Former State Budget Director Named Interim Chancellor

Lee Roberts, a former state budget director and member of the UNC Board of Governors, was appointed as UNC’s interim chancellor on Dec. 15 by UNC System President Peter Hans ’91.

Roberts, a Duke University graduate, will succeed Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, who is leaving his post Jan. 12 to assume the presidency at Michigan State University.

Roberts is founder and managing partner of SharpVue Capital, a Raleigh-based private investment firm. He has spent three decades in real estate investment and finance and is a member of the UNC System Board of Governors and chair of its budget committee. Roberts is required to resign his position on the board before assuming the interim chancellor position.

For the last five years, Roberts has taught budgeting at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. He has served on the State Board of Community Colleges, the North Carolina’s State Banking Commission, the Board of Visitors at the Sanford School, and the Golden LEAF Foundation, which focuses on economic renewal in parts of the state once dependent on the tobacco industry.

“If you care about higher education, if you care about the future of the state, and if you care about public service, you have to care about what happens at Carolina,” Roberts said. “We don’t have a more important institution in the state.”

Roberts told The Well, the University’s newsletter, he’s always been an “unaffiliated voter” and sees the chancellor’s job as nonpartisan. Although Guskiewicz has not stated publicly why he’s leaving UNC, many, including current faculty and former chancellors, attribute his departure to interference from some members of UNC’s Board of Trustees.

“It’s a nonpartisan job,” Roberts said. “I plan to do it in a nonpartisan way. To be effective in this role, you need to be able to work with Republicans and Democrats and Independents and everybody else. That’s what I’ve done in my past roles.”

Chair of the Faculty Beth Moracco said Roberts’ appointment wasn’t a surprise because it was reported he was among the candidates being considered for the interim position.

“Faculty are concerned about his lack of leadership experience in public higher education, but we’re eager to meet with him and work with him during this critical period for Carolina,” Moracco said. “We certainly hope that politics don’t come into this and that we share a common goal of Carolina thriving.”

Moracco said Roberts has reached out to her and they plan to meet next week.

Roberts said he plans to ensure students, faculty and staff that they will have what they need and that he leaves UNC better than he found it.

UNC Board of Trustees Chair John Preyer ’90 released a statement Friday thanking Hans for the “time and effort” he put into selecting Roberts as interim chancellor.

“I welcome Lee Roberts to the greatest public university in the world and to the very best shade of blue,” Preyer said. “Let’s all get to work for Carolina!”

Roberts, son of the late Cokie Roberts, a former political analyst and reporter for National Public Radio, PBS and ABC News, is the former budget director for Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. He cites the $2 billion Connect N.C. Bond initiative as “the most important thing we did” to support higher education in the state, according to The Well.

Roberts, who has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Duke and a law degree from Georgetown University, lives in Raleigh with his wife, Liza. They have three children, including one currently enrolled in college and another who recently graduated from college.

— Laurie D. Willis ’86


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