The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday August 11th

New vice chancellor role filled

Joel Curran at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Buy Photos Joel Curran at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

When Carol Folt was sworn in as chancellor last month, she said the University must tell its stories better.

And with the hiring of UNC’s first-ever vice chancellor for communications and public affairs, the University aims to do just that.

UNC announced Monday that Joel Curran, who has worked in public relations for major companies such as Walt Disney Co., would start the job Dec. 2, making an annual salary of $300,000.

Curran, who graduated from UNC in 1986, is the managing director of the flagship New York office for MSLGROUP, the world’s fourth largest public relations and engagement agency and the communications arm of the Publicis Groupe.

“This is a dream job for me,” he said in an interview. “I have 27 years of PR experience and get to marry it with the University.”

UNC has focused on its public relations strategy this year, creating the first-ever vice chancellor for public affairs position as well as a UNC Board of Trustees external affairs task force.

This marks the third major administrative position that Folt has hired this year, including the counterpart to Curran’s position, vice chancellor for development, which was filled earlier this year by David Routh.

The responsibilities of the two positions were originally held by former Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Matt Kupec, who resigned amid questions surrounding misuse of University funds.

Kupec’s title was split so each position could focus more on solely fundraising or public relations.

Board of Trustees member Steve Lerner, who co-chaired the search committee, said the position was meant to delegate responsibility and ease Folt’s transition into the chancellorship.

Curran said he is excited to work with Folt and her team.

“There are some wonderful stories that are being told from all the schools in Chapel Hill that need to be told with greater strategy and more orchestration,” he said.

“We need to resonate more strongly with our constituents, including students, faculty, alumni and legislators. Everybody has a keen interested in what the University is doing. It’s one of the best investments you can make in this state.”

Curran serves on the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Board of Directors and said he has stayed informed on University news since graduating.

“I’ve always maintained close contact, especially with the School of Journalism,” he said.

The search for the vice chancellor of public relations took about five months, and there were hundreds of candidates, Lerner said.

“Joel stood out head and shoulders above everybody else,” Lerner said. “As a University we will bear the fruits of this hire for years and years to come.”

Senior writer Daniel Schere contributed reporting.

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