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The inaugural address of Erskine B. Bowles

The Herald-Sun

Sixteenth President of the University of North Carolina

As I’ve gotten a little older, balder, and maybe a little wiser, I’ve learned that sometimes in life, the real world is even better than your fondest dreams.

Serving as the 16th president of my University — the University of North Carolina — is by far the single greatest honor I can imagine ever being given. As my Mama, who is sitting right down there in the front row, knows, I am about to burst with joy to stand before you in my hometown, surrounded by my family and my friends from across our state and nation as the leader of our University. I thank you for the enormous trust you have bestowed upon me and for the privilege you have given me to serve the people of North Carolina.

But today’s ceremony really isn’t about Erskine Bowles. Rather, it’s a celebration — a celebration of our University’s distinguished past and an affirmation of the critical role that each and every UNC campus must play in the future of North Carolina. Today’s ceremony is a tribute to more than two centuries of incredibly generous support of our University by our legislature, state leaders, and citizens. It’s also an acknowledgement that this University’s reputation for excellence, our record of achievement, and our boundless potential — all belong to the faculty, the staff, our remarkable corps of chancellors, and those talented students that fill our classrooms. It is these people who are our University — they are the individuals who have made and kept this University great, and in them rest our hopes for an even brighter tomorrow.

Since this University’s rebirth in 1972, it has had but three leaders: Bill Friday — my hero; Dick Spangler — my longtime friend and advisor; and Molly Broad — whose legacy of rebuilding is still taking physical shape across our 16 campuses. On behalf of all the people of our state, I thank these three great North Carolinians for coming home to be with us today. We thank you for your unwavering insistence on academic excellence, for your visionary leadership, and for the lasting difference you have made in the lives of our people. It is an honor to follow you as president of this University. (more…) [1]