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The chair of the University of North Carolina system Board of Governors, Harry Smith, will step down from leading the board as of Oct. 1, the system announced Tuesday.

Smith plans to continue serving his term on the board, which ends in 2021. He is leaving to tend to a new business venture.

He told The News & Observer that the chair position is a “tough gig” and that he does not “have the energy to lead anymore.”

Smith has been chair since May 2018. His time in the role coincided with a tumultuous period for the UNC system and several of its institutions.

President Margaret Spellings decided in October to resign from the system’s executive position after less than three years. That fall, the system Board of Governors was involved in the contentious debate over what to do with the toppled Silent Sam Confederate monument on the flagship Chapel Hill campus.

When Carol L. Folt, Chapel Hill’s chancellor, decided in January to remove the monument’s remnants and announce her own resignation, the Board of Governors stipulated that she leave months earlier than she’d planned. Then in March, Smith found himself the target of sharp criticism from a fellow Board of Governors member after the chancellor of East Carolina University announced he was resigning in a decision he “did not initiate.”

UNC’s press release announcing Smith’s departure from the chair position noted enrollment growth during his tenure. It did not elaborate on the nature of his new business venture.

The Board of Governors will have a 30-day “cooling-off period” after Smith leaves the chair position. At the end of that period, it will hold a special meeting to select a replacement.