UNC BoG names Roper interim system president

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The UNC Board of Governors selected William Roper as interim president of the UNC System, following the resignation of Margaret Spellings. 

Roper is currently the CEO of UNC Health Care CEO and the Dean of the UNC School of Medicine. His first day as interim president will be Jan. 1.

“Bill Roper is a terrific leader who has spent decades working on the issues that matter most to North Carolinians,” Board chairman Harry Smith said. “One of the things that I was looking for was somebody that actually ran and managed a sophisticated asset, and Bill has done that at the highest levels of success.”

Spellings announced her resignation in late October, halfway through a five-year contract that began in March 2016. She said the decision to step down is hers, and that she initiated the conversation with the Board of Governors about transitioning to a new leader.

The Board approved a separation package which will pay Spellings $500,000 when she leaves. She will also receive $35,000 in moving expenses as she returns to her home state of Texas. Smith said the resignation agreement includes additions to Spellings’s contract, which were valuable to UNC and the outgoing president.

“We went through a process of what the contract actually was, and on top of the contract we were able to negotiate some things that Margaret was willing to give and help us with and we compensated according to that,” Smith said.

“Margaret was very gracious in the fact that she offered her services to March 1, which was very gracious and her focus there was making sure that her focus was that UNC system was indeed the number one focus in the transition.”

There will be a two week overlap from Roper’s first day on Jan. 1 to Spellings’s last day on Jan. 15. Her final day as president will be Dec. 31.

Spellings, who served as U.S. Secretary of Education from 2005 to 2009, was appointed UNC president in Oct. 2015. She took over on March 1, 2016, and will continue to receive this year’s $775,000 through March 1, 2019.

She did not take questions during a Thursday morning press conference. She spoke very briefly and said this is Roper’s day.

“I can’t think of anybody I’d rather give the reins to than Bill Roper, a friend and colleague and I know the chancellors and everyone that works in the system is thrilled,” Spellings said.

Roper, who is a decade older than Spellings, declined to directly answer a question about if he has ambitions to turn the interim title into a permanent president position.

“I’m looking forward to having supper with my wife tonight and we’ll work on tomorrow, but we’re not worried about weeks and months in the future. That’ll take care of itself,” Roper said.

He will step down as CEO of UNC Health Care by the end of the year. His base salary as interim president will be $775,000, the same as Spellings’s. She received a $95,000 performance bonus this year.

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