Bernadette Gray-Little, who has assumed a number of
leadership roles throughout nearly four decades at Carolina, will become the
17th chancellor of the University of Kansas beginning Aug. 15.
With research interests in sociocultural influences on
personality, marital interaction and psychopathology, Gray-Little has served on
the faculty in the Department of Psychology within the College of Arts and
Sciences since she arrived at Carolina in 1971.
A former chair of the psychology department, Gray-Little
went on to become the University’s senior associate dean for undergraduate
education, executive associate provost, dean of the College of Arts and
Sciences and executive vice chancellor and provost – a post she has held
The Kansas Board of Regents on May 29 announced Gray-Little
as their choice to replace Robert Hemenway, who had been chancellor since 1995.
Gray-Little will be KU’s first female and first African-American chancellor.
“Dr. Gray-Little’s outstanding record of academic excellence
and impressive administrative leadership throughout her notable career, along
with her inspiring enthusiasm and character, make it clear that she is ideally
suited to propel KU to even loftier heights,” said regents chair Donna Shank.
In announcing Gray-Little’s decision to the Carolina
community, Chancellor Holden Thorp said it marked a huge loss for Carolina and
a great gain for Kansas.
“In every role, Bernadette has served with the highest level
of integrity and the best interest of the University in mind. Carolina is
better because of her,” Thorp said.
During her tenure at Carolina, Gray-Little has become known
as much for her graciousness as for her calm, thoughtful and thorough approach
to examining key issues.
In fact, when Chancellor Emeritus James Moeser announced to
the Faculty Council that Gray-Little was to become executive vice chancellor
and provost three years ago, he spoke about her universal support from faculty
members, the Faculty Advisory Committee to the chancellor, vice chancellors,
deans and members of the Board of Trustees.
“In my entire experience, I have never known such unanimity
or enthusiasm for an appointment, especially one as important as that of chief
academic officer,” he said at the time.
Although she is not someone to seek the limelight,
Gray-Little has earned an impressive list of honors and awards during her
This year, she received a Distinguished Service Medal from the
General Alumni Association. Within the past two years, she has been tapped for
two of Carolina’s prestigious honor societies, the Order of the Grail-Valkyries
and Order of the Golden Fleece.
She also has received distinguished alumna awards from
Marywood College in Pennsylvania, where she earned her undergraduate degree,
and from St. Louis University, where she earned an M. S. and a Ph.D. in
In accepting the position as chancellor of KU, Gray-Little
talked about her enthusiasm to meet the new challenges ahead.
“I look forward to getting to know you, to collaborating
with the faculty, staff and students on the goal of raising the level of
excellence, already strong at Kansas, to the next level,” she told the Kansas
community. “I look forward to getting to know about the university and I am
eager to get started.”
Her goals include increasing the level of sponsored
research, launching a development campaign, increasing retention and graduation
rates for undergraduate students and continuing support for existing areas of
While a search for Gray-Little’s successor is under way at
Carolina, Bruce Carney, the Samuel Baron Distinguished Professor of Physics and
Astronomy who currently is interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences,
will serve as interim executive vice chancellor and provost.