After 11 years at the University, Judith Cone, the vice chancellor for innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development, will be retiring in April.
During her time at UNC, Cone said she strived to make innovation and entrepreneurship on campus as accessible to the campus community as possible.
“I always enjoyed and wanted to advance innovation and entrepreneurship because, at the heart of it, is trying to make the world a better place through creativity and ingenuity and a lot of hard work — a lot of perseverance,” Cone said.
In February’s Faculty Council meeting, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz spoke about Cone’s retirement and the legacy she has left at the University.
“Judith has changed the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship here on our campus,” Guskiewicz said. “We are grateful for her and for the amazing team she’s built that will continue this important work.”
Cone joined the UNC community in 2009 as a special assistant to the chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship.
“In 2009 when I came, with Chancellor Holden Thorp, we set a goal to strengthen an intentional culture of innovation and entrepreneurship at UNC, and we did that,” Cone said.
In 2015, then Chancellor Carol Folt named Cone the University’s first vice chancellor for innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development.
Since her arrival, Cone has helped guide the University incorporate innovation and entrepreneurship on a large scale.
Additionally, Cone leads Innovate Carolina, a pan-university environment where innovators can find the resources to jumpstart their ideas and solutions to pressing problems both in North Carolina and on a much larger scale.
Melissa Carrier, director of the Office of Social Innovation and part of the Innovate Carolina team, praises Cone’s dedication to her mission.
“What makes Judith an exceptional leader is her commitment to work that extends beyond economic impact to create social and environmental value,” Carrier said in an email to The Daily Tar Heel. “Through Carolina Next and in so many other ways, Judith invests in people and ideas, and allows roots to take hold.”
When Cone leaves office in April, Associate Vice Chancellor Michelle Bolas will take on additional responsibilities to upkeep Cone’s work.
“Judith’s impact on Carolina is immense,” Bolas said in an email to the DTH. “She has successfully infused innovation and entrepreneurship into our overall University culture in a way that will endure and grow.”
Bolas said Cone has dedicated her time to create an accessible environment for students with bright ideas to find a place where they can seek the guidance to make their visions come to fruition.
Cone said she is proud of the work she has accomplished thus far at UNC and, most importantly, is confident that the University will continue to grow in the positive trajectory it is headed even after she leaves.
“Everything at UNC is really going well as far as the envision for entrepreneurship work, and the ecosystem is so strong," Cone said. "I think we have a great chancellor in Kevin Guskiewicz, who believes in innovation and entrepreneurship and is going to shepherd it forward in the next phase."
Cone said she now hopes to focus on the creative side of her field and dedicate herself to writing. She said she also plans on speaking and sharing her knowledge with others.
“I have done a lot in my career,” she said. “I have been very blessed to get to do work that is mission-driven work, so that I feel that sense of purpose, and I have accomplished a great deal getting to work with amazing people, working for noble causes.”
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