Carol L. Folt took office as Carolina’s 11th chancellor and first woman leader on July 1, 2013.
An internationally recognized environmental scientist and award-winning teacher, Folt served as interim president of Dartmouth College during 2012-2013. She also was Dartmouth Professor of Biological Sciences at the prestigious Ivy League institution.
Folt was formally installed as chancellor on University Day, October 12th, which marked Carolina’s 220th birthday. She says the transformative power of public higher education is flourishing at the University.
In her installation address, Folt laid out an ambitious agenda for the future.
“I believe that Carolina can be the leader in shaping the path for the great public universities in America. By preserving excellence and innovation, access and affordability, and a deep commitment to the state, we can gather strength to innovate and meet new challenges.”
An Akron, Ohio, native, Folt is a proud product of public higher education. Her parents were the first in their families to attend college. She worked her way through the University of California at Santa Barbara as a waitress, earning a bachelor’s degree in aquatic biology in 1976 and a master’s degree in biology two years later. She received her doctorate in ecology in 1982 from the University of California at Davis and did postdoctoral work at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station of Michigan State University.
After joining the Dartmouth faculty in 1983, Folt rose steadily through the academic and administrative ranks. She was named associate director of Dartmouth’s Toxic Metals Research Program in 1998, and two years later became associate director of the Center for Environmental Health Sciences. In 2001, she was appointed dean of graduate studies and associate dean of the faculty for interdisciplinary programs. She was promoted to dean of the faculty in 2004, tapped as acting provost in 2009, and named provost in 2010.
As interim president, Folt helped identify opportunities for greater collaboration across schools to enhance academic quality and competitiveness, oversaw growth in global partnerships, and augmented support for faculty, student and community entrepreneurship and technological innovation. She spearheaded a year-long focus on the arts, co-education and the future of higher education. As provost, she led the first strategic planning process, engaging hundreds of faculty, staff and students. Following the economic downturn, she co-led efforts to resolve a $100-million budget gap.
Folt’s research has focused on the effects of dietary mercury and arsenic on human and ecosystem health, salmonid fisheries management and restoration, and global climate change. She and colleagues developed new technologies to assess mercury exposure and formed regional, national and international partnerships to shape public policy for safer waters. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Folt is married to David Peart, a professor of biological sciences at Dartmouth. They have two adult children, Noah and Tessa.