CHAPEL HILL — The chancellor who has run North Carolina’s flagship public university is stepping down next year after multiple scandals that have erupted since he took office four years ago, the school said Monday.
Chancellor Holden Thorp will step down in June after the end of the current academic year and return to teaching in the chemistry department, where he was a longtime professor and former chair, the school in Chapel Hill said in a prepared statement.
“I will always do what is best for this university. This wasn’t an easy decision personally. But when I thought about the university and how important it’s been to me, to North Carolinians and to hundreds of thousands of alumni, my answer became clear,” Thorp said.
Thorp met privately Friday for almost an hour with the board overseeing the 17-campus state university system amid investigations into academic fraud, improper travel spending by fundraisers and special treatment for athletes. Several members of the university system’s Board of Governors said Friday they thought Thorp was doing a great job
Thorp said Friday he had acted to reform the problem areas that were uncovered during his watch, but which were the result of lax policies and oversight that had developed over years.
“Over the last two years, we have identified a number of areas that need improvement,” Thorp said in Monday’s statement. “We have a good start on reforms that are important for the future of this university.”
In the latest black eye for the university, the mother of former Tar Heels basketball star Tyler Hansbrough resigned her development job — along with top university fundraiser Matt Kupec — last week under suspicion of improper travel spending. An internal audit Thorp launched is checking whether the pair used money from donors to travel to cities where Tami Hansbrough’s younger son Ben was playing basketball for Notre Dame
The academic fraud involving more than 50 courses in the university’s Department of African and Afro-American Studies has launched several layers of investigations. Many of the students taking no-show or lightly monitored independent studies courses offered by the department were football players.
The Board of Governors expects to hear next month from former North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin, who is joined by an outside consulting firm in exploring whether other departments allowed students to cheat and when the problems began.
The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether fraud or other crimes were committed.
— Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio.