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Holden Thorp

ORG University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Title Chancellor BIO At Carolina, Holden Thorp has been an undergraduate student, a chemistry professor, a planetarium director, an inventor and entrepreneur, as well as a dean. He graduated with honors, won teaching awards, chaired a powerhouse chemistry department, developed technology for electronic DNA chips, founded spin-off companies, and succeeded as an administrator. As the 10th chancellor, Thorp draws from those experiences in leading Carolina, one of the world's great research universities. A North Carolina native, Thorp grew up in Fayetteville in a family steeped in UNC traditions dating to the 1800s. When he graduated from Terry Sanford High School, only one college was on his application list—Carolina, where he earned a bachelor of science degree with honors in 1986. Attending a world-class research university—where research and teaching are done by the same people—allowed Thorp to work in chemistry labs with top faculty and inspired him to become a professor. He pursued that dream at the California Institute of Technology, where he earned a doctorate in chemistry in 1989, and at Yale University for postgraduate work. After teaching a year at NC State, he returned in 1993 to UNC, where he was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the chemistry department before becoming chancellor in 2008. Because he has lived it from both sides of the classroom, Thorp is passionate about the undergraduate experience. "Carolina is perfectly suited to leverage our students' interests in the great problems facing our world to enhance their academic success," he says. The University's future depends on aspiring to global academic excellence and serving the needs of North Carolina's students and people. "We're the university of both-and: Both academic prominence and a commitment to our state," Thorp says. Under Thorp, Carolina seeks to raise $125 million in private gifts to implement "Innovate@Carolina: Important Ideas for a Better World," a roadmap developed by alumni and friends experienced in leading innovation in science, business, medicine, nonprofits and academia. One result is UNC's role in a consortium created by a $3.6 million gift from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to help Research Triangle develop a network of entrepreneurial assistance similar to those in Silicon Valley and the Boston Corridor. Partners include Duke, NC State, NC Central and the Center for Entrepreneurial Development. The network has the potential over a decade to create jobs, attract seed, startup and expansion capital, and generate revenue. Thorp is a member of President Obama's National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. As a result, the University hosted the council's first national forum in Chapel Hill. Thorp co-authored "Engines of Innovation—The Entrepreneurial University in the 21st Century," a UNC Press book that makes the case for the pivotal role of research universities as agents of societal change. Royalties support innovation at UNC. The chancellor serves on the U.S. Manufacturing Competitiveness Initiative for the Council on Competitiveness. He has published 130 scholarly articles on the electronic properties of DNA and RNA and invented technology for electronic DNA chips that led to 19 issued or pending U.S. patents. An accomplished musician who plays jazz bass and keyboard, Thorp is married to Patti Worden Thorp, a Hope Mills native and UNC Greensboro graduate. Their children are John and Emma.