Published: Sep 26, 2012 01:09 PM
Modified: Sep 26, 2012 01:10 PM
Thorp a rare and gifted leader
The undersigned represent 40 years of service on the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees and 10 years of service as chairs of that board. We have served under three chancellors and have seen countless jobs change hands over the past 15 years.
In our collective opinion, Holden Thorp is a principled, caring and dedicated individual who has the potential to be a once-in-a-generation type leader. When he was chosen to be chancellor, we all knew his experience had not fully prepared him for the job, but that he would grow into it. We all feel though, that his superior intellect and leadership qualities have already benefited the university in countless ways.
As an example, Carolina has risen to ninth in the nation in research funding at nearly $770 million last year. In addition, Holden has begun a visioning process to maximize the relevance of the university in the 21st century. He has also become an excellent fundraiser as the university received pledges of over $330 million this past fiscal year.
History is full of examples of men and women who faced adversity early in their careers, learned lessons along the way, and became visionary leaders: Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandella and Margaret Thatcher are but a few.
But under the 24-hour news cycle and social media, it is very difficult for our new leaders to develop. Those in the public arena today find themselves under assault. Every decision is questioned, and there is a standard set that very few, if any, can meet.
The net result of this overzealous scrutiny is that we are discouraging those with potential from serving in public roles. We respect the rights that come with a free press but at the same time, there is a responsibility to see and report more than one perspective.
In our opinion, Holden’s resignation this week was a serious setback for the university and the state. Never have we seen more potential for leadership or more dedication to the university. Holden is one of those unique leaders with the vision and knowhow to move our university toward its full potential.
One can make the case that he was slightly ahead of his time, but if that is true, then we have all failed to help build his potential. The university and the state are the real losers here, and we hope that at some point, Holden will reconsider his decision.Tim Burnett (2001-2003), Roger Perry (2007-2009), Nelson Schwab (2005-2007), Stick Williams (2003-2005) and Bob Winston (2009-2011) Editor’s note: The writers are former chairs of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of TrusteesEditorial continues negative coverage
Your editorial on the decision of the chancellor to step down is riddled with Orwellian reasoning.
Month in, month out, you have featured bad news about the university with scarcely a word on the achievements of the chancellor. That permits you to say that “any good” he has accomplished “has been drowned out by the increasingly deafening drumbeat of scandal” without conceding that you have been in the front ranks of drummers.
You conclude with the patronizing observation that “we’ll never know what Thorp might have accomplished as chancellor” for “he never got the chance to show it,” altogether forgetting the judgment you offered at the start of your editorial: “The university has made positive strides on various fronts since Thorp took office four years ago.” After failing to keep your readers informed of these strides, you continue to submerge your grudging acknowledgment of them in a welter of naysaying.William E. Leuchtenburg William Rand Kenan, Jr, Professor Emeritus of history, UNCThorp has improved town-gown relations
I am deeply disappointed over the resignation of Chancellor Holden Thorp. The town-gown relationship under his leadership has been the best in memory.
As mayor, I appreciate the efforts he made to move both the university and town forward. With Chancellor Thorp’s leadership, we were able to finalize the Carolina North Development Agreement, establish an incubator space downtown for entrepreneurs and small business, and work productively to begin resolving community concerns in the Northside neighborhood.
As an alumnus of UNC-Chapel Hill, both as an undergrad and a graduate of the law school, I am grateful for Chancellor Thorp’s leadership of the university. His guidance has led UNC to become a top-10 recipient of research dollars. He also has increased faculty retention and increased both the quality and quantity of prospective students. Chancellor Thorp brought an innovative approach to education that focused on better preparing graduates to succeed in a complex and constantly changing world.
Chancellor Thorp has the unique perspective of an individual with deep roots in our community, as a distinguished member of the faculty, alumnus and longtime resident. As fellow residents, we have worked together to ensure that UNC and the town of Chapel Hill remain a world class place to live, work, play and learn.
Although I’d prefer he remain at his current post, I am happy to hear Chancellor Thorp will remain a part of the Carolina family as a faculty member in the chemistry department. Holden and his wife Patti have made Chapel Hill a better place, and I have no doubt they will continue to provide invaluable contributions to our community. As a friend, I wish nothing but the best in his future endeavors.Mark Kleinschmidt Mayor, Chapel Hill
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