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Bowles’ challenge: Bring me a leader with a passion for this job

By Wade Allen
Oct 1, 2009

Bowles’ challenge: Bring me a
Photo by Wade Allen
UNC system President Erskine Bowles prepares to deliver his charge to the chancellor search committee. Bowles will present a recommendation for a new UNCP chancellor to the UNC Board of Governors.
University of North Carolina system President Erskine Bowles made a brief visit to campus on Sept. 22 for one main reason: to deliver a charge, and a warning, to the newly appointed chancellor search committee.

“Bring me someone who will see our location in rural North Carolina as an asset and not a liability we have to overcome,” Bowles said. “I will have no qualms in calling another search.”

Brief remarks
He began his short speech just after noon in the U.C. Annex, where approximately 50 people had assembled to shake his hand, extend welcome greetings and hear what he had to say regarding the chancellor search process that is expected to last until April.

“This is the most important job you will ever have,” Bowles said, addressing the search committee. “You will get the resources you need to do this job, but I want to remind you that we live in a time of limited resources.”

UNC system Associate Vice President for Human Relations Ann Lemmon said that she hopes to have the names of the three recommendations from the search committee and UNCP’s Board of Trustees in time to present them to Bowles and the Board of Governors when they meet in April 2010.

Lemmon said that she desires to have “someone in place by the time that the next school year starts” on July 1.

Bowles to committee: ‘I will have no qualms in calling another search’

Bowles to committee: ‘I will have no
Photo by Wade Allen
UNC system President Erskine Bowles listens intently as members of the chancellor search committee introduce themselves on Sept. 22 shortly after noon in the UC Annex. Bowles delivered a 15 minute charge to the committee citing exactly what he was looking for in a new UNCP chancellor.
Committee searches
Bowles has the ultimate responsibility of recommending to the UNC Board of Governors a new chancellor for UNCP. He reminded the committee that they will be recommending three choices to the Board of Trustees to pass to him. Their job will not be to hire a new chancellor but to search for candidates.

The chancellor search committee consists of 14 members representing the UNCP Board of Trustees, students, faculty, staff, community and alumni.

As the budget is currently a major concern for the University, Bowles made the point of suggesting the committee pick candidates who have the ability to generate funds.

“Bring me someone that is a proven fund raiser. Bring me someone you can feel has a real passion for this job,” Bowles said.

Bowles said that he wanted the committee to search for a leader “who can take UNCP to the next level.”

Public input
Bowles encouraged the search committee to hold public forums so that everyone in the University community has a voice in what to search for in a chancellor.

He also addressed the importance of the Native American heritage at UNCP and requested that the search committee present to him someone who will respect that heritage.

“This job will require someone with great people skills,” Bowles said. “Bring me someone who is a strong administrator. We need someone with the experience to run a complex organization.”

Lengthy meeting
During the meeting, which lasted five hours, the search committee heard from four professional search firms before hiring Washington, D.C.- based firm Witt/Kieffer for a cost of $70,000 with additional expenses.

Among those present in the crowd were Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Diane Jones, Provost Charles Harrington, Faculty Senate Chair Anthony Curtis, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Jackie Clark, Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs R. Neil Hawk, Vice Chancellor for University Relations Glen Burnette, Vice Chancellor for Advancement Sandra Waterkotte and Interim Chancellor Charles Jenkins.

“It’s always great to have him [Bowles] on campus,” Interim Chancellor Jenkins said. “Bowles is always straightforward. He made expectations clear to everyone at that session.”

Short visit
Dr. Jenkins said that Bowles toured the campus both in an automobile and on foot, although he was on a tight schedule.

“I was pleased that afterwards, I went to the cafeteria and saw him in the University Center,” Dr. Jenkins said.

Bowles’ career Bowles is a businessman who unsuccessfully ran twice on the Democratic ticket for the U.S. Senate from North Carolina. In 2002, he lost to former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole in the general election. She won the seat vacated by Sen. Jesse Helms, who was retiring at the time. Bowles ran for the Senate again in 2004 but lost to Republican challenger Richard Burr.

Bowles held two positions in former President Bill Clinton’s administration from 1994 to ’98. He served as deputy chief of staff from 1994 to ’96 and was appointed White House chief of staff in 1997, where he served for a year.

In October 2005, Bowles was chosen to be president of the University of North Carolina system. This placed him in charge of all 16 public universities in North Carolina and one public residential high school.

Bowles said that UNCP could work on improving retention and graduation rates.

“That’s the only area of disappointment that I have,” Bowles said.

He said that when he rode around campus, he noticed the numerous changes that had taken place and made note of them.

“I’m amazed every time I come to UNCP,” Bowles said. “The change in it is truly remarkable. I’m proud of this University.”


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Updated: Wednesday, October 7, 2009
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