Kevin Howell, the former top lobbyist for N.C. State University, has been named senior vice president for external affairs for the University of North Carolina system.
The role puts Howell as a key leader on UNC President Margaret Spellings’ team. He started the newly created job Monday at an annual salary of $280,000.
As assistant to the chancellor for external affairs at NCSU, Howell managed the university’s relations with the legislature. He was at NCSU for 10 years, where he was also interim vice chancellor for advancement, interim associate vice chancellor for alumni relations and executive director of the alumni association.
Howell has significant experience in the realm of state politics, which will be an important element for Spellings, who had no North Carolina ties before she arrived in March. Spellings is the former U.S. education secretary under President George W. Bush.
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Howell served as legislative liaison for Gov. Mike Easley and Gov. Jim Hunt, both Democrats. He was director of governmental affairs for the N.C. Bar Association and a judicial clerk for the state Court of Appeals.
A native of Shelby, Howell is a 1988 graduate of N.C. State, where he earned a degree in political science and served as student body president. He received his law degree in 1992 from UNC-Chapel Hill.
Howell has been a delegate on the Centennial Authority board. He also serves on the boards of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Board of Advisors, the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau and the N.C. Symphony. He is a former member of the State Board of Education and the Triangle Regional Partnership Board of Directors.
He will lead a new division of external affairs for the UNC system office. As senior vice president, Howell will oversee communications, state and federal government relations, and international, community and economic engagement.
In an announcement of the hire, Spellings said Howell brings a deep understanding of the state and higher education. “As a native North Carolinian and graduate of two UNC institutions, he understands the UNC system’s growing impact on our state’s future and will help position us to advance our case to legislators, other state and national leaders, and the citizens we serve,” she said in a statement.
According to the new organizational chart at the UNC system office, Howell will be among six senior vice presidents reporting to Spellings.