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Kevin Guskiewicz formally installed as UNC's 12th chancellor


Amy Guskiewicz participates as Kevin M. Guskiewicz is installed as the 12th Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill during a ceremony held at Memorial Hall on October 11, 2020.  Photo courtesy of Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill. 

Kevin Guskiewicz was officially installed as the 12th chancellor of UNC in a ceremony on Sunday. 

He was the interim chancellor from February 2019 to December 2019, when he was officially named chancellor.

The ceremony was broadcast live via YouTube and included an address from the chancellor, as well as prerecorded messages from Gov. Roy Cooper and representatives of the UNC community.

Opening remarks

UNC System President Peter Hans and UNC Board of Trustees Chairperson Richard Stevens gave live opening greetings. 

Prerecorded video messages from Cooper and representatives of various UNC organizations, such as the BOT, the faculty, the Employee Forum and the UNC General Alumni Association were then played. They expressed congratulations and support for Guskiewicz in his new position. 

"We trust you to lead with honesty and transparency as we face the challenge of the pandemic, work to address systemic racism in our midst, as well as storms that we don't yet know are coming," Chairperson of the Faculty Mimi Chapman said in a prerecorded message. 

UNC undergraduate students were represented by Student Body President Reeves Moseley. Graduate and professional students were represented by Ryan Collins, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Federation. 

“Through these uncertain and unusual circumstances, Chancellor Guskiewicz has continued to work hard to ensure that all UNC students, staff and faculty returned to the campus are in the safest possible situations,” Moseley said in a prerecorded message. “I, on behalf of the student body, am proud to honor and congratulate Chancellor Guskiewicz on this wonderful occasion.” 

A video with personal testimonies from Hans, Amy Guskiewicz, Executive Director of the Shuford Program Bernard Bell and associate professor Jason Mihalik was also played. 

Swearing in the chancellor

Guskiewicz was officially sworn in as chancellor by U.S. District Judge Richard Myers II. He was sworn into office on North Carolina’s oldest family Bible – the Durant Bible. 

After being sworn in and bestowed with the Chancellor’s Medallion, Guskiewicz began his address. 

“As a nation, we are in a fight to live up to our founding ideals," he said. "Carolina faces the same fight. Our history, as imperfect as it is, is defined by the successive generations who have tried to close the gap between what we are and what we can be.” 

Guskiewicz said UNC’s success is rooted in its community and is driven by new ideas and action. He said that, at its best, Carolina embraces criticism. 

“We’re a place where students can opine in The Daily Tar Heel that my dog Charlie is better suited than I am to be chancellor,” he said. “I think they’re wrong, because Charlie tends to nap during prime working hours. But we’re fortunate to be at a University whose community has that fight, that passion, that willingness to voice dissent.” 

UNC’s mission, Guskiewicz said, “focuses on research, teaching and service.” He announced his plan to expand the number of students accepted to UNC and to provide a stronger focus on research while additionally committing to the strategic plan outlined in Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good. 

Guskiewicz also announced two $25 million donations to the Kenan-Flagler Business School, one from Steve and Jackie Bell and one from an anonymous donor. He said this investment would double the size of UNC’s undergraduate business program.

Guskiewicz closed his address by expressing optimism despite the challenges UNC faces. 

“We rise to the occasion because that is what Tar Heels do,” he said. “We’ve done so much for our state, for our nation and for our world. And we are ready to do so much more.” 

Patricia Parker, the faculty marshal, closed the ceremony with two traditions. The South Building bell rang out 12 times, followed by UNC’s alma mater, “Hark The Sound."

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