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Folt commended for her service, addresses responsibility around Silent Sam

Carol Folt

Chancellor Carol Folt speaks at a faculty executive committee meeting on Monday, Sept. 24.

With nine days left in Chancellor Carol Folt’s term, the Faculty Executive Committee met Tuesday to appreciate her service and discuss steps after her resignation.

Folt made remarks to the committee about her work, including creating new offices, such as the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development and focusing advancement efforts on student affordability.

“I can remember back to what it was like when I came, and what I’ve seen happen over the years and what sort of unfolded for me and it’s that I’ve had an amazing experience in an amazing university,” Folt said. “So I look at this and I look at our faculty, I think we’ve gone through so many different processes.”

She reminded the committee to focus on academic excellence despite tough times at the University.

“So that’s my main message right now is no matter what, do not turn your eyes from the really important thing which is the education and the discovery that you do,” Folt said.

In a unanimous vote in the presence of Folt and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bob Blouin, the Faculty Executive Committee passed Resolution 2019-2 appreciating Folt, highlighting her various initiatives at the school.

“Therefore, be it resolved that the faculty of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill expresses its gratitude and admiration for her exemplary service as chancellor not only to our university, but also to the State of North Carolina, the nation and the world,” Secretary of the Faculty Vin Steponaitis read from the resolution.

Alongside recognition of Folt, the committee discussed next steps regarding Silent Sam.

“Carol, you’ve always said that you wanted this Silent Sam conundrum to really provide a way forward to deal with the much deeper issues of institutional racism, the importance of inclusion going forward,” said committee member Beth Mayer-Davis, a professor in and chairperson of the Department of Nutrition.

As decided at the Jan. 11 Faculty Council meeting, Chairperson of the Faculty Leslie Parise will appoint members to a Faculty Advisory Committee on the Confederate Statue. This new committee will be included in administrative discussion on Silent Sam.

However, Folt stressed the importance of understanding differences in autonomy between the Board of Governors and the UNC-Chapel Hill governing bodies.

“I think one of things that our community has not really grappled with very well is that in most things, we have the authority, we have the responsibility to do something and we have the authority to carry it out. This is one of those cases where we don’t have the authority,” Folt said. “Having something that the community doesn’t want when the authority is not theirs to regulate, that is really difficult.”

The Faculty Executive Committee is unaware of details regarding the leadership transition after Folt’s resignation. Blouin expressed his trust in Bill Roper, interim president of the UNC system, to select a new chancellor.

“I have known Bill Roper for all of my 15-plus years here, and I know that Bill accepted the role as president as really an act of love and service for this University and for the state and I have a lot of faith and confidence in Bill to try his very best to do the right thing,” Blouin said. “So, I do know Bill is working hard in trying to identify a person who would be willing to serve as interim chancellor.” 

The BOG, including Roper, will meet on Friday, and is expected to discuss the state of UNC-Chapel Hill’s leadership after Jan. 31, Folt said. 


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