UNC System President Hans' Charge to the Committee

UNC Wilmington Chancellor Search

November 1, 2021


One of my most important duties as President of the UNC System is to nominate a chancellor candidate to the UNC Board of Governors. Choosing the right leader for one of our institutions is a decision that has lasting impact on the campus and our system as a whole for years, if not decades to come. It is a responsibility I take seriously and with the deepest commitment to the institution and its current and future faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

I cannot fulfill this significant obligation without the guidance and recommendations of the Chancellor Search Committee. I am grateful to each and every one of you for committing to this important mission. In doing so, you have pledged your time, energy, and thoughtful deliberations to serve UNC Wilmington. Know that I, the UNC Board of Governors, the UNC System, and especially the Seahawk community appreciate your willingness to dedicate yourselves to the important task ahead. I am especially grateful to Board of Trustees Chair Gidget Kidd for leading this Search Committee. I have the highest confidence in Gidget’s leadership and passion for UNC Wilmington. I have no doubt that this search will end successfully with the very best individual to lead the Seahawks into the future.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Chancellor Sartarelli for his extraordinary leadership of this fine institution for over six years. His accomplishments are too numerous to recount here and we will have ample time over the next eight months to celebrate him. But, it is important to note here that, thanks to his leadership, UNC Wilmington is stronger than it has ever been, making it highly attractive to potential future chancellor candidates. Zito, we thank you.

The purpose of my charge to this Chancellor Search Committee is to put us all on common ground as we embark on this important mission and explain the process through which we will all work towards the common goal of serving the best interests of UNC Wilmington. There are three areas I view as critical to our success:

First, your role as members of the Search Committee.

Second, traits I consider important in the next Chancellor.

Third, the process through which we will work.

Role of Search Committee Members

Each of you has been selected for this committee not only to represent an important constituency but also because of your own leadership in your respective areas. Each of you has expertise and perspectives that are important. All of you share a common bond in your commitment to the success of this search and the future of this institution.

Because your full participation in this process is critical to our success, I ask that you commit to attending all search committee meetings and candidate interviews. 

I also ask that you keep an open mind towards all candidates and consider them through the lens of the traits, skills, and experiences that combine to best serve the interests of this campus.

We trust and expect members of this committee to maintain the strictest confidentiality. Breaking confidentiality can seriously or even irreparably jeopardize the search process, harm the institution, or potentially damage a candidate’s career.

Finally, I ask that you respect the role of your committee chair. Chair Kidd will serve as the sole spokesperson for the search committee. Please filter any inquiries to her to ensure that information communicated about the search process is done so consistent with state law, university policy, and my charge to this committee. For legal advice, Chair Kidd will consult with UNC Wilmington’s general counsel who will serve as counsel to this committee. Please direct any questions you have, whether legal or otherwise, to Chair Kidd.

Traits of a Strong Campus Leader

We need our next chancellor to demonstrate leadership capabilities and potential in the following broad areas:

  • Financial and Operational Acumen – someone who applies sound management practices to sustain the operational health of the institution
  • Communication Skills – someone who communicates with and actively listens to diverse constituent groups to foster a shared vision of the institution
  • Collaborative Style – someone who establishes effective partnerships with faculty, staff, students, alumni, donor, sister institutions, and the broader community
  • Fundraising Ability – someone who cultivates and manages ongoing partnerships to encourage financial support for the institution
  • Strategic Thinking – someone who balances short-term demands with long-term vision to drive the institution’s mission
  • Innovative Leadership – someone who provides executive direction and leadership to the university community to further the institution’s mission and is willing to explore new and innovative ways to strengthen and expand the institution’s growth and impact

The next chancellor should have unwavering integrity, commitment to public higher education, and a deep appreciation for university life and culture. The candidate should have the ability to manage a complex institution and drive outcomes to meet the System’s strategic goals as well as UNCW’s unique mission and history. And finally, the candidate should demonstrate a passion and enthusiasm for the unlimited potential of this great institution.

The depth and richness of our candidate pool will determine this search’s success. You should cast a wide net, considering candidates who are both internal and external, traditional and non-traditional. Please keep an open mind about who the next chancellor of UNC Wilmington might be.

Search Process

It is important that we follow state law, university policy, and proper procedures in conducting our search.

You will receive a UNC System Chancellor Search Guide developed by our System Office team. I encourage you to refer to that resource for valuable and detailed information about each step of the search process.

A successful and legally compliant search demands adherence to proper process, regulation, and documentation. That includes following North Carolina Open Meetings Law and relevant provisions of the University Code.

Lynn Duffy, our System Office senior associate vice president for leadership and talent development, and her colleague, Scott Murray, associate vice president of executive search and leadership programs, have extensive background in executive search and leadership assessment. Lynn is my representative to the committee. I encourage you to take advantage of her experience and expertise. Chair Kidd and I have determined that we do not need to engage an external search firm for this process. 

Under university policy, the committee’s role in the search process culminates in recommending finalists to your Board of Trustees for consideration and review. Your board will then recommend finalists to me for further consideration and vetting. When you reach this stage of the process, I ask that you submit at least three candidates to your Trustees and that your Trustees submit at least three candidates to me. If only two candidates are submitted to me, there is always the danger of one finalist withdrawing, leaving me with only one recommended finalist. To ensure a robust and successful search all the way to the end, I ask that you submit at least three unranked finalists to your Trustees and that your Trustees submit at least three unranked finalists to me.

Once I receive the recommended finalists, I will carefully consider each candidate and nominate one individual for election by the Board of Governors.

Our goal is to successfully complete our search prior to Chancellor Sartarelli’s retirement at the end of June 2022. While it is more important to get the right person than adhere strictly to a timetable, I’m confident we can work thoughtfully and efficiently toward the goal of my submitting a candidate to the Board of Governors for election in April or May 2022.

Finding the right person to lead UNC Wilmington forward is critical, and you are the right group to get the job done. I look forward to working with you in the months to come.