UNC System board selects Randy Ramsey as new chairman, replacing Harry Smith

The University of North Carolina System Board of Governors voted Randy Ramsey as its new chairman at a special meeting by conference call Tuesday. Wendy Murphy was also voted as vice chair of the board without contest.

Ramsey, of Beaufort, has been serving as vice chair since 2018 and was appointed to the board by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2017. He is also the vice chair of the search committee charged with finding the next president of the UNC System. He will be at the helm when the board votes for the new leader.

The chair position came open after former chair Harry Smith abruptly stepped down last week. Smith cited fatigue and his business as reasons for his resignation, but he will remain on the board as a regular member.

Ramsey was the only board member that expressed interest in taking over the position, and no one voted against his appointment. The board also voted to waive the 30-day waiting period for the election of new officers. Ramsey and Murphy will serve in their new roles until June 30, 2020.

At the meeting, Ramsey thanked Smith for his leadership and said he was excited to follow in his footsteps.

“It is my great honor and privilege to serve as chairman of the board, and I want to thank my fellow members for entrusting in me with this responsibility,” Ramsey said. “I’d like to thank Governor Smith for his service and the great work that he has accomplished during his time as chair. The initiatives that he has put in place have done a great deal for the State of North Carolina and I look forward to continuing in this effort going forward.”

More of a businessman than an academic, Ramsey is the founder and president of Jarrett Bay Boatworks, a company that builds custom sport fishing boats. He is also a partner and board member of Bluewater Yacht Sales, the third-largest boats sales organization in the United States, according to his bio on the UNC System website.

Ramsey serves on the Committee on University Governance and the Committee on Strategic Initiatives and his term will end in 2021. He has focused on reducing student debt, increasing four-year graduation rates and improving access to higher education for North Carolinians, his bio says.

A Kinston native, Ramsey graduated from Carteret Community College, but he has strong ties to N.C. State University. He was named an N.C. State honorary alumnus in 2015 by the N.C. State Alumni Association. Ramsey served on the N.C. State Board of Trustees for several years, as well as the Wolfpack Club Board of Directors and the Athletics Council. He and his wife, Tiffany, also made the single largest athletics endowment gift in Wolfpack Club history in 2016 for men’s basketball scholarships.

Vice Chair Murphy was also appointed to the board for a four-year term in 2017. She is the chair of the Committee on Personnel and Tenure and serves on the Historically Minority-Serving Institutions Committee.

“I am extremely proud and grateful to have the chance to serve in this new role,” Murphy said in a statement Tuesday. “I wish to thank the entire board of governors for their support, and I look forward to working to further our great North Carolina public education system in the coming days, weeks and months.”

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Kate Murphy covers higher education for The News & Observer. Previously, she covered higher education for the Cincinnati Enquirer on the investigative and enterprise team and USA Today Network. Her work has won state awards in Ohio and Kentucky and she was recently named a 2019 Education Writers Association finalist for digital storytelling.
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