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Are we any closer to finding an interim chancellor?

Bill Roper

UNC-system Interim President Bill Roper (left) and Secretary of the Faculty Vin Steponaitis (right) meet with UNC-Chapel Hill's Faculty Executive Committee Friday afternoon in Davis Library. The meeting was held to discuss the process Roper intends to use in his decision to appoint UNC's interim chancellor. 

Interim UNC-system President Bill Roper met with the Faculty Executive Committee Friday afternoon to outline the criteria guiding his search for an interim chancellor to replace UNC Chancellor Carol Folt. Roper also answered questions and took remarks from the Faculty Executive Committee, as well as other faculty members present at the meeting.

Folt will be stepping down on Jan. 31, a date set by the UNC-system Board of Governors, and as the interim UNC-system President, Roper has been tasked with finding an interim chancellor to replace her.

At the meeting, Roper outlined his four main criteria for the interim chancellor. 

First, Roper explained that the current search is for an interim chancellor, not a permanent chancellor.

“This will be a rapid process, a thoughtful process, with wide consultation and so on, but this is not the same thing as the process to select a permanent chancellor for the University,” Roper said. “However, in describing the person as an interim chancellor, it is my belief that this person needs to be chancellor for an interim period, not act as an interim caretaker.”

Second, Roper said he hopes to appoint someone already familiar with UNC.

“I believe that it is very important that the interim chancellor be someone that is well known in this community and the surrounding area,” Roper said. “We want somebody who can be engaged from day one.”

Third, the interim chancellor should be someone “of stature."

“She, or he, will be able to, in rapid order, assess the situation and have the gravitas to then engage with all of the parties of interest, push back on some of them if that is necessary, push back on me, if that is necessary, and do the job of chancellor without folks running over her, or him,” Roper said.

Finally, Roper seeks to appoint an interim chancellor whom he can trust to get the job done.

“This needs to be somebody I trust and know well,” Roper said. “The reason for that is, it needs to be somebody that I can say, 'You’re the person I’m going to give you the running room to do the job.'”

Roper also said that he wanted someone who was “thoughtful and open in the way they approach life, and people, that they have a desire to be open and transparent.”

The interim president said he hopes to appoint an interim chancellor by the time Folt leaves office, which is less than a week away, and have the interim chancellor in office by Feb. 1.

“I’ve talked to Bob Blouin, the provost, and said, ‘Bob, if need be, I will be turning to you to ask you to serve until we get this in,'" Roper said. "Furthermore, as a number of people have suggested, he might be the person to be interim chancellor.” 

Although Roper did not mention any other candidates specifically, he did say that he has a list in mind.

When asked about the intersection of the chancellor selection process and the BOG's plans for Silent Sam, Roper stated that he did not believe that Silent Sam should return to McCorkle Place, though he did not explicitly say whether he does or does not believe that the statue should return to campus at all.

Regarding the role which the BOG will play in the selection process, Roper said that he would make the final decision.

“For the time being, I have (the Board of Governors’) trust, and they trust me to make the right decision,” Roper said. “I am consulting, but it is my decision, and I am determined to do the best I can.”

Overall, Roper said, he hoped to set UNC back on track.

“This is an extremely serious matter, and I recognize that the whole campus has been rent asunder in this episode, and it’s my fervent desire to bring this to, it won’t be a happy ending, but to an ending that allows this University to enter its 226th year with its head held high and doing the work of a great, global public research university,” Roper said.

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