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UNC shifts focus to provost search

Now that a new chancellor has been selected to lead UNC, the focus is on choosing her second-in-command.

Chancellor-elect Carol Folt will make the final decision on who the next executive vice chancellor and provost will be, and members of the search committee are working to present her with candidates by the end of the semester.

After Bruce Carney, who currently holds the position, announced in August that he would step down this summer and return to the faculty, a 21-member search committee formed to find his successor.

Kristen Swanson, dean of the School of Nursing and chairwoman of the committee, said the group is hoping to have someone in place to take over on July 1, which is when Folt will begin her role.

Swanson said the search has more clarity because committee members and candidates know who the position will work with.

“I think up until this point it’s safe to say we have been working with people who are very interested in (UNC),” she said. “Now it’s up to one more level — it’s (UNC) and Chancellor-elect Folt.”

Swanson, who spoke with Folt Wednesday, said they will be in contact with each other at every step in the process.

She said Folt is looking for someone with a vision for the University’s future who will also be a strategic partner.

“It’s her decision in the end,” Swanson said.

“As she comes to know this University better, my sense is she will also come to know who would be her best partner in leading the University.”

Committee members said the selection of the next chancellor provides insight into how UNC’s leadership will take shape, but it hasn’t changed the nature of the search.

“One piece of the puzzle is put together,” said Kim Strom-Gottfried, a committee member and professor in UNC’s School of Social Work.

“We’re looking for the best person and the best fit for Carolina, and that’s been true throughout.”

Carney said the chosen candidate should have chemistry with Folt and be able to form a strong relationship.

Carney added that Chancellor Holden Thorp was directly responsible for his appointment to the position.

After Bernadette Gray-Little, the previous executive vice chancellor and provost, stepped down in July 2009, Thorp asked Carney to act as interim provost. But after interviewing the candidates, Thorp asked him to take on the permanent job.

“He asked in such a way that I couldn’t say no,” Carney said.

But Swanson said she believes Folt will be able to choose the next provost from the group of candidates they present.

“I feel very confident that we will be bringing her some opportunities to find just the right person,” Swanson said.

Swanson said the committee is currently on schedule.

“I hope to have the work of the committee done by the end of this academic year, and then it becomes the work of the chancellor-elect,” she said.

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