Chancellor Carol Folt's unexpected resignation comes soon after several UNC officials have announced they will step down. On Tuesday, the Board of Governors moved her resignation date up to Jan. 31, leaving her biggest projects and issues for a new administration.
Since she was hired as chancellor in 2013, Folt has proposed several ambitious projects such as The Blueprint for Next, The Campaign for Carolina and The Three Zeros Environmental Initiative.
One of her first big projects, The Blueprint for Next, is a strategic framework that outlines priorities meant to direct decision-making and investments for the University.
It was implemented in February 2017, and is meant to guide the University for the next decade. But if the framework continues, it will have to be without Folt leading the charge.
In October 2017, drawing on The Blueprint for Next, Folt launched The Campaign for Carolina, a fundraising campaign meant to bring in $4.25 billion by 2022.
The money will be put toward four main goals: to make changes in curriculum and teaching methods by providing students access to global and experiential experiences, to support recruit and retain faculty, to increase innovation and research and to support Carolina Edge, Arts Everywhere and the Institute for Convergent Science.
As of last summer, the campaign has raised $2.25 billion — more than half of its overall goal — with 4 years left to go in the campaign.
Finally, in an effort to make the University more sustainable, Folt announced The Three Zeros Environmental Initiative, which aims to achieve net zero water use, zero waste to landfills and net zero greenhouse gases.
In 2018, the University achieved net zero water use but hasn't achieved net zero waste to landfills or net zero greenhouse gases.
The University has made progress toward the goals it has yet to achieve with the construction of a solar farm at the former Horace Williams Airport and plans to modify the University’s cogeneration power plant so it will burn 50 percent natural gas.
Members of the UNC-system Board of Governors were not aware of Folt's plans to resign until Monday's announcement, according to a statement from the board.
"It lacks transparency and it undermines and insults the board’s goal to operate with class and dignity," the BOG's statement said. "We strive to ensure that the appropriate stakeholders are always involved and that we are always working in a healthy and professional manner."
Alongside Folt's resignation announcement, several other administrators have stepped down this academic year.
At the beginning of October, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston B. Crisp unexpectedly announced his retirement after 26 years of service.
Following his retirement, Christi Hurt, whose formal title is assistant vice chancellor for student affairs, is serving as interim vice chancellor but a permanent replacement has not been found.
When Crisp retired, the University said it "will announce plans to launch a national search in the coming months to fill this critical role.” So far, no announcement has been made.
A few months later, General Counsel and Vice Chancellor Mark Merritt resigned after having served in his position for 3 years.
According to a statement by Chancellor Folt and Provost Bob Blouin, Merritt helped the University navigate through the legal issues regarding its implementation of Title IX and with the NCAA.
In addition to vacancies in Folt’s administration, UNC-system President Margaret Spellings will step down from her role on Jan. 15 — two years earlier than her contract's original end date — and will consult for the UNC-system until March 15.
Former CEO of UNC Health Care and Dean of the UNC School of Medicine Bill Roper began serving as interim president of the UNC-system on Jan. 1.
Silent Sam issue
Following her resignation announcement, workers remove Silent Sam's base from McCorkle place Monday night, citing a public safety concern.
The UNC Board of Trustees praised Folt for her service to the University and supported her choice to remove the pedestal from McCorkle Place.
"The chancellor has ultimate authority over campus public safety, and we agree Chancellor Folt is acting properly to preserve campus security," a statement from the trustees said.
The BOG had a different response to Folt's announcement and reiterated that the BOG developed a process to determine Silent Sam's future, according to a statement. The timeline for the statue still stands, the statement said.
"The safety and security of the campus community and general public who visit the institution remains paramount," according to the BOG statement.
Folt's departure at the end of this month brings an array of uncertainties for UNC, but she said in a release Tuesday afternoon she has enjoyed working with students and faculty during her 6 years at UNC.
"Working with our students, faculty and staff has inspired me every day. It is their passion and dedication and the generosity of our alumni and community that drive this great University," the statement read.
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