ACTA in the News | Presidential Search

UNC chancellor ‘weighing’ departure for Michigan State University

UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said Thursday he is 'weighing' the opportunity to depart for Michigan State University.
WRAL NEWS   |  November 17, 2023 by Monica Casey

Kevin Guskiewicz, chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said Thursday he is ‘weighing’ the opportunity to depart for Michigan State University.

Guskiewicz sent a statement Thursday morning to WRAL News.

“I am focused on serving the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a special place I have lived, worked and loved for 28 years,” Guskiewicz said. “I am very proud of what our university accomplishes every day as one of the best public universities in the country. Through the years, a variety of professional opportunities have been presented to me. My family and I must weigh each one, and we are weighing this one.”

Guskiewicz has served as chancellor since February of 2019, after the university’s previous chancellor, Carol Folt, was forced out.

UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees Chair John P. Preyer provided a statement on the matter.

“We wish Kevin and his family well as they consider this important decision,” said Preyer. “In the meantime, our focus as a Board remains on the excellence and continued progress of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The success of our university and the promise of its future is bigger than any one person. The momentum and leadership of our state’s world-class university will continue.”

Public records show the base salary for the president position at Michigan State University pays $70,000 more than what Guskiewicz currently makes.

During the four years he served as chancellor, Guskiewicz faced his own set of controversies and challenges.

In February 2021, a group of professors at UNC called for Guskiewicz to resign. The local chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) said there had been several breaches of trust and dishonesty displayed by the chancellor and his associates.

Part of the controversy was due to the UNC System’s plan to turn the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument over to the state chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which many faculty members believed was an immoral decision.

In July 2021, there were rumors that Guskiewicz would be fired and replaced by UNC System President Peter Hans, but nothing ever came of that rumor.

Since 1945, UNC has seen a total of 12 chancellors. There have been four chancellors since 2000 alone.

Guskiewicz has held his current role for four years. Before him, Carol Folt was in the role for six years, Holden Thorp for five years and James Moeser for eight years.

WRAL News spoke with Armand Alacbay, the chief of staff for the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a non-profit focused on promoting academic freedom and accountability.

“A university CEO is probably one of the hardest jobs in America, period,” Alacbay said. “That’s why the average tenure is just under six years.”

Alacbay said selecting a new president or chancellor is the most important job for a trustee.

“A presidential search requires a governing board to take a hard look at its strategic plan and what its expectations are for the next 10 years of the university,” Alacbay said.

In July of this year, Guskiwiecz made the announcement that UNC would provide free tuition for incoming undergraduates whose families make less than $80,000 per year. Although several board members supported the decision, the announcement was also met with criticism from some members of the UNC Board of Governors.

The new policy starts in fall of 2024 for incoming students from the state.

The student newspaper at Michigan State University has reported Guskiewicz is the only remaining candidate for president after another finalist dropped out.

WRAL News reached out to the third-party firm helping with that search but has not yet heard back.

This article appeared in WRAL News on November 16, 2023.


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