Campus News

Farmer to depart Carolina for UVA

Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions Steve Farmer leaves a two-decade legacy of improving the accessibility and affordability of Carolina.

Steve Farmer
(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions Steve Farmer will depart the University at the end of the semester to take on a new role as vice provost for enrollment at the University of Virginia, Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert A. Blouin announced in a joint message to campus Monday.

“Steve has distinguished himself as an invaluable member of our community, continuously seeking to expand the affordability and accessibility of Carolina while maintaining our standards of academic excellence and enriching thousands of lives in the process,” they wrote.

Farmer came from UVA in 2000 to join Carolina’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions as a senior associate director and was promoted to director of admissions in 2004. Since being promoted to his current position in 2011, he has overseen Undergraduate Admissions, the Scholarships and Student Aid office and the Registrar’s Office. He led the team that recruited record numbers of applications for 14 consecutive years and evaluated each candidate in a deliberate and compassionate way, appreciating individual strengths, talents and contributions to the incoming class.

Over the years, Farmer has also led a plethora of initiatives to put a Carolina education within the reach of more low- and middle-income families, making the University a more diverse and inclusive institution. Working with the leaders of the Campaign for Carolina, he helped the University raise $179 million for scholarships and student aid, sustaining the Carolina Covenant, a groundbreaking program for academically qualified low-income students that offers a debt-free path to graduation through a combination of grants, scholarships and work-study jobs. To date, more than 8,200 scholars have come to Carolina through the Covenant program, which has led to dramatically improved graduation rates among the University’s lowest-income students. More recently, Farmer helped launch the Blue Sky Scholars program, which supports exceptionally qualified North Carolina students from middle-income backgrounds.

Farmer, the joint message continued, is passionate about helping prospective students find traditional and non-traditional paths — not just to Carolina but also to other universities. He founded the Carolina College Advising Corps, which places recent graduates in under-served high schools to reinforce the importance of a college education and guide them through the admissions process. The program now has 58 advisers serving 15,000 graduating seniors in 78 high schools across the state. Farmer also spearheaded the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program in partnership with the state’s community colleges to ensure Carolina was meeting the needs of transfer students before they arrived. In recognition of these and other efforts, including the Carolina Covenant, in 2017 the University received the $1 million Cooke Prize for Equity in Educational Excellence.

In addition, Farmer has significantly contributed to shaping the student experience at Carolina. He was instrumental in efforts to strengthen equity in success for all students, first through Thrive@Carolina, a collaboration among various student-success offices across campus, and more recently through an initiative to reimagine academic advising as part of the University’s strategic plan Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good.

“Throughout his tenure, Steve has been a trusted advisor, mentor and friend to us and countless others across the University,” Guskiewicz and Blouin wrote.

A Massey Award recipient in 2010, Farmer also received the Distinguished Service Medal from the General Alumni Association in 2017. He served as the University Day speaker in 2016, where he reminded the audience that “It’s not where we start; it’s the miles we travel.”

The message announced that Rachelle Feldman, who is currently serving as associate provost and director of scholarships and student aid, will serve as interim vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions. An interim director of admissions will also be named in the coming weeks.

UVA announced Farmer’s appointment in a news message on Monday.