UNC’s vice chancellor for innovation, entrepreneurship is retiring


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CHAPEL HILL – After eleven years of dedicated service and commitment to the university and state, Judith Cone, Vice Chancellor for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, will retire from Carolina in April. Judith told us last year about her plans to retire from Carolina in the spring of 2021.

Judith has built a talented team that will continue to advance the initiatives and programs that inspired her in Carolina. With the strong foundation it has built, innovation and entrepreneurship will continue to be a top strategic priority for our university. We are pleased to announce that after Judith’s departure, Vice Chancellor Michelle Bolas will take on additional roles in innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development to ensure continuity of leadership for this important work. We’ll soon announce a plan for naming Judith’s successor.


Judith has distinguished herself as an invaluable leader, constantly striving to nurture a deliberate culture of innovation and entrepreneurship on campus and in our communities. She created Innovate Carolina, a cross-university environment where innovators thrive by generating new ideas to solve the most pressing problems in North Carolina and around the world.

Judith was recruited to Carolina in 2009 as the Chancellor’s Special Assistant for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In addition to her other duties, she was interim director of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the Kenan-Flagler Business School from late 2013 to early 2015.

Her leadership resulted in Carolina’s first comprehensive innovation roadmap, co-created with the UNC Board of Trustees, senior executives, alumni, faculties, staff, students, and members of the community. This roadmap laid the foundation for introducing innovation as a key pillar in the university’s strategic framework, The Blueprint for Next, and now in its strategic plan, Carolina Next: Innovations for the Common Good.

One of the goals of the innovation roadmap was to have a strong, consistent, yet decentralized approach to this work on campus. The Innovate Carolina Network meets regularly year round and has more than 300 employees working together to make a greater positive impact in North Carolina and around the world.

In 2015, Judith was named the University’s First Vice Chancellor for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development to bring several key initiatives, including technology transfer, together into a single unit. The new entity included the Office of Technology Commercialization, which Judith successfully led and strengthened in collaboration with inventors from the university, to translate research into commercial products and services that improve lives, boost the economy and generate revenue for the university.