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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Survey says academic excellence should come first

Preserving academic excellence should be the top priority of Carolina’s next chancellor, according to the preliminary results of a survey produced by the committee searching for Chancellor Holden Thorp’s replacement.

Seventy-three percent of survey respondents have said that preserving academic excellence is paramount for the person who leads Carolina after Thorp steps down next summer.

Last month, the Chancellor Search Committee distributed an online survey to more than 200,000 members of the UNC community – students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, community members and parents – to gain their input and ideas on qualities essential to Carolina’s next chancellor.

At a Dec. 3 meeting of the committee, Erin Schuettpelz, Thorp’s chief of staff, presented preliminary results of the survey, which will remain open until Dec. 15. (Anyone who has not yet completed the survey can find it at

Just over 70 percent of respondents identified academic excellence as the University’s greatest asset, followed by access and affordability.

Top priorities for the next chancellor are, in order of response rate, preserving academic excellence, faculty and staff retention, remaining a leader in national higher education and maintaining access and affordability.

For personal characteristics most important in a new chancellor, 64 percent selected good judgment and decision-making skills and 61.7 percent selected integrity. Understanding the University’s teaching, research and public service mission was the third-highest selection, chosen by 54.8 percent of respondents.

Leadership experience topped the areas of desired experience, followed by administrative management of complex organizations and background in academics.

The survey has garnered 6,700 responses so far, 60 percent of those coming from alumni. Schuettpelz explained that participants could only identify with one category, so faculty, staff, alumni and parents could overlap.

Once the survey is completed, Schuettpelz will share the final results with the committee and post them on the Chancellor Search website,

Bill Funk, who heads Dallas-based R. William Funk and Associates, the firm hired by the Chancellor Search Committee to identify potential candidates, said his group would try to find the very best people in accordance with the survey results.

“After we talk about the characteristics and summarize them, it sounds like God on a good day,” he quipped. “There has to be one person in this country who has all these attributes.”