Former Bush education secretary to lead North Carolina universities

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 23, 2015 5:04 PM

By Bradley Saacks

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Reuters) - Former U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, a confidant of former President George W. Bush, was tapped on Friday to lead North Carolina's public university system.

The University of North Carolina's Board of Governors approved in a unanimous vote a search committee's recommendation for Spellings to become the system's next president.

Spellings, best known for her work implementing the now-controversial No Child Left Behind Act, will leave her role as president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas to take up her new post in March.

The No Child Left Behind law was a hallmark achievement of Bush's administration. But after it was passed by Congress in 2001, the law drew heavy criticism for its stress on standardized testing for both teachers and students.

In a statement, Bush called Spellings a dear friend who "has been among my most trusted confidants.”

"Laura and I, along with everyone at the Bush Center, are deeply grateful for her energy, smarts and good humor,” Bush said.

Spellings’ extensive history in politics rather than academia has worried some faculty and students, many of whom believe the ousting of her predecessor, Tom Ross, was politically motivated.

Spellings said politics would inevitably be a part of her decision-making in her new job.

"You bet, that’s what makes it fun," she said. "That's what provides input, that’s what allows for us to make corrections when needed."

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Eric Walsh)