Former Chancellor Carol Folt was inaugurated at the University of Southern California on Friday, September 20th. The opinion editor at the Daily Trojan asked our editorial board to give them some thoughts on Chancellor Folt's time at UNC. Here's what we told them:
When Carol Folt finished her tenure as the 11th chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she left the University in better shape than she had found it. As UNC’s first female chancellor, Folt successfully steered the University through two major controversies — the University’s academic-athletic scandal and the events surrounding the fall of the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam.
Similar to her arrival at the University of Southern California, Folt was inaugurated as UNC’s chancellor in the midst of one of the biggest scandals ever to rack the institution. Throughout the course of the NCAA’s investigation into alleged fraud and academic dishonesty committed at UNC, Folt remained steadfast in her messaging, accepting responsibility for gaps in oversight while insisting that no NCAA violations were committed.
Folt’s deft navigation of the NCAA’s investigation provided the first line item on her resume as a university crisis leader. Her maneuvering of Silent Sam’s political and legal challenges cemented her legacy as a bona fide problem-solver.
With vocal critics on both the left and right, Folt frequently found herself in unwinnable situations. Folt’s measured approach to the issue of Silent Sam rubbed some student activists the wrong way, yet her hands were tied by a 2015 North Carolina law that generally bars the relocation of historic monuments. On the other end of the spectrum, Folt had a strained relationship with the right-leaning UNC Board of Governors, which felt that Folt was overstepping her duties.