As chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carol Folt set the course for Carolina’s future with the Blueprint for Next and the largest fundraising campaign in the University’s history, worked to make college education accessible for all North Carolinians, inspired Tar Heels to embrace the arts and saw faculty members reach new heights.
As Folt steps down as chancellor after nearly six years of leadership, we look back on some of the University’s brightest moments during her time at Carolina.
On Oct. 12, 2013, Folt was officially installed as Carolina’s 11th chancellor. While she started in her role that July, Carolina tradition holds that new chancellors are officially installed on University Day, which marks the laying of the cornerstone of Old East, the institution’s first building and the oldest public university building in the nation. The day marked another important milestone for Carolina: Folt became the University’s first female chancellor.
In 2015, Dr. Aziz Sancar was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his groundbreaking work in mapping DNA repair. Sancar was the second Carolina faculty member to receive a Nobel Prize. In 1997, Oliver Smithies won the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for his pioneering work on gene targeting and knockout mice, techniques that gave researchers the ability to study diseases like never before. Both Smithies and Sancar donated gold-plated bronze replicas of their Nobel Prize medals to the University in 2016.
Established by Folt in 2016, Arts Everywhere is a campus-wide initiative to embed the arts into daily life at Carolina. To celebrate this initiative, Carolina hosts Arts Everywhere Day each spring, providing a full day of engaging artistic experiences across campus. As part of the celebration, colorful pianos are placed across campus for the community, including School of Law Dean Martin Brinkley, to enjoy.
Every year, students, first responders and community members participate in a memorial stair run at Kenan Memorial Stadium to honor and remember the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Organized by students of Carolina’s ROTC program, participants climb 2,076 stairs, the same number of steps that were in each of the World Trade Center Towers.
Folt presided over 11 Commencements, celebrating the hard work and accomplishments of thousands of Carolina graduates at both the winter and spring ceremonies. She reminded each of the graduates that the Tar Heel family stretches across the globe and that their friends, family and professors can’t wait to see what they will achieve.
As chancellor, Folt was frequently on the sidelines cheering on student-athletes. During her tenure, the Tar Heels won 16 ACC championships and four NCAA titles and had three top 10 Directors Cup finishes. After its April 3, 2017, NCAA championship win over Gonzaga University in Phoenix, an estimated 55,000 fans rushed Franklin Street to celebrate the victory. Following the win, the Carolina community welcomed the team back home with a celebration in the Dean Smith Center.
On Oct. 6, 2017, Folt launched the University’s most ambitious fundraising campaign “For All Kind: the Campaign for Carolina,” which aims to raise $4.25 billion by Dec. 31, 2022, including $1 billion for undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships. To date, the University is more than halfway to its goal.