By Thomas W. Ross
University of North Carolina System
Almost every day, someone asks me how I feel about Margaret Spellings as my successor. After acknowledging that I would have preferred to continue in the role myself, I say to those who ask that we must all do everything in our power to ensure her success.
It is unfair to blame her for what happened to me or for the process that selected her. Instead, we must all realize she is now the President of our University of North Carolina – the best public university system in America.
The residents of North Carolina and all of us who love the University must do our part to assist our new president by doing everything necessary and possible to maintain this great treasure that generations of North Carolinians have built.
Our University and her faculty and staff deserve no less. Our 225,000 students deserve no less. And the economy of North Carolina, which has distinguished itself with its historical emphasis on higher education, deserves no less.
President Spellings has publicly stated she is deeply committed to access to higher education for all North Carolinians and to ensuring it is affordable for all of our residents. I could not agree more.
We need to work together to be sure the University is provided the resources needed to accomplish this critical goal at the same time we help our new President continue our past efforts to increase efficiency. Our record is a strong one. Adjusted for inflation, the UNC system now produces 18% more graduates at 15% less cost per degree than it did five years ago.
We are at a critical juncture for state support of our public universities. If we are to remain economically competitive, we must continue to have a strong and vibrant public university system that is producing the talent our state’s businesses need to succeed in the changing global economy in which we live.
All great public universities need sufficient resources and successful leadership. I sincerely hope we can all do our part to assist President Spellings in her effort obtain the necessary state support to lead our beloved University to an even brighter future.