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New 2023 campus leaders find success, challenges in first year

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South Building, which houses the Office of the Chancellor and other administrative offices, is pictured on Wednesday, March 29, 2023.

This year, several new leaders stepped into roles on campus. These changes come after eight deans stepped down in 2022, creating what new faculty chair Beth Moracco called “a huge amount of change.” 

“I think there is a feeling of kind of a sigh of relief that maybe we can stabilize and kind of have some continuity moving forward,” she said.

Here’s an overview of who has joined campus leadership in 2023:

Beth Moracco
Moracco began her term as chair of the UNC faculty on July 1, succeeding Mimi Chapman. She also serves as an associate professor in the Gillings School of Global Public Health and the associate director of the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center.

“This has not been a typical summer or semester in terms of all the events that have affected our campus,” she said. “I have been mostly in reactive mode since July 1.”

She said events such as the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision, the Aug. 28 shooting, reactions to the conflict in the Middle East and the potential departure of Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz have been her main concerns during her first six months in the role.

“We’ve come out with a number of statements, we have worked with senior administration on a number of responses,” she said.

Looking forward, Moracco said she wants to improve communication between faculty and the Faculty Council “to really make sure that we’re hearing the full spectrum of faculty voices.”

Aimee Wall

On Feb. 27, Wall succeeded Mike Smith as dean of the School of Government. She joined the School’s faculty in 2001 and served as senior associate dean from 2020 to 2023.

“The organization was very welcoming to me in this role, and I felt a lot of enthusiasm and excitement about the next chapter for the school,” Wall said.

She also said she spoke with many North Carolina public officials when she began the role, and that it was “refreshing and exciting” to see how much importance they placed on the School of Government.

One of the greatest challenges in Wall’s first year as dean, she said, was the $2.5 million budget cut approved by the N.C. General Assembly in September. 

“There have been some hard decisions about things to pause and positions not to fill, both faculty and staff,” Wall said. “But in the long run, we're here to serve a mission and we're going to do it — but we just have to adapt how we go about doing that and how we staff it.”

Looking toward the next year, she said she hopes to “build and grow” the school’s Lead for North Carolina program, an AmeriCorps program that places post-undergraduates in local governments to support understaffed jurisdictions.

Dedric Carter

Carter became the University’s vice chancellor for innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development and chief innovation officer on Oct. 30. He succeeded Judith Cone, who retired in April 2021 and was the last person to hold the role. 

Carter said he’s spent the first month of his tenure focusing on Innovate Carolina's new space on Franklin Street — the Innovate Carolina Junction — and meeting with members of the team. 

Over the next two months, he said he’ll be conducting a listening tour of major innovation stakeholders both on and off campus.

Carter said he doesn't perceive any wholesale changes before the end of the tour, but that he expects some "repositioning, pivoting and tweaking" based on the conversations he has.

Increasing innovation at UNC, Carter said, is a "lifelong mission" and goal of his.

“And I know that we've got a really great platform here at UNC to do some amazing things and I'm ready for the world to take notice — even greater notice — of where we are, where we're going," he added.

Sarah Treul Roberts

Sarah Treul Roberts was appointed interim director and dean of the new School of Civic Life and Leadership in early October. She also serves as the faculty director for the Program for Public Discourse and is a Bowman and Gordon Gray distinguished term professor in the political science department.

In an email statement, Treul Roberts said she is “incredibly excited” to take on the role. 

“We have the opportunity to build something brand new, which is rare in academia,” she said. 

The SCiLL currently has nine tenured faculty members, including Treul Roberts, who have been tasked with developing the school’s curriculum and building the operational infrastructure.

“Creating a new curriculum is a challenge, but it is also an amazing opportunity,” she said. “For the school to succeed, the curriculum needs to be integrated into the fabric of the college.” 

Additional changes
Mary Margaret Frank became the dean of the Kenan-Flagler Business School on Aug. 15. Brad Briner, Vimal Kolappa and Jennifer Halsey Evans joined the Board of Trustees in the fall. 

Evans said she believes every trustee is working in the best interest of the University and added that during her time on the Board, she's worked well with her fellow trustees.

She also said she has had great experiences with a variety of people serving in campus leadership roles.

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Editor's Note: Abby Pender contributed reporting to this story.

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