Lindsay Bierman will step down as Chancellor of UNCSA, effective July 31

Lindsay Bierman announced today that he will step down as chancellor of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), effective July 31, to become CEO of UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina on Aug. 12.

Bierman’s appointment was approved by the University of North Carolina (UNC) Board of Governors at its regular meeting today in Chapel Hill. UNC Interim President Bill Roper placed Bierman’s name in nomination. Bierman will succeed Brian Sickora, who served as director and general manager of UNC-TV from July 1, 2016, to October 26, 2018. Since that time, Steven D. Hammel and Kevin FitzGerald have served in interim capacities at UNC-TV.

“UNC School of the Arts has experienced tremendous strides under Lindsay’s leadership, and we are thrilled to see what he will bring to UNC-TV,” Roper said. “Using creative thinking and planning, he has carefully guided UNCSA through a very successful period. We are delighted to keep Lindsay and his wide array of leadership and talent in the UNC System family.”

Lindsay Bierman

Lindsay Bierman has served as Chancellor of UNCSA since 2014. / Photo: Jeremy Cowart

Chancellor Bierman assumed the leadership of UNCSA when he succeeded Interim Chancellor James Moeser on Aug. 1, 2014. “It has been one of the greatest joys of my career to serve this incomparable institution, and I’ll leave here forever in awe of the artistic talent that called so many of us here,” Bierman said. “The support and guidance I’ve received from my colleagues across the campus, our committed board members, alumni and generous donors mean more than I could ever say. The role of Chancellor has been humbling, energizing, motivating, challenging, and immensely rewarding.”

Ralph Womble, chair of the UNCSA Board of Trustees, said, “I am delighted for UNC-TV, which has attracted a leader who has experience guiding one of the nation’s most iconic media brands, as well as a proven track record as a public servant and as a fundraiser in higher education. It is certainly a great loss for UNCSA, but the UNC System is only the stronger for it. Lindsay has left UNCSA well-positioned for the future, and now he has another opportunity to do great things for the citizens of North Carolina.”

A longtime media veteran, Bierman came to UNCSA after 17 years at Time Inc., where he worked with writers, editors, producers, photographers, videographers, stylists, marketers, and countless others on cross-platform audience, content and franchise development for numerous mainstream brands, including the juggernaut Southern Living. As the title’s editor-in-chief from 2010-14, he drove the strategic growth, editorial vision, and digital revolution for the country’s eighth-largest monthly paid magazine, reaching 18 million consumers each month.

Bierman added: “I’m excited to fully leverage my creative leadership, business acumen, and fundraising track record at UNC-TV, and I’m inspired by the power and potential of public media to positively impact the life of every North Carolinian. Though it is difficult to leave UNCSA, I am confident that the school is poised for continued growth and long-term success.”

An affiliate of the UNC System, UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina is one of the country’s largest networks of noncommercial, educational television stations, transmitting four full-time digital program channels to all 100 counties in North Carolina. The CEO is responsible for the overall vision, leadership, strategic direction and success of the network, which has a budget of approximately $28 million and more than 150 employees statewide.

During his tenure as chancellor, Bierman has:

  • Shepherded the largest donations in the school’s history and launched the institution’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign since 1999 (now in its quiet phase), raising nearly $50 million in three years. In 2016, he secured several lead gifts including $11 million to support groundbreaking new programs, faculty endowments, and student scholarships; and $5 million to overhaul the largest performance venue on campus. In 2018, he announced an additional $4 million in estate gifts for music scholarships. Earlier this month, he announced gifts with a combined value of $2 million from two foundations associated with members of the Hanes family, for scholarships, visiting professorships and more. The total dollars raised overall have nearly tripled since 2014. 

  • Championed creative leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation through new research, grant and curricular programs, revitalizing the conservatory model for the 21st century. Since 2017, he has allocated $100,000 annually to “artpreneurship” grants, steered the development of a new Choreographic Institute in the School of Dance, launched a new animatronics program in the School of Design and Production, and established the leading-edge Media and Emerging Technology Lab (METL) in the School of Filmmaking.

  • Spearheaded the creation of a new strategic plan, “Creative Momentum,” designed to deepen UNCSA’s ties with the global arts and entertainment industries, propel the school to the forefront of performing arts and media education in the United States, and expand its cultural and economic impact across the region.

  • Initiated and oversaw a complete rebuild of UNCSA’s website,—the first major redesign of the site in more than a decade, which has been honored with several national awards since its relaunch in December 2015. He also led a campus-wide effort to create a new visual identity, rebranding the university with a new logo and seal. The new branding, combined with new marketing strategies, have driven significant increases in off-campus visitors, admissions inquiries, and audience engagement across all platforms – including a 30 percent increase in applications to UNCSA in 2018.

  • Led a steady rise in rankings and recognition for the institution’s degree programs. In addition to being the highest-ranked arts specialty school in Money magazine, UNCSA has made third in the country for Design & Production (OnStage); Top 5 in the country for Drama (The Hollywood Reporter); Top 10 in the country for Dance (Backstage); and among the 50 best film programs in the world (Variety).

  • Initiated numerous planning and construction projects to enhance the school’s living and learning environment, including the first new residence halls in 50 years. He engaged one of the world’s preeminent design firms, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, to create a comprehensive master plan for the main campus and a conceptual renovation for the historic Stevens Center theater and 10-story tower—anchor of the downtown arts and entertainment district and the school’s largest performance venue. He also spearheaded a new series of popular entertainment, called UNCSA Presents, at the Stevens Center to diversify its programming in order to reach wider audiences.

  • Built a transformative leadership team including a new vice provost, four new deans, and several new vice chancellors and senior officers to reorganize the institution’s admissions, advancement, facilities, finance, IT, and marketing operations.

Interim President Roper is expected to announce an interim chancellor for UNCSA before Bierman’s departure date. Roper will also be working closely with Chair Womble and the UNCSA Board of Trustees to launch a search for a successor.

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May 22, 2019