The University of North Carolina Board of Governors announced Thursday that Dr. William L. Roper, dean of the UNC School of Medicine and CEO of UNC Health Care, has been named interim president of the UNC System, effective January 1, 2019. Following the resignation of President Margaret Spellings, Roper will oversee 16 university campuses across the state and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.
“The selection of Bill Roper to lead the UNC System is a wonderful choice for this important position,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “As the president and CEO of the UNC Health Care System and dean of our School of Medicine, and before that dean of the Gillings School of Global Public Health, Bill has devoted his life to improving the health and welfare of the citizens of our state and nation.
“His intimate working knowledge of the UNC System makes him well positioned to take advantage of the strategies and initiatives put in place by President Spellings to make higher education in our state more affordable and accessible. It has been a great privilege to work closely with Bill over the past five years, and I look forward to working with him as we continue our efforts on behalf of the nation’s top public higher education system.”
Prior to his time at Carolina, Roper was director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a senior member of White House staff and an administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration. He held leadership positions in the White House for both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Roper joined UNC-Chapel Hill as dean of the School of Public Health in 1997. In 2004, he became CEO of UNC Health Care, dean of the School of Medicine and vice chancellor for medical affairs. In those roles, he has expanded the reach of the health care system and medical school and helped improve the health of all North Carolinians. He’s also been a passionate advocate for health issues that affect residents of North Carolina at the state and federal levels.
Under Roper’s leadership, UNC Health Care has expanded into a statewide system with more than a dozen hospitals, more than 30,000 employees and nearly $5 billion in annual revenue. His commitment to teaching and training the next generation of physicians has improved access across the state, especially in rural areas.
“It has been an honor to work closely with Dr. Roper during my entire career at Carolina,” said Robert Blouin, executive vice chancellor and provost. “I admire his strong commitment to the continuous advancement of medical education, support for research and increasing health care access for patients from underserved populations. That same leadership and determination will benefit students, faculty and staff across the UNC System and help advance higher education across North Carolina. Chancellor Folt and I look forward to continue working with Dr. Roper in this new role.”
Roper will continue to serve North Carolina as leader of the UNC System.
“Our mission is proudly public,” Roper said. “Everything we do, all of this, is what makes this great public university system the precious resource it is for North Carolina. …The work of the UNC System is very important to the people of North Carolina — all 10 million-plus of them.”
Roper’s departure from UNC Health Care and the School of Medicine was announced in May 2018. With Dr. Roper assuming his new position in January, UNC-Chapel Hill will move quickly to appoint an interim medical school dean and vice chancellor for medical affairs as the national search continues for the permanent role.
“I’m confident that UNC Health Care and the UNC School of Medicine remain in an excellent position with their strong leadership teams,” Roper said.