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UNC Chief Executive Officers

These are the people who have served as chief executive officers of The University of North Carolina, the Consolidated University and the UNC System.

The University of North Carolina

(Chartered in 1789; Old East cornerstone placed on Oct. 12, 1793; first student, Hinton James, arrived on Feb. 12, 1795; first Commencement was held in 1798)

Presiding Professor:

  • The Rev. David Ker, 1794–96 (first professor – languages)
  • Charles Wilson Harris, 1796 (July-December) (professor of math)
  • The Rev. Joseph Caldwell, 1796–97 (professor of math)
  • James S. Gillaspie, 1797–99 (professor of natural philosophy)
  • The Rev. Joseph Caldwell, 1799–1804

President:

  • The Rev. Joseph Caldwell, 1804–12 (first president)
  • The Rev. Robert Hett Chapman, 1813–16
  • The Rev. Joseph Caldwell, 1816–35 (fourth term as CEO)
  • Elisha Mitchell (acting), 1835 (February-December)
  • David Lowry Swain, 1835–68 (first alumnus to hold this office, class of 1825)
  • Solomon Pool, 1869–74 (class of 1853; MA in 1856)
    The University closed during Reconstruction in 1870, with the last graduating class in 1868. Solomon Pool retained the title of president until 1874, even though the University was not functioning. The University was reorganized and reopened in 1875.
  • Charles Phillips, chair of the faculty, 1875–76
  • Kemp Plummer Battle, 1876–91 (class of 1849; MA in 1852)
  • George Tayloe Winston, 1891–96 (class of 1870)
  • Edwin Anderson Alderman, 1896–1900 (class of 1882, PhB)
  • Francis Preston Venable, 1900–14
  • Edward Kidder Graham (acting), 1913–14 (class of 1898, PhB)
  • Edward Kidder Graham, 1914–18
  • Marvin H. Stacy, chair of the faculty, 1918–19 (class of 1902, PhB; MA in 1904)
  • Harry Woodburn Chase, chair of the faculty, 1919 (January-June)
  • Harry Woodburn Chase, 1919–30
  • Frank Porter Graham, 1930–32 (Unconsolidated) (class of 1909)

Dean of Administration:

  • Robert Burton House, 1934–45 (class of 1916)

Chancellor:

  • Robert Burton House, 1945–57
  • William Brantley Aycock ’37 (MA, ’48 JD), 1957–64
  • Paul F. Sharp, 1964–66
  • J. Carlyle Sitterson ’31 (’32 MA, ’37 PhD), 1966–72
  • N. Ferebee Taylor ’42, 1972–80
  • Christopher C. Fordham III ’47 (’49 CMed), 1980–88
  • Paul Hardin, 1988–95
  • Michael Hooker ’69, 1995–99
  • William O. McCoy ’55 (acting and interim), 1999–2000
  • James Moeser, 2000–08
  • Holden Thorp ’86, 2008–13
  • Carol L. Folt, July 1, 2013–present

Consolidation 1932

The University of North Carolina, N.C. State College of Agriculture & Engineering at Raleigh, and the College for Women at Greensboro comprised “The Greater University.”  Frank Porter Graham became president of the Consolidated University and continued as head of the Chapel Hill campus for two more years.

Chief Executive Officers of the Consolidated University:

President:

  • Frank Porter Graham, 1932–49
  • William D. Carmichael (acting), 1949–50
  • Gordon Gray ’30, 1950–55
  • J. Harris Purks (acting), 1955–56
  • William C. Friday ’48 (LLB) (acting), 1956–57
  • William C. Friday, 1957–72

Chief Executive Officers of the University System

Reorganized by the N.C. General Assembly in 1972, with the UNC System comprising 16 universities.

President:

  • William C. Friday ’48 (LLB), 1972–86
  • C.D. Spangler ’54, 1986–97
  • Molly Corbett Broad, 1997–2005
  • Erskine B. Bowles ’67, 2006–10
  • Thomas W. Ross ’75 (JD), 2011–16
  • Dr. Junius J. Gonzales (interim), Jan. 4-Feb. 29, 2016
  • Margaret Spellings, March 1, 2016–present