John Preyer graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1990 with a political science degree, and 33 years later, he says his love for Carolina is as steadfast now as it was when he was a student.
He said he channels that love into service for the University. He served on the Board of Visitors for the UNC Institute for the Environment from 2011 to 2020 and on the University’s Board of Visitors from 2012 to 2016. He became a member of the Board of Trustees in 2019 and served as vice chair. In August, Preyer became chair of the board.
“I view my service on the board as an opportunity to continue the traditions of the best part of UNC, where you have world-class students, world-class faculty and you can get a world-class education,” Preyer said in a recent interview.
As chair, he hopes to build on Carolina’s record of excellence. He is proud that during his years of service to Carolina, he helped create two new programs on campus: the North Carolina Collaboratory, which allocates funding for research collaborations across the UNC System, and the new School of Civic Life and Leadership, which is aimed at helping students engage in civil discourse.
“We want to continue the trajectory that UNC is on where it is the leading public university in the world,” Preyer said. “And I think that that weighs on all the board members: that we have a truly exceptional place, and we must continue to do what’s needed to keep it exceptional. I think that’s our challenge: to make sure that we continue to push ourselves to be excellent everywhere that we can.”
Preyer grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina. After he graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, he became the legislative director for U.S. Sen. Lauch Faircloth of North Carolina, working on several environmental issues, such as wetland regulation and endangered species.
With his experience on those issues, Preyer returned to North Carolina and in 1998 co-founded Restoration Systems, a Raleigh-based company that specializes in wetland, stream, nutrient and habitat mitigation. Preyer served on the board of directors of the nonprofit North Carolina Coastal Federation from 2002 to 2006.
He joined the UNC Institute for the Environment’s board of visitors in 2011.
“I thought I might be able to provide a different sort of perspective given that I was an actual practitioner of environmental restoration,” Preyer told the Institute for the Environment.
Since then, Preyer has kept up his work to serve his alma mater.
“There is a lot of time that goes into this,” Preyer said. “But I don’t complain about that because it’s a great opportunity to help something that you love greatly and want to see continue the trajectory of excellence that you have had in the past.”
He thinks frequently about the students who attend Carolina today, wanting to make sure that they are getting the best education and experience on campus.
He offered this advice to them:
“Seek out great teachers because there are many of them here,” Preyer said. “It will change your life. It did for me.”