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Lee Roberts, former state budget director, announced as University interim chancellor

lee-roberts-contrib

Photo of Lee Roberts courtesy of John Hansen Photography and UNC Media Relations.

UNC System President Peter Hans named Lee Roberts as the University's interim chancellor on Friday. Roberts will begin in the role on Jan. 12 when Kevin Guskiewicz steps down to lead Michigan State University.

Roberts is a member of the UNC Board of Governors, a position he's held since 2021, and previously served as budget director for former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. He is the co-founder and managing partner of North Carolina investment firm SharpVue Capital.

During his time as budget director, Roberts worked on Connect N.C. Bond, which allocated $2 billion for infrastructure improvements and construction on UNC system campuses and community colleges.

With a bachelor’s degree in political science from Duke University and a law degree from Georgetown University, Roberts has also taught at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy since 2020. He has served on the State Board of Community Colleges, the State Banking Commission, the Board of Visitors at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the Golden LEAF Foundation Board.

Roberts has no previous professional administrative experience in higher education. 

“Public higher education is one of North Carolina’s greatest strengths, and I’m honored to play a role in serving the nation’s first and finest public university,” Roberts said in the statement. “Chancellor Guskiewicz and his team have done extraordinary work, and I’m excited to continue supporting the dedicated scholars, staff, and students at Carolina.”

Roberts has four steps planned for his time as interim chancellor, according to The Well:  Do no harm, ensure a smooth transition, make sure students and faculty and staff have what they need and to leave campus better than he found it.

Robert's appointment follows concerns expressed by some in the campus community about "political meddling" in University governance decisions. In a Dec. 13 petition, the Coalition for Carolina called upon Hans and the BOG to stop "improper interference" from the Board of Trustees and ensure that the University's interim chancellor will maintain stability and trust while resisting improper overreach.

"Make no mistake: Kevin Guskiewicz is leaving Carolina – for Michigan State – because he had enough of political meddling," the organization said in the petition.

Still, Roberts said in an interview with The Well that the role of interim Chancellor is "nonpartisan." 

“To be effective in this role, you need to be able to work with Republicans and Democrats and independents and everybody else. That’s what I’ve done in my past roles," he said. 

Roberts must resign from the BOG to serve in the role, according to UNC System policy. No current member of the BOG or BOT is eligible to be considered for or appointed to the position of chancellor unless they first resign from their position. 

According to the Friday press release, a nationwide search to fill the chancellor’s role will begin in the upcoming months, involving University faculty, staff, students, alumni and the "broader community."

State law requires the BOG to elect a chancellor who is nominated by the system president, who will choose from a list of candidates recommended by the institution’s board of trustees.  

“I’m looking forward to that process and to hearing from so many people committed to Carolina’s future,” UNC System President Hans said in the statement. “It’s an extraordinary institution, and its best days are ahead.”

University BOT chair John Preyer said in a statement that he appreciated the time and effort Hans put into his selection of the interim chancellor and made light of Roberts' Duke affiliations. 

"I welcome Lee Roberts to the greatest public university in the world and to the very best shade of blue. Let’s all get to work for Carolina!” he said.

@l_rhodsie 

@dailytarheel | university@dailytarheel.com

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Lauren Rhodes

Lauren Rhodes is the 2024 university editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She has previously served as an assistant editor and senior writer for the university desk. Lauren is a sophomore pursuing a double major in media and journalism and political science with a minor in politics, philosophy and economics. 

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