News: CJ Exclusives

Folt says she’s leaving UNC Chapel Hill with Silent Sam pedestal going, too

'Silent Sam' was removed from his pedestal in August 2018 at the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. (CJ photo by Don Carrington)
'Silent Sam' was removed from his pedestal in August 2018 at the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. (CJ photo by Don Carrington)

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt. (Image from UNC Twitter account)

UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt will leave her job at the end of the academic year, and Silent Sam’s pedestal is going with her, she announced to the UNC Board of Governors in an emergency closed session meeting Jan. 14.

Folt cited security concerns as the primary reason for the decision to remove the remaining parts of Silent Sam, the campus’ controversial Confederate statue, from McCorkle Place. The pedestal and commemorative tablets will go into storage until their fate is decided.

“The presence of the remaining parts of the monument on campus poses a continuing threat both to the personal safety and well-being of our community and to our ability to provide a stable, productive educational environment,” she said in a news release.

Crews removed the pedestal and plaques from McCorkle Place early Tuesday morning, WRAL reports. University officials did not disclose immediately where they were stored.

UNC BOG Chair Harry Smith said Folt didn’t give warning to the board before making her announcement public.

“We are incredibly disappointed at this intentional action. It lacks transparency and it undermines and insults the Board’s goal to operate with class and dignity,” Smith said in a news release.

A Jan. 15 media availability with Spellings and incoming interim President Dr. Bill Roper was canceled immediately following Folt’s announcement.

Folt, 68, took her place as chancellor of UNC Chapel Hill in 2013, and has weathered several storms while at the helm of the system’s flagship school. The NCAA academic scandal, which Folt inherited from her predecessor, Holden Thorp, drew criticism from the beginning of her administration.

Yet it was Silent Sam, and the protests surrounding it, that signaled the end for Folt. On Aug. 19, protestors toppled the confederate monument while police stood back and watched. The event led to months of debate over whether the statue should return to campus.

UNC President Margaret Spellings Oct. 3 said Folt was in no jeopardy of losing her job, despite the fact the chancellor was under fire for her response to the event.

“I’m her boss, and she has one of — if not the hardest — job in the system. Period. I don’t think any chancellor would like to have to deal with Silent Sam. It’s very thorny, and safety has to be right at the top of our list of things to consider,” Spellings said.

Spellings announced her own resignation Oct. 26. When chancellor raises were doled out in November, Folt was passed over with the explanation that she was eligible for her quadrennial review in March.

Dec. 3, Folt presented to the BOT a proposal to place Silent Sam in a $5.3 million historical center to be built in Odum Village. While Folt, UNC trustees, faculty, and students wanted the statue off campus, the law prohibits any historical monument from being removed without express permission from the N.C. Historical Commission and the General Assembly. Folt said the proposal to put Silent Sam in a campus historical center would comply with the law.

The BOT approved the proposal, but it was widely criticized by both those who wanted Silent Sam returned to McCorkle Place, and those who didn’t want the statue to return to campus at all.

At its Dec. 14 meeting, the UNC BOG rejected the proposal as being too expensive and instead created a five-member task force to help the UNC-Chapel Hill administration devise a new plan for the statue.

Despite Folt’s planned departure, Smith said the timeline for determining Silent Sam’s fate remains unchanged.

Folt has walked a tightrope trying to satisfy campus constituents while navigating big-picture politics, some say.

“She is on our side on this,” Leslie Parise, the chair of the UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Council said at a meeting Jan. 10. “She puts 150 percent effort in to try and move this campus forward in so many ways.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated to report the pedestal’s removal.

  • Mark Brody

    Since when does a Chancellor have the authority to defy state law and remove a monument and then add the ” what are you going to do about it because I am leaving” response with out repercussions? This also goes for Spellings who backs her? The BOG needs to make an example of them by firing them and seeking prosecution for violating state law and forcing facility workers to be accomplices in this violation.. This will send a warning to others who will try and do the same.

    • Junius Daniel

      Since our state’s top authorities have misplacet the address where they left their balls.

  • civilwar 12

    Good riddance to a bigot-racist!

    The statue and the pedestal stays!

  • Charles Kelsoe

    When did it become possible for a private citizen to take what is public property? If that’s the case, we could take whatever we wanted to without repercussions.

  • DaTruuf

    See here, it’s the presence of the monument, not the kook protesters, that are causing an unsafe environment. Try and erase all the history you want, it doesn’t change it. Also, when is Duke going to change its university’s name? After all, the Duke family had loads of slaves to help advance their white privilege.

  • ProudlyUnaffiliated

    This Folt dolt needs to be marched off the campus today and summarily fired for cause effective the day before she made this terrible order to remove the last vestige of Silent Sam. She has forfeited any residual goodwill or deference based on this illegal action where there was no consensus or buy-in by the public which pays a good portion of the bills at the institution she purports to lead. Additionally, her superiors did not authorize this. In fact, they have given her ample opportunity, indeed months, to address the issue in a pluralistic, civilized manner and what did she do? She spat in their faces by acting unilaterally. Next, the entire Silent Sam memorial statue needs to be put back up immediately, no later than the end of the week. Then we can talk but not until those things happen.

    We have reached a point where courage and direct action is required to preserve Western civilization. The coddling, pretense, and patience is worthless in the face of: (1) first a mob action to illegally tear down a traditional and beloved-by-many university monument, and (2) second, and perhaps worse, outrageous ‘official’ action to rip the rest of it down by declaration.

    My friends, can it be any more clear what is at stake now? And I doubt seriously officialdom will handle this correctly though I would be overjoyed to be proved wrong. BTW, officialdom and all Republicans: inaction on this one and you will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt your worthlessness and cowardice. No support from me if you can’t see and act clearly.

    A suggestion to web-literate, legal-minded, and active people who are as furious about this as I am: let us consider something like a GoFundMe effort in order to fund a lawsuit against all the enemy parties involved, including Dolt personally. Make it for substantial money and demand that the university put Silent Sam back up. Perhaps, a collection of restitution to install infrastructure to ensure protection and monitoring of Silent Sam going forward. Put your legal and creative minds to improve this notional idea and spread it around.

    My wallet is open, ready, and willing to contribute. And I doubt that I am alone.

    • Junius Daniel

      You are very definitely not alone, Sir – but merely another shoulder in a long grey line of rural and smalltown Tarheels who are simply not going to cede our state and culture to those of our youth who have been trained by the aliens at our school system to hate us.

      Folt is a California-New England Yankee who ought never have been hired in the first place.

      Why are non-Southerners teaching at, and presiding over our own schools, yet we are required to pay for the academies that bear our names!

  • Junius Daniel

    All of this is in violation of North Carolina law, so, in the end, the blame goes to those of our highest authorities.