CHAPEL HILL — The chair of the governing panel for the UNC System says he's stepping down early from his position but will remain on the board.

The UNC System said in a news release Tuesday that Board of Governors Chairman Harry Smith of Greenville is resigning effective Oct. 1. Smith plans to remain as a board member through the end of his term in 2021.

Smith was board chairman during the controversy over Silent Sam, the Confederate statue that protesters brought down in August 2018. He told the Carolina Journal in May that his view of the statue had "evolved greatly" and that it shouldn't be returned to the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.

He told media outlets Tuesday that he's resigning because of the overwhelming demands of being the chairman while running businesses.

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