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Friday May 20th

Breaking down UNC's ongoing dean searches

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The University currently has five deans who are departing from their roles. 

Of the schools seeking a new dean, the Adams School of Dentistry and the Hussman School of Journalism and Media have each narrowed their search to a panel of finalists who will visit campus for public interviews, they announced in campus-wide emails earlier this month.

“We invite you to attend the upcoming open forum presentations with the finalists,” the emails said. “These forums are designed to give the campus community an opportunity to hear from the finalists about their experience and their ideas for enhancing UNC-Chapel Hill, and an opportunity for you to provide feedback.”

The email provided the times, dates and Zoom links to the candidate presentations, as well as links to candidate feedback surveys that community members can complete after attending. The University provides candidate names and CVs shortly before the Zoom sessions on ONYEN-protected webpages.

“The Carolina community is full of thoughtful, innovative and creative people,” Executive Vice Provost Ronald Strauss said in a statement via UNC Media Relations. “Their feedback is important as UNC-Chapel Hill selects the campus’ next academic leaders. We will seek out and find some of the best candidates for these positions who can help us build on what makes Carolina successful today and move us forward to take on the challenges ahead.”

The dentistry school has four finalists, and the journalism school has three.

After public feedback sessions with finalists, each search committee gives a summary of candidates to the provost, who then makes a hiring decision, according to Media Relations.


UNC announced in August that Susan King, who had been dean of the journalism school since 2012, would step down from her role. She plans to return to the faculty to teach.

On Nov. 5, the school announced that Hugh Morton Distinguished Professor Heidi Hennink-Kaminski would become its interim dean on Jan. 1. Hennink-Kaminski was previously the school's senior associate dean for graduate studies.

Hennink-Kaminski will serve in the role until a permanent dean is appointed. 

School of Information and Library Science Dean Gary Marchionini is chairperson of the search committee, alongside Buffkin/Baker, a search firm based in Tennessee.

“The Hussman School of Journalism and Media is seeking a transformational leader with a vision for the future and the ability to lead change,” an Oct. 13 campus-wide email said.


UNC announced the search for a new dean of the dentistry school on Sept. 24.

“The Adams School of Dentistry is one of UNC’s priceless gems,” Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in the campus-wide announcement. “And the University is committed to its continued success and distinction.” 

Dr. Julie Byerley was the school's interim dean starting on Jan. 15, 2021, replacing previous Dean Scott De Rossi. She previously served as the vice dean for academic affairs and chief education officer for the dentistry school. 

Byerley served as interim dean for the 2021 calendar year before leaving to become the president and dean, executive vice president and chief academic officer of Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine in Pennsylvania at the start of this year. 

The search for a dean was expected to conclude by the end of 2021. According to Media Relations, the search has lasted beyond the original goal because of scheduling conflicts.

The school's dean search committee was chaired by Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, chairperson of the Department of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Public Health

On Sept. 22, the Gillings School of Global Public Health announced that Barbara Rimer would conclude her service as dean on June 30. 

Rimer spent 17 years as dean, making her the school’s longest-serving dean and first woman and behavioral scientist to serve in the role. She will remain on the school’s faculty. 

William Roper, former CEO of UNC Health Care and dean of the UNC School of Medicine, serves as chairperson of the dean search committee.  

The school has also involved Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm to help, according to a Dec. 10 campuswide email.

The email also said the new dean “must be an accomplished academic and seasoned administrator, with sophisticated knowledge of the global landscape of public health.”

The Gillings School has not yet announced a group of final candidates for public interviews.

The College of Arts & Sciences will also be looking for a new leader as current dean Terry Rhodes retires. Additionally, the School of Nursing has an open dean position as Nena Peragallo Montano also retires. Neither school has announced its search process.

At a November meeting of the Advisory Committee, Guskiewicz said all five open dean positions will likely be filled this summer.


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