Meeting Overview
January 2024

Welcoming Interim Chancellor Roberts

The UNC Chapel Hill Board of Trustees’ January 18, 2024 meeting was the first for Interim Chancellor Lee H. Roberts, whom the Board welcomed to Carolina.

“Lee brings to Chapel Hill skills that are vital to the success of any university,” Chairman John Preyer said in his opening remarks. “He has deep experience in the private sector as an entrepreneur and a business owner. He has managed public funds and operated large organizations. He is a former state budget director, until recently he was a member of the UNC System’s Board of Governors, and he has taught at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

“Lee also is known as a careful listener and a thoughtful decisionmaker. He will get no shortage of input or advice from Carolina’s students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, lawmakers, and this board, which is charged by law with helping to set University policy. Lee knows what he’s getting into – and what a special opportunity he has to lead America’s oldest public university during this time of dynamic transition on campus.”

Note: Chairman Preyer’s full meeting remarks are below.


Honoring Former Chancellor Guskiewicz

Chairman Preyer said: “I would like to recognize the contributions of former Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, with whom this board collaborated on a range of important University initiatives, including campus budget reform, remedy of a structural deficit, student advocacy and mental health, academic freedom, and the new School of Civic Life and Leadership – a national model that was first conceived seven years ago to promote democracy and civil discourse in our diverse, pluralistic society, and that was embraced by then-Dean Guskiewicz. Thank you, Kevin.”

Following University custom, the Board by acclamation awarded Guskiewicz the honorary title of Chancellor Emeritus.

Setting an Ambitious Goal for Carolina: No. 1

Chairman Preyer noted that UNC-CH rose from No. 5 to No. 4 in U.S. News & World Report’s latest rankings of public universities in America, surpassing the University of Virginia for tops in the Southeast. “But I don’t want to be No. 4,” Preyer said. “I think everybody on this board and in this room wants this to be the No. 1 public university in the country and in the world – and we will be.

“…Rankings are subjective and sometimes, in my view, serve the interests of the publication doing the ranking, but they are a popular measuring tool nonetheless – and one that I think we will dominate. I know that Interim Chancellor Roberts believes that we should be the No. 1 public university in the world as well. So let’s resolve today to roll up our sleeves and work even harder to make Carolina the undisputed No. 1 public university in the world.”


Free Speech and Safety on Campus

Free speech and diversity of thought are hallmarks of Carolina, Chairman Preyer noted. “America’s oldest public university should forever be a place of free, open, and civil debate,” he said. “However, speech that encourages violence or that harasses, threatens, or deliberately intimidates others should have no place on our campus. Carolina should be a sanctuary of civility where no students or faculty are made to feel afraid because of their views or their religion.”

Chairman Preyer noted that the previous several months had been a time of transition in leadership at the university, amid the war the terrorist organization Hamas launched against Israel in October, which has sparked campus protests. “In the belief that it’s never too late to do the right thing, I just want to say to the Carolina Jewish community: I’m sorry if you’ve ever been made to feel unsafe on our campus,” he said. “And that it won’t happen again.”


SBP’s Top Priorities for 2024

Student Body President Christopher Everett, a member of the Board, highlighted several campus priorities that he urged the board to address, including:

• Implementation of an Asian American Studies program.
• Better classroom and dorm accessibility for disabled students.
• Improving campus facilities for recreation and wellness.


Interim Chancellor Roberts’ Remarks

In his first remarks to the trustees as Interim Chancellor, Lee Roberts thanked the Board and the University community for their “warm and hearty welcome.”

“I’ve been trying to get around campus, meeting the deans in their offices, having dinner at Hillel on Friday, celebrating the Fellows at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities earlier this week,” he said. “The best part has been talking with students. It’s been fun to start my tenure as they start a new semester. And already I’m impressed by their excellence.”

Interim Chancellor Roberts said total admissions applications are up 15% since the same time one year ago. “It’s a testament to Carolina’s excellence, and to the desire of so many students from around the country to come here. I’m excited to get to work with you to continue building the nation’s first public university.”

Roberts noted that, especially as public university, Carolina has a long tradition of protest, argument, debate, and civil discourse. “We must continue in this tradition to be a forum for ideas and a place that remembers our most important mission is to educate. Our work on the Program for Public Discourse and building the School of Civic Life and Leadership will continue that tradition. I’m eager to join you in this important work. I believe we are uniquely capable of addressing this challenge as the nation’s first public university.”

Roberts said his door in South Building will remain open. “I want to hear this Board’s feedback and ideas for how to make our University better. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve this special place and our great state. Go Heels.”


Meeting Materials

Past Meeting Reports

November 2023 Meeting Report
September 2023 Meeting Report
March 2023 Meeting Report
January 2023 Meeting Report
November 2022 Meeting Report
September 2022 Meeting Report