Chancellor Carol Folt was honored with a standing ovation after giving her final remarks at the UNC Board of Trustees meeting Thursday.
“I feel a little bit like a senior, although I’m graduating a little bit early,” Folt said. “It’s bittersweet. (I’m) also excited about what will be my own ‘new and next.’ As usual, I turn to the students to find my inspiration.”
Folt reflected on her time as chancellor and attributed the University’s accomplishments to the students, faculty and staff.
“It’s an amazing thing to be the chancellor of America’s first public university,” Folt said. “It is about that inspired population of Tar Heels that do their job and think about the future and care about the service to others that has made this time, to me, so special but made our legacy and resilience so strong.”
Folt said she was at “complete peace” with her decision to officially remove Silent Sam from campus.
“That’s important to me, and I want you all to realize that," Folt said. "Not everybody has to agree with what people do, but I did what I thought was best, and I am at peace with that.”
She was also awarded The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest honor given by Gov. Roy Cooper, for her service to the state and going “above and beyond the call of duty.”
“That was completely unexpected. I am really grateful to the Governor for having given me such an honor,” Folt said. “It’s really wonderful to feel so connected to the state.”
As for Folt’s future, she said she plans to finish her current research and stay in higher education.
“I’m always a Tar Heel,” Folt said. “I don’t know if I’ll be back on the faculty, but that is something I would really enjoy.”
Interim UNC-system President Bill Roper discussed the BOT’s plan for an interim chancellor in a press conference with reporters.
“We haven’t made a decision yet. I hope to do that in the next few days. I anticipate a decision by sometime in the middle of next week," Roper said.
Roper said he thinks it’s important to find an interim chancellor that is well known on campus, but does not necessarily live in the area.
Chairperson Haywood Cochrane reported on the University’s accomplishments this past year, including the almost 45,000 first-year applicants, marking an increase for the 14th consecutive year, and since its 2017 introduction, the Campaign for Carolina fundraiser has raised almost $2.5 billion.
“We will keep the positive trajectory at the top of our minds as we approach and work through the leadership transition,” Cochrane said. “The Board is committed to working closely and collaboratively with our interim chancellor when named.”
Student Body President Savannah Putnam extended her thanks to Roper for including student feedback in his search for a new chancellor and announced the beginning of student body president campaigns for the 2019-2020 academic year.
“Carolina has always been a place that requires those to operate within (the University) to give their all,” Putnam said. “And Chancellor Folt has offered this University no less.”
‘Hold onto your dreams’
In Folt’s final BOT press conference as chancellor, she offered advice to her successor.
“We are all in the midst of a moment where our mission has expanded,” Folt said. “We have our faculty, students and staff, and I think you have to put them first.”
Folt said she appreciates her tenure at UNC and had one last message for students:
“Hold on to your dreams and that moment of mystery when you think anything is possible. When things get tough, just keep remembering who you were when you thought that because that’s who you are, and when you’re like that, anything is possible.”
In other news
Putnam gave an update on Student Government. She announced that the Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Outreach Committee will be hosting its first Black Male Unity Dinner in February, as well as the creation of the Carolina Latinx Center.
The motion was passed for the creation of the Carolina Latinx Center, which will help students, faculty, staff and alumni to raise awareness for Latinx issues and help them connect with groups and cultures in the community.
Since the last BOT meeting, 24 faculty members were named recipients of the 2019 University Teaching Awards. UNC was also ranked in the top five for public universities, surpassing $1 billion in research expenditures for the first time.
Four participants of the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program shared their experiences and successes within the program. The program aims to help community college students transfer and graduate from UNC.
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