Jane Fernandes, provost at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, has been named Guilford’s ninth president by the College’s Board of Trustees. Jane, who is deaf, will become the first woman to hold the post on July 1 when she succeeds Kent Chabotar.
“I am honored and humbled because I feel called to Guilford,” said Jane, who first visited campus a year ago to speak about her experience in the deaf community. “During my campus visit last spring, I felt a deep sense of belonging which was only strengthened the more I learned about Guilford’s mission, Core Values, Quaker heritage and commitment to students and inclusiveness.
“That sense of belonging further deepened when I came to campus as a candidate and met so many genuine, brilliant, dedicated and enthusiastic people who welcomed me warmly. I know this will be a wonderful place to live and work.”
Jane has served as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at UNC Asheville, a public, liberal arts university of 3,750 students, since 2008. As chief academic officer, she manages 230 faculty and 161 staff, and administers a budget of more than $40 million.
In addition to 40 undergraduate departments and programs and one graduate program, her responsibilities at UNC Asheville include supervising academic support programs, admissions and financial aid, the university library, and information technology services.
“Jane Fernandes is a courageous and inspiring leader -- one of the finest in all of higher education,” said Anne Ponder, chancellor of UNC Asheville and an administrator at Guilford 1986-89. “That a quality institution like Guilford College has chosen Jane as its next president is an indication of truly great things to come."
A native of Worcester, Mass., Jane is a graduate of Trinity College in Connecticut, where she earned her B.A. in French and comparative literature, and the University of Iowa, where she earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. in comparative literature. Born deaf to a deaf mother and hearing father, she learned American Sign Language (ASL) as a graduate student.
“Jane is an experienced leader with a passion for liberal arts education and the Core Values of the College,” said Carole Bruce, a trustee and chair of the Presidential Search Committee. “The whole Guilford community – students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees and friends of the College – collaborated in a search process that has brought us an outstanding new president. I’m thrilled to welcome and introduce Jane to Greensboro and the Triad.”
Her career took Jane first to Boston as acting director of American Sign Language Programs at Northeastern University and then to Washington, D.C., as chair of the Sign Communication Department at Gallaudet University. Moving to Hawaii, she became the founding coordinator of the University of Hawaii’s Sign Language/English Interpreter Training Program and later, director of the Hawaii Center for the Deaf and Blind.
She returned to Gallaudet as vice president of the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center in 1995 and served as provost of the university 2000-06. After her leadership roles at Gallaudet, she became a senior fellow at the Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity & Inclusion Institute at Bennett College in Greensboro, a post she held from 2007 to 2011.
Jane’s husband, Jim, is an emeritus professor at Gallaudet. They have two children: Sean, a recent graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and a first-year law student at the University of Chicago, and Erin, a junior at Smith College.
Read more about Jane’s reaction to being named Guilford’s next president.
Visit the presidential search page for more information.