Folt highlights faculty research funding at trustees meeting
UNC Chancellor Carol Folt used her first Board of Trustees meeting Friday to highlight an $11 million increase in faculty research funding.
Faculty at UNC secured $777.8 million in research funding during fiscal year 2013 compared to $767.1 million the previous year, which is a 1.4 percent increase.
Folt said an increase in research funding at a time when the federal government is tightening its belt is a remarkable achievement.
“I know many of you are following this in the news and you know that federal funding has been reduced in years and most of the people we know are facing cuts,” Folt said. “But, this extraordinary place is actually seeing an increase in its research funding and that’s a tribute to the work faculty are doing to improve lives and make North Carolina a leader in research and development.”
The university’s research funding comes in contracts and grants awarded by federal and state agencies, foundations, nonprofit organizations, corporation and associations.
Folt, who replaced Holden Thorp on July 1, also used the occasion to share with its members how her first three weeks on the job have gone.
She said a seasoned and creative leadership team has helped the transition proceed fairly seamlessly.
“Three-plus weeks in and it feels like it’s smooth so far,” Folt said.
In those weeks, Folt said she has met with faculty and staff, visited numerous restaurants, attended the annual fireworks show in Kenan Stadium and traveled to Raleigh to meet with lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory.
“I was really encouraged by those conversations because I think we all do share a firm belief that one of the great aspects of the State of North Carolina is its education system and Carolina’s very, very pivotal role in that is something we all want to see advance,” Folt said.
Addressing some of the tough issues the campus has faced in recent years, Folt said university supporters have asked her to emphasize that UNC is willing to address it problems when identified.
“They also expressed to me in many ways a fervent desire to see Carolina not only address some of its own complex issues but actually become a national leader in these very issues,” Folt said.
She said those issues include “melding most appropriately outstanding athletics and the academic success of students,” ensuring student health and safety and combating sexual assault and misconduct.
The school has been under a cloud of controversy over much of the past three years after investigations found that some football players received improper benefits, and academic fraud involving athletes in the African and Afro-American Studies Department.
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is also looking into allegations that UNC created a hostile environment for sexual assault survivors, failed to properly adjudicate rapes at the school, underreported sexual misconduct on campus and retaliated against one student for filing a federal complaint against the school.
Folt, who will be formally installed as chancellor Oct. 12, also touched on some of the recent problems at the school, including the arrest last month of basketball standout P.J. Hairston on charges of marijuana possession and driving without a license during a traffic stop in Durham.
The charges were dropped earlier this week, but Hairston still faces possible NCAA sanctions and disciplinary measures from UNC basketball Coach Roy Williams.
Folt, speaking during a news conference with media, said both Williams and UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham have kept her abreast of developments in the case.
“That’s an area that as chancellor, that’s my obligation and interest to understand what is going on,” Folt said. “I also have wonderful people in place that really have the knowledge and experience to help me learn, but also deal with this in a way that makes sense for our students and institution.”