Jim Coleman has been removed from his position as provost at UNCG.

An email sent out to faculty on Wednesday afternoon indicated the university had “removed Jim Coleman from the office of provost due to behavior that did not meet expectations for senior leaders at UNCG.”

The email also said Terri Shelton, the vice chancellor for research and engagement, will assume the role of interim provost immediately. The email said the university has already launched a national search for Coleman’s permanent replacement as provost.

The university email to faculty provided no additional details about the reasons for Coleman’s removal, beyond that “given this is a confidential and ongoing personnel matter, the university will provide no further details to respect the privacy of all involved.” In an email to Triad City Beat, Coleman also declined to elaborate, saying, “I can’t speak to what (allegedly) happened.”

Coleman’s removal comes less than six months after he joined the administration at UNCG in July. Announcing his appointment in May, Chancellor Franklin Gilliam Jr. said, “Jim is well positioned to lead academic affairs here as he brings the kind of experience, expertise, and proven results to navigate the complex environment we now face. Our goal was to hire an entrepreneurial and forward-thinking provost, experienced in higher education and knowledgeable about its operations and economics, committed to its mission and values, with the personal integrity and drive to build on our momentum. We have clearly found that, and more, in Jim. He is passionate about the transformational power of public higher education and the public mission and is, quite simply, the right person for the job.”

Coleman served the equivalent role of chief academic officer at the University of Arkansas from 2017 through the spring of 2020. According to his official biography, Coleman helped conceive a $45 million student success center and developed a proposal that led to a $23.7 million gift to build “research and commercialization infrastructure at the University of Arkansas. Previously, he held administrative and academic positions at the Northern Arizona University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Rice University, University of Missouri and the Desert Research Institute.

A plant physiological ecologist, Coleman has authored or co-authored more than 75 papers that have been cited almost 8,000 times, according to his bio, and has acted as principal or co-principal investigator on more than $64 million in grants and cooperate agreements. As part of his contractual agreement with UNCG, Coleman will retain his position as a faculty member in the biology department, while stepping down as provost.

“I do very much want to (and plan to) move into the role of a faculty member in the biology department,” Coleman told TCB in an email. “I am very passionate about my work as a plant physiological ecologist, and through teaching, research and engagement with the UNCG community, I very much want to continue to make contributions towards Chancellor Gilliam’s vision of UNCG becoming the model of an institution that seamlessly integrates access, excellence and engagement with the community. I am very proud of the work that the provost’s team has done over the last six months. I feel good knowing that great stuff will continue under Terri Shelton’s interim leadership. I have grown to love UNCG during my tenure here and will want to do everything I can to make students, faculty, staff and the institution successful.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. I experienced Jim Coleman as a faculty member at one of his previous institutions. I didn’t like his style of communication, but my foremost complaint is about his lack of objectivity. Someone who decides on promotions, tenures, hiring and firing, multi-million budgets, must be objective, must be able to judge matters on merit. He was far away from balanced judgement on so many occasions leading to much frustration among faculty. Was glad to see him go to be honest.

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