Carolina Journal’s Kari Travis reports:

Roper will take his seat Jan. 1. Spellings will help with the two-week transition process. She will be reachable by phone until March 1.

Nothing happened to speed Spellings’ departure, Smith told Carolina Journal.

“We wanted to make sure we had plenty of time for the transition,” he said of exit agreements struck between the board and Spellings.

As interim president, Roper will collect annual pay of $775,000, the same amount Spellings earns.

Roper, 70, announced last spring he planned to retire from UNC Health Care and the medical school in May 2019. Instead, Roper told CJ, he will sever ties with UNC Health Care upon taking his new post, collecting outstanding payments from the hospital system only for a handful of projects.

Smith declined to estimate how long Roper’s interim presidency could last.

When asked Thursday if he would consider permanently taking the president’s job, Roper was vague.

“I really do believe in public service and believe that when you’re asked to do something, [you] almost always say yes unless there’s a strong reason not to. And so I said yes to this. I will work on tomorrow, but we’re not worried about weeks and months in the future. That will take care of itself,” he said.

Roper could enter the official presidential selection process if he wanted, Smith said, but “right now we’ve made him interim and we’re excited about that. Everybody needs to take a breath.”

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