Chancellor Retires, Provost Moves On
By Jonathan Bym, Editor
Less than a week apart, Chancellor Kyle R. Carter and Provost Kenneth D. Kitts announced they were leaving the university. Dr. Carter announced his retirement on Nov. 10 effective June 30, 2015.
Dr. Kitts was selected as the next president of the University of North Alabama on Nov. 5, and he accepted the position on Nov. 7.
“It was just time,” Dr. Carter said about the announcement that had many factors playing into the decision to retire.
The search is already underway to form a committee with more news on the search to come out at the next Board of Trustees meeting on Nov. 20-21.
In a letter sent out by the Chancellor on Nov. 10, Dr. Carter said that age and wanting to spend time with family were major factors in the decision.
“I’ll be 67 this January and 41 years in education and we live too far away from our family, especially our grandchildren,” he said. “It’s more related to where we are in the time of our lives and how we want to spend our time.”
Dr. Carter’s daughter, Heather, and his two grandchildren live in Atlanta, while his son, Travis, lives in Maine.
Both Dr. Carter and his wife, Sarah, will relocate to Asheville.
When it came to his career, Dr. Carter said he always tried to look at the five-year cycles, and with the latest cycle coming to an end in the approaching months, he had a looming question he had to answer.
“I had to decide if this was it or to start another, and based on our personal situation I wanted to spend more time with family and travel; I thought it was time,” he said.
Since coming to the university in 2010, Dr. Carter tackled large challenges in the midst of a slow enrollment period and with the dropping amount of state appropriations being sent to the university. After nearly a five-year battle, retention rates are starting to rise, and overall enrollment is nearly 50 students higher than last year.
Recruitment was also restructured, including raising the GPA of incoming freshmen in hopes of seeing the retention rates rise even more. Time will tell if the method was executed well.
One of Dr. Carter’s fonder memories of the university is the installation of the cross over the bridge ceremony at convocation and spring commencement, which will make its first full cycle as the class of 2015 graduates in May.
“The one thing I will remember most is spring graduation and having students walk across the bridge,” the chancellor said. “We really enjoyed our relationship with the students.”
The timing of the announcement was hindered by several different circumstances, and in the letter out to the campus he explained, “regardless of how carefully you plan, something may not go as you intend.”
With the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Wiley Barrett, on an international trip for most of the month of October, the announcement hit the university while news was still fresh of Dr. Kitts’ acceptance of the North Alabama presidency.
“I wanted to make the announcement in early October, but there were a number of thing that didn’t work right, including chairman Barrett being out of the country. He was in China for three weeks, and he just got back last week,” he said. “I regret if the announcement seems to be bad timing or bad form on the heels of Provost Kitts’ appointment.”
“I wanted to make sure there was plenty of time for a search for a new chancellor,” he said of making the announcement now. “It’s quite possible to have a new chancellor named in May or April and that will give them time to get adjusted and let them meet the faculty and staff before taking over in July.”
Despite the announcement coming nearly eight months before it will come into effect, he has one message to the community.
“One of the things I want to remind people is I’m not dead, yet, and I’m going to be working just as hard as my first day in 2010 to continue to move the university forward and leave it in as good of shape as possible for my successor,” Dr. Carter said. “That’s what leaders do is build upon what they find and get it ready for the next generation to do the next thing.”
Photos by Sara Owen. Dr. Ken Kitts, provost, leaves UNCP after four years to become a university president. Chancellor Kyle R. Carter, and Sarah enjoy their final homecoming parade before he retires.