University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Terry Rhodes, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, to retire at the end of the academic year

We are writing to share that Terry Rhodes, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, has decided to retire at the end of the academic year after a remarkable 34-year career at Carolina. Terry has been dean of the College since March 2020, previously serving as interim dean for a year. Her two-year term as permanent dean will end June 2022, which has been her target retirement date since assuming the interim role in July 2019.

Terry oversees the largest academic unit at Carolina, with over 17,000 undergraduate students and 2,000 graduate students, and more than 70 academic departments, curricula, programs, centers and institutes. Under her leadership, the College is preparing to launch a new general education curriculum, IDEAs in Action, in fall 2022. This new curriculum represents the core requirements that every Carolina student will take regardless of major. It will emphasize experiential learning and essential capacities such as global understanding, quantitative reasoning and creative expression.

Last year, the College played a significant role in launching Carolina Away, an entirely remote learning experience for first-year and transfer students, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is continuing this semester.

Terry oversaw the debut of a new academic department: earth, marine and environmental sciences, created from the merger of the departments of geological sciences and marine sciences and the Institute of Marine Sciences. She also introduced Southern Futures, a pan-University collaboration designed to make Carolina the place to which the nation and world turn to understand and imagine the South’s future. The College is partnering with University Libraries and Carolina Performing Arts to gather and share resources, advance cutting-edge scholarship and attract thought leaders and promising new talent.

Terry has sought to strengthen scholarship and increase diversity and inclusion in the College. She designated six faculty lines to be part of a Health and Wellness in Communities of Color cluster hiring initiative, as well as two other faculty lines focusing on U.S. slavery. She also appointed the College’s first associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Other important initiatives launched during her tenure include:

The Program for Public Discourse, a program of curricular and extracurricular offerings designed to build students’ capacity for civil debate, dialogue, discussion and conversation.
Reckoning: Race, Memory and Reimagining the Public University, a shared learning experience that supported student inquiry and dialogue. In fall 2020, its successor, Student Learning to Advance Truth and Equity, or SLATE, led by the Institute of African American Research, was launched and is continuing this fall.
Countering Hate: Overcoming Fear of Differences, a collection of programming and courses that enabled the University community to explore the phenomena of antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of intolerance and prejudice.
The College’s Arts and Sciences Foundation has raised approximately $200 million since she started as interim dean in spring 2019. Significant gifts include a $25 million bequest for graduate student funding from an anonymous donor, $8 million for the Program for Public Discourse from Nancy and Doug Abbey, and a leadership gift from Vicki and David Craver to endow the College deanship.

Over more than three decades, Terry has championed the value of the arts and humanities to a well-rounded education. She was senior associate dean for fine arts and humanities from 2012 to 2019. In 1987, she joined the faculty and has served the University in a variety of roles, including director of UNC Opera, chair of the department of music and faculty marshal. She is the first faculty member from the fine arts to be named dean of the College since it took its modern-day name in 1935, and she takes great pride in the fact that she has continued to teach and perform, mostly in Italy and other parts of Europe, throughout her Carolina career.

Terry has undoubtedly touched hundreds of lives through her teaching and service, and we are enormously grateful for all she has done at Carolina. Please join us in wishing her well in her retirement.

We will soon launch a dean’s search, chaired by Bernadette Gray-Little, Carolina provost emerita, College of Arts & Sciences dean emerita and University of Kansas chancellor emerita. We are confident that under Bernadette’s leadership we will identify a new dean capable of leading the College of Arts & Sciences into a new era.

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