Interim UNC System President announces plan to step down after being passed over for permanent job

Updated: Sep. 25, 2019 at 4:24 PM EDT
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WBTV) - Interim UNC System President Bill Roper announced on Wednesday he would step down from his post, roughly a week after being told he would not be considered for the permanent job.

The announcement came in a letter from Roper to the vice chairman of the UNC Board of Governors, the body appointed to oversee the operations of the UNC system.

In the letter, Roper announced that he intended to leave at the end of June 2020.

“It has been an honor and a true privilege to serve and lead one of the finest public higher education systems in our country,” Roper wrote in the letter.

Related: UNC System head, former UNC Health Care CEO didn’t disclose corporate board seats that paid millions on ethics forms

“Setting a clear time frame is the right course of action to allow our system time to plan for a successor. I have no plans to be a candidate for president beyond June 30,” the letter later continued.

The letter comes roughly a week after Roper was told by multiple senior leaders on the UNC Board of Governors that he would not be a candidate for the permanent system president job, two sources with knowledge of the matter told WBTV.

Both sources requested they not be named to discuss details of private conversations involving personnel matters.

Prior to being told he would not be considered for the permanent job, the sources said, Roper had expressed interest in the position.

A spokesman for Roper did not immediately respond to a phone call or email seeking comment for this story.

A search committee has been formed to find the system’s next permanent leader.

Roper assumed leadership of the system as interim president in January 2019 following the abrupt departure of the previous president, Margaret Spellings.

Roper, a medical doctor, had previously served as head of the UNC Healthcare system from 2004 to 2018.

In August, WBTV exposed Roper’s failure to disclose seats on several high-paying corporate boards on required state ethics forms.

Roper has denied any wrongdoing in his failure to properly fill out state ethics forms. He amended his forms following the WBTV investigation.

The announcement from Roper came one day after UNC Board of Governors Chairman Harry Smith announced he would step down as chair of the board. A successor has not yet been named.

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