RALEIGH — A former state lawmaker and budget director was selected on Thursday to join the UNC Board of Governors by the N.C. Senate.
The 32-15 vote electing Art Pope to the 24-member body tasked with overseeing the 17-campus University of North Carolina system comes as lawmakers neared the end of their legislative session.
“He has been a dedicated public servant to North Carolina,” said Sen. Brent Jackson, a Sampson County Republican. “He will be a valuable asset to our UNC Board of Governors.”
Pope will serve on the board for one year starting July 1, replacing former Republican state Sen. Bob Rucho, who resigned from the board in recent days.
Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow) echoed Jackson’s comments. “His experience as state budget director will be very helpful in understanding the UNC budget and leadership on Board of Governors” said Brown during a committee hearing on the nomination.
Pope, a well-known businessman and philanthropist, comes to the board having previously worked as former Gov. Pat McCrory’s state budget director. He’s also been a member of the state House and staunch ally of conservative causes.
Some Senate Democrats were furious on social media about the choice, saying it would reinforce the impression that the board is partisan. But no Democrat spoke up against the pick during Thursday night’s floor vote.
Pope believes he has a track record of working with others that could help him as he joins the board.
“I’ve been able to work very positively with Democrats and independents my entire career,” Pope said, pointing to his time in the legislature. “I think I hopefully can smooth things down and reach out to the other side, which is the real Art Pope versus the left-wing blog character (portrayal of me).”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.