It appears the search for the next UNC System president will follow a similar confidential process that brought about the hire of Margaret Spellings in 2015 to now find her replacement.

Spellings, the former United States secretary of education under George W. Bush, resigned from the position at UNC halfway through the recently concluded academic year. Former UNC Health Care CEO Bill Roper has been guiding the system on an interim basis throughout the spring.

After a board meeting in late May, it did not appear the Board of Governors were in much hurry to replace Roper with a permanent choice or just remove his “interim” tag. After that meeting, board chair Harry Smith commended the job Roper has done.

“His time, energy and effort at the campus level – advocating for the system and doing great things – is rather remarkable,” Smith said.

But Smith would not directly answer whether the system was moving forward in the search for a permanent system president.

“We’re having a lot of healthy discussions,” he said. “The goal is always to do the right thing. I just think we’re very fortunate right now to have who we have.”

The News & Observer is reporting that search began officially last Friday, with a board meeting conducted by conference call. The newspaper is reporting that Smith will put together a search committee of seven people. Three candidates will be chosen by that committee before the board selects the next president.

Roper did not give a direct answer at the press conference announcing his interim leadership when asked if he wanted the position on a permanent basis.

As the UNC System is looking for its permanent leadership, the system’s flagship campus in Chapel Hill also has an interim head of the campus.

Kevin Guskiewicz has been serving as interim chancellor since being appointed to replace the outgoing Carol Folt in February. Guskiewicz has said that he would be interested in that role going forward.

Smith said at that May board meeting that there was no timeline for a permanent chancellor, even if that just meant removing the interim tag from Guskiewicz. For what it’s worth, chair of the UNC – Chapel Hill Board of Trustees Haywood Cochrane said at a Board of Trustees meeting in late May that he would advocate for Guskiewicz to be appointed the permanent chancellor.

“We are communicating on a regular basis to the leadership of the Board of Governors about our level of comfort with Kevin, with the senior team and what we’re getting done regardless of what tag is on his chancellorship,” Cochrane said. “And we feel strongly about that; we’ve got a really great guy who is doing great things.”