Campus News

Chancellor search off to a running start

The timeline for selecting the University’s next chancellor will be an aggressive one. Under the proposed schedule, the Chancellor Search Committee would wrap up its work Nov. 18, with UNC System Interim President William Roper submitting his choice to the UNC Board of Governors for a vote in mid-December.

A medal lays on a thick book
The Chancellor’s Medallion, given to The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1993 by John Sanders

Updated Sept. 9 to include locations of campus constituent forums.

The timeline for selecting the University’s next chancellor will be an aggressive one, according to UNC System Interim President William Roper.

“I do think this is a doable calendar. Mr. (Richard) Stevens and I worked together on this, and I believe it will serve the interest of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill very well,”  Roper told the Chancellor Search Committee at its first meeting Sept. 5.

Under his proposed schedule, the committee would wrap up its work Nov. 18, with Roper submitting his choice to the UNC Board of Governors for a vote in mid-December.

William Roper

Search Committee Chair Richard Stevens, who also chairs the University’s Board of Trustees, embraced

the calendar challenge, agreeing that he wanted to be done by Thanksgiving.

“I’m confident we’ll get it done,” he said. “I’m confident that we’ll get a great chancellor.”

Helping speed the process is Stevens’ experience as the chair of a previous chancellor search. Eight of the 20 members of the search committee are also members of the University Board of Trustees, further smoothing the approval process.

The search will also go faster without an outside search firm, Stevens said. He noted that neither the University’s recent search for general counsel nor the UNC System’s current search for a new president used a search firm. He estimated the decision  not to hire a firm for the chancellor search saves the University about $200,000.

The committee will make recommendations to the full Board of Trustees, which will vote on at least two candidates to recommend to Roper. Of the two or more candidates, Roper will choose one to recommend to the Board of Governors, who will elect the new chancellor or direct Roper and the University to continue the search.


Richard Stevens (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Roper expressed preference for “a person of integrity and credibility, a person who’s committed deeply to the value of public higher education.” Carolina’s next chancellor should be an experienced leader, a gifted communicator and “a team player who can manage down, up and out” and bring people together, he said. He would also like someone from North Carolina who could “hit the ground running.”


“Among the jobs that I have as interim president, there’s no more important one than working through the process I’m about to explain to you right now — to select and recommend chancellors for the 17 institutions” of the UNC System, Roper said in his charge to the committee. In just eight months as interim president, he added, he has picked six interim or permanent chancellors.

Confidentially speaking

While the search committee meetings are open to the public, the committee will go into closed session for personnel issues that are permissible exceptions to the state’s open meetings law: reviewing individual applications, interviewing candidates and narrowing the pool of candidates, for example.

During this first meeting, search committee members signed a required confidentiality agreement. “You may never talk to anybody about this other than your fellow members of the search committee. And I do mean never,” Roper told them.

Some members of the public would prefer a more open process, Roper conceded, but he believes confidentiality is crucial to attract the best candidates.

“It’s important that this search, and others like it, draw in the interest of people who are doing important things already,” Roper said in a media briefing after his remarks to the committee. “For someone to be willing to entertain the possibility of coming and talking with the search confidentially allows that to happen without their putting at risk whatever they are currently doing.”

Community input

In addition to Roper’s recommendations, the committee will consider input from the campus community. The committee set dates for campus constituent forums for 3:30-5 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Student Union Auditorium and 5:30-7 p.m. Sept. 18 in the Pleasants Room in Wilson Library.

A new website,, provides another way to suggest qualities for the new chancellor or to nominate potential candidates.

Stevens appointed a five-member subcommittee to draft a leadership statement for the committee to vote on by Sept. 24. This statement will be a public document used to advertise and recruit candidates starting as early as Sept. 25.