New chancellor was born to lead N.C. School of Science and Math

Posted August 13, 2010 5:54 p.m. EDT

— A Durham native was named Friday as the next chancellor for the North Carolina School of Science and Math, the public residential high school in the Bull City for the state's top math and science students.

Todd Roberts, who has served as school superintendent in Ann Arbor, Mich., for the last four years, will succeed Gerald Boarman, who stepped down at the end of July to lead a school in Maryland.

"It's an opportunity to work at the pre-eminent high school in the United States," said Roberts, who ironically was born in the former Watts Hospital in Durham, which was located on the current site of the School of Science and Math. "What more could a person ask for?"

University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles joked that Roberts was born to lead the School of Science and Math, which is the only non-university campus in the UNC system.

"Todd Roberts is going to be a phenomenal leader for our school," Bowles said after the UNC Board of Governors approved his appointment.

"I don't think it's ever been any more important to have students well prepared in math and science than it is right now," Roberts said. "I'd like to get to know the name of every single student at the school as soon as I possibly can."

The school has an enrollment of 670, and he began meeting some of the students Friday.

"He's, I guess, more relatable and probably more approachable to the students," senior Ade Ilesanmi said.

Roberts, 46, earned a bachelor's degree in English from Duke University and master's and doctoral degrees in educational leadership from UNC-Chapel Hill. He began his teaching career in the Durham Public Schools system, working at Southern High School and then as assistant principal of Brogden Middle School and principal of Hillandale Elementary School.

In 1999, he was named principal of an elementary school in suburban Detroit, and he has moved up the professional ranks in Michigan since then.

Roberts, who will start at the School of Science and Math within the next three months, said he would work not only to improve the school for students but would also focus on outreach programs, including training more teachers around the state in science and math.

He will earn a $210,000 annual salary.