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Erskine Bowles to Serve As NC State Spring Commencement Speaker

Erskine Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina system, will deliver North Carolina State University’s commencement address on Saturday, May 10, at the RBC Center in Raleigh. The commencement ceremony will begin at 9 a.m.

During the ceremony, Chancellor James Oblinger will confer honorary degrees on behalf of NC State to three distinguished recipients: Pat Mora, an award-winning author of poetry, nonfiction and children’s literature; C.D. Spangler, an accomplished businessman and former president of the University of North Carolina system; and Richard Robb, a noted business professional who has provided important service to numerous corporate and non-profit boards, including NC State’s Board of Trustees.

From 1996 to 1998, Bowles served as White House chief of staff in President Bill Clinton’s administration and helped negotiate the first balanced budget in a generation. As a member of the National Economic Council and National Security Council, he helped guide domestic and foreign policy. As deputy White House chief of staff (1994-95), Bowles helped direct the government’s response to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. He was appointed director of the Small Business Administration in 1993. After he left the White House, he served from 1999 to 2001 as a general partner of Forstmann Little, a New York-based private equity firm.

Bowles began his business career at Morgan Stanley & Co. in New York as an associate in the corporate finance group. In that position, he saw the unfilled opportunity to provide corporate finance expertise to America’s middle-market companies. He soon returned home to North Carolina, where he founded and served as chairman and CEO of the Charlotte-based investment banking firm that became Bowles Hollowell Connor & Co. Bowles also was a founder of Kitty Hawk Capital, a venture capital company, and Carousel Capital, a middle-market private equity company.

Bowles has shown a lifelong commitment to public service in North Carolina and beyond. He helped found Dogwood Equity, chaired the Rural Prosperity Task Force, and served as a trustee of the Golden LEAF Foundation – three entities designed to bring economic development to rural North Carolina. Bowles also has served as vice chair of Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte and as a trustee of the Duke Endowment. Family illness inspired Bowles to help lead efforts to create an ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) Center in Charlotte and to serve as the international president of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He was also appointed United Nations deputy special envoy to 13 tsunami-affected countries in Southeast Asia.

Bowles is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.

Pat Mora – An award-winning author, Mora is the founder of the “El día de los niños/ El día de los libros, Children’s Day/Children’s Book Day” initiative, which is now housed at the American Library Association. The nationwide initiative celebrates children, families and literacy and is committed to connecting all children to books, languages and cultures. Her poetry has been described as “proudly bilingual” by the New York Times, which calls her work “an eloquent answer to purists who refuse to see language as something that lives and changes.” Mora has been both a recipient of and a judge for the National Endowment for the Arts’ Poetry Fellowships, and has been a recipient and advisor of the Kellogg National Leadership Fellowships. She will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Richard Robb – Robb served on the NC State Board of Trustees for eight years and was a member of the NC State Endowment Fund Board. As a member of the Board of Trustees, he chaired the Academic Affairs and Personnel Committee and the Faculty-Trustees Honorary Degree Committee. He also helped to initiate the creation of the Campus Design Review Panel at NC State, providing an improved approach to approving projects on campus. In recognition of his dedication to NC State, Robb was named an honorary NC State alumnus, one of only nine in the institution’s history. He is also a trustee and treasurer of the Park Foundation of Ithaca, N.Y., and co-manages the Park Foundation’s investment fund, playing an instrumental role in helping design the Park Scholarship program. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

C.D. Spangler – An accomplished businessman, C.D. Spangler Jr. has exhibited a lifelong devotion to education and public service. Spangler has devoted enormous energy to pursuing educational excellence – including his tenure as president of the University of North Carolina system from 1986 to 1997. In roles as chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Education and co-chair of Gov. James B. Hunt’s Commission on Education for Economic Growth, he advocated a return to emphasis on teaching the basics, higher salaries for teachers, and programs for training high-school principals for their challenging jobs. In 1997, he was presented the Distinguished Public Service Award from the North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry. Spangler will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

For more information about NC State’s spring 2008 commencement activities, visit

– kulikowski –

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