Chapel Hill, N.C. — A University of North Carolina School of Medicine administrator was named Friday to lead the effort to establish a new airport authority in Orange County.
Kevin FitzGerald, executive associate dean for finance and administration in the UNC School of Medicine, will oversee the organization and initial work of a 15-member airport authority. UNC-Chapel Hill and the UNC Health Care System will lead the authority, with representation from Orange County and its municipalities.
State lawmakers authorized the UNC Board of Governors to create the airport authority to operate a new airport after Horace Williams Airport shuts down. UNC owns the airport and plans to close it to make room for its proposed Carolina North campus.
FitzGerald is an adjunct instructor in the UNC School of Government and a former special assistant to the chancellor. He is also the former director of the state Division of Social Services.
"Not only would a new airport have a significant annual economic impact here, it would also support and enhance (the Area Health Education Centers') operations," FitzGerald said said in a statement.
The AHEC program sends medical professionals from the state's major medical institutions, including UNC, to rural areas of the state. UNC operates several aircraft from Horace Williams every day to carry the medical personnel.