‘It still feels right’
In 1995, after visiting Carolina’s campus as a job candidate, Kevin M. Guskiewicz told his wife, Amy, that the Chapel Hill position “just felt right” and that he planned to return to campus for an interview.
“I can tell you that 24 years later it still feels just right,” Guskiewicz recalled Feb. 7 during his first media appearance in his new role as Carolina’s interim chancellor.
Former dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, Guskiewicz assumed his chancellor responsibilities Feb. 6, immediately after his appointment by UNC System Interim President Bill Roper. Guskiewicz succeeds Carol Folt, who served as chancellor July 2013 through Jan. 31.
In appointing Guskiewicz, Roper said he was looking for someone who was ready to serve as an active leader, a person who was well known and who knows Carolina well. He sought someone who can chart a course for Carolina and someone who has gained the trust and support of the community.
“He has a distinguished career as an academic, academic leader, innovator, scientist and a person of character,” Roper said at the news conference. “And I’m quite confident he’s the right person to be the leader of this great global public research university.”
Since January 2016, Guskiewicz has overseen the largest academic unit at the University with more than 17,000 undergraduate students, 2,400 graduate students and more than 70 academic departments, curricula, programs, centers and institutes.
“We need to be strategic, bold and student-focused,” Guskiewicz said. “These are three areas that I really have worked hard on as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences over the past three years, and I look forward to carrying this across our campus.”
As dean, Guskiewicz prioritized interdisciplinary teaching and research, active learning techniques and experiential learning opportunities for students. He has also overseen the revamping of the General Education curriculum, the first significant overhaul more than a decade. Under Guskiewicz’s leadership, the College has raised more than $400 million, well over half of its goal of $750 million during the Campaign for Carolina, which runs until December 2022.
An internationally recognized expert on sport-related concussions, Guskiewicz is a neuroscientist whose research has influenced concussion guidelines and recommendations made by several organizations, including the NCAA and the NFL.
In 2011, he received a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, often called a “genius grant,” for his innovative work on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of sport-related concussions. In 2013, Time magazine named him a Game Changer, one of 18 “innovators and problem-solvers that are inspiring change in America.”
Guskiewicz thanked Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert A. Blouin for “his outstanding leadership” and said he looks forward to working with Blouin’s team as well as the University’s “world class faculty” and “devoted and caring staff.”
“We have a lot of momentum right now. And we’re going to ride that momentum,” Guskiewicz said. “Carolina embodies a culture of collaboration that I think is unique to any other university in the nation. And we have an unwavering commitment to educating the next generation of leaders and to serving the people of North Carolina and beyond. We’re going to do great things together.”
What people are saying…
Leslie Parise, Faculty Council chair:
“I know Kevin quite well. He is terrific and will be an excellent leader for the University. He most certainly has the very best interests of our students, faculty and staff in mind. As dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, he already has a proven ability to work successfully across schools and departments and has a deep appreciation for the arts, humanities and social sciences. His accomplished, interdisciplinary research program in sports-related concussions, means that he also understands the importance of the biomedical research and clinical enterprise on campus. I have already heard from many faculty who are very excited by this appointment.”
Shayna Hill, Employee Forum chair:
I was delighted when Interim President Roper reached out to the Employee Forum Executive Committee for our thoughts as he was in the process of making this decision. We discussed the leadership qualities and breadth of experiences that we thought would be successful in this interim role and Dr. Guskiewicz has them all. He clearly has an appreciation for the important role our talented staff play at Carolina and the immense impact of their efforts. We look forward to working very closely with Dr. Guskiewicz in his new role as interim chancellor.”
Haywood Cochrane, Board of Trustees chair:
“The trustees are very excited about the choice of Kevin Guskiewicz as our interim chancellor. As a longtime faculty member, administrator and researcher, Dr. Guskiewicz is a rising star at Carolina. He brings a demonstrated strength in leadership, a keen understanding of our vital educational mission and strategic goals, and a deep love for our University to the role of interim chancellor.”