Rachelle Feldman has been promoted from the interim role to permanent vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions at UNC.
Feldman, who came to Carolina in 2016 as the associate provost and director in the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid, had been serving in the interim role since November 2020. She succeeds Steve Farmer, who left at the end of the fall 2020 semester after 20 years of working in admissions at Carolina to become vice provost for enrollment at the University of Virginia.
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bob Blouin announced Feldman’s appointment in an email to the campus community on Dec. 16.
“During her tenure, Rachelle has developed and implemented significant policy and process improvements in Carolina’s financial aid and enrollment operations that have improved efficiency and better serve our students,” they wrote. “Notably, in the past year, Rachelle led the recruitment of Carolina’s largest and one of the most diverse undergraduate classes in history. A champion of student success, Rachelle has helped raise the graduation rates of Carolina Covenant students to within a few percentage points of Carolina’s overall graduation rate.”
The Carolina Covenant is a groundbreaking program for academically qualified low-income students that offers a debt-free path to graduation through a combination of grants, scholarships and work-study jobs.
The announcement said that with a background in finance, Feldman had implemented new strategies for calculating the cost of attendance and student needs, enabling the University to reduce the financial aid required for need-based funds by more than $15 million annually, while still meeting the full demonstrated need of students. Working with UNC Finance and Operations, she also helped develop a long-term plan for financial aid sustainability.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Feldman worked to ensure students were financially able to continue their studies, strategically allocating more than $45 million in federal and institutional funds for emergency expenditures, housing and internet stipends, and funds to allow graduate students to complete their research and degrees, the announcement said.
As associate provost and director in the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid, Feldman expanded access and affordability by creating the Blue Sky Scholars initiative to serve middle-income North Carolinians, among other key initiatives. She administered a comprehensive program of over $446 million in student aid funds to approximately 20,400 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. She also advised campus administrators on matters related to tuition, student aid policy, student aid research and national issues and trends related to the role of student aid in higher education finance.
In a 2018 interview with The Well, UNC’s news website for the campus community, Feldman said the University’s Blueprint for Next strategic framework had reaffirmed its core values as the first public university in the country. One of the plan’s pillars — “Eliminate all barriers to a great education — was a driving force for Feldman’s office.
“That does not mean the same thing as only eliminating all barriers to entry or even to a degree,” Feldman said then. “It means that all students, regardless of income or background, should be able to take advantage of all the things that this institution has to offer.” For instance, students, regardless of income, should have the opportunity to have a study abroad experience, she said.
“Making it possible for students to come here is not enough. We have to do everything we can to ensure that they thrive once they are here regardless of background. The way to do that is by making sure they have all the tools they need and by treating them with dignity.”
Prior to Carolina, Feldman worked in similar roles at the University of California-Berkeley, most recently as assistant vice chancellor and director for financial aid and scholarships. There, she helped lead a 10 percent increase in the yield of top meritorious students over four years and fostered an increase in the yield of minority students from under 33 percent to 53 percent in a five-year period.
Feldman holds a master’s degree in economics from Golden Gate University and a bachelor’s degree in economics and dramatic art dance from UC-Berkeley.