Chapel Hill, N.C. — The first woman named to lead the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was selected not for her gender but for her ability to make tough decisions, UNC System President Tom Ross said.
Dr. Carol Folt embraced Tar Heel blue in her choice of clothing and her comments immediately after her selection by the university Board of Governors Friday.
"I'm going to thank, in advance, the students and the faculty and the staff and indeed the wonderful State of North Carolina for embracing me," she said.
The UNC Board of Governors voted unanimously for Tom Ross' selection and greeted Folt with a standing ovation.
"She brings energy. She brings intellect. She brings the background experience. She can make tough decisions," Ross said.
Folt, 61, was appointed interim president of Ivy League Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N.H., in July 2012 after 30 years on the faculty.
"She has a reputation at Dartmouth for being the fixer," said Wade Hargrove, chairman of the UNC Board of Trustees. "I think we all have a high level of confidence that that experience, dealing with very challenging issues there, will serve her well here."
Folt takes over a university with a storied history that has seen recent investigations – into the football program, the Department of African and Afro-American Studies and administration handling of sexual assault reports.
Kevin Guskiewicz, chairman of the Department of Exercise and Sport Science and a member of the search committee, said he believes Folt brings a wealth of academic and leadership experience to meet the challenges.
"She walked the campus and talked to faculty and students. She realizes that this is a place where we can have big-time athletics and excellence in academics," Guskiewicz said.
UNC students expressed enthusiasm for the campus's first female leader. Women account for 58 percent of the student body.
"It's something that's going to change the comfort that they feel on campus with a woman leader," senior Janae Hinson said.