Roper tapped to lead UNC Health Care System, medical school

January 23, 2004

CHAPEL HILL — William L. Roper, dean of the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been named chief executive officer of the University of North Carolina Health Care System. The appointment, effective March 15, was announced today (Jan. 23) by UNC President Molly Corbett Broad and ratified by the UNC Board of Governors during a special meeting in Chapel Hill. Roper, who will serve concurrently as dean of the School of Medicine and vice chancellor for medical affairs at UNC-Chapel Hill, succeeds Jeffrey L. Houpt, who announced last spring his plans to step down from the posts.The UNC Health Care System (HCS), formed in 1998 through an organizational merger of the UNC Hospitals at Chapel Hill and the clinical programs operated by the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, now also encompasses Rex Hospital in Raleigh and its affiliates. The creation and expansion of this integrated health care system has better positioned North Carolina’s only state-owned university hospital to operate competitively in a rapidly changing health care environment.

“We were extremely fortunate,” Broad said in announcing Roper’s selection, “to find within our own ranks a seasoned administrator with the demonstrated expertise, ability, and commitment to build on the very strong foundation established by Jeff Houpt, who deserves great credit for breathing life into the newly created organization.

Under Bill Roper’s leadership, the UNC Health Care System is well positioned to deliver the highest standards of medical care for the people of this state and to operate effectively in a very competitive environment.”

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor James Moeser also lauded the appointment. “Bill Roper is one of America’s most distinguished health care professionals,” said Moeser. “Under his leadership, our School of Public Health has firmly established itself as one of the great public health schools, along with Johns Hopkins and Harvard. He has strong support from the faculty in the School of Medicine, and as dean of the School of Medicine and vice chancellor for medical affairs, he will play a key role in the senior leadership of this university. I have great confidence in Bill and his ability to serve this state and the health care needs of its citizens.”

A pediatrician, Roper has been dean of UNC-Chapel Hill’s nationally renowned School of Public Health since 1997. He holds dual appointments as professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine and as professor of health policy and administration in the School of Public Health.

Roper, 55, began his career in public health in his home state of Alabama, where he was health officer for the Jefferson County Department of Health from 1977-83 and assistant state health officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health from 1981-83. After serving as a White House Fellow in 1982-83, he spent the next seven years in a variety of key positions in Washington, D.C., including special assistant to the president for health policy; administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration, the federal agency that oversees Medicare and Medicaid; director of the White House Office of Policy Development; and deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy.

In 1990, Roper was tapped to lead the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. He joined Prudential HealthCare in 1993 as president of the Prudential Center for Health Care Research and was named senior vice president of Prudential HealthCare the following year. He held that post until assuming the deanship at Carolina in 1997. Recently, U.S. News and World Report again ranked UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Public Health as the nation’s top public health school at a public university. It is known and respected for its teaching and research on issues such as health care, nutrition, chronic illness, infectious diseases, family health, and environmental sciences.

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Roper earned his medical degree at the University of Alabama School of Medicine and his master’s degree in public health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health.

Roper is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and serves on the Institute of Medicine Governing Council. Currently, he is vice chairman of the board of the Partnership for Prevention, vice chairman of the board of the National Quality Forum, a trustee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a member of the board of directors of the UNC Health Care System, and a member of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. The author or co-author of more than 70 articles in publications such as the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine, Roper has won numerous distinguished service awards from the U.S. Public Health Service, the Association for Health Services Research, the National Association of Health Data Organizations, Emory University, and the University of Alabama.

As CEO, vice chancellor, and dean, Roper will oversee an integrated health care system that includes a top-ranked public medical school and modern hospitals for children, women, neurological and psychiatric patients, and general adult patient care. In the overarching role of CEO, he will report directly to President Broad. As UNC-Chapel Hill vice chancellor and dean, he will report to Chancellor Moeser.

“We are thrilled with this appointment,” said James B. Hyler, Jr., a Raleigh banking executive and chair of the HCS board of directors. “Bill Roper is held in the highest regard by peers across the country, and we are confident that the UNC Health Care System will benefit greatly from his leadership.”

For more information contact Joni Worthington at (919) 962-4629.