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News Release

For immediate use

Sept. 27, 2006 -- No. 451

Smith, longtime public service advocate,
named vice chancellor for engagement

CHAPEL HILL - Michael R. Smith, a driving force behind some of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's most significant public outreach efforts in recent years, has been named vice chancellor for engagement.

Chancellor James Moeser discussed the appointment, effective Nov. 1, in connection with this week's meeting of the UNC Board of Trustees. Smith will take on the vice chancellor role in addition to his current duties as dean of the School of Government, a post he has held since the school was created in 2001.

Smith will serve as an advocate and facilitator for greater campus-wide engagement with North Carolina.

"Mike Smith has been among the great champions on this campus for doing more with engagement over the past several years," Moeser said. "He has worked tirelessly and with passion. He will help us define the even deeper level of engagement that I know we are capable of achieving."

Moeser said the nearly completed final report of the Chancellor's Task Force on Engagement with North Carolina, which focuses on new steps the university can take to serve the state in K-12 education, health care and economic development, made the timing of Smith's appointment especially appropriate.

"The task force's report provides us with great opportunities to chart an even bolder course for engagement," Moeser said. "That bold course requires senior leadership - someone who gets up every day thinking about how this university can do an even better job of serving this state."

Smith was named dean of the School of Government when the university created it in 2001. The Chapel Hill resident remained at Carolina after earning a law degree in 1978 for a career at one of the university's most visible symbols of public service: the Institute of Government, now celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Established in 1931, the institute is the largest university-based local government training and consulting organization in the nation. Part of the School of Government, the institute provides training, consulting and research services for state and local governments in North Carolina. Smith took the institute's helm from 1992 to 2001 after having served as a professor of public law and government there for 14 years.

As a faculty member, Smith wrote, taught, and consulted extensively in two fields: civil liability of public officials and legal aspects of corrections.

As dean, he has expanded the school's capacity to help public officials in public management, finance and administration, but without reducing the traditional strengths in public law. Key focus areas have included facilitating the economic competitiveness of North Carolina communities, helping governments improve management of information technology and launching a program to improve the civic education of the state's young people.

Smith has improved faculty diversity and broadened the school's financial base through fund raising and helped secure support for a legislative appropriation to expand and renovate the Knapp Building, which was re-dedicated as the Knapp-Sanders Building in 2004. Smith led the successful transition of the master of public administration degree program from the department of political science to the School of Government in 1997.

In 1999, Smith received the C. Knox Massey Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes "unusual, meritorious or superior contributions" by university employees. He co-chaired the Public Service Roundtable, a volunteer group of faculty, staff and students dedicated to promoting public service.

Major initiatives spawned by that group's pioneering work have included the Tar Heel Bus Tour, which celebrates its 10th anniversary next spring and takes faculty new to the university and North Carolina around the state, and the Carolina Center for Public Service, which engages and supports the campus community in meeting the needs of the state and promotes scholarship and service. Lynn Blanchard, center director, will report to Smith, and they will work closely to continue to expand and extend the center's excellent service to North Carolina.

Smith's Massey Award citation stressed Smith's keen interest in advancing the campus-wide mission of public service. "His method has been to be a thought-provoker, question-asker, perceptive listener, drawer-out of others' ideas, and stimulator of aspiration in identifying needs among North Carolina's many publics that the university's parts and its whole could supply," the citation said.

Smith serves on a wide range of boards, commissions and committees inside and outside the university. A native of Cassopolis, Mich., he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan in 1975.

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Contacts: Mike McFarland, (919) 962-8593, or Lisa Katz (919) 962-2093);,