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Dean of College of Arts and Sciences at UNC will step down

Posted November 20, 2014

Karen Gil

— Karen Gil, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is stepping down at the end of the 2014-15 academic school year, the school announced Thursday.

Gil, who has led the College of Arts and Sciences since 2009, will return to teaching in the department of psychology.

"There is never a 'best' time to leave a job that you love. I have been inspired by the many innovations that are revolutionizing the way we teach and help students learn, and I am excited to get back into the classroom to apply these myself," Gil wrote in an email to faculty and staff on Nov. 19.

Gil also wrote that is time for new leadership in the College of Arts and Sciences as the school works to implement reforms put in place in the wake of a 20-year academic scandal in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies.

Gil was mentioned in a report by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein but not implicated in the scandal.

In a news release about Gil stepping down, Chancellor Carol Folt praised Gil for her leadership.

"Since becoming dean in 2009, she has advocated tirelessly for students, staff and faculty, and helped ensure that the College, home to the vast majority of all our undergraduates, remains a place many call the 'heart and soul of the University,'" Folt said in a statement.

The College of Arts and Sciences is UNC's largest academic unit, with more than 16,000 undergraduates and nearly 2,600 graduate students.


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  • Objective Scientist Nov 21, 2014

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    5 years is the typical "term" when one is appointed a department chair or to a Dean's position. However, it is not uncommon for reappointments to a 2nd 5 year term. Some "reluctantly" agree to an appointment and after 5 years... they "step down". Those looking to climb the higher education administrative ladder are always looking for the "next step up"... and will take that step at any time an opportunity presents itself. If an opportunity is not there it is not uncommon to stay in the position for a 2nd or 3rd term of 5 years... to advance upward it is almost always better to stay in the administrative position rather than be a "mere" member of the faculty. Gill was, I believe, one year into her second term and prior to the Wainstein report all associated with that had given no "hint" of wanting to or planning to leave the position of Dean. Gill "stepping down" from the Dean's position is yet another facet of the multi-faceted UNC "MESS"!

  • unc70 Nov 20, 2014

    Don't know for sure in this case, but FIVE YEARS is a typical term for serving as a dean or as a department chair. Best guess is that this is little more than a normal end of a 5 y term.

  • Objective Scientist Nov 20, 2014

    I've met and "know" Gill at something beyond a minimal, acquaintance level. Nice lady, personable... and I believe has been, overall, a competent professor and administrator. I do NOT know the "facts" of her leaving the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences position... but I've been around the block a few times and when someone in that high of a position at UNC leaves it prior to retiring or taking a higher level position at UNC or at another University it is almost always - a virtual certainty - that it is for reasons other than merely wanting to return to teaching and research in their home department. Taking all of the recent "going's on" at UNC into account and that her seemingly voluntary "stepping down" is in that context... I simply cannot think anything other than it is related to the activities noted in the Wainstein report! My best guess... it was not a "firing" from her position of Dean, but it may have been "we're giving you the 'option' of stepping down!"

  • Keith Bonham Nov 20, 2014
    user avatar

    Outside of Chapel Hill they call that a "demotion"

  • Charles Sasser Nov 20, 2014
    user avatar

    There's not a cleaner program in the country at present. Think about it. Nowhere has there been a more complete colonoscopy done & steps made to correct.

  • moomoo Nov 20, 2014

    View quoted thread

    So is that comment.

  • raphael27520 Nov 20, 2014

    Much be nice to get Fired for incompetence and get a cushy job as a Prof. I wonder if her classes will be no show /no work classes like they have for the "Scholar Athletes".

    Ah yes , Government in jobs in Academia.

    Yet another reason not to hire Illiterate UNC graduates with useless degrees.

  • Kevin O'Donnell Nov 20, 2014
    user avatar

    Perhaps Carol Folt should start dealing with the issue at-hand instead of running around the country raising money. If UNC wants to come clean, it should start by getting rid of Provost Dean and all others that criticized the whistleblower, Mary Willingham. It can then get rid of the most powerful person on campus - Ole Roy. This will send a clear signal to everyone looking that UNC is serious about cleaning up its house.

    I don't care about the banners hanging in the Dean Dome. That is in the past. Let's clean up the present.

  • elkerster Nov 20, 2014

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    Gil was mentioned in a report by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein but not implicated in the scandal."

  • MaxD Nov 20, 2014

    Get out while you still can!