“Academic affairs brings together the leaders on campus,” van Noort said. “Whether those be the vice chancellors of student affairs, the health center directors, career services, the registrars, the provosts; they come together to share practices and to help each other.”
As far as future goals for the academic affairs department, van Noort is hoping to improve the equity and access of a North Carolina higher-level education for all students in the state. She stressed the significance of future initiatives that plan to improve the education of transfer, military and first-generation college students.
“President Spellings is truly a visionary leader and that is one of her most important platforms, and one of the reasons I am so excited to be here,” van Noort said.
Van Noort grew up in Overton, Nebraska, before attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a first-generation college student. She received her bachelor's and master's degree in French, and she received her Ph.D. in French at Boston University.
She said she brings more than 30 years of experience in higher education to the UNC system. Van Noort began her academic career at the University of Texas at Arlington as an assistant professor until she assumed her final two positions there as associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and associate vice provost for undergraduate studies.
“I no longer teach actively right now, but once a professor, always a professor, and so I have a very clear picture of the things that students care about and need,” van Noort said.
Lynn Peterson, senior associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Engineering, said at UT-Arlington, van Noort transformed the College of Liberal Arts’ 12 curricula and expanded the college’s offerings in a variety of fields including study abroad opportunities, honors and online courses. She also ensured that such curricula reflected Texas educational requirements.
She even served as chairperson of the university’s Undergraduate Curriculum Committee at one point.
“It was much more of a role in which she was kind of instrumental in overseeing a real development of the university in terms of different trust areas," Peterson said. "People came to rely on her for help in starting new programs.”
Peterson said van Noort left behind a legacy of placing a greater university-wide emphasis on student success.
Elisabeth Cawthon, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at UT-Arlington, first encountered van Noort as a faculty colleague and later as her successor as Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
“Her experience at a large state institution such as ours that has a close connection to state oversight is directly applicable to what she is doing in North Carolina,” Cawthon said.
Cawthon said while at UT-Arlington, van Noort displayed a wide array of skills, from the humanities to data analysis, all of which made her an effective leader when it came to decision making.
“She just has a very gentle, pleasant way about her with tasks that could be difficult or technical,” Cawthon said. “I think she helps people work through that because she has a really good sense of humor about it.”
In 2016, van Noort became vice president for Academic Programs and Instructional Strategy in the UNC system, and has been here ever since.
“North Carolina is an incredible place to be for someone who is interested in education,” van Noort said. “We have very strong universities, both public and private. We have a large and vibrant community college system with which we work closely."
Van Noort said, however, that she is most thrilled about working alongside some of the most committed leaders in higher education to ensure the well-being of each North Carolinian student is prioritized.