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University News

Chris Clemens named executive vice chancellor and provost

Chris Clemens, the College of Arts & Sciences' Jaroslav Folda Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy, will serve as the next executive vice chancellor and provost, effective Feb. 1, 2022. Chief of Staff Amy Locklear Hertel will be moving into a redefined executive vice provost role and Christi Hurt will assume the role of chief of staff to the chancellor.

Chris Clemens.
Chris Clemens, Jaroslav Folda Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy, in the College of Arts & Sciences, as the next executive vice chancellor and provost, effective Feb. 1, 2022. (Photo by Dan Sears/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Dear Carolina Community,

I’m pleased to announce the appointment of Chris Clemens, Jaroslav Folda Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Arts & Sciences, as the next executive vice chancellor and provost, effective Feb. 1, 2022. I’ve known Chris for nearly 15 years and have worked closely with him on a range of ambitious projects to enhance the academic excellence of Carolina. I know he’ll do an outstanding job as our next chief academic officer.

Chris’ deep understanding of the links between rigorous interdisciplinary research, excellent teaching and the value of free inquiry makes him the right person to take on this role at this crucial time in Carolina’s history. He has been a devoted member of the Carolina community since 1998, when he joined the department of physics and astronomy as an accomplished astrophysicist. In the decades since, he has taken on roles of increasing responsibility and shown an eagerness to work with colleagues across campus and across disciplines to strengthen Carolina’s academic mission.

As chair of physics and astronomy, senior associate dean for natural sciences, senior associate dean for research and innovation in the College of Arts & Sciences, and most recently as the director of Carolina’s Institute for Convergent Science and Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Convergent Science, Chris has demonstrated a commitment to the kind of interdisciplinary work emphasized in the University’s strategic plan Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good. As we all work to secure Carolina’s role as a leading global public research university, that spirit of creative collaboration will be especially important.

I want to thank the search committee and the many stakeholder groups who participated in the search process over the past six months. The input we received from numerous constituencies across our campus and beyond was important in helping to reach this decision. Chris’ demonstrated capacity to take on challenges while earning the trust of his colleagues and maintaining support for our academic mission will serve Carolina well.

With this transition, it is important that my office be strategically aligned with the Provost’s Office and that collectively we are positioned to move forward as a full administrative team. As part of these shifts, my chief of staff Amy Locklear Hertel will be moving into a redefined executive vice provost role, and Christi Hurt will assume the role of chief of staff to the chancellor.

Amy has been serving as the chief of staff to the chancellor and senior adviser to the chancellor for academic affairs for over four years. She holds degrees in both social work and law and has a faculty appointment in social work. Prior to joining the Chancellor’s Office, she served as director of the UNC American Indian Center. Amy has both the leadership experience and the skills necessary to make the transition quickly and the expertise needed to develop new partnerships and assist the new provost as he builds relationships with deans, faculty, center directors and others in carrying out our mission.

Christi is an experienced leader and served as a chief of staff previously in Student Affairs, and then later served as the interim vice chancellor for Student Affairs. She is a three-time graduate of Carolina, and has spent much, but not all, of her professional career on campus, building relationships, meeting alumni and donors, engaging with students, staff and faculty, teaching courses, and driving change. Christi currently serves as the senior prevention strategy officer for the University.

I want to thank Bob Blouin for the extraordinary work he has done over the last four years as executive vice chancellor and provost. He will continue in this role through January, helping to ensure a safe and successful start to the new semester given some of the uncertainty around COVID-19. His steady hand and disciplined operational approach helped see Carolina through one of the most difficult chapters in the modern history of American higher education. We are all grateful for his devoted leadership and service as provost.

I also want to thank Executive Vice Provost Ron Strauss for his tireless leadership over the last 13 years. During his tenure, he has helped recruit, promote and retain hundreds of faculty and has helped grow many programs, departments and schools. Ron will assist with this transition during the spring semester and then return to the Adams School of Dentistry faculty at the end of the academic year.

We are in a position to achieve some truly remarkable things at Carolina in the years ahead. I’m proud to be a member of this community and share my appreciation for all that you do on behalf of our great University.

Sincerely,

Kevin M. Guskiewicz
Chancellor