The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Q&A: UNC System President Peter Hans discusses the search for the next chancellor

UNC Board of Governors Vice Chair Wendy Floyd Murphy, UNC Board of Governors Chair Randy Ramsey, and UNC Board of Governors President Peter Hans speak during the UNC Board of Governors meeting at the UNC System Office on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023.

With former Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz's departure to Michigan State University and Lee Roberts acting as interim chancellor, the UNC System Office is beginning the search for the next University Chancellor. University Editor Lauren Rhodes and Assistant University Editor Ashley Quincin sat down with UNC System President Peter Hans to discuss the search process and campus community member concerns. 

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

The Daily Tar Heel: You've spoken about listening to faculty and students and what they want to see in a chancellor. Do you have anything that you all are specifically looking for as you start to go through applicants?

Peter Hans: This is one of my favorite questions because they tend to be evergreen, right? We're looking for personal integrity, leadership capability, vision for the institution, an ability to bring people together, not drag them apart — some things like this that pretty much don't vary on a broad level from institution to institution or search to search. A lot of that tends to come out also in the listening forums. We want people to have that opportunity to participate and be part of the process. They may reveal things that we have not thought of, but those tend to be constant with me about what I'm looking for in a chancellor.

DTH: Some community members are concerned about Chancellor Lee Roberts' lack of previous professional administrative experience. What qualities led you to think that Roberts would be a good candidate to appoint for the interim chancellorship?

PH: That's a key responsibility for the president. That's always been the role — you fill an interim if it arises. Actually, back in 1999, then-President Molly Broad appointed Chancellor [Michael] Hooker, who was a great chancellor and tragically died of cancer. She appointed Bill McCoy as the interim chancellor who had basically a year, I think, of working with the UNC System in finance and administration to be the interim chancellor here. He was a businessperson; his career had been with BellSouth and AT&T. So, there's actually a precedent with us. That's the one thing about having an institution that's been here since 1789 — there's very little new ground. We've got historical precedent for everything, even a chancellor who went to Duke [Paul Hardin].

DTH: Some students and faculty have raised concerns about political interference at the University. What plans do you have to assuage these fears?

PH: It's difficult to compete with social media and conspiracy theories these days. I think you've got to draw the line between what's appropriate public input and what's political interference. There seems to be this idea on the part of some that there should be no public input. It should be entirely within the campus, any decision like this, and that's just not realistic. We're a public university. People in North Carolina built this place — they fund this place. They're going to have thoughts, and I think that's a good thing. I think that's a strength for Chapel Hill and really the whole UNC System. 

DTH: In May of 2023, the Board of Governors adopted a policy to allow them to be more involved in the search for chancellor. What prompted that change?

PH: I think the Board felt as though the previous policy was pretty unwieldy, and I think that's a fair critique. When you've got 20, 30 people serving on a search committee, that's tough, particularly because factions form. Right now, by unifying the process, where the System does the same timetable as the campus, everybody hears the same thing at the same time.  They talk to the same people, hear the same thing, consider the same thing and offer thoughts back and forth. Then we go out of there, united. I think that's a better way to do it. 

DTH: Is there anything about the chancellor search that you would like to share with our readers?

PH: I think it'll take the better part of a year, there will be any number of opportunities to engage with the search committee, and I'm obviously a member of that search committee so I'm anxious for their input and their participation. But what I think you will see as the ultimate result, and this is certainly my goal, is that somebody will be chosen who will move Carolina. Not in a political or nonpolitical way, that's not the choice here. I think some of the anxiety about political interference and what will happen, I can understand all that. That's just not the lens with which I'm looking at the search. Obviously, you want somebody politically savvy, they've got to be able to work with a million different people with very strong opinions. But it's not going to be anything other than search for the best possible chancellor at Carolina.

@l_rhodsie | @ashnqm

@dailytarheel |

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

Lauren Rhodes

Lauren Rhodes is the 2024 university editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as an assistant editor and senior writer for the university desk. Lauren is a sophomore pursuing a double major in media and journalism and political science with a minor in politics, philosophy and economics. 

Ashley Quincin

Ashley Quincin is a 2023-24 assistant university desk editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as a university staff writer. Ashley is a senior pursuing a degree in English and comparative literature, with a double minor in media and journalism and composition, rhetoric and digital literacy.

Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel Victory Paper for February 5, 2024

More in Student Life

More in University

More in UNC system

More in Peter Hans