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Pieces of Eight

During a Nov. 8 visit to campus, Erskine Bowles (left) shares his visions with members of the ECU Board of Trustees. As incoming president of the UNC system, Bowles also met with university administrators, faculty and staff representatives, students and community leaders. Pictured with Bowles, left to right, are board members Bob Greczyn, Robert Lucas and Bruce Austin. (Photo by Marc J. Kawanishi)

Bowles Plans to Help ECU Meet Goals

By John Durham

Erskine Bowles, the incoming president of the University of North Carolina system, came to the East Carolina University campus this month looking for ways he could help.

,I want to be your champion to help you get the resources to meet your goals,Š Bowles told the Executive Council during one of a series of meetings on Nov. 8.

Bowles, who will take office on Jan. 1, will visit all 16 UNC campuses by the end of the year. During his day-long stop in Greenville, he met with senior administrators and deans, representatives of the Faculty Senate and Staff Senate, students, trustees and community leaders.

,I see my job as to be helpful. What can we do to help?Š Bowles said.

,Everybody likes me now because I haven‰t made any decisions,Š he cautioned. ,I will make decisions you don‰t like, but they will be transparent.Š

ECU had suffered inequities in the UNC system in the past, Bowles said. ,You‰re not going to have to worry about that in the future,Š he told the Board of Trustees.

Bowles said he is a ,big fanŠ of distance education. With the exception of ECU, he said, the UNC system has ,ceded the marketŠ in distance education to the private sector.

He also praised ECU‰s partnerships with community colleges and its efforts to bring diversity to the student body. He noted however, that the university still has work to do in faculty diversity.

Bowles, an investment banker from Charlotte, is part of a family that has long been at the forefront of public service in North Carolina. His father, the late Hargrove ,SkipperŠ Bowles, was a distinguished state legislator and a gubernatorial candidate in 1972.

During the Clinton administration, Bowles served as director of the Small Business Administration and then as deputy chief of staff and chief of staff of the White House. He lost campaigns for a U.S. Senate seat from North Carolina in 2002 and 2004.

His life-long commitment to public service is well known. Bowles helped found Dogwood Equity, chaired the Rural Prosperity Task Force, and served as a trustee of the Golden LEAF Foundation,three entities designed to bring economic development to rural North Carolina. 

Earlier this year, he was appointed United Nations deputy special envoy to 13 tsunami-affected countries in Southeast Asia. He has served as vice chair of the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte and as a trustee of the Duke Endowment. 

At the UNC system, he will succeed Molly Corbett Broad, who announced in March that she will retire this year.

This page originally appeared in the Nov. 18, 2005 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at