On June 19, 2020, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors elected Peter Hans to serve as the president of the UNC System. President-elect Hans will assume this role effective August 1, 2020. Read the press release.


Our committee began the search for a president by doing a lot of listening. North Carolina is a an incredibly diverse state with a complex mix of people and industries. Over the course of the year, we went to campuses to meet with our faculty and students. We talked with parents. We sat down with business leaders in some of our state’s tallest buildings in Charlotte. We met with farmers from eastern North Carolina. We sought out the opinion of leaders from all walks of life and from across the political spectrum. 

North Carolinians had much to say, and they were very passionate about the qualities they wanted to see in our new leader. They wanted a leader who understands our state and its people; someone who can connect with people in both rural and urban areas and people from the mountains to the coast and everywhere in between. 

Even more, they wanted someone who can elevate this institution above partisan politics in these divisive times; someone who can ensure the pursuit of learning and freedom of expression on our campuses isn’t bound or restricted by political ideology. They wanted a leader with experience in education and a record of integrity and accomplishment.  

Most importantly, they wanted someone who understands that our System of higher education exists because of and for those citizens who support it financially with their tax dollars. They wanted a leader who recognizes the value this investment delivers to the citizens of North Carolina.  

While we had many qualified candidates, at the end of the day only one candidate covered all these bases.

With our selection of Peter Hans as the next president, I believe the Board of Governors has found a North Carolinian who has distinguished himself as a visionary leader, who not only understands, but is leading the charge for the future of higher education.


Wendy Murphy

Randy Ramsey

Peter Hans’ Acceptance Remarks

I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with each of the six previous presidents of this university. All of them had vision, passion, and commitment. I learned a great deal from each.

I’ll never forget President Bowles saying “this is the hardest job I’ve ever had.” 

I was surprised and asked how that could be so given his service as White House chief of staff during an eventful period. He said that there, when he said go, the birds flew off the wire. At the university, there wasn’t nearly as much of a response, shall we say.

That story has stuck with me as I’ve pondered how much the world has evolved, with rapid changes in the economy, technology, and society. The traditions of higher education are rich and meaningful. And yet we must avoid resting on our laurels, becoming too comfortable in our ways.

We remain rooted in our core mission to discover, create, transmit, and apply knowledge. But to serve our students and our citizens, the university of the people must embrace change.

Families are telling us — clearly — that the cost of higher education is too expensive. Employers are telling us we need graduates with the skills to be successful in the workplace and life. And the world is telling us — on Juneteenth no less — to provide opportunity for all, no matter who they are, what they look like, or where they live.

I know this Board of Governors understands these challenges. And to meet them, we must fully engage our chancellors, the faculty, and the staff. We must do so hand in hand with the public schools and the community colleges.

There are hundreds of thousands of students relying on us. There are millions of North Carolinians counting on it.

I accept this joyful responsibility during a difficult time. I do so because I love this university and all it stands for.  I do so because I love our state and all it can be.

First in freedom, first in flight, first towards the future. Let’s get to work…

Voices of Support

“The UNC System Board of Governors made the right decision with the selection of Peter Hans.  Peter is poised to lead the UNC System through the pandemic, financial challenges and social change.  He has the experience and temperament to put a systematic plan in place to ensure that the UNC System remains strong while growth continues across all campuses.

We welcome his leadership in the System’s commitment to access, affordability, efficiency, and the high quality of programs that lead to student success.  We know he welcomes candid and productive discussions about such topics as diversity, inclusive excellence, racism, and tolerance.    Because Peter knows North Carolina, knows the UNC System, knows the legislators, and knows the needs of the students, he will be able to ready to hit the ground running.  We support the Board’s decision and we are excited to be one of his active partners in providing a quality experience for the students with the UNC System.”

David A. Green, Chair, UNC System Faculty Assembly
Timothy J. Ives, Chair-Elect, UNC System Faculty Assembly

“Mr. Hans was a great choice as president of the UNC System. He has a proven leadership record in higher education for our state. His interest in faculty, staff, and students are genuine and I think the system will flourish under his leadership. We needed a leader with strong ties to North Carolina and also our System – such a great choice!”

Garrett Killian, Chair, UNC System Staff Assembly

“Peter Hans passionately believes that North Carolina’s future depends on education, and he has a long track record of uniting people and institutions in pursuit of shared goals. I am confident that, with today’s decision, great things are ahead for the UNC System and for our great state.”

Dr. Bill Roper, interim president of the UNC System

The Process of Searching for a Leader

The Presidential Search Committee was dedicated to finding ideal candidates with the potential to serve as the president of the University of North Carolina System. The UNC System impacts the lives of practically every North Carolinian, and the ideal leader represents the needs of all North Carolinians. This website serves to update the public, report on progress, solicit feedback, and recruit candidates with qualifications that match those identified in the position profile.


The Search Committee spent several months through summer and fall 2019 gathering feedback from the many stakeholder groups of the UNC System on the qualities most needed in a leader. Following in person interviews with candidates, the UNC Board of Governors elected Peter Hans to serve as the president of the UNC System on June 19, 2020.


The search committee sought input from faculty, staff, students, alumni, employers, and state citizens on the qualities desired in the next president of the University of North Carolina System.

Presidential search process


Presidential search process

During this stage, the committee educated stakeholders on the role of the president and defined those qualities necessary to perform those roles. Information gathered from the public conversations and survey feedback informed the candidate profile. 

At the end of this process, we would like your help to welcome, encourage, and support our new leader.


Presidential search process

The work of the UNC System and its president impacts not only those working or involved in the System, but our entire state, nation and, even more broadly, the world. We need the very best leader. While it is critically important that this process is transparent so that interested parties and stakeholders are informed, public disclosure of candidate information would likely limit the number of best-qualified individuals who would seek the position or even be willing to engage in the process. Many qualified individuals may hold positions that could be jeopardized if their participation in the process became public information. For these reasons, candidate information was not publicly available.

Despite not being involved in these parts of the process, the stakeholders helped to define the position profile ensuring that the candidates considered by the Search Committee possessed the essential qualities deemed important by all stakeholders.

FAQ: THE President and The Search PROCESS

What Does Leading the UNC System Mean?

It means the president of the University of North Carolina shall be the chief administrative and executive officer of the University. 

The chief administrative and executive officer of a 17-campus system as well as the UNC Center for Public Television, the UNC Health Care System, the cooperative extension and research services, area health education centers, and countless other programs and facilities. The UNC System serves nearly 250,000 students and delivers an annual economic impact of more than $27.9 billion.

It means the president shall have complete authority to manage the affairs and execute the policies of the University of North Carolina and its constituent institutions, subject to the direction and control of the Board of Governors and the provisions of the Code and Policies of the University.

The UNC System operates under a system of shared governance designed to preserve the unique identity and mission of each constituent institution, led by a chancellor and overseen by a board of trustees, while providing for statewide coordination under the authority of the president and the Board of Governors.

It means the president shall personally represent before the state, the region and the nation the ideals and the spirit of the University of North Carolina.

The president shall carry out the unanimously adopted Strategic Plan.

It means as the chief executive, the president shall be the official administrative spokesperson for and the interpreter of the University to the alumni and alumnae as a whole, the news media, the educational world, and the general public.

The president communicates the work and vision of the entire UNC System to the communities the entire System serves.

It means the president shall be responsible for the presentation and interpretation of all University policies, recommendations, and requests to the General Assembly, the governor, state officers and commissions, and the federal government.

The president is responsible for communicating the policies and needs of the University and working to ensure those needs are met.

Our Ideal Leader

Candidates were encouraged to understand the mission and history of the UNC System, the accomplishments and challenges of the System, the established roles and expectations for the president, and those qualities that the Search Committee has determined are essential to being the ideal leader of the UNC System. Review the Position Profile.

The Presidential Search Committee did not limit its search for the ideal leader in any way. The Committee encouraged all qualified individuals to apply.

Potential applicants who serve in certain public service positions and are considered public servants under the State Government Ethics Act, (e.g., State elected officials, heads of State agencies, members of the General Assembly, members of the Board of Governors, etc.) were advised that becoming a candidate for the position of president while continuing to serve in their official positions could create conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest under the State Government Ethics Act. For this reason, applicants in such positions were expected to include with their applications a written advisory opinion from the North Carolina Ethics Commission as to the steps they should take to avoid conflicts during the application process. 

Individuals were instructed to provide a CV and cover letter to or contact Kim Strach, Executive Director, Presidential Search Committee at 919-961-1801 or All information submitted was confidential.


The UNC Board of Governors named co-chairs and members to serve on both the Presidential Search Committee and the Presidential Assessment and Advisory Committee.

Presidential Search Committee

  • Wendy Murphy, Co-Chair
  • Randy Ramsey, Co-Chair
  • Darrell Allison
  • Kellie Hunt Blue
  • David Powers
  • Phil Byers
  • Carolyn Coward

Presidential Assessment and Advisory Committee

  • Anna Nelson, Co-Chair
  • Temple Sloan, Co-Chair
  • Pearl Burris-Floyd
  • Leo Daughtry
  • Alex Mitchell
  • Mike Williford
  • Kimberly Strach serves as the director of the Presidential Search Committee and is a non-voting participant.


On June 21, 2019, the UNC Board of Governors adopted a formal resolution for the Establishment of the Presidential Search Process.


The June 19, 2020, Press Briefing and media questions following the UNC Board of Governors election of Peter Hans to serve as the president of the UNC System.
President-elect Hans will assume this role effective August 1, 2020.


Send a message to the Search Committee at