UNC Wilmington Chancellor Jose Sartarelli is retiring in June after seven years at the helm of the university.
“Serving as chancellor of the University of North Carolina Wilmington has been an honor and a privilege for me,” Sartarelli said in a campus-wide announcement Friday. “Thank you for making it the most exciting, interesting and rewarding journey I’ve ever had.”
In the announcement, Sartarelli said he “realized that the timing is right” for a new chancellor as he looked ahead to next fall, which will be UNCW’s 75th anniversary.
Under his leadership, the university has grown, developed new academic programs, and weathered multiple hurricanes that cost millions in damages.
UNCW set enrollment and graduation records; publicly launched its fundraising campaign that’s closing in on its $100 million goal; and expanded and improved its on-campus and online education programs.
He helped UNCW achieve a new research designation in “Doctoral Universities: High Research Activity” – R2 institution – by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education in 2018. Sartarelli also led UNCW through the COVID-19 pandemic and racial and political issues on campus, including the high-profile death of professor Mike Adams.
UNCW has been one of only three UNC System institutions ranked among the “Top 100 Public National Universities” by U.S. News & World Report for the past three years, according to the university.
“The success that our students, faculty, staff and alumni have achieved in recent years has been nothing short of outstanding,” Sartarelli said. “I am immensely proud to have served UNCW during such a pivotal time in history, and I want to thank the Seahawk community for making this great university so special. Leaving UNCW and the City of Wilmington will not be easy for my wife, Kathy, and me, but we are looking forward to a new adventure.”
During his tenure, Sartarelli, Business North Carolina recognized him as one of the state’s most influential leaders while Wilmington Biz Magazine said he is a “Power Player,” who has played a role in the region’s business and economic landscape.
Sartarelli, a native of Brazil, is one of the few chancellors of color in the UNC System.
“Chancellor Sartarelli has taken UNC Wilmington to new heights, leading with ambition all while handling serious challenges posed by hurricanes and the pandemic,” UNC System President Peter Hans said in a statement.
Hans noted that UNCW has increased its student population by nearly 40% in the past decade, the largest growth in the system, and expanding campus facilities to meet that growth.
“I’m so grateful for his steady and visionary leadership, and I know all Seahawks join me in thanking him for his service to UNCW and the state,” Hans said.
His last day will be June 30, 2022.
The UNCW Board of Trustees, Hans and the UNC System Board of Governors will have about nine months to conduct a national search to replace Sartarelli. Hans and UNCW Board Chair Gidget Kidd will work on next steps in the search.
This will be the first chancellor search under the new, controversial UNC System policy that allows Hans to add two finalists to each chancellor search process and then to select a final candidate from that list.