The UNC System Interim President William L. Roper
In November 2018, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors named Dr. William L. Roper interim president of the UNC System, effective January 1, 2019.
Dr. Roper was most recently the dean of the School of Medicine and vice chancellor for medical affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and CEO of the UNC Health Care System. He also was professor of health policy and management in the School of Public Health and professor of pediatrics and of social medicine in the School of Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill.
From 1997 until 2004, he was dean of the School of Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Before joining UNC-Chapel Hill in 1997, Dr. Roper was senior vice president of Prudential HealthCare. He joined Prudential in 1993 as president of the Prudential Center for Health Care Research.
Before coming to Prudential, Dr. Roper was director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), served on the senior White House staff, and was administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (responsible for Medicare and Medicaid). Earlier, he was a White House Fellow.
He received his MD from the University of Alabama School of Medicine, and his MPH from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. He completed his residency in pediatrics at the University of Colorado Medical Center.
Dr. Roper is a member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine). He is a member of the board of directors of DaVita, Inc., and a member of the board of directors of Express Scripts Holding Company.
In 2018, Dr. Roper was named to Modern Healthcare’s 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare. In Fall 2018, Governor Roy Cooper presented Dr. Roper with the North Carolina Award for Public Service, the state’s highest civilian honor.
Dr. Roper and his wife, pediatric oncologist Dr. Maryann Roper, reside in Chapel Hill. They have one son, Will.
The President is the UNC System’s chief administrative and executive officer, with complete authority to manage the affairs and execute the policies of the University, subject to the direction of the Board of Governors. The work of the President and Board of Governors is supported by a staff within the UNC System office.
Leadership and Policy
The UNC Board of Governors is the policy-making body charged with “the general determination, control, supervision, management, and governance” of the University of North Carolina. Its 28 voting members are elected by the NC General Assembly for four-year terms. Former board chairs may continue to serve for limited periods as non-voting members emeriti. The president of the UNC Association of Student Governments or that student’s designee is also a non-voting member.
While UNC’s academic quality is only as good as the quality of its individual campuses, the strength of the each campus is dependent, in part, on the strength of the whole. Consequently, the Board of Governors has a dual role—maintaining the overall strength of the UNC system, while also addressing individual campus needs.
The President is the UNC System’s chief administrative and executive officer, with complete authority to manage the affairs and execute the policies of the University, subject to the direction of the Board of Governors. The work of the President and Board of Governors is supported by a staff within the UNC System office. Each of the 17 campuses is headed by a chancellor, who is chosen by the Board of Governors on the President’s nomination and is responsible to the President.
Each UNC System campus has a local board of trustees that holds extensive powers over academic and other operations of its campus on delegation from the Board of Governors.
The UNC System operates under an arrangement of shared governance that leverages the collective strengths of its campus chancellors and administrators, local boards of trustees, and the UNC President and Board of Governors. The University also honors the important traditional role of the faculty in the governance of the academy.
Presidents of the University of North Carolina
- Joseph Caldwell1, 1804-12 and 1817-35
- Robert H. Chapman, 1812-16
- David L. Swain, 1835-68
- Soloman S. Pool2, 1868-70
- Kemp B. Battle, 1876-91
- George T. Winston, 1891-96
- Edwin A. Alderman, 1896-1900
- Francis P. Venable3, 1900-14
- Edward K. Graham3, 1914-18
- Harry W. Chase, 1919-30
- Frank P. Graham3, 1914-18
- Gordon Gray3, 1950-55
- William C. Friday, 1956-86
- C.D. Spangler, Jr., 1986-97
- Molly Corbett Broad, 1997-2005
- Erskine Bowles, 2006-2010
- Thomas W. Ross, 2011-2016
- Margaret Spellings, 2016-2019
1 Before 1804, the University was headed by “presiding professors.”
2 The University was closed by the reconstruction government in 1870 and reopened in September of 1875.
3 He was followed briefly by an acting president.