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Dean Fouad Abd-El-Khalick named next provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at UMass Amherst

Fouad Abd-El-Khalick, Ph.D., dean of the UNC School of Education and Alumni Distinguished Professor, was announced as the next provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Thursday, April 4.

Abd-El-Khalick shared the following message with the UNC School of Education community shortly before the news was announced publicly:

Dear School of Education community and friends:

It is with mixed emotions – and in this case, I assure you there are many deeply felt emotions – that I let you know my last day at the UNC School of Education and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will be June 30, 2024. At that time, I will have completed eight years of service to this amazing School and this great institution. These years, no doubt, have been the highlight of my professional career, to date.

It has been an honor, privilege, and pleasure to work alongside groups of talented, dedicated, and inspiring faculty, students, staff, and alumni, as well as colleagues and leaders across this campus and state. I am deeply proud of all we have accomplished together since I came to Carolina in July 2016, and I am proud to say, this School is poised to accomplish much more.

In the past eight years, much has happened at our School of Education. I want to highlight some of our collective achievements – to celebrate the incredible work and to thank each of you who played a role in making it happen. I hope you will see yourself in these milestones and applaud your contributions to them – whether you were here from the start, joined us in the interim, or transitioned to other opportunities on campus or beyond during my tenure at Carolina. With the 2015-16 academic year as our baseline, we:

  • Kicked off with inclusive processes to develop our Strategic Plan: 2018–2022 and new Propel the World brand identity and guiding pillars, sharing our values, commitments, and ambitions, as well as stories of impact through a brand new website.
  • Reorganized the school from two ‘divisions’ into three overlapping intellectual areas that bolstered our disciplinary strengths and fostered interdisciplinary collaborations, enabling growth in our academic offerings.
  • Launched a wide-ranging faculty hiring campaign, welcoming 37 new faculty members to join our amazing colleagues. We attracted the best, brightest, and most diverse faculty — rising stars and established scholarly leaders — renewing 70% of our ranks and increasing faculty racial and ethnic diversity from 22% to a historical high of 32%.
  • Established the position and appointed an associate dean for research and faculty development, built robust pre- and post-award grant supports, and invested in collaboration to leverage new and existing faculty talent and deliver on our research mission. We nearly quadrupled our total ($5.7 to $22.2 million) and per faculty ($127,000 to $529,000) annual research expenditures, expanding our scholarly leadership and impact through leading-edge research and innovation. Our 2023 total research expenditures are double the School’s prior record since we began sharing these data with U.S. News & World Report in 1995.
  • Reconceptualized and substantially grew new undergraduate and graduate programs, including Human Development and Family Science (24 to 296 students; +1,133%), Master of Arts in Teaching (6 to 36 students; +500%), and Master of Arts in Educational Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (5 to 28 students; +460%;). In 2021, we launched a new undergraduate program in Human and Organizational Leadership Development, which now enrolls 68 students. As a result, our overall residential student enrollments have grown by 26%.
  • Attracted amazing staff members to expand our professional bandwidth (38 to 63 staff members; +66%) in support of our mission and in expanding research, teaching, service, public engagement, and development efforts.
  • Ushered the School into online and HyFlex learning spaces by: Launching Pathway to Practice NC in partnership with the College of Education at NC State University to help address severe shortages of highly qualified teachers, enabling, to date, nearly 500 residency license teachers across 84 North Carolina school districts to work toward full licensure online and at their own pace; leading with agile, HyFlex programs to increase access for working professionals to our highly effective Master in School Administration and Master in Early Childhood Intervention and Family Support; and launching, just a couple of weeks ago, the online Ed.D. in Organizational Learning and Leadership, Carolina’s first fully online doctorate in education.
  • Secured substantial federal, state, and philanthropic funding and support to partner with inner city and rural school districts and bolster the preparation of North Carolina’s most effective teachers and school leaders, and critical wraparound service professionals, including school counselors, in the state through established and innovative initiatives including theNorth Carolina Teaching FellowsDREAMUNC LEADSFellows for Inclusive Excellence, and Helping Heels.
  • Collaborated with partners across Carolina, the state, and the world to convene significant conversations around research, leadership, and school safety and wellbeing, including the Carolina Improvement Science SymposiumCarolina Educational Leadership SummitSummit on School Safety and Wellbeing, and World Anti-Bullying Forum.
  • Launched Carolina Community Academy (CCA), Carolina’s K–2 laboratory school, in partnership with Person County Schools. We continue to build an ever-growing cross-campus coalition of schools, and academic and service units and centers to bring Carolina’s full bandwidth to serve students, families, and the community across CCA and Roxboro.
  • Expanded our global academic and research engagements by deepening our partnership with Hamburg University through the Tricontinental Teacher Training Program and building a new partnership with the University of Vienna, with planning for additional collaborations underway.
  • Merged the School’s Foundation with UNC-Chapel Hill’s and invested in development, communication, marketing, and stewardship professionals, and reengaged our alumni and donors. We raised $26.8 million to surpass our original $25 million goal for the Campaign for Carolina (2014-2021). We also raised a record $8.2 million during the first year (Fiscal Year 2022) of Carolina’s next comprehensive campaign, close to doubling our previous record and featuring the largest cash and estate gifts in the School’s philanthropic records.
  • Renovated the Peabody Hall lobby (now Tarver Entryway), created state-of-the-art agile teaching and learning spaces, and renovated several research and administrative spaces — including a new Research Commons — to accommodate our expanding research enterprise and create inspiring, collaborative, and agile spaces for our faculty, students, and staff.

All this is but a subset of the amazing, wide-ranging work and achievements of the people in this School. I encourage you to explore more of our stories of achievement and impact.

Thanks to your dedication and hard work these past years, we delivered on our strategic goals, including to “lead in research, teaching, and public engagement to earn our position as one of the nation’s preeminent schools of education.” The School rose 14 places to #21 among all, and #13 among public, schools of education across the nation in U.S. News & World Report rankings.

Our UNC School of Education is talent rich, programmatically robust, and financially sound, and, as I stated earlier, poised for additional growth in research, teaching, service, and impact, as well as in reputation, standing, and distinction. I have every confidence you will continue this upward trajectory to propel our world through education. You realize the transformative power of education every day. The milestones and rankings mentioned here speak to that.

In the weeks ahead, I will be working with campus leadership to ensure continuity and a smooth transition as Carolina launches a national search for the School’s next dean. In that time, the Provost will announce an interim leader.

Carolina has been home for Lama, Kareem, Farrah, and me the past eight years. We are deeply appreciative of all the support and kindness we have continually been shown by the Carolina community and beyond, and the Lebanese American community in the Triangle. We are ever so appreciative and grateful. This place and the people will never be far from our hearts and minds, and I will always look forward to and welcome the opportunities when our paths may cross again.

Today, it will be announced that I start my tenure as provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on July 1, 2024.

As always, all my very best,


The following message was shared with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill community by Christopher Clemens, Ph.D., UNC-Chapel Hill provost and chief academic officer: 

Dear Carolina Community, 

I am writing to share that School of Education Dean Fouad Abd-El-Khalick has been named provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, effective July 1. During his eight-year tenure at Carolina, Abd-El-Khalick created an extraordinary legacy at the School of Education and significantly increased the school’s ability to change lives through its research, teaching and service.

Notably, the school has quadrupled its total ($5.7 to $22.2 million) and per faculty ($127,000 to $529,000) annual research expenditures, greatly expanding its ability to better serve the people of North Carolina and beyond. In U.S. News & World Report rankings, it rose 14 places to 21st among all, and 13th among public, schools of education across the nation. In addition, the school created and reimagined several undergraduate and graduate programs resulting in a 26% increase in residential student enrollment.  

In 2022, Abd-El-Khalick oversaw the launch of the Carolina Community Academy, our K-2 laboratory school, in partnership with Person County Schools. The innovative school integrates evidence-based practices, an improved curriculum, social-emotional learning and robust wraparound services that have already transformed learning outcomes for students. As part of those efforts, he also has led a campus-wide coalition of University schools and units that have brought the best of what Carolina has to offer to both the school and Roxboro community. 

Abd-El-Khalick has secured generous public and private support to help prepare teachers and school leaders through programs including the North Carolina Teaching Fellows, DREAM, UNC LEADS, Fellows for Inclusive Excellence and Helping Heels. He’s empowered his faculty members to collaborate with partners from across the state and globe to convene important conversations, including hosting the World Anti-Bullying Forum last year.

Abd-El-Khalick also launched Pathway to Practice NC, an online teacher licensure program, in partnership with NC State University to increase the pipeline of qualified educators in North Carolina. To date, nearly 500 residency license teachers across 84 North Carolina school districts have earned or are working toward licensures at their own pace. He also introduced other online and HyFlex programs, including two master’s programs and Carolina’s recently announced first fully online doctoral degree program in education.

To help support this work, Abd-El-Khalick actively engaged University donors, alumni and friends, raising $26.8 million in the Campaign for Carolina.

I am enormously grateful to Fouad and all that he has accomplished. When he leaves Carolina at the end of June, the school will be well poised for continued success.

In the coming weeks, I will announce an interim leader while we launch a national search for a new dean. Until then, please join me in congratulating and thanking Dean Fouad Abd-El-Khalick and wishing him well in his new role.


Christopher Clemens, Provost

Abd-El-Khalick has served as dean of the School since July 1, 2016. 

Before coming to Carolina, Abd-El-Khalick was associate dean for research and research education in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was also the Grayce Wicall Gauthier Professor of Education and had served on the faculty since 2000. 

An elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Abd-El-Khalick is a leading international science education researcher whose scholarly contributions on teaching and learning about nature of science have earned him the National Association for Research in Science Teaching’s top lifetime achievement honor, the 2022 Distinguished Contributions to Science Education through Research Award.  

He also was honored as the sole winner of the 2021 Kuwait Prize in economics and social sciences — specifically, in educational sciences — from the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science, which recognizes the stellar scholarly contributions over 20 or more years of Arab scientists across the globe. 

Of his time at Carolina, Abd-El-Khalick said: 

“The past eight years at Carolina and the School of Education have been a highlight of my career. We have achieved much as a community of faculty, students, staff, and alumni — in partnership with leaders at Carolina and in school districts and with our state officials — to better serve learners and educators in our rural and urban communities across North Carolina and beyond. I am grateful for all the support and kindness that the Carolina community and the state have shown our family over these years. We will always have a special place in our hearts and minds for the memories, people, and place that is Carolina.” 

Abd-El-Khalick’s final day as dean of the UNC School of Education will be June 30, 2024. 

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