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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thorp participates in White House higher ed roundtable

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza


Carolina’s record of providing a high-quality, affordable education earned Chancellor Holden Thorp an invitation to the White House on Dec. 5 for a roundtable discussion with President Barack Obama.

Thorp was one of 12 college presidents and higher education leaders who talked with Obama about ways colleges can become more affordable while producing more graduates. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and White House senior officials also participated.

The group shared ways they have worked to promote innovation, reduce costs and increase productivity during a time of reduced funding for higher education at the state level, White House officials said.

Thorp was invited because of the White House’s interest in University programs including Carolina Counts, the campus-wide initiative to make University operations more efficient; the Carolina Covenant, which provides a debt-free education to qualified low-income students; and the National College Advising Corps, which hires recent college graduates to serve as full-time college advisers in underserved high schools.

Obama focused most of his comments on cost containment, Thorp said.

“Carolina is on the national radar right now for a number of reasons,” Thorp said. “We’ve got a good reputation for providing a high-quality education at an affordable price. Even with proposed tuition increases, we will remain a national model for affordability.

“People know about our commitment to financial aid and the Carolina Covenant. And they know we made a bold move when we used Bain & Company to help us identify administrative savings.”

In a light moment following the meeting, Thorp said, Obama reminded him that he loves the Tar Heels.

Other roundtable participants included leaders from the University of Texas System, Carnegie Mellon University, the University System of Maryland, California State University – Long Beach, Berea College, the State University System of New York, the Lumina Foundation for Education and the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability. Click here for additional information.