Editorial: Baby blue skies ahead with Folt

Oct. 14, 2013 @ 05:52 PM

Bright days with baby blue skies are coming to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under the direction of Carol Folt.

The flagship of our state university system has finally selected a woman for its senior-most leadership position. The selection is solid for a university having no shortage of outstanding candidates.

Skies have been gray, overcast and turbulent of late in Chapel Hill. What began as a problem within the football program mushroomed. NCAA violations would have been bad enough. The university, instead, has endured multiple investigations also uncovering academic fraud.

Many people were part of the trouble, from tutors of students to department heads, from coaches to the athletics director, and even to the chancellor slow to pull a trigger.

Fingers in the dike couldn’t hold back the volume of scandal. An illustrious image of the university was forever badly marked.

Folt’s biggest asset, however, remains the university and its people.

She’ll move forward with many issues in front of her. This is an institution, after all, with more than 29,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students and a faculty of 3,600.

In her installation speech Saturday, Folt said she has confidence in Carolina people. She said she would commit to high standards of transparency, integrity and accountability. She wants to “de-silo” the campus, taking down areas of isolation among teachers and researchers.

Folt was describing relationships and bonds. Two of Carolina’s greatest treasures knew them and used them as well as anyone in their day-to-day life: Charles Kuralt and Dean Smith.

Kuralt’s words still echo today: “What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls or the crisp October nights. Our loyalty is not to the memories of what William Richardson Davie did 200 years ago. No, our love for this place is based upon the fact that it is as it was meant to be: The University of the People.”

Folt grew up in Ohio and most recently was in the Ivy League at Dartmouth. But she knows the route to finding the bright blue skies: a university and its people.