When Carol Folt talks about her career in higher education, she quotes former New York Yankees baseball Hall-of-Famer Yogi Berra.
“I like to kid around about Yogi Berra, but he says, you know, ‘When you come to a fork in the road, take it,’” she said in an interview Saturday about applying to become UNC’s next chancellor.
“This was that moment for me — and I decided, OK, that sounds amazing.”
Folt, a 61-year-old Akron, Ohio, native and current interim president of Dartmouth College, was unanimously approved Friday by the UNC-system Board of Governors to become UNC’s 11th — and first female — chancellor. She will replace Holden Thorp on July 1 with an annual salary of $520,000, which is $100,000 more than Thorp’s current salary.
Folt began a 30-year stint at Dartmouth in 1983 as a research instructor in biological sciences, eventually working her way to dean of faculty, provost and then interim president when President Jim Yong Kim left to serve as president of the World Bank.
Folt, who has two children in their 20s, was raised in an immigrant family. With her second-generation Albanian mother and her Norwegian father, she grew up with a mindset that hard work and advanced education was essential, she said.
“I look at them now and I think what they gave me was just this sort of starry-eyed belief that the future was yours, but you had to work hard and study hard to get it.”
Her new role as chancellor at UNC will bring a new challenge, as she transitions from an Ivy League school to a public university five times the size of Dartmouth.
Thorp said the transition to a public university will be one of Folt’s most difficult adjustments.