Carol Folt


Carol Folt
12th President of University of Southern California
Assumed office
July 1, 2019
Preceded byC. L. Max Nikias
11th Chancellor of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
In office
July 1, 2013 – January 31, 2019
Preceded byHolden Thorp
Succeeded byKevin Guskiewicz
Personal details
Carol Lynn Folt

c. 1951 (age 70–71)[1]
Akron, Ohio, United States[2]
Spouse(s)David Peart[3]
EducationUniversity of California, Santa Barbara (BA, MA)
University of California, Davis (PhD)

Carol Lynn Folt (born 1951) is an American academic administrator who is the 12th president of the University of Southern California. She assumed her duties on July 1, 2019.[4] She was previously the 11th chancellor, and the 29th chief executive, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the first woman to hold the post. She was previously provost (chief academic officer) and interim president of Dartmouth College and was the first woman to lead UNC.[5] On January 14, 2019, she announced her resignation as UNC chancellor.[6]

Early life and career

A native of Akron, Ohio, Folt is the granddaughter of immigrants from Albania.[7] She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1976 with a bachelor's degree in aquatic biology. She earned a master's degree in biology from the same institution in 1978, and a doctorate in ecology from the University of California, Davis in 1982. After conducting postdoctoral studies at the Kellogg Biological Station at Michigan State University, she joined Dartmouth in 1983 as a research instructor in biological sciences, and has conducted extensive research in metal toxicity. Since 2007, she has held an endowed professorship in biological sciences.[8][9]

Folt joined Dartmouth's administration in 2001, when she was named dean of graduate studies and associate dean of the faculty. She became dean of the faculty in 2004. She was tapped as acting provost in 2009, and appointed provost in 2010. When Dartmouth president Jim Yong Kim was named as president of the World Bank in July 2012, Folt was named acting president.[8]

Chancellor of UNC

Folt was chosen as UNC's chancellor by the board of governors of the UNC System to succeed Holden Thorp, who resigned the position in June 2013 amid allegations of widespread academic fraud. She described her selection as "the honor of a lifetime" and vowed to ensure that UNC's students "don't simply learn what we know but they learn how to create what will be."[5]

Academic-athletic scandal

Under Chancellor Folt's direction, UNC spent approximately 18 million dollars defending itself from NCAA sanctions for prolonged and widespread fraud within academic and athletics departments, the details of which were outlined in Wainstein Report.[10][11] The Report summarizes the findings of an independent investigation conducted by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein. It describes abuses spanning over 18 years (during the tenures of Chancellor Michael Hooker, Chancellor James Moeser, Chancellor Holden Thorp), including "no-show" classes that had little to no faculty oversight. Approximately half of the enrollees in these "no-show" classes were athletes.

When the Wainstein Report was released in 2014, Folt acknowledged "It is just very clear that it was an academic issue with the way the courses were administered, and it is clearly an athletics issue." The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the regional accreditation body for UNC, took the nearly unprecedented step of placing UNC on a year of probation, wherein any further missteps would lead to the university's accreditation being removed, effectively dooming the entire university. Folt brought forth reforms on several levels, and the probation was consequently lifted with no further sanctions after a year.

While not nearly as important for the well-being of the university as a whole, UNC also faced the possibility of serious sanctions from the NCAA. Under Folt's leadership, the university later went on to deny that the academic fraud was specifically benefiting athletics in its defense to the NCAA, broadly attempting to insulate the UNC administration from the findings of the Wainstein Report and the allegations of UNC whistleblower Mary Willingham. One of the key assertions the university made in its own defense was that the NCAA did not have jurisdiction, since the university created and offered "no-show" courses not as part of a systemic effort to benefit athletes, but the student body in general.[12] While citing the failure of multiple UNC administrators to cooperate with the investigation, the NCAA's Committee on Infractions did not hold UNC responsible, finding that "no-show" classes were not specifically designed to benefit athletes.[13] This finding led both fans and media across the country to question "the integrity of the NCAA, suggesting that UNC's case would open the doors for other universities to set up similar no-show classes so long as non-athletes could enroll."[14]

Silent Sam monument controversy

During her term as chancellor, Folt had to deal with the controversy over the monument Silent Sam, which at times included demonstrators outside her office.[15] Folt resigned as chancellor on January 14, 2019, effective end of the spring semester, stating: "There has been too much recent disruption due to the monument controversy". In the same letter, she ordered the remaining plinth (pedestal) to be removed, as a threat to campus safety.[16] Later, the University of North Carolina system board of governors made her resignation effective January 31.[17]

Anti-Semitic Tweet controversy[18]

Since the summer, USC has been embroiled in a free speech quagmire over tweets posted by Yasmeen Mashayekh, a 21-year-old, Palestinian civil engineering student whose statements include, “I Want to Kill Every Motherfucking Zionist”. On December 1, 60 faculty members sent the latest in a series of letters to USC President Carol Folt, Provost Charles Zukoski, and board of trustees chair Rick Caruso, urging the school publicly rebuke Mashayekh and take action “to distance USC from her hateful statements,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“The silence of our leadership on this matter is alienating, hurtful, and depressing,” the letter read. “It amounts to tacit acceptance of a toxic atmosphere of hatred and hostility.”

Personal life

Folt is married to fellow Dartmouth professor David Peart; they have two children.


  1. ^ Kingkade, Tyler (April 11, 2013). "Carol Folt Named UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  2. ^ Stancill, Jane (April 22, 2013). "In research and administration, new UNC chancellor accustomed to problems". The News & Observer. Archived from the original on May 17, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  3. ^ Dudash, April (October 12, 2013). "Tar Heel Welcome". The Herald-Sun. Durham, North Carolina. Archived from the original on October 16, 2014. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  4. ^ "Administration". USC. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Stancil, Jane; Blythe, Anne. UNC-CH names Carol Folt first female chancellor Archived April 14, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. The News & Observer, April 13, 2013.
  6. ^ "Chancellor Folt announces resignation, orders Confederate Monument pedestal to be removed intact | UNC-Chapel Hill". The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. January 14, 2019. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  7. ^ Branson-Potts, Hailey; Ryan, Harriet; Hamilton, Matt (March 22, 2019). "College admissions scandal: Can USC's cautious new leader be the crusader it needs?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Folt named Carolina chancellor. UNC Press Office, April 12, 2013.
  9. ^ "Dartmouth biography". Archived from the original on October 17, 2012. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  10. ^ "Cost of bills in UNC academic scandal nears $18 million". newsobserver. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  11. ^ "Investigation of Irregular Classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill". October 16, 2014. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  12. ^ "A chapter closes, six years later". The Daily Tar Heel. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  13. ^ "NCAA's 'student-athlete' hypocrisy comes full circle with North Carolina verdict". Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  14. ^ WRAL (October 13, 2017). "Folt: NCAA correct, fair; UNC whistleblowers: Not so fast". WRALSportsFan.comn. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  15. ^ Ryan, Harriet; Hamilton, Matt (March 20, 2019). "USC selects Carol Folt as new president as university tries to move past scandals". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  16. ^ Folt, Carol (January 14, 2019). "Chancellor Folt announces resignation, orders Confederate Monument pedestal to be removed intact". University Communications, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
  17. ^ Seltzer, Rick. "UNC board moves to accept Folt resignation this month, earlier than expected". Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  18. ^ Brown, Kailyn (December 17, 2021). "USC in Free Speech Furor Over Student Who Tweeted 'I Want to Kill Every Motherf-cking Zionist'". Los Angeles Magazine (in American English). Retrieved December 31, 2021.

Further reading

  • Patel, Vimal (September 25, 2018). "UNC's Chancellor Is a Consensus Builder. Silent Sam Is Her Greatest Test". Chronicle of Higher Education.
  • Barnett, Ned (January 15, 2019). "Carol Folt goes out frustrated, angry and right". News & Observer.
  • Editorial Board (January 18, 2019). "The Folt in our stars". Duke Gazette. {{cite news}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  • Stancill, Jane (January 18, 2019). "In the end, Silent Sam's fate and Carol Folt's future were intertwined". News & Observer.

External links

  • USC biography