Thomas W. Ross is President Emeritus of the 17-campus University of North Carolina having served as President from 2011-2016.  He currently serves as the Sanford Distinguished Fellow in Public Policy at the Duke University Sanford School for Public Policy and as a Professor of Public Law and Government at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Government.  

Prior to becoming President of the UNC System, Ross served as President of Davidson College, executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, a Superior Court judge, chief of staff to a U. S. Congressman, a member of a Greensboro, NC law firm and as an Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Government.   

Active in civic and community activities, Ross currently serves on the Howard Baker Forum Cuba Consortium Advisory Board.  He has served recently on the Board of Governors of the Center for Creative Leadership, the Executive Committee of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, the Board of Directors of the National System Heads Association, the Association of Governing Boards’ Council of Presidents, the Council on Competitiveness, the advisory boards for the NC Humanities Council and the NC State University Institute for Emerging Issues, and on the honorary Board of Directors of the Conservation Trust of North Carolina.  He also served on the boards of the National Humanities Center, the David H. Murdock Research Institute, the NC Biotechnology Center, and the UNC Health Care System.  A former chairman of the UNC Greensboro Board of Trustees, he has previously served on the Boards of Visitors for UNCG, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest University.  In addition, he has served on the boards of Davidson College, the North Carolina New Schools Project, the Kenan Institute for the Arts, the Institute of Government Foundation, the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law Alumni Foundation, the Wake Forest Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities.

Ross has received numerous awards and accolades for his public service and professional achievements.  His many contributions to the judicial system have been recognized through the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence (2000), given annually to one state judge in the nation; Governing Magazine’s National Public Official of the Year Award (1994); the Foundation for the Improvement of Justice Award (1995); the NC Academy of Trial Lawyers Trial Judge of the Year Award (1996); the American Society of Criminology President’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Justice (2007); and the NC Bar Association Citizen Lawyer Award (2010).  He has also been honored with The Echo Foundation’s Award Against Indifference (2015), Distinguished Alumni Awards from Davidson (2001) and the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law (2005), the UNC-Chapel Hill Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award (2015), and an honorary doctorate from UNCG.  In addition, he has received the Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award (1993), the National Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (1999), and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine (1999).

Born and raised in Greensboro, N.C., Ross holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Davidson College (1972) and graduated with honors from the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law (1975).  He is married to Susan Donaldson Ross, a graduate of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education and a former executive director of the Greensboro Bar Association.  They have two adult children.