GREENVILLE — East Carolina University will get an interim chancellor in May: the president of the Golden LEAF Foundation.
The UNC System announced Tuesday that Dan Gerlach will start work May 6, three days after current Chancellor Cecil Staton will resign. This will be Gerlach's first full-time job in higher education.
"Dan Gerlach has been a tremendous advocate for higher education and eastern North Carolina for more than a decade," interim UNC System president Bill Roper said in a statement. He also called Gerlach "the ideal candidate to lead ECU going forward."
Gerlach has led the Golden LEAF Foundation in Rocky Mount since 2008. The foundation was created in 1999 to administer half of North Carolina's tobacco settlement monies. Golden LEAF awards grants and scholarships in the state's rural and economically distressed communities to help create jobs and boost the economy. In 2018, it gave away nearly $49.2 million for economic development and hurricane relief and recovery.
Gerlach previously worked as a senior budget adviser to former N.C. Gov. Mike Easley, a Democrat. Before that he was director of the Budget & Tax Center, a division of the left-leaning N.C. Justice Center that analyzes the state budget and tax policies. He has been an adjunct instructor at both UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University.
Most recently, Gerlach served on an eight-member transition committee to help Roper acclimate to his new role as interim UNC System leader.
Gerlach holds bachelor's degrees in English and economics from the University of Notre Dame and earned a master's in state and local public finance from Syracuse University.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that Gerlach might be a candidate for the permanent chancellor's position. ECU has not yet started its search for a new leader.
Gerlach will be paid $350,000 annually, according to the UNC System. The N&O reported that Gerlach plans to move to Greenville.
He'll replace Staton, who announced in March that he'll resign May 3 and leave ECU after less than three years. Staton plans to remain in Greenville through June 30 as an adviser to Gerlach and Roper.
ECU during Staton's tenure has seen enrollment and revenue declines and controversies over athletics hirings and the purchase of a new chancellor's house. Staton also had a troubled relationship with Harry Smith, an ECU graduate and chairman of the UNC Board of Governors.
Smith, meanwhile, wrote in an email to the N&O that Gerlach "brings decades of experience in managing and developing budgets that work, and is in a unique position to help ECU navigate successfully through some challenging times that lie ahead.”