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Dean Terry Rhodes pictured smiling in front of the Old Well on UNC-Chapel Hill

Terry Rhodes became the first College dean from the fine arts. (by Jeyhoun Allebaugh)

Terry Rhodes, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, will retire at the end of the academic year after a 35-year career at Carolina.

Rhodes 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 in June 2022, which has been her target retirement date since assuming the interim role in July 2019.

Rhodes 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.

“It has been an honor — and distinct joy — these past few years to lead the school from which I graduated,” Rhodes said in a message to faculty. “I’m a Tar Heel born and bred, a Raleigh native who graduated from Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in music in 1978. What I value above all are the people with whom I have worked and students I have taught: my leadership team in the Dean’s office, the College’s department chairs, faculty, staff and students, and my colleagues across the University.”

The College is 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 Rhodes’ 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.

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.

Rhodes 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.

Rhodes 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.
  • A new minor in data science, designed to provide students with majors across the arts and sciences with the tools they need to understand and interpret data.

The College’s Arts and Sciences Foundation has raised approximately $200 million since Rhodes 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.


Published in the Fall 2021 issue | The Scoop

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