Roper won’t seek a permanent UNC System job but will remain interim leader until 2020

Bill Roper, the interim president of the University of North Carolina System, said Wednesday that he won’t be seeking the position permanently, but will serve as interim leader until June 30, 2020.

“After serious contemplation and consultation with others, I believe that setting a clear time frame is the right course of action to give our system the time to plan for a successor,” Roper said in a statement. “This additional time in service will allow me to reach the goals and obligations set when I began the role of interim president.”

UNC interim President Bill Roper Ethan Hyman

Roper said this decision will also give the presidential search committee the time to find a permanent replacement, which he said he has no plans to pursue. Roper, former UNC Health Care CEO and dean of UNC’s medical school, has been the interim president since January.

The presidential search is under way and will be confidential in order to protect potential candidates. The UNC System Board of Governors will vote to appoint the new leader. That person will oversee 17 campuses across the state, including UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State, that serve nearly 250,000 college and gifted high school students.

The news comes on the heels of Harry Smith resigning as chairman of the UNC System board on Tuesday.

Smith previously told The News & Observer he felt this was the right time to step down to give the next chairman time to acclimate to the job before a new UNC System president is named next spring.

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Kate Murphy covers higher education for The News & Observer. Previously, she covered higher education for the Cincinnati Enquirer on the investigative and enterprise team and USA Today Network. Her work has won state awards in Ohio and Kentucky and she was recently named a 2019 Education Writers Association finalist for digital storytelling.
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