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James W.C. White


James W.C. White is the inaugural Craver Family Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the largest school at the nation’s oldest public university, with more than 17,000 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students. It is also the university’s third-largest research enterprise, bringing in about $135 million in research funding annually.

White came to UNC-Chapel Hill in July 2022 from the University of Colorado Boulder, where he had served as acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for five years and had been a faculty member in the department of geological sciences since 1989.

In his first year at Carolina, White oversaw the launch of IDEAs in Action, a reimagined general education curriculum that emphasizes experiential learning and teaches skills for students to become lifelong learners, such as thinking critically, working collaboratively and communicating persuasively.

White is a passionate and tireless supporter of the enduring value of a broad-based liberal arts education. He believes that public universities should embrace diversity in its broad sense to ensure that its student body and faculty reflect the people in the state they serve. As such, he believes that diversity, equity and inclusion are fundamental tenets of the arts and sciences. Under his leadership, the College began implementation of a three-year DEI strategic plan, Action Steps for Equity.

He also led the College during its final months of fundraising for the Campaign for Carolina. The school raised more than $764 million, far exceeding its $750 million campaign goal in the $5.1 billion university-wide campaign, with funds supporting students, faculty and strategic programs.

An internationally recognized expert in climate science, White has published some 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, is a highly cited researcher in the field and regularly gives public talks on climate change and sustainability. He was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2014.

At Carolina, he is faculty member in the department of earth, marine and environmental sciences and continues to pursue his research, which focuses on past behaviors of the Earth’s climate system, the evidence for rapid climate change in the past, and the dynamics of the modern carbon cycle.

White earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Florida State University and master’s and doctoral degrees in geological sciences from Columbia University.

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