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Chancellor Carol Folt

WHEN CAROL L. FOLT became Carolina’s 11th Chancellor, and 29th in the lineage of leaders that date back to Carolina’s founding, she said: “As America’s first public university, Carolina became the gold standard. The founders passed the baton, and the future is up to us. How can we fulfill this honorable charge in a way that is ever fresh and relevant?”

Folt – an internationally recognized life scientist, award-winning teacher and accomplished academic leader – has worked to fulfill that honorable charge by placing Carolina’s students at the center, advancing the university’s academic excellence, championing Carolina as a leading global public research university and focusing on innovation through the development of new avenues for entrepreneurship that are translating world-class ideas into real-world applications.

Carolina, which routinely ranks among the nation’s top public universities and is noted as one of the best values in college education, welcomed its largest and most academically accomplished class this past fall. Seventeen percent of the Class of 2020 are the first in their family to attend a four-year institution of higher education and the number of active duty and veterans on campus is the highest since WWII. Carolina is one of the nation’s top ten research universities and ranks 8th in the nation for federal research funding. In the last couple of years, the university has reached nearly $1 billion in annual research expenditures.

Under the chancellor’s leadership, Carolina also has continued to improve on the school’s winning track record of undergraduate diversity, retention and graduation rates – particularly for low-income and underrepresented students. Committed to ensuring a high-quality and affordable education, Carolina is one of the few public universities that remains both need blind and covers the full financial need of its students. Carolina is the least expensive of 14 peer public universities and debt-per-student, just over half of the U.S. average, has remained nearly flat in inflation-adjusted dollars for more than a decade.

As leader of North Carolina’s flagship public university, Folt and her leadership team champion attracting, developing and retaining world-class faculty that are focused on excellence in teaching and ground-breaking research. Carolina is also committed to benefiting its local and state communities and to cultivating the global outlook of its students, with more than a third of Carolina undergraduate students studying abroad – one of highest rates among public universities.

Folt came to Carolina from Dartmouth College, where she was interim president in 2012-2013 and served as a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences and academic leader. As a widely respected scientist, Folt and her students’ pioneering work on the effects of dietary mercury and arsenic on human and ecosystem health led to numerous changes in national and global policy and consumption advisories around the world. Folt graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara, earning both a bachelor’s degree in aquatic biology and a master’s degree in biology. She received her doctorate from UC-Davis and undertook a postdoctoral fellowship at Michigan State University before joining the faculty at Dartmouth.