CHAPEL HILL — Kevin Guskiewicz has been named the permanent chancellor at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Guskiewicz — who has served as a professor and dean at the university — has been interim chancellor since February. His appointment was announced Friday at a meeting of the UNC System's Board of Governors. His annual salary will be $620,000.
In a statement, Bill Roper, the university system's interim president, said Guskiewicz "possesses the leadership qualities needed to take Carolina forward: strength, poise, humility, vision, the strong proficiency to listen, and the ability to bring people together."
Guskiewicz was hired to work at UNC-CH as an assistant professor in 1995 and rose through the faculty ranks to become the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Exercise and Sport Science and department chair. Before becoming interim chancellor, he worked for three years as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, the university's largest academic unit.
A national expert on sports-related concussions, Guskiewicz is co-director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at the university. In 2011, Guskiewicz received a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" for his work.
Guskiewicz earned a bachelor's degree from West Chester University in his native Pennsylvania, a master's degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in sports medicine from the University of Virginia.
I am humbled and honored to become @UNC’s 12th chancellor. My vision is that we will move forward with boldness and confidence because the work we do here is vital for the people of North Carolina, the nation and the world. pic.twitter.com/Gy6MHjvo1q— Kevin Guskiewicz (@KevinGuskiewicz) December 13, 2019
Richard Stevens, the UNC-CH board chairman who also led the university's search committee, said Guskiewicz had provided "a stable and sure hand" in his 10 months as interim chancellor.
"The Board of Trustees and I have been honored to work with Kevin in his interim role and truly believe he is the visionary leader that Carolina needs today," Stevens wrote Friday in an email to the UNC-CH community.
The UNC System said Roper selected Guskiewicz from among two candidates given to him by a 20-member UNC-CH search committee. The search was conducted outside of public view like all recent UNC System chancellor searches, and the university system did not identify the other finalist.
In recent weeks, Guskiewicz has been criticized by students and faculty after the UNC System agreed last month to turn over Silent Sam and a $2.5 million trust fund to the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Silent Sam is the Confederate statue that stood on campus for 105 years until opponents pulled it down in August 2018. The trust fund will come from the university's endowment. Critics of the deal say UNC-CH is supporting a white supremacist organization.
WATCH: @UNC Student President Ashton Martin rips into @UNC_System Bd of Governors for #SilentSam settlement w/ @SonsOfConfed, calls on new Chancellor @KevinGuskiewicz to “fight racism” & protect minority students. A stunning speech considering the crowd. @ABC11_WTVD @ABC #abc11 pic.twitter.com/qPuNTfDon1— Jonah Kaplan (@KaplanABC11) December 13, 2019
Guskiewicz has opposed returning the statue to campus but said the deal was made not by him but by university system leaders. In a message to UNC System leaders Wednesday two days before his appointment, Guskiewicz wrote that he has concerns about the deal after listening to faculty and students.
"I join with others on my campus in stating that the values expressed by the SCV are inconsistent with and antithetical to the values of the University," he wrote. “I also request that the Board and the UNC System consider providing additional information to our University community about this matter.”
In an email to the campus community Friday afternoon, Guskiewicz promised to "shine an honest and stark light on our campus. I will act on the challenges we face. I will make mistakes, and I will work to change when I do. I will help create the stable, safe community we need to focus on the research and learning happening across campus. I will visit communities across our state and lead in service, ensuring that everything we do is for the people of North Carolina."
Guskiewicz will be the university's 12th chancellor and 30th chief executive. He replaces Carol Folt, who resigned in January after ordering the base of the Silent Sam statue removed from campus. Folt is now president of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.