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Margaret Spellings to resign as UNC-system President

UNC President Margaret Spellings speaks about her review at the Spellings Commission on Sept. 26, 2017.

UNC President Margaret Spellings speaks about her review at the Spellings Commission on Sept. 26, 2017.

Margaret Spellings will step down from her position as UNC-system President, UNC Board of Governors chairperson Harry Smith confirmed in a BOG emergency session Friday morning.

"All leaders are for a time," Spellings said. "I came into this position knowing that the most lasting contribution I could make was to help create a culture of higher expectations for the citizens of this state, and we have done just that."

Spellings' resignation is effective March 1, 2019, which would mark her three-year anniversary in the position.

Yesterday, the News and Observer reported that sources close to Spellings said that she planned to resign as early as next year. The decision to resign was a mutual agreement between Spellings and the BOG, Smith said. Spellings said  she started the conversation.

"I've just concluded that my three-year anniversary in March was really the right time for me," Spellings said. "I've given it my all, made a lot of contributions together with this board and the people that work in this university and the people in they system office, and it's the right time for me."

In closed session, the BOG considered and unanimously approved a separation package, including $35,000 in relocation expenses and a $500,000 separation payment, as well regular salary and benefits, including a $77,500 executive retirement contribution.

Spellings did not indicate what her plans for the future are.

"I like to think that I'm young enough to have a few more good licks in me," Spellings said. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do next. I hope that it will be in continued public service. I expect that it will be back in taxes."

An interim president has not yet been identified. In a press conference following the BOG meeting, Smith was asked if public input would play a role in selecting Spellings' replacement after protests across six UNC campuses broke out on Spellings' first day as president.

"I can tell you we're not going to rush. Our focus is will be to get it right,"  Smith said. "We'll move to an interim that we feel can help us not be in that rush and then work to put a structural process together that has key and critical stakeholder and constituent buy-in and move forward in a methodical and organized manner. We'll be seeking input in that process."

During Spellings' time as president, the UNC System capped tuition and implemented the NC Promise Tuition Plan, which decreased tuition costs at UNC-Pembroke, Western Carolina University and Elizabeth City State University. 

"Under Margaret's strong and capable leadership, we have worked together to achieve a lot of great things–keeping college affordable, holding ourselves and our institutions accountable and getting the facts, data and details we need to be world-class," Smith said. "Moving forward, we're focused on a healthy transition from president to interim, a positive departure for the president and continued progress on our shared goals and initiatives."


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