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Thorp, Carney will leave office at end of month

Throughout Chancellor Holden Thorp’s career, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bruce Carney stood faithfully beside him to fill in where he was needed.

When Thorp left his position as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2008, Carney stepped in to take on the role.4

The following year, when Thorp, after he became chancellor, needed someone to fill the provost position, Carney moved again to take on that role, too.

At the end of the month, when Thorp officially finishes his tenure as the University’s top leader, Carney will again be beside him — leaving his position, too.

And Carney said he’s ready to leave the position he’s tried to resign from multiple times before now.

“Oh, I wish I had more (career highlights) to reveal,” he said.

“They’ve been a tough four years.”

Carney will return to the faculty in the fall, and he said he is looking forward to both research and teaching.

Thorp, who will take on the provost position at Washington University in St. Louis, said he is excited about doing the work that he enjoys and is most familiar with.

Carney said among the biggest challenges was handling the University’s budget decisions during the economic recession.

“(It was) awful, really awful,” he said.

“About this time of year, each year, (it) has caused me to go into a week or two of near-sleepless nights.”

Thorp also faced a number of challenges throughout his tenure, including handling an NCAA investigation into UNC’s football team, addressing irregularities in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies and, most recently, tackling a complaint against the University regarding its handling of sexual assault cases.

Thorp said if there was one thing he could go back and change during his administration, he would have taken more control.

“A lot of people have analyzed a lot of the things that have gone on in terms of, we never could quite get our act together fast enough,” he said.

“And the reason for that is that there are so many different parties with a stake in every decision that the University does.

“There are probably some times where I should’ve just said, ‘Well look, I’m the chancellor, I know what to do here, so we’re just going to go ahead and do it,’” he said.

Despite the scandals, Thorp said serving as chancellor has been rewarding.

“I think it’s an incredibly fulfilling job because you get to spend time with students and faculty and employees at the University who are learning and exploring so many exciting things,” he said.

He said winning the NCAA men’s basketball championship in 2009, having Barack Obama and Jimmy Fallon on campus and seeing seven students become Rhodes Scholars during his time in office are among the highlights of his career.

Carney said he’s proud of introducing the University’s academic plan, updating faculty promotion and tenure guidelines and initiating an academic theme — “Water in Our World” — for the campus.

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Jan Boxill, chairwoman of the faculty council, said she thinks Carney’s academic plan is among his biggest accomplishments as provost.

She said he was in tune with faculty needs and regularly came to executive faculty council meetings and listened to their concerns.

Andrew Hunt, who has worked in the provost office since Carney took the job, said Carney is quick-witted and fun to be around at work.

“He’s very quick and clever,” he said. “He kind of sets the tone for the office, and it’s a tone that everyone kind of is comfortable with. I think we all enjoyed working for him.”

Winston Crisp, vice chancellor for student affairs, said Thorp always brought a certain level of knowledge to University problems.

“(Thorp) could bring tremendous intellect to whatever issue we were working on,” he said.

“But it was always grounded in the fact that he absolutely cares about each and every student that steps foot on the campus,” he said.

Boxill said she appreciated that Carney and Thorp were both readily available to answer questions, as well as their commitment to making the University accessible.

“If there’s one thing that I think makes both of them stand out, it’s the recognition that this is the University for students and faculty, it’s the University for the people,” she said.

“And to keep that mission alive and allow it to be affordable for everybody.”

Crisp said both leaders had a love for the University.

“Their passion for the people of this place and for this place was really catching and really fun to be around,” he said.

“Both of those gentlemen absolutely have Carolina in their blood.

“Whatever we were doing, it was clear that they absolutely wanted to do what was best for the University,” he said.

“And that was fun to work with, and that will be missed.”

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