The Chancellor Search Committee met at the Carolina Inn on Thursday to kick off the complex and confidential search for UNC’s 12th chancellor.
The meeting begins a several-step process that will enlist the UNC Board of Trustees, UNC Board of Governors and administrators at the University and UNC system level.
Finding a permanent leader for the University is the most important task administrators are faced with this term, Committee Chairperson Richard Stevens said.
“I don’t know a more important assignment that we have this year than getting the right person as chancellor at Chapel Hill,” Stevens said. “It’s critical to everything we do.”
The chancellorship is perhaps the most prominent position within UNC’s administration currently held by an interim. In February 2019, interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz replaced Carol Folt, whose resignation from the University was accelerated by the Board of Governors after Folt ordered the overnight removal of Silent Sam’s pedestal from McCorkle Place.
Guskiewicz has previously said he would be interested in a permanent position as chancellor.
William Roper, interim president of the UNC system, named some qualities to look for in potential candidates.
“(We’re looking for) a person of integrity and credibility, a person who’s committed deeply to the value and importance of public higher education,” Roper said. “Someone who understands that we serve the full state of North Carolina, not just those who happen to come here to visit, or to be students or faculty.”
The ideal candidate would also have respect for all 17 UNC system campuses with a deep appreciation for UNC-Chapel Hill, Roper said.
The search committee will finalize their own job description of the chancellorship in a leadership statement by Sept. 24, according to a proposed timeline distributed at the meeting. According to the timeline, a new chancellor could be nominated to the UNC Board of Governors as early as Dec. 13.
There is no set date for the selected chancellor’s first day at UNC.
Large portions of the search process, including discussion of individual candidates, will play out behind closed doors — both Stevens and Roper underscored the strict confidentiality of the selection process.
Committee members should be wary even of discussing the search with spouses or family, Roper said.
“You may never talk to anyone about this,” Roper said. “And I urge you to respect that even in casual conversation.”
Confidentiality will be critical for attracting high-level talent and ensuring the most effective search process, Roper said.
“It’s important that this search and others like it draw the interest of people who are doing important things already,” Roper said. “... The confidentiality allows (the process) to happen without putting at risk anything they’re currently doing.”
The committee is set to meet again in late October to screen applicants, with a third meeting scheduled in early November.
Prior to those meetings, the committee will hold public forums so that students and staff can share what they’re looking for in UNC’s next chancellor. Constituents can also submit input by emailing email@example.com.
The student forum is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 18 in the Student Union or a similar space.
The complexity of the search process is intentional so that the search committee can make the decision thoughtfully and with input from a variety of stakeholders, Stevens said.
“This is a several-step process, deliberately so,” Stevens said. “There’s a lot of input from a lot of constituencies.”
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