CHAPEL HILL – Thomas C. Shanahan, interim vice president and general counsel of the 17-campus University of North Carolina, has been named to the position on a permanent basis. The appointment, effective immediately, was announced today by UNC President Thomas W. Ross and unanimously endorsed by the UNC Board of Governors. Shanahan succeeds Laura B. Fjeld, who resigned from the University in April.
As vice president and general counsel, Shanahan will serve as the University’s senior legal officer, providing advice and counsel to the president, the UNC Board of Governors, and senior University staff on all legal and policy issues affecting the University. He also will oversee the development and implementation of policies and procedures to promote University-wide awareness of and compliance with applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and administrative requirements.
Speaking to the Board of Governors, Ross said,“Tom Shanahan has demonstrated the critical combination of skills and experience needed in this important post, and he has a firm grasp of the complex legal issues facing the University and its constituent parts. He has earned the trust and respect of colleagues throughout the University and government, and I am delighted to retain him as a member of our senior leadership team.”
A graduate of Cornell University and the University of Georgia School of Law, Shanahan joined UNC General Administration in 2010 as associate vice president for legal affairs. In that role, he has handled a range of higher education legal matters and served as the University’s primary expert and senior legal counsel on system-wide matters concerning employment law, administrative law, policy and compliance. He has served as UNC interim vice president and general counsel since May 1 of this year. Prior to joining UNC, Shanahan accumulated more than a decade of varied experience in private practice and with the U.S. Department of Labor, serving as deputy regional solicitor for the Southeast in the Office of the Solicitor, deputy regional director of the Employee Benefits Security Administration for the Southeast, and as supervisory trial counsel in a variety of Labor Department matters.
The oldest public university in the nation, the University of North Carolina enrolls more than 220,000 students and encompasses all 16 of North Carolina’s public institutions that grant baccalaureate degrees, as well as the NC School of Science and Mathematics, the nation’s first public residential high school for gifted students. UNC campuses support a broad array of distinguished liberal-arts programs, two medical schools and one teaching hospital, two law schools, a veterinary school, a school of pharmacy, 11 nursing programs, 15 schools of education, three schools of engineering, and a specialized school for performing artists. The UNC Center for Public Television, with its 11-station statewide broadcast network, is also under the University umbrella.