Faculty Urge Guskiewicz to Stay

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz acknowledged in a statement released Nov. 16 that he is considering the MSU presidency. (Photo: UNC/Jon Gardiner ’98)

This article was updated Dec. 6, 2023, to include a statement by Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz.

UNC faculty sent a letter on Nov. 27 to Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, who is the remaining finalist for the presidency at Michigan State University, asking him to remain at Carolina and saying his departure would be “a devastating loss.”

The letter was sent from Chair of the Faculty Beth Moracco and praised Guskiewicz for guiding Carolina through the tumultuous times it has faced since he became chancellor in 2019, while referencing the Aug. 28 shooting death of Professor Zijie Zan.

“Over the past week, many faculty members have contacted me to express their support for you as our chancellor,” the letter read. “While the individual words have varied, the themes of these conversations have been unanimous. Your faculty colleagues appreciate your steadfast commitment to our beloved university and your calm and steady leadership throughout the extraordinary challenges our campus community has faced since 2019.

“Your love for Carolina and devotion to our passionately public mission inspires us all,” the letter continued. “And, while we respect your decision-making process and the many factors to be weighed, I join a multitude of faculty voices in saying that I fervently hope that you will remain at Carolina.”

The State News, Michigan State University’s student newspaper, reported earlier this month that Guskiewicz was the lone finalist for the presidency after the other finalist, Taylor Eighmy, president of The University of Texas at San Antonio, dropped out. Guskiewicz acknowledged in a statement released Nov. 16 that he was “weighing” the MSU presidency.

“I appreciate the support and confidence of my fellow faculty members and colleagues who I have worked alongside for 28 years, ” Guskiewicz said in a statement. “I am so proud of the amazing things we are accomplishing together. Regardless of where things land, I am confident Carolina will continue to excel and the success of our students will always be a top priority. For my wife, Amy, and I, Carolina will always be a home and we will always be Tar Heels.”

Guskiewicz has been chancellor since December 2019, after serving as interim chancellor beginning in February that year. He replaced Chancellor Carol Folt, who left UNC for the presidency at the University of Southern California. He helped shape Carolina’s strategic plan, Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good, which outlines a roadmap for the University’s priorities, and has made interdisciplinary teaching and research a cornerstone of his tenure at UNC, among other accomplishments.

Guskiewicz has also served during controversies, including a proposed $2.5 million settlement with the Sons of Confederate Veterans over the Silent Sam statue, a payment that was later overturned by a judge; becoming one of the first universities nationwide to reopen its campus during the COVID-19 pandemic, only to shut down in-person classes after just one week; and navigating the Board of Trustees’ delay in offering a tenure position at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media to journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones ’03 (MA), who later accepted a position at another university. This year, some members of the UNC System Board of Governors admonished Guskiewicz for failing to notify them of his plans to expand free tuition and fees to students in the incoming 2024 class whose families make less than $80,000 annually.

Through the University’s Media Relations Office, Guskiewicz did not comment further on Moracco’s letter in time to meet deadline. Officials in Michigan State University’s Media and Public Information Office did not respond to questions about Guskiewicz’s status in the university’s search for a new president.

— Laurie D. Willis ’86

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