Message about Steve Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions

Farmer, who has distinguished himself as an invaluable member of the Carolina community, will depart at the end of the semester to take on a new role as vice provost for enrollment at the University of Virginia.

Steve Farmer
Stephen Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Dear Carolina Community,

We are writing to share that after 20 years of dedicated service and commitment to the University and the state, Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions Steve Farmer will depart at the end of the semester to take on a new role as vice provost for enrollment at the University of Virginia. Steve has distinguished himself as an invaluable member of our community, continuously seeking to expand the affordability and accessibility of Carolina while maintaining our standards of academic excellence and enriching thousands of lives in the process.

Steve came from UVA in 2000 to join Carolina’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions as a senior associate director, was promoted to director of admissions in 2004, and then was promoted to his current position in 2011. As vice provost, he has been responsible for the offices of undergraduate admissions, scholarships and student aid, and the University registrar, recruiting outstanding leaders for these offices and working with them and their smart, diverse, and hard-working teams to strengthen the excellence and diversity of the student body, support the University’s instructional and public-service missions, and cultivate a culture in which every student and colleague feels cared for, valued and respected.

As head of undergraduate admissions, he led the team that recruited record numbers of applications for 14 consecutive years and evaluated each candidate in a deliberate and compassionate way, appreciating individual strengths, talents and contributions to the incoming class.

Over the years, Steve has led a plethora of initiatives to put a Carolina education within the reach of more low- and middle-income families, making our University a more diverse and inclusive institution. Working with the leaders of the Campaign for Carolina, he helped the University raise $179 million for scholarships and student aid, sustaining the Carolina Covenant, a ground-breaking program for academically qualified low-income students that offers a debt-free path to graduation through a combination of grants, scholarships and work-study jobs. To date, more than 8,200 scholars have come to Carolina through the Covenant program, which has led to dramatically improved graduation rates among the University’s lowest-income students. More recently, Steve helped launch the Blue Sky Scholars program, which supports exceptionally qualified North Carolina students from middle-income backgrounds.

Steve is passionate about helping prospective students find traditional and non-traditional paths — not just to Carolina — but also to other universities. He founded the Carolina College Advising Corps, which places recent graduates in under-served high schools to reinforce the importance of a college education and guide them through the admissions process. The program now has 58 advisers serving 15,000 graduating seniors in 78 high schools across the state. Steve also spearheaded the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program in partnership with the state’s community colleges to ensure we were meeting the needs of transfer students before they arrived. In recognition of these and other efforts, including the Carolina Covenant, in 2017 the University received the $1 million Cooke Prize for Equity in Educational Excellence.

In addition, Steve has significantly contributed to shaping the student experience at Carolina. He was instrumental in efforts to strengthen equity in success for all students, first through Thrive@Carolina, a collaboration among various student-success offices across campus, and more recently through an initiative to reimagine academic advising as part of the University’s strategic plan Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good.

Throughout his tenure, Steve has been a trusted adviser, mentor and friend to us and countless others across the University. A Massey Award recipient in 2010, Steve also received the Distinguished Service Medal from the General Alumni Association in 2017. He served as the University Day speaker in 2016, where he reminded us, “It’s not where we start; it’s the miles we travel.”

Steve has built an exceptionally talented and dedicated team who will carry on this important work while we conduct a national search for his successor. In the meantime, we are pleased that upon Steve’s departure, Rachelle Feldman, who is currently serving as associate provost and director of scholarships and student aid, will serve as interim vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions. We recruited Rachelle from the University of California, Berkeley four years ago, and she has done an outstanding job leading our Office of Scholarships and Student Aid. Recognizing that this position oversees many critical functions related to the entire undergraduate admissions ecosystem, we plan to also name an interim director of admissions in the coming weeks; that person will report to Rachelle in her interim role. We are grateful Rachelle has accepted this role and appreciate the commitment that she, along with Steve; Allison Legge, senior associate director of enrollment; and Lauren DiGrazia, assistant provost and University registrar, have made to ensure a smooth transition.

Please join us in thanking Steve for his leadership and service and wishing him well in Charlottesville.


Kevin M. Guskiewicz

Robert A. Blouin
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost