Local News

UNC System Elects First Woman President

Posted April 11, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Members of the governing board that selected a woman with no ties to North Carolina to lead its university system say they were attracted to her professional qualifications and personality.

Leaders on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors would have preferred someone with strong ties to the state, said former board chairman Sam Poole and former Gov. Jim Holshouser, who headed the search committee.

But Molly Corbett Broad, 56, bowled them over with wit, warmth and wisdom, Holshouser said. She has been executive vice chancellor for California State University, a 23-campus system with 350,000 students and a $4 billion budget.

``She's really done it all,'' Holshouser said, calling her ``one of the few people with the vision to raise an institution to the next level.''

Broad showed her ability at a news conference after she was unanimously elected Thursday afternoon as the next president of the 16-campus UNC system.

She's a loyal alum of Syracuse University and a member of the Syracuse national alumni association, but told reporters she wouldn't shirk when it came to supporting UNC athletic teams.

``I learned a long time ago that you dance with the guy who brung ya,'' said Broad, a Pennsylvania native.

Holshouser said the new president, who will succeed C.D. Spangler Jr. when he retires June 30, showed the same charm when she answered questions from board members in a closed session about an hour earlier.

``I was one of those people who said we have to pick somebody with a North Carolina background,'' said Poole. ``She just overwhelmed us.''

Broad will take over a 16-campus system with a $2 billion budget and 153,000 students.

Former state senator Helen Rhyne Marvin said the new president has already worked as an education administrator with legislatures in New York, Arizona and California. Marvin said Broad will work with the North Carolina General Assembly easily because she has no in-state political baggage.

``If she can handle the California legislature, she can handle any legislature,'' Marvin said.

``The wonderful part is she's a woman,'' Marvin said. ``I don't think you can make too much out of it. It's about time we recognized a woman can do anything a man can do and perhaps do it better.''

Women in the UNC administration building quietly cheered the selection.

``That noise is the glass ceiling shattering,'' one said to another in a hallway.

But Broad didn't make as much of the historic fact of her selection, saying ``isn't it great that women are able to make contributions?''

Broad beat out UNC-Wilmington Chancellor James Leutze for the job. Late in the day, the UNC-Wilmington Board of Trustees issued a statement saying ``the fact that he is a finalist reinforces what we've always felt, that he is the best chancellor in the UNC system.''

The salary for the new president hasn't been formally approved, but Holshouser said he expects it to be $240,000. That's a $50,000 raise over the pay for Spangler, a multi-millionaire who has donated his pay to the system's campuses each year.

A Phi Beta Kappa economics graduate of Syracuse in 1962, Broad has a master's degree in economics from Ohio State University. She has completed course work for a doctorate at Syracuse, but said she never wrote her dissertation because administrative jobs took up her time.

Among her many posts was one as executive director of the Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees three state universities.

Broad began her career as vice president for finance at Ohio State University. In 1976-77 she was deputy director of the New York State Commission on the Future of Postsecondary Education while on leave from Syracuse, where she also served as vice president for government and corporate relations.

She is married to Robert Broad, who owns a company that distributes china, crystal, silver and linen to hotels, restaurants and country clubs around the world. They have two adult sons.

Broad caught committee members' eyes after contact by a search consultant.

Asked about her political leanings, Broad replied: ``I consider myself a very active independent.''

Broad spoke in general terms about her plans at the helm, saying she has to get ready for her move to the East Coast before tackling specifics. She said she has a special interest in bringing technology and the global marketplace to students. North Carolina also needs to increase the percentage of its residents who go to college, she said.

By ESTES THOMPSON, Associated Press Writer