Nov 17, 2023 - News

UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor a finalist for Michigan State University president

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, center, talks with reporters outside the U.S. Supreme Court after oral arguments in Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina in 2022. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz is considering leaving the state's flagship university, he said in a statement Thursday morning.

Driving the news: The announcement followed a report from Michigan State University's student newspaper, The State News, revealing Guskiewicz is the sole candidate remaining in MSU's search for a new president, after another candidate dropped out.

  • "I am focused on serving the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a special place I have lived, worked, and loved for 28 years," Guskiewicz said.
  • "Through the years, a variety of professional opportunities have been presented to me. My family and I must weigh each one, and we are weighing this one."

Context: Guskiewicz's departure from UNC would mark the close of a tumultuous chapter for the school.

  • Guskiewicz's nearly five-year tenure has been marred in controversy, as he was forced to manage the fallout from the toppling of the Silent Sam Confederate monument, a pandemic, the university's failure to grant award-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure and regular pushback from the state's Republican led General Assembly.

The intrigue: In leaving UNC, Guskiewicz would be joining another university steeped in scandal, including inner turmoil among university leadership and fallout from the firing of football coach Mel Tucker, who was accused of sexual harassment.

Between the lines: That Guskiewicz is considering leaving UNC for Michigan State may speak to how tense relations with Republican legislative leadership have become, as WRAL's Will Doran noted yesterday.

Zoom out: Most recently, NC lawmakers funded a new School of Civic Life and Leadership at UNC, which has been described as a "conservative center," and are mandating a timeline of steps to get the school up and running, NC Newsline reported.

  • "In my experience it's very unusual, for a number of reasons, to have that level of direction in legislation for hiring at the university," Department of Health Behavior professor Beth Moracco told the outlet. "I haven't ever seen anything quite like it. And it's concerning."

What's next: Guskiewicz is not necessarily a shoo-in for the role of Michigan State's next president, The State News reported, as the board was previously unable to agree on a candidate.

  • It's unclear if the Michigan State's Board of Trustees plans to announce the chosen candidate by Thanksgiving, as the search committee chair previously said it would.

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