Anxiety, support grows on UNC Chancellor's potential exit to Michigan State

Josh Chapin Image
Friday, December 1, 2023
Growing anxiety at UNC about Chancellor's potential exit
The chancellor is the finalist for the presidency at Michigan State University.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- There's growing anxiety among the faculty at UNC Chapel Hill about the future of Kevin Guskiewicz.

The chancellor is the finalist for the presidency at Michigan State University.

In Chapel Hill, they're rallying around him to try and make sure he doesn't leave the state's flagship public university.

"There has been a huge outpouring of support for the chancellor, I've gotten multiple emails and texts from current and former faculty," said Beth Moracco, chair of the faculty and associate professor of health behavior.

Her name is on a letter written this week to the chancellor asking him to stay. Moracco has known Guskiewicz since she was a graduate student too, and has worked alongside him for years.

He has done groundbreaking work in concussions and traumatic brain injury. Moracco is now the associate director of the Injury Prevention Research Center.

"Whenever there is any kind of challenge or decision to be made, he reaches out to a wide variety of students, staff and faculty," she said. "He takes in all sorts of perspectives, considers all of them, keeps those lines of communication open."

Guskiewicz has had run-ins with the board of trustees in the past but kept his job, and helped navigate the university through the pandemic and the denied tenure of Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Michigan State's student newspaper reported this week that he'd only accept the job if he could do so without interference from the board.

After that story created speculation that he was leaving, Chancellor Guskiewicz issued this statement on November 16: "I am focused on serving the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a special place I have lived, worked, and loved for 28 years. I am very proud of what our university accomplishes every day as one of the best public universities in the country. Through the years, a variety of professional opportunities have been presented to me. My family and I must weigh each one, and we are weighing this one."

"I'm pretty disappointed to see him potentially bow out," said Brooks Fitts, who graduated from Carolina in 2022.

He helped work directly with the chancellor on the permanent granite ramp that now goes up to the Old Well.

"I met with him several times and he's always been receptive to my concerns," said Fitts, who grew up in Raleigh. "I think people are nervous because they don't trust the Board of Trustees, they don't trust the Board of Governors and I think he has the best interest of the university at heart."

They told the Daily Tar Heel that if necessary, an interim chancellor would be named by the UNC system president. That is the same position Guskiewicz was appointed to when Carol Folt left for USC in 2019.