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Jim Dean to bring business background to University as new provost

Jim Dean, photographed August 13th, 2010

As Jim Dean, the University’s next executive vice chancellor and provost, prepares to transition into his new position, he said he regrets one thing — having to say goodbye to the only home he’s known at the University.

“While I’m really happy and really enthusiastic and feel very blessed that Chancellor (Carol) Folt has chosen me for this job, it does mean giving up literally everything I’ve known at UNC for 16 years,” he said.

“All of my contacts, all of my colleagues, the majority of my friends on campus — they’re just tremendous people.”

Dean is the current dean of the Kenan-Flagler Business School, but he will leave that position to replace current provost Bruce Carney July 1.

Dean — who was unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees May 23 — said he looks forward to working with people across campus.

“The opportunity to get to know people who are smart and hard-working and influential and wise across the University — that’s going to be great,” Dean said.

Folt said she chose Dean over the other three candidates she interviewed for the position because she valued his knowledge of the University, among other things.

“He works with people across the schools — he has a fairly extraordinary commitment to providing a great education at the undergraduate through the professional school levels,” she said. “I feel like what he believes in and what he’s accomplished so far will be a great asset to me and to the entire team as we work together across the community.”

Dean has served in a variety of leadership positions in the business school since he began as a professor of organizational behavior in 1997.

The focus of Dean’s research and teaching is leadership, organizational change, strategic decision-making, international management and organizational performance improvement.

“Leadership development is something that’s incredibly important in the business world, but certainly beyond,” Dean said.

“And that’s one thing I’ll be interested in seeing if I can bring to the broader University.”

Dean said he has also been involved in launching an online MBA program, MBA@UNC, which he said is arguably the top online MBA program in the world.

When he was associate dean for executive development in the business school, he increased the number and global reach of UNC’s non-degree programs, increasing the revenue for those programs by nearly 60 percent.

Carney said Dean’s biggest challenge in the transition process will be keeping up with day-to-day responsibilities. He said he’s ready to step down and return to the faculty and his research.

“After four years, to be honest, I’m ready to engage in a little less stressful work for a while,” Carney said.

Dean said his first order of business as provost will be to get to know those whom he will be working closely with, adding that he is eager to sit down with students.

“I certainly have high on my agenda the opportunity to sit down with (student leaders) and get to understand what’s on students’ minds,” he said.

Rachel Myrick, the 2012-13 student body vice president and only undergraduate member of the provost search committee, said Dean has strong communication skills.

She said he will be able to articulate the value of a liberal arts education well to local and state leaders who don’t see eye-to-eye with the University.

Myrick also said he was very committed to the idea of accessibility and education, and will work hard to preserve those ideals.

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Folt said she is looking forward to working with Dean next year.

“I’m very excited to be coming to Carolina,” she said. “So it’s great to have a provost in place that is equally excited about our working together.”

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