10/07/05 — Ideal choice: Erskine Bowles has much to offer

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Ideal choice: Erskine Bowles has much to offer

North Carolina is fortunate that Erskine Bowles agreed to serve as president of the University of North Carolina system.

The Board of Governors voted unanimously this week to hire him for that position. And he responded with an enthusiasm board members shared.

If there are any critics of his selection, they have been silent, though one newspaper noted he has “no college administrative experience.” And as everyone knows, he lost two bids for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

But no one can question the man’s impressive record of success in the business world, his management ability, his tremendous interest in his state and its education programs and his integrity.

Among his stalwart allies are no less than longtime UNC President William Friday, former Gov. Jim Hunt, Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight, and the list is virtually endless.

Erskine Bowles was chief of the White House staff under former President Bill Clinton. He headed the nation’s Small Business Administration, ran a successful investment firm and was a leader in the field of banking.

One of his great strengths is an ability to get people to work together — a talent that transcends party lines.

As White House chief of staff, he worked with the Republican leadership to come up with a balanced federal budget — the first in decades.

Bowles knows his state and its people. He knows the university. He enjoys a close relationship with the legislative leadership at home and has the respect of the congressional leadership in Washington. And some of the wealthiest and most influential people in the nation’s private sector are his friends.

Speaking of the search committee’s selection, UNC Chair-man Brad Wilson noted: “We’ve never seen anyone come into an interview better prepared and ready to serve.”

Erskine Bowles is a person of many well-demonstrated talents and achievements in the public as well as the private sector. And the presidency of the University of North Carolina well could be the perfect niche for this fine man — and ideal for our state.

Published in Editorials on October 7, 2005 8:34 AM