She’s leaving me because she really wants to
And she’ll be happy when she’s gone
She’ll be happy, she’ll be so very happy
She’ll dance and sing or even learn to fly
And spend her time with anyone but me.
— Lyle Lovett
When Holden Thorp ’ 86 said that all this has been hard on him and his family, it recalled a barbecue he
attended with a group of alumni back in
June. Dress that evening was casual, but
Thorp was wearing two years’ worth of
things-gone-wrong at a place he had
thought was so right and could only be
made better. He approached people with a
“say something nice to me” look.
That’s why this song came to mind
when he stood before some 250 faculty
members two days after he announced his
resignation from the chancellorship, smiled
like a kid at the gate of Disneyland and told
them he couldn’t wait to be back sitting
out there among them.
Reminded of that a week later, his head
bobbed and he practically broke out in
laughter at the recollection.
That last line of the song is, of course,
out of kilter — Thorp isn’t likely to spend
his time with anyone other than Carolina —
but let’s say that next summer he might take
the long way around South Building for a
while. He says he is determined still to be
the one to lead the fix of scandals that surfaced in athletics and then in the complicated
relationship between sport and scholarship.
But he’s leaving because he really wants to.
“I think most people would agree that
regardless of your view of how we got
here, that what I’ve been through is the hardest thing that any
chancellor has gone through. And I feel like, as I said, the big
decisions we made are the right ones, but it’s been more tumul-
tuous and difficult than I think I could have imagined.”
Thorp called Faculty Chair Jan Boxill just before he announced
his resignation on the morning of Sept. 17 and told her, “They
wore me down.”
At the football game at Louisville two days before, he had told
a well-wisher he considered himself a “wartime chancellor.”
There followed a week of begging — by the trustees, the
UNC System president, the faculty and students — for the 48-
year-old chancellor who had said that under the right circum-
stances he could be in the job for a long time, to reconsider. Box-
ill led the cheers, but she already knew. “I could tell when I got to
South Building [after his call] that he was definitely comfortable
with his decision” to leave at the end of the school year.
Believed to be the
largest faculty rally
since the Kent State
riots in 1970, UNC
after the resignation
ask Thorp to reconsider.
At right, Faculty
Chair Jan Boxill.
Thorp goes to
address the Board
of Governors about
A misplaced smile, even hints of a contagious sense of lightness and humor, came
back. One day that week, East Chapel Hill
High student body President John Thorp
went on the PA system and joked to his
constituents that though he regretted to say