Tony Waldrop ’74 — a triple Carolina alumnus and UNC’s vice chancellor for research and economic development – is leaving Chapel Hill for the University of Central Florida. He will become provost and vice president for academic affairs at the Orlando institution on Aug. 1, nine years to the day after coming back to UNC.
Waldrop had been one of four finalists for the post at UCF. He will succeed Provost and Executive Vice President Terry Hickey, who has held the position since 2003 and had announced in January that he would step down in June.
According to the University of Central Florida’s website, UCF is a metropolitan research university that ranks as the third-largest in the nation, with more than 53,500 students. Waldrop is going from the nation’s oldest public university to an institution with a very different history: UCF’s first classes were offered in 1968.
“While this is a huge loss for us, it is a great move for Tony and for higher education,” Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86 said in an e-mail to the campus community. “UCF is an exciting university and undoubtedly will benefit from Tony’s extensive skills and experience.”
Thorp added that Waldrop “has led the growth of our research enterprise from $438.7 million to $716 million last year. The $168 million in federal stimulus money the University has received to date also can be attributed to the strength of our faculty’s research endeavors, and Tony has played an instrumental role in those efforts.”
In 2001, Waldrop had been vice chancellor for research and a professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and also had been an interim graduate school dean there. In August of that year, he returned to UNC, first as vice chancellor for research and graduate studies, later being named vice chancellor for research and economic development. Much of his work has been connected to Carolina North, the 1,000-acre planned satellite campus on University property two miles north of the campus.
Waldrop, who is from Columbus in the North Carolina mountains, earned his master’s from UNC in 1980 and his doctorate here in ’82. He has been known to many at Carolina as a 1970s track star. As a Morehead Scholar in the 1970s, Waldrop won two NCAA championships and six ACC titles as a mile runner on the track and field team. His famous streak of 11 consecutive sub-four-minute miles during his junior and senior years included setting a world record time of 3:55 at the San Diego Indoor Games, running what then was the fastest mile on the East Coast (3:53.2) at the Penn Relays, and becoming the first miler to break four minutes in the Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden.
In 1974, he was named both ACC Athlete of the Year and one of the NCAA’s five best student-athletes, in addition to receiving the Patterson Medal, UNC’s highest athletic award. Waldrop retired from racing in the mid-1970s and returned to UNC for graduate school.
His wife, Julee Briscoe Waldrop ’81, is a clinical associate professor in UNC’s School of Nursing. She plans to join the faculty in UCF’s College of Nursing.
Thorp said he would announce an interim vice chancellor soon, along with plans for a search committee.