CHAPEL HILL –Lyons Gray, a Winston-Salem businessman who served six terms in the NC General Assembly before joining the administration of President George W. Bush, has been named Senior Advisor to the President of the 17-campus University of North Carolina. The one-year appointment, effective March 14, was announced today by UNC President Tom Ross. In his new role, Gray will provide guidance and assistance on state and federal issues impacting University priorities, as well as University-wide efforts to implement efficiency measures and best practices that reduce overall operating costs.
After attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gray spent more than a decade working for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company before founding and growing several small businesses. Appointed to the NC House of Representatives in 1989 to represent Forsyth County, he was subsequently elected to the position for six consecutive terms. During his 14-year tenure in the General Assembly, he chaired the House Finance Committee, introduced key legislation supporting economic growth and quality of life improvements across the state, and helped advance the $3.2-billion Higher Education Bond Referendum of 2000. After leaving public office, Gray served as president of the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership before being nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as chief financial officer of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He served in that capacity, managing a budget in excess of $7 billion, from 2005 to 2009.
Currently vice chairman of the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation, Gray has previously served on the boards of UNC-Chapel Hill’s General Alumni Association, Salem Academy and College, the UNC School of the Arts Foundation, and the Piedmont Triad Partnership. He also has served on the Boards of Visitors of the Winston-Salem State University Foundation and the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University and has held leadership roles in multiple civic and philanthropic organizations, including AIDS Care Service of Winston-Salem, the North Carolina Nature Conservancy, Leadership Winston-Salem, the American Red Cross, and the Salvation Army Boys Club.
The oldest public university in the nation, the University of North Carolina enrolls more than 220,000 students and encompasses all 16 of North Carolina’s public institutions that grant baccalaureate degrees, as well as the NC School of Science and Mathematics, the nation’s first public residential high school for academically gifted students. The UNC Center for Public Television, with its 12-station statewide broadcast network, the UNC Health Care System, and the NC Arboretum are also under the University umbrella.