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Board Of Governors Forces Ross To Leave UNC System Presidency Next Year

Thomas Ross align=left
Thomas Ross align=left

Without explaining why, the Board of Governors for the UNC system announced Friday that system President Tom Ross is on his way out. The board members who oversee the 17-campus system are forcing Ross to retire next January.

In a statement, they acknowledge that's sooner than Ross wants, but they don't explain the decision. In fact, they say, "The decision has nothing to do with President Ross' performance or ability to continue in office."

In a press conference, Ross said this is not easy for him. 

"The board has both the legal right and responsibility and the prerogative to think about transition and to move the university in a way that they think is best," he said.

Ross became president in 2011, when the UNC system was struggling with deep cuts because of the recession. The system has weathered those cuts while maintaining in-state tuition rates that are among the cheapest in the country, although they have steadily increased. 

Before taking over the UNC system, Ross was Davidson College's president. The Greensboro native has also served as a state superior court judge.

Here's the Board of Governors statement in its entirety:

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors has decided to begin the process of leadership transition. The Board believes President Ross has served with distinction, that his performance has been exemplary, and that he has devoted his full energy, intellect and passion to fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of his office. This decision has nothing to do with President Ross’s performance or ability to continue in the office. The Board respects President Ross and greatly appreciates his service to the University and to the State of North Carolina. The Board and President Ross have agreed that he will continue to serve with the Board’s full support until his resignation becomes effective January 3, 2016, or when his successor is in place, whichever is later.  Though the timeline President Ross had for transition is different from that of the Board, he fully understands, appreciates and accepts the prerogative of the Board of Governors to select the president of the University.  He has assured the Board of his full commitment to fulfilling the responsibilities of the presidency during the period of transition and to continuing to serve honorably and effectively the nation’s best public university, as well as the people of his home State of North Carolina. The Board of Governors and the President have agreed that the January 2016 resignation date is appropriate to allow the Board to conduct a national search for the next president and to ensure an orderly transition of leadership.  President Ross has also agreed to be available to advise and consult with the Board and University officials following his service as President, while he is on research leave preparing to join the faculty of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government.