Students braved the cold to express their gratitude to Chancellor Carol Folt by writing her personal messages on letters and cards outside South Building Wednesday. Folt, who is entering her final day as chancellor, paid a visit to the students who gathered in her honor and couldn’t hold back the tears as she read the messages left for her.
Caroline Bass, a senior majoring in journalism and political science, organized the event to give students an opportunity to bid farewell to the woman who served as UNC's chancellor for nearly six years. Bass said she worked closely with Folt in a student leadership capacity through different organizations and that she believes there is a side to the Chancellor that not everyone knows.
“I think that a lot of people don’t know that she always has the best interest at heart for her students,” Bass said. “She loves this community more than anything, and despite a lot of problems that the University may face at times, I think she always has a heart for our students and always wants what’s best for them."
The UNC-system Board of Governors voted on Jan. 15 to make Folt’s resignation effective Jan. 31. For seniors, Folt's abrupt resignation means that the only UNC chancellor they have known will no longer be walking with them at graduation in the spring.
Norma Techarukpong, a senior studying statistics and Spanish, said that the change required her to adjust to a new reality.
“You’re kind of already adjusted to the University and you feel like you should know everything. This is your home, this is your place and to have that change on you, I guess it’s just a really sticky situation,” Techarukpong said.
Students showed up despite the chilly temperatures and constant wind to show their appreciation for Folt.
"It brightens your day when you see her in the Pit handing out pizza or taking pictures with students, and I think that she genuinely cares about the students above everything else," said Elizabeth Brooks, a sophomore majoring in exercise and sports science.
While Folt's successor has not been named, some students said they believe that the new chancellor will inherit a sturdy framework laid by Folt.
“She has set such a solid foundation to the University,” said William Ahlquist, a sophomore studying political science and public policy. “When you think of Carolina, you think of Chancellor Folt being like the figurehead. And now that she’s gone, its kind of just unsure for the next chancellor.”
Standing behind a table full of Sharpies and a banner held down with Insomnia cookies, Bass said she remains confident in the school that loves, despite her strong feelings for Folt.
“I know that none of us exactly know what the future holds and who our next chancellor will be, but I know that I probably speak for a lot of students when I say that I hope it is someone who does want to be a Tar Heel and who does bleed Carolina Blue," Bass said.
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