Thorp: 'Nobody asked me to do this'

Posted September 17, 2012 3:16 p.m. EDT
Updated September 17, 2012 5:57 p.m. EDT

— Chancellor Holden Thorp said Monday that his decision to resign as the top administrator at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was solely his own.

Thorp plans to return to teaching and research next summer – he will remain as chancellor longer if a successor hasn't been named by then – ending .

"It's been a tough couple of years here," he said in an interview with WRAL News. "We've been through some problems that I think we've done a good job of managing and have gotten on a road to making us a better university."

Thorp said he decided over the weekend to offer his resignation after discussing the situation with his wife. He said the toll of the continual negative publicity has affected his family and those close to him.

"I'm so honored to have this job, so it was a very difficult decision," he said. "Even though I think that we're doing an excellent job getting through (the problems), I think it's best for the university and for my family."

Thorp met privately Friday with the UNC Board of Governors, which oversees the 17-campus university system, but he said no one ever suggested then that he step down. Members of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees have tried to talk him out of the decision since Sunday, he said.

"Nobody asked me to do this," he said. "I felt that the Board of Trustees would support me through whatever else we might have to go through."

Thorp said he was disappointed that he didn't accomplish all he wanted, but he noted that he has seen several successes as chancellor, such as UNC-Chapel Hill moving into the Top 10 nationwide for federal research grants and a 24 percent increase in applications from prospective students.

"I feel very good about the things that we did get done and the way that we've dealt with a lot of the problems that have come around, which I think will ultimately make this a much better university," he said.

He said he doesn't feel like a scapegoat for the problems that have beset UNC-Chapel Hill in recent years.

"There are a lot of things that have gone wrong where I trusted people," he said. "I had a run of people who betrayed that trust, and I hate that, but that's the way it broke for me.

"That's not why I'm stepping down," he quickly added. "I'm stepping down so that I can move to the next chapter of my life and the university can move in an orderly way to its next chapter, which I know will be a great one."

Thorp said he plans to focus his last nine months as chancellor on resolving problems in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, with academic support for athletes and in the university development office.

"Those things can all be taken care of, and the excitement of someone new coming in here will lift the campus up," he said.