CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Celebrating its 220th birthday, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Saturday installed its 11th chancellor and first female leader.
"I am overwhelmed by Carolina warmth and a Tar Heel welcome," Carol Folt, the former president at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, told an estimated crowd of about 2,500 students, faculty and staff who gathered Saturday in Polk Place on the Chapel Hill campus.
Folt was honored on the same day the university celebrates University Day, which began in 1877 to commemorate the 1793 placing of the cornerstone of Old East, the nation's first state university building.
She spoke about the university's past and future, saying UNC-Chapel Hill must "lower barriers and de-silo campus to face some of its greatest challenges."
Many say a challenge is rebuilding the reputation of the school's athletics department, which has been marred by a string of scandals involving academic fraud, improper travel spending by fundraisers and special treatment for athletes.
"I believe in Carolina," Folt told WRAL News following the installation ceremony. "As I said in this installation, our job is to do everything we can do in the highest possible standard. That means we face the great and we face the tough."
Folt replaced former Chancellor Holden Thorp in July. Thorp, UNC-Chapel Hill's leader since 2008, decided to resign last year.
UNC System President Tom Ross, who presided over Saturday's ceremony, said he sought a leader able to manage a complex organization operating with constrained resources yet still committed to keeping tuition low, in line with a requirement in the North Carolina constitution.
Ross said he wanted a proven fundraiser and communicator, who made academics a priority but recognized that athletics had a key role in building school pride and alumni loyalty.
Since 1957, UNC has installed chancellors on Oct. 12.
Ross presided over Saturday's ceremony, and Sarah Parker, chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, administered the oath of Office.
Gov. Pat McCrory was also on hand for Saturday's event, saying that UNC was bringing a "class act" into the fold by choosing Folt to lead the school.
"Your chancellor is already connecting this wonderful institution with commerce," McCrory said. "Our state has seen a comeback in commerce."
Folt became Dartmouth's president in July 2012 after Jim Yong Kim left the job to become head of the World Bank. Folt had been the school's chief academic officer, the school's second-highest rank, for three years.