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Friday January 21st

Karen Gil to step down in May

The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences will step down in order to return to psychology.

“The College is in a good place,” she said in an interview Thursday. “I have really valued working with a new chancellor and provost, and I just feel like this is a good opportunity for me to go back to psychology and for the College to have the opportunity to search for its next dean.”

During her time in the position, Gil, who will step down in May, worked through challenges including UNC’s athletic-academic scandal and the nation’s economic troubles.

“Since 2009 and the economic downturn, we have had decreases in the state budget that have certainly placed a real challenge on running the College of Arts and Sciences at a time when students’ demands for classes were going up as resources were going down,” Gil said.

The findings of the Wainstein report revealed that Gil had no knowledge of the paper classes or irregularities within the former Department of African and Afro-American Studies before a 2011 meeting with former department chairman Julius Nyang’oro and Jonathan Hartlyn, current senior associate dean for social sciences and global programs.

Upon learning of the existence of the classes in 2011, Gil conducted a review of the department with Hartlyn and William Andrews, former senior associate dean for the fine arts and humanities.

“The Deans’ charge was to determine those courses in which irregularities existed; identify possible patterns and explanations for those courses; recommend follow-up actions and measures; and provide initial recommendations regarding policies and procedures to prevent such irregularities from occurring in the future,” the Wainstein report stated.

As a result of the findings of her review, Gil called for the resignation of Julius Nyang’oro, former chairman of the AFAM department. Gil said she has no regrets about her handling of the athletic-academic scandal.

“When I became aware of the problems in 2011, myself and my team got to work very hard on trying to understand what happened and put in place new policies and procedures to prevent anything like this from ever happening again,” she said. “I think we are stronger now.”

Gil said she is proud of her accomplishments in starting new programs, such as an undergraduate biomedical engineering degree and the entrepreneurship minor. She said she has stressed course redesign and has confidence in the future of the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies.

“I believe that AAAD courses and the major has been redesigned and is truly a strong department,” she said. “The faculty is doing great scholarship, and I hope that students will realize the exciting new course offerings they have and become more engaged.”

Chancellor Carol Folt and Provost Jim Dean will announce plans to find Gil’s replacement at later date.

Gil said she will miss working with the staff and students in South Building but that she is excited to be returning to UNC’s psychology department.

“This really is a job that I love, being the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. It really just feels like the right time for me to return home to psychology.”

Psychology department chairman Donald Lysle said he looks forward to Gil’s return to the department.

“She is an outstanding teacher at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and will make contributions to our mission to provide innovative teaching,” he said in an email. “She is also a highly regarded researcher in the field of health psychology, and her research will greatly enhance our clinical psychology program.”

Beverly Taylor, chairwoman of the Department of English and Comparative Literature, said Gil was a good dean and hopes that her successor follows in her footsteps.

“It would be smart of them to follow in Dean Gil’s playbook in keeping as much financial support for students and professors,” she said.

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