When Carol L. Folt was installed as Carolina’s 11th chancellor and first woman leader in October 2013, 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?” In her first year as chancellor, Folt – an internationally recognized environment scientist, award-winning teacher and accomplished administrator – has worked to fulfill that charge by preserving and expanding Carolina’s academic excellence and innovation, access and affordability, and deep commitment to the state.
Under her leadership, the University received 31,000 applications for the Class of 2018 – breaking the previous year’s record for the ninth consecutive time. Faculty ranked seventh nationally and first in the South for 2013 research grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health. New investments have made Carolina’s science, technology, engineering and math curriculum one of the top in the country. And the University’s commitment to its public service mission has never been stronger, as illustrated by the School of Government’s work supporting local governments and communities, and by expanding programs like the Carolina College Advising Corps, which provides college advising for the state’s high-school students.
Folt has met with hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters, championing the importance of the University’s research mission for North Carolina’s economy. She has also focused on improving undergraduate graduation rates – particularly low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students – and on comprehensively addressing past academic and athletic irregularities.
Declaring that “Carolina can indeed be the leader in shaping the path for the great public university in America,” Folt has represented the University in the national dialogue about higher education, joining other leaders at White House meetings on topics as diverse as preserving accessibility to an affordable college degree and protecting students from sexual assault.
Folt came to Carolina from Dartmouth College, where she was interim president in 2012-2013, Dartmouth Professor of Biological Sciences, and a faculty member and administrator for 30 years.
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 from the University of California at Davis and did postdoctoral work at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station of Michigan State University.
Her 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 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.
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