Student Reaction: Mix of Sadness, Confusion

Students were talking about the resignation of Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86 on Tuesday. Here’s what some of them said to the Review’s editorial intern, Emily Palmer.

Shelby Sugierski, a junior public policy and Romance languages major:

“I’m actually pretty disappointed because Chancellor Thorp was something I really liked about UNC. Many people didn’t like the way he handled problems that came and passed at UNC, but what I admired about him was his passion for innovation, for this school and for education in general. I know there are a lot of people, myself included, who will always stand behind what he did and how he represented this school in his time as chancellor.

“I honestly don’t think he should have resigned, and I know I’m not alone. I can see how he would feel trapped by all those who were pulling him down, but remaining at UNC would have been a stronger gesture than resigning. He could have stayed on and reached for the accomplishment of his vision of UNC, which would satisfy the UNC fans who didn’t like him just as much as his resignation would — if they were true fans.”

Scott McElveen, a sophomore environmental science major and a residence adviser:

“Yesterday’s email said next to nil about why he resigned. I don’t know if it was personal, political or what, so I can’t say what he should have done.

“I also can’t say if we’ll be in better or worse hands, because I don’t know whose hands we’ll be in.”

Taylor Dodge, a senior English major and an RA:

“Honestly, I don’t really think much either way about it. Like, I probably don’t stay as up to date on the news as I should, so scandals have emerged in the last few years, but I personally don’t think that HT had very much to do with that. I think it was one of those cases where the leader gets the blame whether or not he’s guilty.”

Rodrigo Martinez, a sophomore environmental health major:

“I don’t think I’ve heard of a person who loves this University more than Chancellor Holden Thorp does. I think it’s commendable that he’s willing to take himself out of the equation, if he thinks he’s not the best to lead the University.

“I think it is time. We are facing a lot of different struggles, and it is time to have some different ideas coming into the University, something else that will lead us to again greater heights.

“I actually was in class, it was a huge lecture hall, and I pulled out my phone to check that I had an email, and it was a Chancellor Thorp email. And I thought it was just an update on Carolina, and I saw that he said he was leaving, and I was very sad about that. Just shock. I kind of zoned out because for me he was the face of Carolina. I felt like I could approach him at any point of time, anything I had in my mind about Carolina. He listened to students in that way, so for me that was a little upsetting in a way because I knew that Carolina would lose someone that is really meaningful to this community, to the campus, the students, to everyone.”

Anna Ormond, a sophomore:

“I had heard that he was thinking about it, with all the scandals going on lately, but I’m still pretty surprised, I guess just because I didn’t know that it would happen.

“In reference with the Facebook post that I found out through, it was upsetting because the guy who was posting something said something kind of shocking, saying that he didn’t really resign because of the scandal or the fraud but really it was because of the Pope Center and how they are trying to step in and make UNC not such a liberal stronghold — are what I think were the words that were used — trying to privatize things and all this really controversial stuff, so that kind of was upsetting because the post was saying Carolina has been the University for the people but now that Thorp has resigned, all this we stand to lose, so that was just a bit dramatic so that was just kind of sad. …

“In general, I think that resignation is a sort of giving up but like I said, I don’t know what kind of pressures he really faced, so I don’t want to say whether or not I agree with what he did or not.”

Ashley Lee, a sophomore chemistry major:

“I was pretty indifferent about it. I don’t know very much about what the chancellor does or anything. My mom was really shocked about it.

“My mom said it might be because of all the sports stuff that’s been going on, and I think that maybe it just seems like he is running away from it.”

Trevor Haga, a sophomore business and chemistry major:

“I found out through Facebook, as everything else in this world. Somebody had posted the article that was on WRAL. Everybody knew that it was going to happen, but that was the first time I saw that it actually happened.

“It’s a shame that he had to step down, but he did it for the best of the University. People shouldn’t assume that he was behind anything that was going on. He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time, and he did his best to figure out what was going on, as any chancellor should do.

“Yes, definitely [it was the right decision] because UNC needs change. They need to have a clean slate to fix all that’s gone wrong, and assumptions made about the University shouldn’t be based on him, just because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“He was a great leader. He was doing the right things. But in order to work with everybody at the University, having somebody new step in is just for the best. Just so that way, there’s no bias.”

Aubrey Everett, a sophomore:

“I found out when I got the email. So I checked my email after class because it was on my phone, and when I read it, I was like, Oh that’s sad, I guess. … But you know change is always good, so I guess we’ll just work with whatever comes up.

“It was a bit of a surprise and a little sad because when I came here I would get messages from him, so I guess in a way I kind of felt a connection to him, so I was a little sad even though I didn’t really know him.

“He said that he had thought about it for a while, so it was a tough decision he had to make, so I’m sure that whatever he’s going to do instead is going to be the right thing for him to do. As long as it’s an informed decision, I’m sure it’s the right one.”

Ashlyn Berry, a junior nursing major:

“I think it was kind of more of a shock because no one was really expecting it.

“I was kind of sad because I felt like all the stuff that has been happening has been a lot of scandal but it wasn’t necessarily like Chancellor Thorp’s fault, so I felt kind of bad because I thought he handled it fairly well, despite everything that’s been going on.

“I know he was doing what he thought was right for the school, so I support him in that, and hopefully that is the right decision for the University. Because obviously there is a lot of stuff that we don’t know is going on, so I don’t know if I can really say if it was right.”

Hannah Manning, a freshman communications major:

“I was completely surprised, and I wasn’t very knowledgeable about it, so I wasn’t quite sure why he had made the decision to step down.

“He said that it was very hard for him to make the decision to step down but that he was doing it for personal reasons, and I completely respect that, so yes, I do think that he made the right decision if it was best for him and for his family.

“I’m not particularly worried. I think Carolina is a great institution. I’m sure they will find someone that is just as good to take over his position.”

Katherine Mulligan, a freshman biology major:

“I was just surprised because I knew that the vice chancellor had just stepped down, also, so I was just surprised at the turnover.

“I was just a little sad to see so much turnover, but I guess if it’s in the best interest of the University then it will be a good thing.

“I think Carolina is such a great institution, I think they’ll find someone else who will be really good for the institution, and I definitely trust the administration here to find someone new who will do an excellent job.”

Catherine Dicus, a freshman:

“I felt kind of a little bit worried, like why is the chancellor resigning? Is there some corruption in our leaders?”

Ross Carroll, a sophomore biology major:

“We’re under scrutiny right now. And I felt like it was a very professional thing that he did to step down because so many of our programs are under slack now because of that. So I felt like he did what he needed to do, and he got down, and he is definitely replaceable.

“He shouldn’t really be held responsible. I mean, it is his program, he runs this school but he can’t really be responsible for everything that goes down underneath it. The people who were in charge, in the lower levels, should be held accountable, and I felt like their redresses have come.

“I felt like it was the right thing to do. I wasn’t sad. I’m optimistic.”

Adam Glasser, a sophomore history major:

“I think Thorp was a very talented chancellor. He could sing and play music, and he was especially good at cheering on the Tar Heels. I don’t think anything that has happened is his fault. At the same time, it might be best for the University to start over and work to get past the unfortunate events that have unfolded over the past two years. I was very upset about his decision, but I wish him the best.”

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