The institute is named for former N.C. Gov. Jim Hunt, who will act as honorary chairman.
The institute will focus on improving teacher and student education in public schools.
UNC-system spokeswoman Joni Worthington said the institute will work with existing university programs, such as the UNC-Chapel Hill Center for School Leadership and Development, which concentrates university resources on improving education in public schools.
Worthington said she hopes the center will "provide an umbrella organization that will draw on the expertise and abilities of schools across the 16 campuses.
"The ultimate objective (of the institute) is stronger public schools, higher student achievement and helping to move North Carolina toward the goal of having the best public schools in the nation," Worthington said.
"The end result is to one, improve schools, and to also explore and advance public policy that is supportive of greater student achievement and school improvement."
Worthington said Hunt's status as a celebrated figurehead of education also will benefit the institution.
"We hope to take advantage of Gov. Hunt's international recognition as someone who has been quite a success (for N.C. education)," Worthington said.
Other BOG members shared Worthington's excitement as they said they were anxious about Hunt's involvement with the center and the actual implementation of the institution.