Harry Smith describes “draining” experience as UNC board chair in letter to friends
Greenville businessman Harry Smith is resigning as chairman of the UNC System Board of Governors, effective Oct. 1. Smith joined the board in 2013 and became chairman in May 2018. The board oversees the operations of the 17-campus system and the system’s interim president, William Roper.
Smith plans to continue as a board member through his term ending in 2021. He favors Beaufort boat company owner Randy Ramsey, the board’s vice chair, as the new chairman. The board is in the process of hiring a new president with a decision expected early next year.
Smith sent a letter Tuesday to friends explaining his decision, a copy of which was received by Business North Carolina:
I greatly appreciate all the phone calls , text and e-mails again the support has been humbling.
Being chair is frankly draining, board politics, system politics and Raleigh politics come at you everyday, add in that my approach is that of a change agent — saying its a lot is an understatement.
I’ve started my own PE firm I think most everyone knows that and the time split managing the board and my personal businesses has been too much the last year and the long days no doubt make working through issues challenging when your tired, I’m not 20 anymore this past year has taught me that. It’s just time for me to transition to being a normal member and I’m asking everyone to support that in my best interest and my families best interest, its my time I simply do not have the energy to lead anymore and given that this board and the UNC System deserves someone that is fresh and has the energy to keep driving forward in a healthy way.
I’m looking forward to getting behind a new chair and working with each of you in moving the UNC System forward. I’m re-signing effective October 1 as the chair and I am very much at peace with this decision and again ask everyone to support me by getting behind the next chair.
I have worked very closely with Randy [Ramsey] for the last year and he also knows the time, energy and effort it takes to sit out front as the Vice Chair he will assume the lead until we have an election. Randy has served as a trustee and has put long hours in as the Vice Chair, let’s all get behind him during the time period before the board has an election and I think you will see why I asked him to run for Vice Chair, he can lead.
He has my unwavering support and I’m asking each of you to give him yours, put the politics aside and lets all focus on what’s best for the UNC System. Its been a honor working with all of you as the chair, its my time and again I ask each of you to support that in the best interest of the UNC System. I don’t want to make this about me so I have decided not to do a press release, let’s make it about our next chair and the focus being the UNC System.