There is no subject about which there is greater interest or concern among alumni than the selection of a new Chancellor for our University. This is a critical decision. Our next Chancellor will lead Carolina through our Bicentennial and help prepare our University to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.
As many readers are already well aware, there is now at work a Search Committee chaired by Board of Trustees Chairman Robert C. Eubanks Jr. ’61, which includes among its members our own Association President, the Honorable James G. Exum Jr. ’57, Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. This Committee commissioned a review of the University’s present condition by a team of six persons experienced in higher education, not having any past or present association with the University. This group interviewed some 138 individuals including alumni, legislators, editors, students, faculty, University administrators, trustees and others from October 28, 1987 until January 2, 1988. Their 107-page document was released just before this Review went to press. It has not been possible to do a thorough examination of their findings. The document includes an assessment of the University’s present conditions, a profile of the ideal characteristics of the new Chancellor and a tentative agenda for the initial stages of the next administration.
Naturally, this is an important and an ambitious undertaking. A similar review has never been prepared as part of the search process for a new Chancellor at Chapel Hill. Needless to say, any such effort has limitations. Nevertheless, our readers will be particularly interested in the dozen qualities that should be possessed by the new Chancellor as suggested by this review. They are:
1) The new Chancellor must be an educational leader, someone who understands higher education in general and the unique role of major research institutions in particular.
2) The new Chancellor must be a person of vision, someone who can appreciate the history and culture of Chapel Hill and has the abilities to translate that vision into reality.
3) The new Chancellor must be a person with sufficient psychological strength to make difficult decisions and to press for institutional change.
4) The new Chancellor must be an effective internal leader and external spokesperson but also secure and facile enough to function in the larger system of higher education in North Carolina.
5) The new Chancellor should have a record of strong interpersonal skills sufficient to pull together the institution’s various constituencies to work in its best interest.
6) The new Chancellor must be articulate in one-on-one group discussions and before large audiences.
7) The new Chancellor must both understand and appreciate the political arena.
8) The new Chancellor must be in good health and have the physical stamina to work long hours.
9) In addition to being an outstanding leader, the new Chancellor must also be an effective manager.
10) The next Chancellor must have a personal warmth and a sense of humor about life — about North Carolina, about higher education and even Chapel Hill.
11) The new Chancellor must be enthusiastic about the pending fund campaign (Bicentennial Capital Campaign).
12) The new Chancellor must meet the full test of a field of the very finest candidates possible (interviewees were about equally divided between “in-state,” “out-of-state” and “it really doesn’t matter”).
As the search continues, alumni should be reassured that the Search Committee which is charged with recommending names to UNC System President C. D. Spangler Jr. ’54, who in turn will make a recommendation to the Board of Governors, is performing its important work with a full appreciation for the strengths and weaknesses of our campus, and the strengths and limitations of the structure of higher education in North Carolina. While it is probable that there will be considerable discussion within the University community about certain elements of this report — particularly those sections that attempt to assess the perceived strengths and weaknesses of certain University units and sections dealing with institutional governance — clearly the suggested qualities that should be found in our new Chancellor will be helpful to the Committee.
The Search Committee has important decisions to make. The Committee must be thoughtful and careful in its deliberations. Understanding Carolina’s special needs is important if the Search Committee is to recommend for consideration candidates for Chancellor who can effectively lead the nation’s first state university toward our third century.
Yours at Carolina,
Douglas S. Dibbert ’70