The N.C. Rural Internet Access Commission was established to combat the problem of slow economic development and a lack of Internet access in rural North Carolina.
The 21-member commission will advise and make recommendations to the General Assembly, the governor and the N.C. Rural Redevelopment Authority.
Gov. Jim Hunt appointed UNC-Wilmington Chancellor James Leutze as commission chairman Oct. 18.
Leutze said UNC-system schools would play a key role in linking rural and urban communities and helping find answers to technical problems.
"We're a regional university and have a lot of rural counties around UNC-W," he said. "We've been working with communities to get (Internet) access."
Leutze said all N.C. universities have a responsibility to reach out and help people statewide.
He said he talked with other university chancellors Tuesday about providing the same assistance in other regions across the state.
"Universities (in rural areas) are ideally positioned because they are surrounded by poor communities," Leutze said. "It is perfectly legitimate that universities provide help in this regard."
The goal to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban North Carolina will impact the state's economy and education opportunities, he said.