Announcements and Updates

Please see the communications below for updates regarding the search process.

April 18, 2018: Public Notice of Official Meeting

The Chancellor Search Committee of the University of North Carolina at Asheville will meet on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, beginning at 2:00 p.m., in Overlook Hall located on the UNC Asheville campus. This meeting is subject to North Carolina’s Open Meetings Act, and certain agenda items may be considered in closed session, consistent with provisions of the Act.

March 24, 2018: Public Notice of Official Meeting

The Chancellor Search Committee of the University of North Carolina at Asheville will meet on March 24, 2018, beginning at 7:30 a.m., at The Embassy Suites, 4800 S. Tryon Avenue, Charlotte, NC. This meeting is subject to North Carolina’s Open Meetings Act, and certain agenda items may be considered in closed session, consistent with provisions of the Act.

March 23, 2018: Public Notice of Official Meeting

The Chancellor Search Committee of the University of North Carolina at Asheville will meet on March 23, 2018, beginning at 8:30 a.m., at The Embassy Suites, 4800 S. Tryon Avenue, Charlotte, NC. This meeting is subject to North Carolina’s Open Meetings Act, and certain agenda items may be considered in closed session, consistent with provisions of the Act.

March 9, 2018: Chancellor Search Update

Dear Campus Community,

As co-chairs of UNC Asheville’s Chancellor Search Committee, we would like to provide a brief update on the progress of the search. You may recall that in January our search firm, Witt/Keiffer, began recruiting a pool of robust and diverse candidates to serve as our next chancellor.

On February 23, the full Chancellor Search Committee met and discussed candidates’ qualifications and narrowed the pool to those who will be invited to participate in off-campus interviews. We anticipate interviewing a subset of candidates in March and April, with a goal to submit three candidates to President Spellings in late April. Her recommendation will go to the Board of Governors for final approval.

We would like to give special thanks to the Search Committee for the time and consideration they put into reviewing candidates’ materials and the rich discussions that took place during the meetings.

Additional information will be posted on the progress of the search as it becomes available. Please visit the search website at for additional information.

Thank you for the important work you do for UNC Asheville and your continued dedication to our students and the university.


Kennon Briggs and Rick Lutovsky
Chancellor Search Committee Co-Chairs

Feb. 23, 2018: Public Notice of Official Meeting

The Chancellor Search Committee of the University of North Carolina at Asheville will meet on February 23, 2018, beginning at 12:30 p.m., in Brown Hall located on the UNC Asheville Campus. This meeting is subject to North Carolina’s Open Meetings Act, and certain agenda items may be considered in closed session, consistent with provisions of the Act.

January 18, 2018: Chancellor Search Update

Good morning, Campus Community.

We hope you enjoyed a festive holiday season and are ready to begin an exciting spring semester! Despite the frigid temperatures, there is no doubt that campus is lively with everyone back and rested from the winter break.

At the December 2017 Board of Trustees meeting, the board unanimously approved the leadership statement crafted by members of the search committee with the help of UNC Asheville's Communication and Marketing team. Over the winter break, the prospectus was created and also approved by the Board of Trustees and President Margaret Spellings. Both of these pieces can be found on the Chancellor Search website and will be used by the search firm of Witt/Kieffer as they help search for our 8th chancellor.

Witt/Kieffer has begun officially recruiting for our next chancellor, advertising on more than 10 higher education websites including The Chronicle for Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed, using both the leadership statement and the prospectus. They will be recruiting candidates throughout the month of February to help us identify candidates with the most desired qualifications and qualities to move onto the next phase in the search process.

The search committee will meet on February 23rd to begin solidifying plans for the spring airport interviews and on-campus interviews for select candidates. Once the interviews are complete, the committee will recommend finalists to the Board of Trustees who will, in turn, recommend at least two candidates to President Spellings following the April Board of Trustees meeting. Her recommendation will go to the Board of Governors for final approval. After the February Search Committee meeting, we will send another update to campus keeping you informed of where we are in the process.

Again, please visit the search website at for additional information.

A big thank you to Interim Chancellor Joe Urgo and to Acting Provost Karin Peterson for agreeing to lead our university during this time of transition. Special thanks to each of you who give your best every day for UNC Asheville. We look forward to being on campus soon!


Kennon Briggs and Rick Lutovsky
Chancellor Search Committee Co-Chairs

Nov. 14, 2017: Listening Forums

Hosted by the Chancellor Search Committee on Nov. 14, the purpose of the listening forums was to gather views of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members on the essential qualifications and characteristics of the next chancellor to inform the writing of the leadership profile.

At the forums, four questions guided the discussions:

1. What are UNC Asheville's greatest strengths? What will a new chancellor have to do to maintain UNC Asheville's strengths?

2. What are some of UNC Asheville's challenges/opportunities? What skills/abilities/resources will the new chancellor need to address these?

3. What are the most important characteristics for the next chancellor of UNC Asheville?

4. What types of experience would you like to see in the next chancellor?

If you were unable to attend, you can complete the online Chancellor Search Survey by the end of the business day on Monday, Nov.27.

Faculty Forum - Nov. 14, 2017

12:15 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
3:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Overlook Hall 011

Staff Forum - Nov. 14, 2017

11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
1:45 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Overlook Hall 011

Student Forum - Nov. 14, 2017

8 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Overlook Hall 011

Alumni & Community Forum - Nov. 14, 2017

6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Overlook Hall 011

Nov. 2, 2017: Acting Provost Named

Nov. 2: From Chancellor Grant - Acting Provost Named

Dear Campus Community,

It has been a great honor to have served as Chancellor of UNC Asheville. Throughout my tenure I have had the privilege of getting to know and work with so many of you – I thank you for your inspired work and your many contributions to the life, energy, and success of the university. You have made all the difference to me and you will make all the difference to our Interim Chancellor Joe Urgo. I would like to thank Joe for agreeing to take on this important role at this time of transition. Joe has been a wise, strategic, and engaged partner. He has been a good and supportive friend and colleague, with a knack for well timed, gentle humor which I have deeply appreciated. 

As Joe moves upstairs in Phillips Hall and into the role of Interim Chancellor, essential to maintaining that momentum is having in place an Acting Provost who will carry out the important role of leadership in Academic Affairs. I am pleased to announce, after consultation with Provost Urgo and the members of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, and the Executive Committee of the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees, that Karin Peterson, Professor and Chair of Sociology and Anthropology, has agreed to serve as Acting Provost in the spring semester 2018. Karin brings five years of experience as department chair, and has played a prominent role in numerous campus projects and service assignments, including the Committee of Tenured Faculty, Post Tenure Review, SACS QEP Planning, the Position Allocation Committee, and on task forces related to Tenure and Rewards, Student Rating of Instruction, and Curriculum Delivery. This semester Karin is a UNC General Administration Academic Affairs Fellow, with a project focusing on "enhancing the efficacy and agency of department chairs." There is no question in my mind that Karin has had the scope and quality of administrative experience, both on campus and externally, to make her a dynamic partner to Joe Urgo to lead the University next semester. Karin Peterson's term of office will run from January 1 through June 30, 2018.

I want to thank the many faculty members who nominated, self-nominated, or who consulted with me or with Joe on this important appointment. It is a testimony to the vitality of the faculty and to the health of shared governance at UNC Asheville that we were prepared to move forward in this time of transition. Karin's service next semester is on behalf of all members of the campus community. In that spirit, I hope you will join me in thanking and congratulating her, and supporting her and Joe as they carry on the important work of University leadership in the new year.

UNC Asheville will continue to thrive and make a difference in the lives of our students, our community, and the wider world because of all of you who do what you do, so very well.

Thank you,


Nov. 1: Chancellor Search Update

Nov. 1: On Behalf of Chair Briggs - Chancellor Search Update

To the campus community:

On Friday, October 27th, the inaugural Chancellor’s Search Committee meeting took place. President Spellings opened the meeting giving the members of the search committee, and the Board of Trustees her charge and made clear her continued support for the liberal arts and our mission at UNC Asheville. Below are some excerpts from her inspiring message:

“We need someone who understands the mission of UNC Asheville, who will value liberal arts, and who will embrace UNC Asheville’s role within the UNC system as its designated public liberal arts university. A leader with unwavering integrity, the courage to always stand for what is right and do what is right, and a deep commitment to the value and importance of higher education; someone who will be a partner to me, his or her fellow Chancellors, the Board of Trustees and Board of Governors, and the entire University community.”

In addition to delivering her charge, President Spellings also announced the chosen search firm of Witt/Kieffer, one of the nation’s leading academic search firms. Witt/Kieffer has conducted numerous successful senior leadership and chancellor searches across the UNC System, including the search for Chancellor Grant. Witt/Kieffer knows UNC Asheville, the UNC System, and their previous work has emphasized the liberal arts, including COPLAC institutions.

Today we launched our Chancellor Search website - it can be found at This site will provide information and periodic updates regarding the progress of the search.

The Chancellor Search Committee is dedicated to being as inclusive as possible and soliciting information from our campus community to help inform the search process. Soon we will send an email about upcoming forums hosted by members of the search committee. Your input is invaluable to us!

As always, thank you for the work you do for UNC Asheville and your continuing interest in this important endeavor.


Kennon Briggs & Rick Lutovsky
Chancellor Search Committee Co-Chairs

Oct. 19, 2017: Appointment of Interim Chancellor and Search Committee

Oct. 19, 2017: On Behalf of Chair Briggs – Appointment of Interim Chancellor and Search Committee

Dear Campus Community,

I'm pleased to announce that UNC President Margaret Spellings has appointed Provost Joe Urgo to serve as interim chancellor upon Chancellor Mary Grant’s departure at the end of the year. President Spellings’ decision comes with the unanimous and enthusiastic support of the entire UNC Asheville Board of Trustees.

Over the past three years, the strong partnership between Chancellor Grant and Dr. Urgo has been a key ingredient in the success, excitement, and momentum we have been experiencing at UNC Asheville. We are delighted to have the benefit and experience of Dr. Urgo’s leadership, knowing that he will continue to work in partnership and collaboration with all members of the campus community.

With Dr. Urgo assuming the role of interim chancellor in December, shortly you’ll hear from Chancellor Grant about the process for identifying an interim provost. My deep thanks to Chancellor Grant, Dr. Urgo, President Spellings, and the entire campus community for your commitment and support to ensuring a strong foundation as we search for our next leader. 

In addition to the appointment of Provost Urgo as interim chancellor, President Spellings also approved the appointment of the members of our chancellor search committee.

The members of the search committee are:

  • Kennon Briggs (Search Committee Co-Chair) Chair, Board of Trustees
  • Rick Lutovsky (Search Committee Co-Chair) Vice Chair, Board of Trustees
  • Trey Adcock, Assistant Professor, Department of Education
  • Roger Aiken, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo
  • Karen K. Brown ’81, Board of Trustees
  • Leslie Casse ’86, Chair, Foundation Board / Co-Owner, AsheVillain LLC
  • Josh Cavenaugh, Chair, Staff Council / Payroll Manager, Administration and Finance
  • Michael Davis ’19, Executive of Diversity Initiatives, Student Government Association
  • Melodie Galloway, Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Music
  • Tim Hussey ’18, Student Trustee / President, Student Government Association
  • Lakesha McDay ’09, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Mission Health
  • Ted Meigs, GlaxoSmithKline Professor of Molecular and Chemical Biology, Department of Biology
  • Stacey Millett, Executive Director of Community Engagement
  • Ellen Pearson, Professor, Department of History
  • Mike Roach ’02, Chair, National Alumni Council / Legal Counsel, Novozymes
  • Robby Russell, Board of Trustees
  • Wilma Sherrill, Secretary, Board of Trustees
  • Micheal Stratton, Chair, Faculty Senate / Associate Professor, Department of Management and Accountancy
  • Paul Vest, President and CEO, YMCA of Western North Carolina
  • Al Whitesides, Buncombe County Commissioner
  • Bill Webb, Board of Governors
  • Oscar Wong, Board of Trustees

The chancellor search committee will hold its first meeting on Friday, October 27, the date we will also go live with a search website that will feature periodic updates regarding progress of the search.

As we continue to move through the fall semester, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, thank you for the inspiring work that you do to support our students, enrich our university, and strengthen our community. I would also like to thank Dr. Urgo for his willingness to serve as interim chancellor during this important time of transition. Together we will continue to move UNC Asheville forward.

Thank you,

Kennon Briggs
Chair, UNC Asheville Board of Trustees

Oct. 6, 2017: Chancellor Search Update

Oct. 6, 2017: On Behalf of Chair Briggs - Chancellor Search Update

Good afternoon,

As chair of the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees, I look forward to providing you with updates as we undertake the search for our eighth chancellor. Your remarkable work over these past three years with Chancellor Grant will undoubtedly attract candidates of the highest caliber to continue to move UNC Asheville forward. The strength of the university is recognized across the country and our strategic plan ensures we have a well-charted course from which to start this next chapter of our story. 

I wanted to let you know that the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, October 11th at 8:30 a.m. During this meeting we will receive a briefing from a member of President Spellings’ office regarding the search process, additionally the Board will determine membership of the search committee for approval by President Spellings. It is also our goal, at this meeting, to make a decision and forward a recommendation to the President regarding an interim chancellor.

Shortly, a website will be launched that will provide information as we advance the important work of the search. Throughout the search, I will share periodic updates regarding our progress.

Because of the great work that you are all doing every day, UNC Asheville has an outstanding national reputation, and we are confident that the search for a new chancellor will draw a stellar pool of candidates. On behalf of the Board, I want to thank you for your continued dedication to our students and to our university.

Kennon Briggs
Chair, UNC Asheville Board of Trustees

Sept. 13, 2017: UNC Asheville Campus Announcement

Sept. 13, 2017: UNC Asheville Campus Announcement from Chairman Briggs

To the students, faculty, and staff at UNC Asheville and members of our campus community:

It is with mixed emotions that I share with you the news that our Chancellor, Dr. Mary K. Grant, will be leaving us at the end of this semester. Chancellor Grant has been asked and accepted a new challenge as President of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston. The Institute was established by the late U.S. Senator and his estate to ensure that there would be a place to engage future generations in the work of citizenship and democracy, preserve the legacy of the United States Senate, and to provide a forum to shift the dialogue away from polarization and towards bipartisan and productive conversations that seek to find common ground solutions. The Institute is home to award-winning educational programs as well. I’m confident that you share with the me how much we all appreciate Chancellor Grant's tireless work for this wonderful university, and I’m also certain that you join me in wishing Dr. Grant, and her husband, Jim Canavan, the best of everything together in their future endeavors. 

Chancellor Grant’s tenure at UNC Asheville can be characterized by intense energy, integrity, passion, and wisdom. We have been witness to remarkable institutional changes over the past three years. Chancellor Grant’s successor will benefit from a brilliant strategic plan, one in which the entire campus played a part in writing. We have seen our university become more inclusive, and have enjoyed unprecedented connections with our host community, most notably the City of Asheville and Buncombe County. The Chancellor has strengthened and renewed relationships and collaborations with partners new and old, including the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation. In terms of infrastructure, currently over $67 million in capital projects are underway, and strategic investments have been made in technology. We have experienced new energy and capacity-building in academic departments throughout the campus, recognizing the dedication of a stellar faculty. One recent example that includes both academic engagement and facility enhancement is the unveiling of the state-of-the-art STEAM studio at the RAMP. The Chancellor has also assembled and empowered a strong, dedicated team of professional staff. Most importantly, Chancellor Grant has invested in and put at the forefront of all that happens at UNC Asheville the success of our amazing students. Unquestionably, she puts our students at the center of all we do, and that will continue. Throughout Chancellor Grant’s tenure she has reminded us that leadership happens at every level of the university.  It is required of all of us during our time here that we must take that responsibility seriously, and continue to give our best efforts to ensure student success, to sustain the momentum, and to continue working hard to maintain UNC Asheville’s standing as one of the best public liberal arts universities in the country.

While I personally wish Chancellor Grant’s stay at UNC Asheville could be longer, the Board of Trustees and I are excited about the opportunity for our Chancellor to take on a much broader educational focus, and gratified to know that she and Jim will also be closer to the families they love so deeply in New England. Chancellor Grant and Jim Canavan dived deeply into the university community with passion and warmth, making an impact that will transcend their tenure. We will remain deeply grateful for all that Mary Grant has done for this university, and we look forward to many return visits from Mary and Jim in the years ahead.

The Chancellor will shortly be communicating directly with the campus community. In the meantime, on behalf of the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees, I want to assure each of you that we are already working on an orderly transition plan. In cooperation with President Margret Spellings and the UNC Board of Governors, the Board will begin to assemble a search committee. Further, we expect that search committee to begin its work immediately to engage the campus community, select a search firm to assist us with identifying a pool of highly qualified candidates, and to recommend to the Board and the President a slate of potential successors to Chancellor Grant to lead this great institution. We pledge to communicate clearly and often throughout the search process.

Fortunately, we have time for a comprehensive search and orderly transition as we identify our eighth Chancellor during the year of our 90th anniversary. We will of course take time to wish Mary and Jim well during their last semester at the university.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I encourage and ask all of us to continue to work hard and maintain our momentum on behalf of students and this great institution. Go Bulldogs!


Kennon D. Briggs
Chair, UNC Asheville Board of Trustees