UNC Officials Move Chancellor’s Resignation Earlier After Swift Statue Decision

Neetu Chandak | Education and Politics Reporter

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s chancellor was asked to step down in her role earlier than expected after making the swift decision to remove leftovers of the school’s Silent Sam statue.

Carol Folt planned to resign as the school’s chancellor after commencement in May, according to the letter Monday. But the Board of Governors wanted Folt to resign earlier after she ordered for the removal of the Confederate statue’s plaque and base without consulting others, Inside Higher Ed reported Wednesday.

The board held a private meeting with Folt Tuesday afternoon and accepted her resignation date starting Jan. 31.

“While I’m disappointed by the Board of Governors’ timeline, I have truly loved my almost six years at Carolina,” Folt said in a statement posted on Twitter Tuesday.

Folt had cranes and crews remove the leftovers of the statue at night, hours after her resignation announcement. (RELATED: UNC Removes Silent Sam Statue Leftovers After Chancellor Announces Resignation)

“You know, it’s a bit stunning based on how this has gone, that UNC Chapel Hill felt they needed to take this kind of draconian action — and I think that’s what it is,” Board of Governors chair Harry Smith said, according to Inside Higher Ed. “When you start scheduling cranes at night and key and critical stakeholders aren’t involved, it’s just unfortunate.”

While Folt claims the statue decision and her resignation were not related and happened to occur around the same time, some are not buying her argument.

UNC Chapel Hill Political Science professor Frank R. Baumgartner believes Folt’s move was “intentional.”

“You don’t resign by mistake,” Baumgartner said, Inside Higher Ed reported.

Folt, who was named Dartmouth College’s provost in 2010, justified her actions by claiming the statue’s remnants posed threats to personal and community safety, according to her letter. She added the remains would be safely kept in a secure location for the time being.

Silent Sam was toppled by protesters in August 2018 because they believed the monument represented North Carolina’s slave-holding history.

Removing symbols, monuments and other items related to Confederate history has been an ongoing issue. Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia, recently shed Confederate general Robert E. Lee’s name by renaming the building Washington-Liberty.

UNC Chapel Hill, Folt, Dartmouth and the Board of Governors did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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