a seamless transition.
“The best we can hope for is that she will spend a great deal of time with the person that replaces her,” he said.
Kirby herself was more relaxed about the vacancy she will leave.
“I don’t have to worry about that,” she said. “I’ve always been told that you don’t choose your successors.”
Kirby said the highlight of her career at UNC has been working with the leaders who have molded the institution.
“I’ve worked with some awesome leaders in the Air Force ROTC, in the medical school and here in the chancellor’s office,” she said. “I have learned so much from their leadership and attributes that they have had.”
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