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Thursday February 2nd

Administration turnover was in the cards for UNC during 2020

People sit on the steps and benches in front of South Building on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2020.
Buy Photos People sit on the steps and benches in front of South Building on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2020.

UNC’s administration went though many personnel changes in 2020, even during the pandemic. Here are the people who have come to Chapel Hill and those who are leaving:

On the way out

Steve Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions, will depart his UNC role to accept a job at the University of Virginia beginning on Jan. 1. 

Jonathan Pruitt, former vice chancellor for finance and operations, left in August to return to a position with the UNC System as chief operating officer. 

Joining UNC

Mike Piehler — Chief Sustainability Officer

After the firing of Brad Ives nearly a year ago, Mike Piehler was named the University's chief sustainability officer. Piehler, already the director at the UNC Institute for the Environment, was eager to start in the new position as it had been vacant since the firing.

“There was a little bit of a gap, but we've quickly made up for that,” Piehler said. “The core of the new sustainability effort at Carolina is going to be a sustainability council, which we formed and convened a couple of months ago.”

Piehler said the council will remain focused on past initiatives, like the Three Zeros Environmental Campaign, as well as expanding the scope of their efforts across campus.

Amy Johnson — Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs 

Amy Johnson was hired as the new vice chancellor for student affairs. Though she began working in August, right before the transition to remote learning, she said her office has continued championing students in their work. Johnson said her main focuses are mental health and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Since coming to UNC, she is proud of her team’s efforts with the Counseling and Psychological Services Multicultural Health Program and the Election Carolina website. 

“We launched, in August, our Multicultural Health Program, in which we hired, on a contract basis, counselors who have a specific background and expertise in working with our students of color,” Johnson said. “And so, we have hired those folks, and they have now, as of the fall, undertaken significant outreach efforts to try to particularly support our students in those communities.”

Sibby Anderson-Thompkins — Interim Chief Diversity Officer

Sibby Anderson-Thompkins started as the interim chief diversity officer in February, after the position was vacant for a year. She said the pandemic brought many issues to the forefront that she had hoped to address.

“I think what was beneficial was having all of these issues raised and making sure that, as we were making decisions around closing campus, we were addressing the inequities that we saw across the board,” she said. “I think that helped a lot to very quickly hone in on the important work that needed to be done.”

Anderson-Thompkins serves as an adviser to the chancellor in her role. She sees herself as a “bridge-builder,” connecting student and faculty voices to those in power at the University.

“I want to make sure that I'm not making decisions for and acting on other people's behalf,” she said. “If I can, I want to bring them to the table and I want to be able to elevate their voices, and also empower them to be part of the decision-making process.”

One accomplishment Anderson-Thompkins is most proud of so far is the establishment of the University Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. 

“(The council) is playing a critical role in setting strategic priorities around equity and inclusion across campus, addressing issues around structural racism and facilitating this work within each academic unit and division across campus," Anderson-Thompkins said.

Terry Rhodes — Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences 

Terry Rhodes, named interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2019, officially took over the position of dean this year.

Rhodes said that because she served as the interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for a year before being offered the permanent position, she was well-equipped to continue the role.

“Hands down, the best part of my job is meeting and talking with students,” Rhodes said in an email. “I love hearing about their classes, the projects they are working on, the difference they are making in the world. They are so inspiring. And I love sharing these stories with our Tar Heel alumni.”

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