UNC system board honors outgoing president

Erskine Bowles

President of the UNC system Erskine Bowles was recognized for strong leadership during challenging times Friday.

At its last meeting of the year, the Board of Governors honored Bowles—who will step down at the end of 2010—for his contribution to the system during his five years as president, The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported. Bowles was appointed co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform by President Barack Obama in February. He will be replaced by Thomas Ross, the current president of Davidson College.

“My job has been simply to make the sum greater than the parts,” Bowles said. “I’ve loved it.”

Bowles was remembered at the ceremony for being an advocate of efficiency. Two years ago, he eliminated 935 non-faculty positions in the school system to reduce the system’s budget. The university system’s headquarters in Chapel Hill is also 35 percent smaller than it was when Bowles arrived, The (Raleigh) News and Observer noted.

“Erskine is a roll-up-your-sleeves kind of leader,” said Hannah Gage, chairwoman of the board. “He is without pomp and without pretense. With each challenge, he asks himself one thing: What is the right thing for the university? His moral compass is strong and always clear.”

Bowles’ remarks focused on thanking those he worked with, The Herald Sun reported. The system’s president resisted an elaborate farewell; he did not want a luncheon or for the board’s meeting to be overly focused on him. During the meeting, Bowles was “smiling yet seemingly lighthearted,” according to The Herald Sun.

“They have seen me and put up with me at my worst,” Bowles said. “I thank you for your patience with my mistakes and my goofs. You made me a better president and leader.”


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