Students Celebrate Chancellor, and a Fresh Start, at Folt Fest

Folt  Fest.

Students celebrate with new Chancellor Carol Folt. (Photo by Shane Snider)

‘She’s going to be connected with us’

Hundreds of students flocked to the Student Union on a rainy Sunday to indulge in carnival-style food and shake hands with newly installed Chancellor Carol Folt.

The festival also featured performances by local bands as it aimed at connecting UNC students with the incoming chancellor.

“She’s going to be connected with us as students,” said sophomore Fredrick Hood. “She’s starting off on a good note, in my opinion.”

The chancellor arrived at what was dubbed Folt Fest amid much fanfare, with students stopping her every few steps to pose for photographs. She called the attention surreal.

“You don’t ever grow up thinking you’re going to see your name on T-shirt,” she told the packed crowd.

Folt Fest ran from 4 to 6 p.m. and was open to any student with a UNC One Card.

Brittany Reeves, president of the GAA’s Order of the Bell Tower, one of several organizing groups, said turnout topped 500. The line stretched out the Student Union and across the Pit, with students waiting to pile their plates high with fried Oreos, caramel apples, soft pretzels, grilled corn on the cob, corn dogs and a hodgepodge of other free food. Volunteers passed out bags of buttered popcorn and fresh-spun cotton candy. Music from Clockwork Kids, Morning Brigade and DJ A-Minor pounded through the building.

Besides OBT, the other hosts for FoltFest were the GAA’s Student Alumni Association, the Carolina Union Activities Board and the Executive Branch of Student Government.

Freshman Kadejah Murray said she was happy to be starting her UNC career with a new chancellor at the helm. “We start fresh together, so I can be here to say that everything she did, I was here for.”

Folt’s personable nature is what organizers said they wanted to put on display. FoltFest came a day after her official — and more choreographed — swearing-in ceremony as UNC’s 11th chancellor.

“We wanted the students to get their own celebration with the chancellor because we do know that students don’t get to interact with her as much,” Reeves said.

Many students expressed excitement about UNC opening a new chapter under Folt, who enters her first year at a time when higher public education is rapidly changing.

“There have been a lot of scandals in the past couple of years, and she sort of represents a fresh start in some ways,” said sophomore Christine Allison.

Students said they anticipated that the Folt administration would infuse UNC with new ideas.

“She’s so enthusiastic,” said freshman Morgan Zemaitis, after sharing her interest in environmental issues with Folt, an internationally recognized environmental scientist. “I feel like she has everything set and I’m so excited to see what she does in these next couple of years.”

— Brian Freskos

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