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The "unflappable" Roger Stancil says goodbye after a dozen years as town manager


Roger Stancil has been Chapel Hill's town manager for 12 years. Photo courtesy of Stancil. 

After 12 years of serving the Chapel Hill community, town manager Roger Stancil celebrated his upcoming retirement in September at a town hall reception Wednesday.

Stancil, a Rocky Mount native and Wake Forest University alumnus, was appointed as town manager in September 2006. He previously worked as city manager of Fayetteville from 1997 to 2006.

At the reception, former mayors, council members and community leaders took turns making speeches and sharing anecdotes about their time with Stancil. Many praised his dependability and care for employees.

Stancil is credited with the downsizing of Chapel Hill Halloween to a more home-grown event as well as instituting a successful 2009-2010 budget during the economic down turn that maintained services without hurting town employees.

Mayor Pam Hemminger was involved in Stancil’s initial interview process for his position while she worked on the Parks and Recreation board. She described his aptitude for management and ability to work under pressure that he exhibited during the process.

“Roger’s not flappable," Hemminger said. "He’s thoughtful in his actions. He gets going, but he doesn’t flap."

She said that her coming into office with Stancil already having years of experience was very helpful as a new mayor.

“I think the reason the council really chose him is his passion for equity, wanting to make sure everyone is treated respectfully," Hemminger said. "He carries that passion in his heart."

Stancil expressed his gratitude for the kind words and his pride in having worked successfully with so many council members, three mayors and throughout many transitions in the past 12 years.

“While we haven’t yet settled on what the vision is for this community and what people really want it to be, I think we’ve come a long way in trying to create a process where this community can establish that and then get there,” Stancil said.

Town council member Donna Bell, who worked with Stancil for eight years, praised his ability to meet the needs of employees.

“I feel that he’s taken care of us," Bell said. "He has kept us out of trouble, but he’s also helped us meet some really high goals that we have set for ourselves, and even, like I said, gotten us out of trouble when we have set those goals a little bit higher than we should have."

Stancil joked that although he will the miss the people he has been able to work and form friendships with, he will not miss all of the Monday-and-Wednesday-night meetings. Despite this, many of the speeches and well wishes were playful praises for Stancil’s near-constant availability for late-night questions and last minute calls.

“I still hope he will consider us worthy of a question every once in a while, although hopefully not at 9 o’clock at night on a Saturday," Bell said.

Following his retirement as town manager, Stancil said that he plans to take time off and not have a schedule.

“I told people I won’t have 750 employees to worry about because I worry about them all the time, and I won't have 50,000 citizens to worry about or nine council members,” Stancil said.

Stancil said that one of the things that really impacted him during his 12 years was the murder of Eve Carson.

“One of the things that hit me, when Eve Carson was murdered, is that there is this giant responsibility I have for the students that live here,” Stancil said. “Families have sent their most precious asset to this town, and we have a huge responsibility to create as safe an environment as we can and have good partnerships and resources available. So I’ve really enjoyed that responsibility, but it’s a really big responsibility.”

As a Wake Forest University student, Stancil had his heart set on becoming the president of the United States. Stancil was a community activist at the time and even spoke with Lyndon B. Johnson for advice on his goal.

“That was a very real goal, and then I looked around and I realized the person who made a lot of decisions that affect your life as much as anybody is the city manager, so I changed my path," Stancil said. "It was a good decision.”

Hemminger said that they went through a six-month process of hiring a new town manager and they are hoping to announce their selection soon.

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