New Chancellor

Today, according to the Chapel Hill Herald, is the day.

An agenda for the UNC Board of Governors' monthly round of meetings includes a mid-day session of the full board Thursday with a closed-session report of the Committee on Personnel and Tenure, followed by an open report and a final item: "Election of a Chancellor."

The BOG typically spends Thursday in committee meetings, gathering in a limited full board session at 5 p.m. before adjourning until the regular meeting on Friday morning.

Details about candidates for chancellor have been carefully guarded since the UNC Chancellor Search committee was formed last September. Nelson Schwab, a UNC Trustee and chair of the search committee, has said repeatedly that only the final choice would be announced publicly.

The BOG must vote to approve the Search Committee's recommendation.

We should know something after 2:30 P.M. Lot's of rumors on the front runners, and especially their connections to UNC and North Carolina.

We shall see.

[Front-paged, added link, & updated date by Ruby.]



From Linda Convissor:

 Dear Friends and Neighbors:    Today is a very exciting day at Carolina.  This afternoon, the University of North Carolina's Board of Governors is scheduled to elect Carolina's 10th chancellor. Details will be posted at after the election.  

We will greet the Chancellor-Elect at a campus reception this afternoon, Thursday, May 8th, at 3:30 p.m. in Gerrard Hall, next to the Campus Y.  We hope community members will join us on this important day for the University.  The event will go on rain or shine.


I hope you can join us this afternoon.  If you are a neighborhood or community group contact, please share this with your members and anyone else you think might be interested. 



This is fun.  I like the welcome occurring immeidately after the confirmation.  

 And I applaud the search committee's decision to conduct a confidential search and  maintain the confidentiality of the non-selected applicants.   .  It was the best way to attract the top candidates and ultimately our University will benefit.   


I just wish we had more notice of the event.   I am sure there are people who cannot attend due to short notice, myself being one of them.   :(  I hope you had a short list--like our elected officials, etc--that you gave more of a head's up. 


is the new Chancellor.




sorry not to have time to login 

I don't know much about him, but he looks like a great fit.  I'm happy to see someone from within the University community get this position, this says a lot about the priorities of the administration.

Holden Thorp, a chemist and dean of UNC-Chapel Hill's College of Arts and Sciences, will be named the university's next chancellor today, sources close to the search said.

Thorp, 43, is a North Carolina native and UNC-CH alumnus who has spent the bulk of his career at the university, climbing the ranks to become chairman of the chemistry department and, last summer, dean of arts and sciences.

He holds a coveted Kenan professorship and was director of the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center from 2001 to 2005.




I talked with Holden Thorp after the Eric Drexler lecture a few months ago. He seemed very nice. I enjoyed the science background he brought to the discussion as moderator, and he raised some excellent points. He seemed to be a real intellectual. He will be a good chancellor, really focused on academics.
Mark Chilton and Paul Jones are both at the event with the Chancellor-elect right now. You can follow their updates (via mobile phones) at and

Here's a little more detailed account of the event than I could give via :

I took the F-Bus to the former School Kids Records and walked to Gerard Hall where the proceedings were scheduled to occur.  I arrived just as Fred Black was walking up and we sat together in the balcony area above (where about 1/2 the seats in Gerard Hall are), joined by Jonathan Howes.  Just before the event began, Jack Evans walked in and sat with us. 

There was quite a crowd at Gerard Hall.  One face familiar to the local blogosphere was Prof. Paul Jones.  Tony Waldrop and many others from South Building were there of course, as was Athletic Director Dick Baddour. 

Word had slipped out about the selection of Holden Thorp and was published on the N&O website earlier this afternoon, and the room was abuzz about him. 

Chancellor-Elect Holden Thorp entered the building about 3:30 just behind BOT Chairman Roger Perry.  Thorp was immediately met with a standing ovation. Roger Perry took the podium and thanked Nelson Schwab for chairing the search committee (as well as the whole committee).  Roger made a special point of recoginizing the contributions to UNC of Chancellor James Moeser, who received a thunderous standing ovation.  Roger also acknowledged former Chancellors Aycock & Hardin who were in the crowd as well. 

Roger gave a good introduction to Holden, recounting his academic carreer from his undergrad days at UNC to his graduate work at CalTech and his service at UNC.  Roger also made note of the fact that the BOT voted on the first round of balloting 20 to 0 to select Thorp.

The Chancellor-elect then took the podium.  He introduced his wife and family and joked that they had decided not to bring the dog.  He gave an entertaining speech, thanking Erskine Bowles among many others.  Thorp made a point of recognizing his former professors in the Chemistry Department at UNC as well as at CalTech.  Thorp expressed his regret that neither his late-father nor the late UNC SBP Eve Carson could be present for this occasion, pointing out that Carson had been among those who had been on the selection committee.

He turned his attention to the road ahead by acknowledging the work that Carolina will be tackling in the future, saying "our to do list is nothing short of the greatest problems of our time" enumerating world hunger, war, disease and poverty among those problems.  Thorp also spoke of UNC's commitment to be accessible to the people of North Carolina regardless of their income, stating his desire that even the poorest of North Carolinians should be able to grow up to help with the challenge of addressing the world's great problems and hoping that everyone who graduates from UNC will graduate with a love of knowledge.

So basically a bunch of white guys watched another bunch of white guys congratulate other white guys.  Too bad I missed that.  Some things never change.
Fred's black . . .

There were many staff, faculty and students there.  I wasn't counting but many were women and minorities from all over UNC and our community in that crowd and you would know many of them.

Turn off your snark switch!

In the year 2008, UNC should bloody well have had a female chancellor by now (or a chancellor of color). Last time I checked, women represented more than half of the undergraduate student body. Is it crazy to hope that the Board of Trustees would make a gesture of respect toward the roughly 70% of the state that isn't straight white Christian males?

I don't expect this to change overnight, but I do expect to see at least an attempt at inclusion to make sure everyone on campus knows they have as much leadership potential as their peers. Given the selection of yet another white male chancellor, I thought they might have made a gesture toward diversity in today's ceremony.

Nothing against Dr. Thorp - in fact I hope he will take the lead in bringing a new culture of democracy and transparency to UNC's administration. This is a reflection of the culture of the BOT and general administration of UNC, not the new chancellor. From the student government races we can see that the students get it, this is yet another case where administrators should be following students instead of lecturing them.

"In the year 2008, UNC should bloody well have had a female chancellor by now (or a chancellor of color)."


I would think that in the year 2008, UNC, of all places, shouldn't think at all about a person's gender, race, or religion when choosing a chancellor. I haven't paid much attention to the process, so my question becomes, who else were serious contenders?  

One man with courage makes a majority.

- Andrew Jackson


The BOG selected Molly Broad to be the president of the UNC system. How many other state systems have had a woman as president?

I was referring to your characterization of the crowd. There was plenty of diversity in that crowd, as I said.

As for a chancellor, since we don't know who the three finalist were, we can only speculate.  I think that a black UNC grad at MIT was a finalist, but as for the 20 that they interviewed, who knows how many were women.

I have a problem saying that a black or woman should get the job just because there has never been a black or woman.  Sounds like the logic in the State Senate race just completed.  I reject that approach.

I was listening to the announcement on WCHL this afternoon while walking. I remember the presentation on the search process gave the numbers of female and minority candidates. However, I do not recall the statistics.

Perhaps the point was that the people Mark noticed and chose to identify were all white men. There were plenty of women and people of color there that I know he knows (me and Delores Bailey just to cover both those categories). I could see him, so I expect he saw me....Delores was downstairs, so maybe he missed her.

Mark, I promise I mean that with humor. I appreciated your attending and reporting on the event and didn't even notice who you had pointed out until it was pointed out.

I'm a pre-Title 9 girl who for the past 9 years has reflexively counted the number of men and women at University meetings. But just recently, I noticed I've stopped doing that because there are almost always more women. Lots more women. In my world at least, women are everywhere. To my total surprise, I've started wishing there were more men and that I wasn't the resident Jew (actually, that's changing too). Don't much care what color just as long as they are smart, fun to be with, honest, good communicators, etc etc etc.

We have a new Chancellor, it was a lovely event, lots of hugs and old friends greeting one another, Commencement is Sunday. The air is electric on campus. I hope everyone stops by over the next few days.

Linda C.


Linda Convissor

MIT's chancellor Philip L. Clay.

(Incidentally, I appreciated Linda's comment about being the resident Jew!  This is something I've come to notice too in my 10 years at this university.  Just a couple of weeks ago an adminstrator with whom I was discussing a problem told me that the problem was "just something we were going to have to pray on," seemingly unaware of how, well, Christian that saying is.)

Please don't get me wrong:  there's nothing wrong with that expression, and this fellow had every right to use it!  I just took it as another subtle reminder of how pervasively Christian the university's administration is (and continues to be).


I guess I don't understand what makes this expression so Christian? I guess I've always assumed that people of various faiths (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc) pray at various times. If I'm wrong about that please enlighten me so I don't go through the rest of my life ill-informed. Otherwise, I think it is a pretty innocuous expression that should not raise too many eyebrows or get anyone too excited.

George, Snark in tone noted, but not appreciated (or necessary). "We need to pray on that" is something that a Jew or a Muslim would not grow up hearing (except from Christians). While praying is of course a component of all of the faiths we are talking about, the idea of praying for guidance or intervention in a particular decision or situation -- and especially of talking with others about doing so, and encouraging them to do so -- is *not* a Jewish notion at all. Please understand what I said in my earlier comment: my point is not that this expression is in any way offensive. It is rather a little piece of evidence of what I suspect many non-Christians grow accustomed to experiencing here in the South: a noticeably Christian baseline to the culture. It is what led our school board to schedule a Saturday makeup class a few years back (while a Sunday class would simply be unthinkable), what leads cashiers in every store to ask my children what they want for Christmas, what leads people to tell me to have a "blessed day" on their answering machine, what leads them to "bless me" when I have not sneezed, what leads teachers to schedule field trips on the holy days of other faiths than Christianity, what leads the state to make Good Friday a public holiday, and on and on and on. You probably don't even notice these things -- and that is just my point. Does any of this make Chapel Hill or UNC an unpleasant place to live? Not for me; I love it here (though I know non-Christians who have never managed to feel comfortable here and have left, and I bet people from every department on campus could tell you stories, like I could, of recruiting efforts that fail on the grounds of basic "comfort" or "fit") But it is related to Linda C's reported frustration (and mine) of feeling isolated at times.

It's not something a Buddhist, Hindu, Pagan, Humanist, Shinto, agnostic, or atheist (etc.) would probably say or relate to.

The assumption that "we all grew up the same" is one of my biggest peeves. 

My upbringing was Christian, but no one around me ever talked about praying "on" something. Difficult situations were prayed "about"; difficult people or people in difficult situations were prayed "for." Occasionally, we'd note that in certain denominations, people were said to pray "over" other people -- physically and literally -- mostly when they were sick or being baptized.

But if I'd heard "on," I would have assumed the verb was "prey" (as in, predators prey on their prey)!!

My irrelevancy for the day. Carry on.

I grew up in a real rural, blue-collar area and I only knew one person that talked outside of chuch about praying for answers/asking the Lord for guidance, etc. I hear a lot of that in the south and I am guessing that evangelicals everywhere would fit into that mold.

Eric says

It is what led our school board to schedule a Saturday makeup class a few years back (while a Sunday class would simply be unthinkable),

In fact, a Sunday makeup class is not even an option legally for the school board, as one of the Legislative Commandments (of which there are more than 613* ) says simply "School shall not be held on Sundays."  The statute perhaps should have been phrased "THERE SHALL NOT BE class on Sunday"  and it could have been on a short list of 10**.

 * the number of Mitzvahs

** I refuse to footnote this one

Eric, I really wasn't trying to be snarky. I consider myself an agnostic (grew up Catholic), having given up on organized religion many years ago. Far too many wars fought and people discriminated against because of religion for me to feel comfortable with such. So I really was trying to be enlightened and Ruby shared some religions where praying might not be considered customary. Sorry if my comment appeared otherwise.

Well, tell you the truth, I saw lots of people there, although I do not know (or recall) all of their names.  The folks I mentioned above were the folks that I 1) remembered the names of and 2) thought gave some of the flavor of the moment.  Of course I saw Delores Bailey, for example, but she was the only local non-profit director I saw so I didn't partcularly mention it, whereas there were lots of folks such as Tony Waldrop from South Building.

In fact the crowd was definitely a mix of males and females.  I don't recall that there were a lot of people of color, although people of color were definitely a discernable presence. 

The event was open to the public and free.  I received the same mass emailing that many OP readers probably did.  I think all students faculty and staff got that email (my grad student wife did).  And also, notably, the email did mention that staff were expressly encouraged to come as a part of their hours working for the State of North Carolina.

So, I don't know.  It was a last minute event and I think the crowd had a certain level of diversity.  But I do realize that the crowd was not exactly Ruby's point.

I hope this link stays active for a while, it can't help but make you smile.

In case there's any confusion, go to slide 10.

 Linda C

Chancellor-Elect Thorp is relatively young. And he's not coming from a traditional background you'd expect--as in, a high up admin with years of experience at another school.

None of these is a criticism. On the contrary, it's great that UNC is finding leaders from within the university family. 

Joan, this is the real story.  UNC has definitely departed from the modern approach of bringing in outsiders.  I am optimistic that this is a good decision on the BOT's part.
Mark, Holden Thorp's obvious skills and promise aside, I could not disagree with you more about the value of Carolina's turning to "insiders" and members of the "Carolina family" as a matter of policy or orientation in leadership searches. "Outsiders," as a general proposition, bring ideas and perspective that Carolina's commitment to its "family" (and, relatedly, its vaunted "way of doing things") tend to exclude. For a top national research university, this is not, in the abstract, a good thing at all. I used to hear lots of emphasis on "keeping it in the family" when I was on the faculty of the University of Wyoming, and there I expected it; it was a natural expression of a larger sense of the state's identity as crucially different from, and misunderstood by, the rest of the country. Here at UNC I do not understand it at all, and fear that it reflects a kind of small-c conservatism that I find unhealthy for an institution with national and international connections and aspirations.

I guess what I am saying is that there is a tendency in the modern search process to exclude insiders, which is just as dumb as excluding outsiders.

How many UNC PhD's end up having to leave this area because UNC doesn't like to hire its own as faculty?  A lot, from what my friends tell me.

The selection of Dean Thorp as our next Chancellor does seem to prove that UNC is not rejecting homegrown talent just because it is homegrown.  That's a good thing.

Not a word from Mark C about the new Chancellor being a Carrborian. Or whatever you folks call yourselves.
Frankly I did not realize.  Unfortunately, he won't be living in Carrboro for long.  :(
I'll take "Carrborator" over "LintHead" for today.

As I said above, none of my criticism is of the new chancellor but of the dominant culture of the UNC administration. When I was student, our chancellor showed that he was not listening to the voices of students of color as much as white students.  I want to make sure no student ever feels their concerns are less important becasue they don't look enough like the chancellor of UNC.

Chancellor Thorp certainly seems to be a step in the right direction. I have found many cultural biases are so ingrained that only a new generation can truly change the culture.  I have high hopes for his administration in terms of longevity, transparency, and diversity.

I still think that in this day and age, the University should be making more than token gestures at inclusion to show the entire student body and the entire state of North Carolina that it's our school too.

 We call ourselves Carrboro citizens, Gerry.  I think it's pretty neat that the new chancellor is one of us! 
I believe the state law requires him to move oonto the Chancellor's house.

George, it was your request that someone "enlighten" you about "whether non-Christians pray", so that you would not "go through life ill-informed," that had the tone of snark to it.  I'm glad it's not what you intended.

And I'm glad that Ruby's points about Buddhists, etc., persuaded you, even if my points did not.


Just to be clear, I wasn't asking to be enlightened about "whether non-Christians pray" as I assume that many, maybe even most, do. I was basically asking how many people, at some time or another, don't pray. My asumption was that the number would be low and that the expression "let's pray on it" would not be particular obnoxious although it might seem odd. It would to me but I probably wouldn't give it a second thought.

This thread is as good a place as any to defend the power of prayer in whatever form it takes.  Muslims and Buddhists pray too.  When I was very sick last year, I lost count of people -- many of them total strangers -- who promised to pray for me.  They were praying for miracles in grocery store aisles.  I didn't mind that they believe in something I can't buy.  I felt blessed anyway.  Several card-carrying Buddhists encouraged me with heartfelt wishes.  Praying?  Meditating?  Keeping me in their thoughts?  It's all the same!  Get over it, y'all. 

I too have learned to appreciate it when people tell me they are "praying for" me or for one of my relatives ... but it has taken a good deal of effort, and I still instinctively shudder a little when people say it to me.

Why?  Because at times, when people have told me that they're "praying for" me (not, obviously, in the context where I or my family is sick), what they have meant is that they are praying to Christ for my redemption.  That is a rather more chilling (to me) connotation of "praying for you" -- and quite a common one -- and it has been very hard for me to get over that.

(There may be some (I don't mean you, Catherine) who are reading this and viewing my reactions as hypersensitive, overblown, not worthy of accommodation.  Perhaps if the issue were recast as the seemingly invisible dominance of white Anglo culture making people of color feel ill at ease, my points might be more easily appreciated.)

Over 40 years ago, I had a devout southern Baptist and a friend (I know that is a cliche) for a college room mate, who would read the bible every night with a "Tall Boy" in his hand. He would tell me that I was damned because being Jewish, atheist or agnostic depending on the moment, I did not take Jesus for my Saviour and he was praying for me. I always found this amusing but we got along just fine.
Sometime you should ask Barry Jacobs about his freshman roommate at Duke.

Devout Muslims do pray, five times a day. But here I am in Egypt, surrounded by Muslims, many of whom are devout and pray five times a day in very visible places (like at the library where I work, in the lobby of my building, etc)... but never have I heard one say  they'd "pray on it" or pray for me.

 The equivalent expression for Muslims would be "Inshallah," meaning God-willing. So, if you said, it'd be nice if we someday had a chancellor of color, you'd hear in response "Inshallah." 

I suspect if someone had been told "Inshallah" in Gerard Hall, in regards to a BOT decision, we wouldn't be sitting around going "But many religions believe in God! It's not just Islam!" 

Catherine, prayer is not under attack here, so it needs no defense.  Indeed, nothing is under attack.  I simply noted a particular usage of speech that's common in this area as an illustration of the sort of subtle isolation that non-Christians can experience, which was my own extension of Linda C's point.

It's a usage of speech in conversation, and not prayer itself, that I was commenting on.

I am afraid this subject is preying on my patience.  So I pray take my leave of prayer for now and pray for judgment continued.

As soon as I heard the annoucement on WUNC, I knew there'd be flack cause the new chancellor is not of someone else's favorite population niche.  Ya know, Dr. Thorp can't help it that he's 1) male and 2) white.  Would Dr. Condoleezza Rice have been a more pleasing selection to some?  I know, I know, she'd rather be Commissioner of the National Football League. 

Course, hiring based on on sex and ethinicity is illegal.  Discriminating against Dookies is allowable, though Paul Hardin overcame that hurdle.

Lastly, when my UNC academic counselor, Dean Rosalind Fuse-Hall, became UNC Secretary, I had no doubt that she was qualified.  She just happens to be black.

A new friend of ours told me a great story about inviting a pair of Mormons into his apartment to talk about the bible and listen to his Led Zeppelin records.  They returned often. 



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