Editorial: UNC chancellor right to step down

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 19, 2012

As a scientist, Dr. Holden Thorp knows some chemicals cannot be mixed together safely. This week, he applied that knowledge to his tenure as chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Sustained scandals and prestigious universities do not mix without causing harm. 
        Appropriately, Thorp turned in his resignation Monday from the helm of the state’s flagship university – freeing him from the appearance of hanging on and freeing the university to start anew.
It’s a sad turn of events for the young president. Thorp took office at the age of 43 and had been regarded as a wunderkind. But to outsiders he seemed slow to take decisive action on improprieties in the football program. When that scandal led to the discovery of academic fraud, the bad news seemed to gain momentum. Last week’s resignation of two fundraisers over questions about their travel expenses was the last toxic drop.The university community has not turned its back on Thorp, and this is one of his saving graces. The UNC faculty gathered for a hastily called meeting Tuesday and begged Thorp to stay. And who can blame them? Once again, an athletic program has damaged academics at a university, this time by robbing the UNC faculty of a rarity these days – a chancellor who was once one of them.