Ex-chairman Harry Smith is making an early exit from UNC System Board of Governors

Harry Smith is stepping down from the UNC System Board of Governors early next year.

Smith, a developer and entrepreneur from Greenville, in September announced his resignation as the board’s chair, opting to be a regular member of the board. But on Monday, he said he’ll serve on the board only until Feb. 1, 2020.

“It’s just a matter of time management,” Smith said.

Randy Ramsey, the board’s current chair, said Smith offered to serve for up to 90 days or until the North Carolina General Assembly fills the position.

“Harry has tirelessly served this Board, University System, and state for the past seven years for the betterment of our students,” Ramsey said in a statement Monday. “He worked collaboratively to show that differing views and opinions are healthy for any organization—to ensure all voices are heard and great decisions are made.’”

The announcement comes about a week after Dan Gerlach resigned as interim chancellor at East Carolina University, which is Smith’s alma mater.

Smith said he’s been talking about leaving the board for a while to focus his time on his new business, a private equity firm, but said he could serve on special committees of the board.

When Smith stepped down as chair, he said felt it was the right time to allow the next chairman time to acclimate to the job before a new UNC System president is named next spring.

Smith was first named to the board in 2013 and served as vice chairman before becoming chairman in May 2018. His term was set to end in 2021.

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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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