News: Quick Takes

UNC’s presidential search delayed by COVID-19

Dr. William Roper, interim president of the University of North Carolina System, addresses the UNC Board of Governors on Jan. 17, 2020. (UNC-TV screen shot)
Dr. William Roper, interim president of the University of North Carolina System, addresses the UNC Board of Governors on Jan. 17, 2020. (UNC-TV screen shot)

It’s going to take the University of North Carolina System longer than expected to find a new president, thanks to COVID-19-related disruptions. 

UNC’s interim President Bill Roper is “agreeable to stay in his current role, if we ask him to,” said UNC Board of Governors Chairman Randy Ramsey during a teleconference meeting of the board Friday, April 17. 

Roper took his seat as interim president in January 2019, a few months after former President Margaret Spellings announced her resignation from the post. In September, Roper said he intended to leave UNC June 30. The announcement came one day after former BOG Chairman Harry Smith resigned. 

The board is grateful for Roper’s willingness to remain at UNC’s helm, Ramsey told Carolina Journal on Friday. 

UNC is unsure when it will finally hire a new president, Ramsey said. Before COVID-19 disrupted the state and its public education system, members of UNC’s presidential search committee — of which Ramsey is a co-chair — expected to interview candidates by April. 

“We are certainly continuing to think through how we will move forward with the presidential search,” Ramsey told CJ. “I’ve said since the very beginning, this is most likely the most important thing I will do as a board member. We take this task very seriously.”

“Given the way the environment has been changed by COVID-19, it’s a lot to process, and we will resume when it is safe to do so,” he said. 

Roper skirted CJ’s question about how long he was willing to remain in office. 

“It’s a natural question,” he said. “I would just say, I’m honored to serve, and we’ll see how this plays out. It’s an uncertain time in many respects.”