Executive Associate Provost Bernadette Gray-Little, who has been at UNC for more than three decades, is the choice of top University officials as new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
The appointment requires the approval of the Board of Trustees, which is scheduled to consider the recommendation in March. If approved, Gray-Little is expected to begin work in the post at the end of March.
A search committee spent six months finding a successor to Risa Palm, who left the position July 1. The recommendation was endorsed by Chancellor James Moeser and Provost Robert Shelton.
Gray-Little, a native of Washington, N.C., joined the University in 1971 as a faculty member and later became chair and director of undergraduate studies for the department of psychology, director of the clinical psychology graduate program and senior associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest education unit. Gray-Little has served as the executive associate provost for the past two and a half years.
In her previous work in the college, Gray-Little helped overhaul the undergraduate advising system and oversaw the Office of Undergraduate Research, the Honors Program, the James M. Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence, a curriculum review and the beginnings of the First-Year Seminar Program.
In her own specialty, she has directed the clinical psychology program. Her research interests include the association of ethnicity and social status to self-esteem, decision-making strategies in marital relationships, relationship violence, and the influence of demographic characteristics on diagnostic accuracy.
“Gray-Little has outlined a compelling future course for the College that we believe meshes exceptionally well with the University’s overall priorities,” Shelton said in a letter to the members of the Chancellor’s Cabinet and the Deans’ Council. “She has long advocated forcefully for the needs of our undergraduates and has demonstrated a keen appreciation for the role of graduate students in Chapel Hill. She knows this faculty and what is required to ensure future excellence. She has the expertise, drive and skills to bring out the best in her colleagues in the college and the rest of campus.
“As a native North Carolinian, she also understands well the role of the University in serving the people of our state and beyond.”
The dean of the college is responsible for balancing the needs of faculty, staff, students, research and fund raising. Gray-Little was a finalist for similar positions at the College of William and Mary, Emory University and the University of New Hampshire.
She earned her undergraduate degree from Marywood College in Scranton, Pa., and her master’s and doctoral degrees from St. Louis University. She has received the Spencer Foundation Young Scholars Research Award and earned fellowships from the National Research Council, the Fulbright Program and the National Institute of Mental Health. She also is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and associate editor of the journal American Psychologist. Results of her research have appeared in numerous journals, publications and books.
A 22-member search committee, chaired by Jack Richman, dean of UNC’s School of Social Work, narrowed a list of 50 candidates to six finalists after a series of interviews and public forums with the finalists. The five other finalists, all on Carolina’s faculty, were William Andrews ’70 (MA, ’73 PhD), E. Maynard Adams Professor of English; Darryl Gless, English professor and senior associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Edward Samulski, Boshamer Professor of chemistry; Richard Soloway, Merzbacher Professor of history and interim dean of the college; and Holden Thorp ’86, chemistry professor and director of the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.