UNC Asheville Campus Announcement - Board Chair Kennon D. Briggs Shares News of Chancellor Mary K. Grant


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