Thorp named provost at Washington University in St. Louis

Chancellor Holden Thorp will become the next provost of Washington University in St. Louis.

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton made the announcement today (Feb. 18). Thorp will succeed Edward Macias, the chief academic officer for the past 25 years, starting July 1. He also will hold an endowed professorship with appointments in chemistry and medicine.

Washington University in St. Louis is, like Carolina, a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and ranks among the leading private and public research universities in the United States and the world.

Last September, Thorp, Carolina’s 10th chancellor, announced that he would step down on June 30. He affirmed the decision several days later at a campus rally where students, faculty, staff and community members gathered to show their support.

In an email message today to UNC students, faculty and staff, Thorp said he was excited about the new opportunity at Washington University because it represented the best of both worlds.

“My new positions will enable me to return to my passions of teaching and research while, at the same time, as the chief academic officer, will allow me to continue many of the administrative duties that I’ve enjoyed as chancellor,” he wrote.

For more than two years, Thorp said, the University has faced some of the most difficult issues the campus has experienced in decades. As a result, Carolina has put much-needed reforms in place and has become a better, stronger university.

Thorp said he was proud of recent University accomplishments including:

  • Cracking the top 10 for the first time in federal funding for research and development;
  • Growing undergraduate admissions applications by 43 percent – the largest five-year gain in recent campus history;
  • Positioning Carolina as a leader in the national debate about college costs, retention and attainment;
  • Bringing the national spotlight to campus efforts to promote innovation and entrepreneurship; and
  • Working successfully with local community partners, especially the Town of Chapel Hill.

Thorp said he expected a seamless transition in South Building when a new chancellor takes office in July.

“I will always love Carolina,” Thorp said. “This University and this community have been my home for more than 25 years, and have meant more to me personally and professionally than I can measure or describe.”

Wade Hargrove, chair of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees, released the following statement concerning Thorp on behalf of the board:

“Holden has provided extraordinary leadership at a critical time in the life of the University. He has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to higher education, and he leaves Carolina in a much stronger position than it was when he became Chancellor five years ago.

“During his tenure, the University has become one of the nation’s elite research universities, creating hundreds of high-paying jobs for North Carolina and bringing three quarters of a billion dollars in revenue to the State in the last year alone. As Chancellor, he has continued to build upon and enhance the University’s national and international academic standing.

“He has overseen a $50 million annual reduction in the cost of operating the University while directing some of the University’s most successful fundraising campaigns from the private sector.

“Chancellor Thorp has put in place long-needed academic reforms to assure greater accountability for the University’s academic performance, and he has provided invaluable leadership for the University in achieving an appropriate balance between athletics and academics.

“Washington University’s gain is a great loss for Carolina. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we wish Chancellor Thorp and his wonderful family the very best.”

Read more for Washington University’s full announcement.

Read more about Thorp’s accomplishments at Carolina.

Published February 18, 2013.