A closer look at the chancellor search committee

Amanda Leahey, Contributing Writer

There will be a new person at the top of UNCW’s chain of command come July, and the university is currently in the process of finding out who that person will be.

Since Chancellor Jose Sartarelli’s retirement announcement in September, UNCW has been searching for a new chancellor.

Part of this process is the formation of an 18-member search committee charged with identifying and recommending chancellor candidates to the UNCW board of trustees. That was accomplished on Oct. 13, and since then there have been seven public forums where committee members heard feedback from the UNCW community. Feedback from these sessions helped the committee craft leadership statements to draw in potential candidates that fit the university’s needs.

After the forums, the trustees will vote on candidates to present to UNC System President Peter Hans for consideration. Upon review, Hans will nominate a candidate to the UNC board of governors, who will elect the new chancellor to follow Sartarelli.

But before the UNC System president and board of governors have the opportunity to select the new chancellor, the search committee must interpret feedback from past forums and agree on candidates they feel will move the university forward.

“It is a very convoluted process with multiple power structures involved,” said Nathan Jones, a member of the UNCW staff senate.

The search committee for UNCW’s next Chancellor. (UNCW)

Although the chancellor search committee is responsible for identifying candidates, they do not make the final decision.

“In the end, one can only hope that the interests of the UNCW students, staff, faculty and search committee are at least taken into consideration,” said Jones.

The committee is comprised of several notable members of the Wilmington and UNCW community, including Gidget Kidd, the chair of the UNCW board of trustees, Natalie English, the CEO and president of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, and Robert Fensom, the Student Government Association president. Of the 18 committee members, seven are on the board of trustees and two are former members of the board.

“I believe the UNCW search committee will do a great job representing the priorities of their unique constituencies whether that be the [College of Arts and Sciences] CAS, [College of Health and Human Services] CHHS, [Center for Marine Science] CMS, Athletics, students, etc. priorities. Each of those entities want something distinct from the next Chancellor,” said Jones.

However, after reaching out to staff and students to get their perspectives on the chancellor search committee, many felt they did not know a lot about the committee or its members.

Amanda Boomershine, a professor and Spanish graduate coordinator, commented her thoughts on the committee saying, “I have not been following the search closely. All I can say is that I am disappointed that there are no Latinx members on the committee.”

Other staff and students commented on their hopes that the committee keeps the values of our university and community in mind. Sean Palmer, the Upperman African American Cultural Center director, shared his hopes for the future chancellor.

“I look forward to having a chancellor who values justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion in a city and region that teaches us both about the tragedies of greed and oppression and the possibilities of restorative justice,” said Palmer.

“To that end, I wait to be introduced to the candidates who can meet the challenges of this moment, and take our amazing university soaring into a dynamic, innovative, and radically inclusive era. It is my hope that the committee and the system are capable of identifying and supporting that kind of leader.”

Mrs. Gidget Kidd, Chair of the UNCW Board of Trustees, speaks as part of the search committee for the new Chancellor. (UNCW)

Until the committee submits its candidates, here are the people contributing to the decision on UNCW’s next chancellor.

Gidget Kidd, the chair of the committee, is a class of 1991 alumni and the current chair of UNCW’s board of trustees. After graduating with a degree in elementary education, Kidd gained almost 20 years of experience teaching and working as a preschool program director. Kidd is also an active community member, working with organizations like Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Partnership for Children, Randolph Hospital Foundation and the Salvation Army.

Stephania Bloodworth, ’00, is a chief operations manager for Cape Fear Realtors in Wilmington and the vice chair of the UNCW Alumni Association board of directors. Bloodworth has more than 20 years of experience working across the fields of finance, budgeting, operations, data analysis and fundraising.

Dennis Burgard, ’88, is the owner and president of DSKT Real Estate Investments and a former member of the board of trustees. Burgard has held positions in the past as the president of Jacksonville Kiwanis and Bettering Our Local Downtown (BOLD). He has also served on the board of directors for the Jacksonville Board of Realtors and the Children’s Museum of Jacksonville.

Adam Clark, ’11, is the chair of the staff senate and an information technology services technician at UNCW.

Natalie English is the president and CEO of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce. A business advocate, English has been a member of the chamber for over 20 years.

Robert “Robby” Fensom is the Student Government Association president and ex officio member of the board of trustees. Fensom is a senior majoring in philosophy and communication studies while also minoring in English and leadership studies.

Carlton Fisher, ’83, is the owner and manager of Coastal Realty and a board of trustees member. He was formerly on the UNCW Foundation board and is also the son of Wilmington College alumni Herbert and Sylvia Fisher. Various buildings on campus have been named after the Fisher family for their contributions and support of UNCW.

Holly G. Grange is a board of trustees member and former representative of District 20 in the North Carolina House of Representatives. Grange has also served as a board member for North Carolina State Ports Authority and is currently a managing partner at Grange Council LLC.

Nathan Grove is the faculty senate president and a chemistry and biochemistry professor within the College of Arts and Sciences. Grove has been with the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UNCW for over 10 years.

Morgan Jackson, ’96, is a public affairs professional, UNCW Foundation board member and past chair of the UNCW board of visitors. Jackson is a co-founder of Nexus Strategies, a Raleigh-based political and public affairs firm.

Henry L. “Hal” Kitchin Jr. is a Wilmington attorney and former board of trustees chair. Kitchin is a partner with McGuireWoods LLP and focuses his practice on business, commercial and real estate litigation.

Henry E. “Hank” Miller III, ’85, is the board of trustrees’ vice chair, a real estate broker and president of the Miller Realty Associations Inc. and M&N Equipment Rentals Inc. Miller has previously served as the chair of the UNCW foundation board.

Justine Reel is the associate dean of research and innovation in the College of Arts of Sciences. Prior to her time at UNCW, Reel was the director of graduate studies and chair of the research committee within the College of Health at the University of Utah. Additionally, Reel is a licensed professional counselor within North Carolina.

Yousry Sayed is the president and CEO of Quality Chemical Laboratories and a board of trustees member. Sayed has also worked as a chemistry and biochemistry professor at UNCW in the past and received the Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award in 1993.

Peter Schuhmann is an economics professor at the Cameron School of Business. Schuhmann has published over 40 peer-reviewed publications. Within economics, Schuhmann focuses on environmental economics and statistics.

Maurice Smith, ’79, is a former trustee and CEO of Local Government Federal Credit Union (LGFCU). Smith holds a North Carolina Real Estate Brokers license and is licensed to practice law in North Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court and the District of Columbia. Smith has received the 2020 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement from The National Credit Union Foundation and the 2019 Annie Vamper Helping Hands Award given by Inclusiv.

Robert Smith is a professor of instructional technology, foundations and secondary education at the Watson College of Education. He is also a member and author for the Educational Innovation Network NC.

Jimmy T. Tate is a UNCW alumni, board of trustees member and the president of Mt. Calvary Center for Leadership Development. In the past, Tate has held positions as a community college president, vice president of human resources and institutional advancement, chief of staff and interim assistant vice chancellor of institutional advancement with two different universities.

The committee will hold its next meeting on Jan. 28. Here, they will review candidate materials as they begin considering extending offers for the first round of interviews.