The independent news organization of Duke University

Kevin Guskiewicz to serve as UNC's interim chancellor following Carol Folt's departure


After Carol Folt’s expedited resignation, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill now has an interim chancellor. 

Kevin Guskiewicz, who had been the dean of UNC's College of Arts and Sciences for three years, will take the reins effective immediately, according to a news release

“It is an honor to be asked to lead the nation’s first public university into the next chapter of its storied history,” Guskiewicz said in the release. “When I became dean, I pledged to be ‘strategic, bold and student-focused,’ and those imperatives will continue to guide me in this role. I am excited and energized by the possibility and promise of the things the Carolina community can accomplish together.”

The neuroscientist was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2011 for his work on concussion research and is regarded as one of the nation’s top experts in the field. 

Bill Roper, interim president of the UNC system, said he chose Guskiewicz because he was looking for someone who was “well known,” “knows Carolina well” and “has gained the trust and support of the community," according to the release.

Before Folt resigned, she had taken heat for her and the Board of Trustees’ recommendation to house toppled Confederate monument Silent Sam on campus in a $5.3 million facility. Folt had initially planned to leave at the end of the Spring semester when she announced her resignation Jan. 15, but the Board of Governors was surprised by the announcement and voted to push her resignation to be effective Jan. 31, according to the Daily Tar Heel.

When Folt announced her resignation, she also authorized the removal the statue’s base and related plaques. 

Silent Sam had stood on campus since 1913. At its dedication, Julian Carr—whose name was stripped last semester from what was once called the Carr Building on Duke’s East Campus—boasted about “horsewhipp[ing] a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds.”

After Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger requested the statue be removed in August 2017, Folt agreed it would be best to move it, but also said the university would follow the law. North Carolina law required approval from the North Carolina Historical Commission to move it. 

In August 2018, protesters took Silent Sam down, leaving its status in limbo. In December, Folt and the Board proposed putting Silent Sam in an on-campus “free-standing building with state-of-the-art security” that would cost $5.3 million—a plan the Board of Governors shot down. 

The university has until March to submit revised recommendations for what to do with the monument.