Dear Carolina Community,
Today, I’m sharing a few updates and an announcement regarding our search for a new executive vice chancellor and provost.
First, I know there is a great deal of interest about incoming Knight Distinguished Chair Nikole Hannah-Jones and the question of her tenure status. I am limited in what I can say on this matter, but as I have said before, I am proud that she will join the ranks of our faculty this fall as an award-winning journalist and distinguished alumna of UNC-Chapel Hill. I believe she brings professional perspective and scholarship that will add value to our campus community.
As we finish out the fiscal year, I want to highlight just a few of the many ways that our community has fulfilled our mission of excellence in teaching, research and service in the past year.
In the midst of a global pandemic, our students, faculty and staff have accomplished incredible things:
- Last month, we celebrated the achievements of our graduates with five commencement ceremonies over three days. Nearly 6,300 Tar Heels, including undergraduate, graduate and professional students, received their degrees at Kenan Stadium with friends and family members in attendance. More than 830 of them were the first in their families to achieve this feat.
- We celebrated a year in which we had more Carolina faculty elected into the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences than ever before. This speaks to the excellence and global impact of our world-class faculty. These are the same faculty that teach and mentor our students every day in our classrooms, laboratories and out in the field. They couldn’t perform this work without our dedicated staff. Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement of the 2021 Massey Award winners next week, which will represent the largest number of recipients in recent history.
- We continue to lead in research with 266 successful proposal submissions totaling nearly $100 million in awards for COVID-19-related research. Last year, we had over $1.15 billion in total research expenditures ranking us the nation’s 12th largest research university in research volume, and we are on track for higher numbers this year. This impactful research by our faculty, staff and students continues to solve some of the greatest challenges of our time.
- We just received notice that the University retained its top “triple-A” bond rating, putting us among the most financially healthy institutions in the nation, and the only UNC System institution to achieve that designation. Evaluators cited our collective efforts to rein in the structural deficit, mitigate shortfalls resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and centralize budgeting in their assessment of our financial health. This is a credit to the hard work and commitment of many people on our campus to ensure we maintain strong financial footing, which will allow us to continue delivering on our promise of excellence in teaching, research and service every day.
- And finally, our Carolina student-athletes accomplished amazing things on the field and the courts during a period of such uncertainty. This spring alone, women’s field hockey won their ninth national title and third in a row. Our women’s tennis team won a national championship in doubles. And our men’s and women’s lacrosse and soccer teams, and women’s tennis team, made it to the NCAA Final Four.
Looking ahead, we must all be focused on a successful return to normal campus operations and welcoming our students back in early August. Getting your COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from the COVID-19 virus, while contributing to a typical, in-person experience at Carolina this fall. Currently, over 10,000 students have already completed the vaccine certification as they enroll for fall classes. I urge everyone — students, faculty and staff — to get the vaccine and let us know when you do through the COVID-19 Vaccination Certification form.
I am also pleased to share that I have appointed a search committee to help select our next executive vice chancellor and provost. As I announced last month, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert A. Blouin will step down from his position later this year and resume his work as the Vaughn and Nancy Bryson Distinguished Professor in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy.
I’m grateful for the following individuals who have agreed to serve on the search committee, which will be co-chaired by Terry Magnuson, vice chancellor for research and Kay M. & Van L. Weatherspoon Eminent Distinguished Professor of Genetics in the UNC School of Medicine; and Terry Rhodes, professor of music and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. Other search committee members include:
- Teresa Artis Neal, Board of Trustees member
- Martin Brinkley, dean of the UNC School of Law and Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor of Law
- Greg Brown, distinguished professor of finance, Sarah Graham Kenan Distinguished Scholar and Director of the Frank Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at Kenan-Flagler Business School
- Greg Copenhaver, professor and associate chair for development, Department of Biology, College of Arts & Sciences
- Joel Curran, vice chancellor for communications
- Angela Kashuba, dean of the Eshelman School of Pharmacy and John A. and Margaret P. McNeill Sr. Distinguished Professor
- Laura Linnan, senior associate dean, Academic and Student Affairs, and professor, Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health
- Ralph Meekins, Board of Trustees member
- Ethan Phillips, Morehead-Cain Scholar, Class of 2023 and Student Advisory Committee to the Chancellor representative
- Joy Renner, associate professor and director, division of radiologic science, UNC School of Medicine
- Eunice Sahle, associate professor, Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies and Curriculum in Global Studies and chair, Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies
- Robert Smith III, associate chair for administration, neurology department, UNC School of Medicine
- Barbara Stephenson, vice provost for global affairs and chief global officer
- Lynn Blanchard, director, Carolina Center for Public Service and associate professor, Department of Health Behavior
- Neel Swamy, president, Graduate and Professional Student Government
This national search will commence on June 9 and likely take several months. The search committee will engage campus stakeholders over the next several weeks to finalize the leadership profile. I am confident that with the collective input of our campus community, we will identify the best person to build on our successes and continue the important work laid out in our strategic plan Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good. Just as Provost Blouin has done for nearly four years, our new provost will play a critical role in building our future and ensuring our academic excellence in the years to come.
Kevin M. Guskiewicz