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Search Committee Unanimously Recommends Erskine Bowles as Sole Finalist to be UNC President

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Presidential Search Committee of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors is recommending Erskine Bowles to be the sole finalist to become president of the 16-campus University.

Board of Governors Chair J. Bradley Wilson has called a special meeting of the Board of Governors for Monday at 1 p.m. to vote on the search committee’s unanimous recommendation. Bowles, a Charlotte business executive, would succeed Molly Corbett Broad and become the university’s 16th president.

“The president’s job takes a unique blend of skill, character and passion. We searched for a president who possesses all three, and no one possesses that blend more than Erskine Bowles,” said Wilson, who also chaired the search committee. “The president must understand at a deep level the teaching, research and outreach that constitute the mission of the University of North Carolina. The challenge for the president is also to have a good understanding of how to assemble the resources to carry out that mission. Erskine Bowles has both.”

The committee’s recommendation followed a nationwide search that began with discussions with potential candidates from academia, business, government and the foundation worlds. A native of Greensboro, Bowles has spent his career in business and public service. After earning an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MBA from Columbia University, he went to work for Morgan Stanley in New York.

After returning to North Carolina, Bowles co-founded an investment firm in Charlotte, Bowles Hollowell Conner. He served in the Clinton Administration as director of the Small Business Administration, as deputy White House chief of staff and White House chief of staff. In between his two White House tours of duty, Bowles co-founded a merchant bank in Charlotte, Carousel Capital.

Bowles ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2002 and 2004. And earlier this year, Bowles assisted former President Bill Clinton as U.N. Deputy Special Envoy for Tsunami-Affected Countries in South Asia.

The Board of Governors has followed a detailed and public process to recruit a successor to President Broad since she announced last April her intention to retire. The search committee held four public forums to receive citizen input. In addition, citizens who were unable to attend one of the public meetings could send comments via mail or the Internet.

The search committee has worked with an executive search firm, Baker-Parker and Associates, to conduct a nationwide review of potential candidates. Firm principal Jerry Baker screened 80 prospective candidates, and five of them met with the search committee.

The search committee had planned to choose one or more finalists from list of five candidates and to publicly name them. Earlier this week, the Committee unanimously decided to send the name of a sole finalist, Erskine Bowles, to the Board of Governors.

” We were fortunate to have met with some extraordinary people, but Erskine Bowles matched up closely with the presidential qualities listed in the Board’s Leadership Statement,” Wilson said. “In the end, the search committee concluded it would have been unfair to disclose the identities of the other applicants when Erskine Bowles had unanimous support from the committee.” (The Leadership Statement can be found on the University’s web site:

If the Board of Governors accepts the committee’s recommendation, Bowles will assume the presidency on Jan. 1, 2006. The search committee authorized Chairman Wilson to negotiate compensation with Bowles. If the Board of Governors approves, Bowles will be paid $425,000 a year. He intends to donate $125,000 of that amount to need-based student aid funds that will be identified later.

Between now and Jan. 1, Bowles will prepare for his new post by visiting all the university campuses and by meeting with the 16 chancellors.