News & Messages

Appointment of a Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs

Dear Carolina Community:

I am delighted to announce that Joel Curran, a top executive in one of the world’s largest public relations agencies, will be our first vice chancellor for communications and public affairs. I selected him after a national search and the recommendations of a campus search committee led by Trustee Steve Lerner and former interim vice chancellor for development Julia Grumbles. Our Board of Trustees has approved the appointment, and Joel is excited to officially begin work December 2.

Joel, a North Carolina native and Carolina alumnus, is a 27-year veteran of the public relations industry in a career that has included leading key offices for prestigious agencies and running corporate communications functions for The Walt Disney Co.

Currently, he is the managing director of the flagship New York office for MSLGROUP, the world’s fourth largest public relations and engagement agency and the strategic communications group for the Paris-based Publicis Groupe. In that role, he is responsible for nearly 200 employees. Previously, he ran MSLGROUP’s Midwest operations.

Joel is a highly respected public relations professional who has an intimate understanding of the strategies and techniques essential to effectively reaching the University’s key audiences in today’s complex communications environment. He has a real love for the mission of higher education and Carolina, and is an outstanding addition to our senior leadership team.

Joel will serve as our senior public relations professional and manage the overall efforts to help interpret and promote the University’s mission with key audiences. He will oversee an accomplished University Relations staff that works closely with other campus colleagues supporting the schools and units.

I am grateful for the stellar efforts of our search committee, co-chaired by Board of Trustees member Steve Lerner and former interim vice chancellor for development Julia Grumbles. The committee members took this responsibility very seriously and worked intensely for several months during the process that led to Joel’s selection.

Joel is a 1986 UNC journalism graduate and serves on the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Board of Advisors. His agency work included stops in Los Angeles, Chicago and Charlotte, and he spent more than a decade with The Walt Disney Co., where he rose to director of synergy for the company’s network television and professional sports franchises. For more information about Joel’s appointment, refer to our homepage story on


Carol L. Folt