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The University of North Carolina system’s next president will be the current president of the North Carolina Community College system.

The UNC Board of Governors on Friday named Peter Hans the next leader of the 17-institution system. Hans will take over at the UNC system Aug. 1. He’s been president of the state’s community college system since May 2018.

His appointment follows a period of leadership turmoil at UNC and some of its campuses. The system has been seeking a permanent president since Margaret Spellings decided to leave in 2018, departing amid tensions with board members as controversy flared over social and political issues like a state law regulating transgender people’s bathroom use and the future of the Silent Sam Confederate monument on the flagship Chapel Hill campus. The Silent Sam conflict also spelled the end of the leadership of Chapel Hill’s chancellor at the time, Carol Folt, who resigned as she decided to remove the remnants of the toppled statue.

The UNC system has been operating under interim president Bill Roper. Roper said last year that he would not seek the position on a permanent basis.

Hans has “a long track record of uniting people and institutions in pursuit of shared goals,” Roper said in a statement in the UNC system’s official news release about its new president. That release also quoted former leaders of the system, including Spellings. Hans advised Spellings when she was system president on issues including technology and strategic planning.

“Congratulations to my dear friend and colleague Peter Hans, who has committed his career on the state and national levels to advancing and enriching the lives of all North Carolinians,” said the statement from Spellings, who was U.S. education secretary during President George W. Bush’s administration. “Whether as a trusted advisor to me at the UNC System or as President of the NC Community Colleges, Peter has worked tirelessly to improve student achievement, enhance educational access, and ensure college affordability for all students. I wish Peter the greatest success as he takes the helm of the System during this critical time.”

The release also included a statement from former system president Erskine Bowles. Bowles said Hans “has the people skills, the experience and the leadership strengths needed to push the university forward in a nonpartisan manner.”

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina reportedly supported Hans to be system president in 2015, when Spellings was selected, The News & Observer reported. Now, the state’s Democratic governor and the Republican leaders of both houses of its Legislature issued a joint statement calling Hans “the right choice for UNC System President.”

Hans previously served three terms on the UNC Board of Governors, holding its chair from 2012 to 2014. He’s served on the State Board of Community Colleges as well.

In brief remarks after the Board of Governors approved his appointment, Hans referenced the cost of education and the workplace, according to The News & Observer. Families are saying higher education is too expensive while employers are saying graduates need skills for the workplace and for life, he said.

“And the world is telling us at this moment in our nation’s history -- and on Juneteenth, no less -- to provide opportunities to all, no matter who they are, what they look like or where they live, all North Carolinians,” Hans said.