North Carolina

Who is Wallace Loh, the man who said ‘I would think’ UNC would receive the death penalty?

Wallace Loh has been president of the University of Maryland since 2010 and was at the helm when the Terrapins, a charter member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, left for the Big Ten after the 2013-14 intercollegiate sports season.

He was recorded last Thursday at a university senate meeting saying that he “would think” that an NCAA investigation would lead to the “death penalty” against UNC-Chapel Hill. The comments have brought heat from UNC officials, who said he shouldn’t have weighed in on an issue with “no direct knowledge” of the case.

An audio file of a portion of the meeting, which was open to the public, was sent on Monday to The News & Observer. Loh’s comment came during a question-and-answer portion of the meeting.

So who is Wallace Loh?

Loh oversees Maryland’s state university, which has an operating budget of $1.9 billion and about 37,500 students and 9,000 faculty and staff who work in 12 schools and colleges, the university's website says.

He took an unorthodox path to the helm of the institution, university student newspaper The Diamondback reports. Loh was born in 1946 to a wealthy family in China, but his family fled to Peru when Communist dictator Mao Zedong came to power in 1949.

After high school, he immigrated to the United States, not knowing a word of English, and eventually becoming a naturalized citizen.

Loh, who attended Iowa’s Grinnell College, New York’s Cornell University, Belgium’s Universiteit te Leuven and the University of Michigan, and graduated from Yale Law School, took the Maryland president’s job after being executive vice president and provost of the University of Iowa.

He has held administration and faculty positions at several universities. At Maryland, he is also a professor of public policy, the university’s website says. His scholarship and teaching are in the areas of law and social change and in criminal justice reform.

Critics of Loh say that he has a track record of being impulsive and unafraid to abandon tradition, The Diamondback has reported.

“That’s true,” Loh told The Diamondback. “That’s precisely why they hired me.”

Loh spoke out in opposition earlier this year after President Donald Trump signed an executive order limiting immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, The Diamondback reports. Last year he said in a campuswide email that undocumented immigrant students “deserve our support,” the Diamondback said.