Students turn out early to greet new chancellor

The new chancellor at the University of North Carolina started his first day on the job Tuesday with an early breakfast with students.

Holden Thorp said he was inspired that students in Chapel Hill would turn out so early during a summer morning to welcome him to work.

As students mingled and ate the spread of breads and fruit, Thorp made his way around to the group of about 60 students who represented student government, athletics, student life, research, and undergraduate and graduate schools.

Student body president J.J. Raynor, formerly of Myers Park High School in Charlotte, said the student turnout was better than expected for the 7:30 a.m. breakfast, in part because the students are interested in connecting with Thorp.

At age 43, Thorp is among the youngest university leaders in the country.

The former chemistry professor graduated from the university two decades ago and has spent much of his career there, most recently as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Raynor sees Thorp's experience and youth as advantages in bridging gaps that may come.

“We're going to be losing so many older faculty as the baby boomers start to retire, and that's kind of an opportunity to bring in a younger generation of faculty and scholars,” Raynor said.

Thorp said his goals were “to move forward with the city of Chapel Hill, make sure we create an education environment for students, and for staff and faculty, making sure this is the best place for them to do what they do.”

Thorp replaces James Moeser, who stepped down after eight years as chancellor. Thorp takes over the state university's flagship campus, home to more than 28,000 students and 3,200 faculty members.