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September 17, 2012University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp intends to step down at the end of this academic year because he says it's best for the future of the University.
Thorp notified UNC President Tom Ross on Sunday (Sept. 16) of his intent to resign, effective June 30, 2013.
Thorp told Ross that he is willing to stay beyond June 30, if needed, to avoid any gap in leadership until a successor can be in place.
"Chancellor Thorp's love of and devotion to UNC-Chapel Hill are beyond question," Ross said. "I have accepted his announcement with considerable sadness, but fully understand he is acting in what he believes to be the best interests of UNC-Chapel Hill and the entire University. Whether you're measuring the quality of its students, the productivity of its faculty, or the benefits of its world-class research, Carolina has made great strides during his tenure."
Said Thorp, "I will always do what is best for this University. This wasn't an easy decision personally. But when I thought about the University and how important it's been to me, to North Carolinians and to hundreds of thousands of alumni, my answer became clear.
"Over the last two years, we have identified a number of areas that need improvement," Thorp said. "We have a good start on reforms that are important for the future of this University. I have pledged that we will be a better university, and I am 100 percent confident in that. We still have work to do, and I intend to be fully engaged in that until the day I walk out of this office."
By announcing his intentions now, Ross said that Thorp can devote his full attention and focus over the next nine months to making sure that the problems identified on the campus have been fully corrected and that the many new policies, procedures and safeguards that have been implemented to prevent similar issues in the future are adequate and represent best practices.
"It will also allow for an orderly transition in leadership, an important consideration given that the campus is without a chief development officer and the provost has announced his intention to retire, as well," Ross said. "I will, of course, be working closely with UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees Chair Wade Hargrove to quickly launch a search for a successor."
Said Hargrove, "Holden has the full support of the Board of Trustees, and we have tried to talk him out of this decision. I respect his unwavering commitment to always do what he thinks best serves the University. Holden Thorp has done an exemplary job as chancellor, especially in improving a wide range of processes and academic and fiscal management procedures. It is inspirational to see the passion that Holden has for the University and the positive impact a research university can have on society."
Thorp has led ongoing reform efforts to help the University address several recent difficult challenges. He has guided the University's responses to problems uncovered as a result of an NCAA investigation of the football program and a review of courses in the department of African and Afro-American studies that have led to four reports in the last year outlining more than 70 recommendations and leading to new policies and procedures to strengthen academics.
The four completed reviews focused on irregularly taught courses in the department, independent study practices throughout the College of Arts and Sciences, a Faculty Executive Committee assessment of the University's response to issues, and an examination of the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes.
Thorp has commissioned three additional reviews to help inform steps going forward:
Former Gov. James Martin has begun an independent review of any additional academic irregularities that may have occurred before 2007 (the review of African and Afro-American studies courses concentrated on four years, 2007 to 2011). Martin is working with management consulting firm Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP.
Baker Tilly also will conduct a separate review later of the academic procedures and controls already implemented.
Once reviews by Martin and Baker Tilly and a Board of Governors panel appointed by Ross are complete, Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities, will help examine the appropriate future relationship between academics and athletics at Carolina.
Thorp also has led efforts to increase transparency and accountability across athletics, placed a renewed focus on putting academics first, and hired a new athletic director and football coach.
Thorp, who holds a Kenan Professorship, will return to the faculty in UNC-Chapel Hill's nationally recognized chemistry department, where he was a longtime professor, researcher and a former chair.