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UNC System Presidential Search Committee meets to discuss terms of search

Kevin Guskiewicz Bill Roper

Interim UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and interim UNC-system President Bill Roper address Guskiewicz's goals for this academic year and their mission for UNC's future at the Carolina Inn on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. 

While UNC-Chapel Hill hunts for a chancellor at a time of uncertainty for the administration, the UNC System is conducting a similar search for a new president.

The UNC System Presidential Search Committee met at 9 a.m. on Thursday in the Center for School Leadership Development near the Friday Center.

The UNC Board of Governors announced the search for a new president in June, after former UNC-System President Margaret Spellings stepped down from her post during the last school year. At its latest meeting, the search committee laid out a plan for hiring a new president.

Students will be an important part of that process, Kim Strach, director of the Presidential Search Committee, said.

“Students are one of the greatest parts of the UNC System, and so it’s critical to have their input,” Strach said. “The perspective of students might not be the perspective of other stakeholders—and what we’re doing is for students, so they’re going to be a critical part of this process.”

The Committee will be distributing informational flyers, providing informational meetings and creating a website for information on the UNC-System president and their responsibilities to help educate stakeholders. Members of the public will be able to suggest candidates online once the website has been launched.

Along with educating the public and stakeholders, the committee has made it a priority to gather public input throughout the process. This will come in the form of town hall-style meetings or more informal gatherings where various stakeholders including faculty, business leaders, elected officials and members of the public will be able to offer their thoughts on choosing a new System president. 

The next step will be accepting and reviewing applications, followed by a vote by the search committee and a final deciding vote by the Board of Governors. All potential candidates will remain confidential until the next president is selected.

“We’re adhering to the process to make sure we have all the information that we need, and to make sure we select the best candidates,” Randy Ramsey, committee co-chairperson, said.

The individual currently serving in this role is interim UNC-System President William Roper, who succeeded Spellings. Roper is one of many interim leaders at the University, including interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jonathan Sauls and interim Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Terry Rhodes. 

Roper has received criticism in recent months for failing to disclose seats on the boards of corporations while serving as the chief executive officer of the UNC Health Care system. 

This decision will not only impact UNC-Chapel Hill, as the UNC-System president oversees all 17 campuses in the System. 

UNC Board of Governors Chairperson Harry Smith emphasized the importance of the decision. Smith said that in many cases, University system jobs only last a few years. He said the committee hopes to select candidates who can serve for roughly five to 10 years, as opposed to just two or three.

“A lot of the stakeholders, and a lot of the students in the state still don’t understand the kind of pressure our education’s under,” Smith said. “The changing dynamics, the changing landscape, physical issues.”

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