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Erskine Bowles: Wikis


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Erskine Boyce Bowles

Assumed office 
October 3, 2005
Preceded by Molly Corbett Broad

In office
January 20, 1997 – 1998
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Leon Panetta
Succeeded by John Podesta

In office
September 1994 – December 1996
Serving with Harold M. Ickes
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Pat Saiki
Succeeded by Philip Lader

Administrator of the Small Business Administration
In office
President Bill Clinton

Born August 8, 1945 (1945-08-08) (age 64)
Greensboro, North Carolina
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Crandall Close Bowles
Alma mater University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Columbia Business School
Occupation 4th President of the University of North Carolina System
Profession Businessman, politician


Erskine Boyce Bowles (born August 8, 1945) is an American businessman and political figure from North Carolina. He currently serves as the president of the University of North Carolina system. In 1997–98 he served as White House Chief of Staff and he also ran unsuccessfully for a North Carolina United States Senate seat in 2002 and 2004.


Early life and education

Bowles was born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina and is the son of the late Hargrove "Skipper" Bowles, Jr., a Democratic politician who once ran for Governor of North Carolina in 1972, but lost. Bowles graduated from Virginia Episcopal School before attending college. Bowles matriculated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was admitted to the Zeta Psi fraternity and graduated with a business degree. After briefly serving in the United States Coast Guard, Bowles then enrolled in Columbia Business School, where he earned an MBA.

Following graduation, Bowles worked for the financial firm Morgan Stanley in New York City. There, he met his wife, Crandall Close; the two married in 1971 and moved to North Carolina, where Bowles worked on his father's 1972 gubernatorial campaign. Crandall and Erskine have three children: Sam, Annie, and Bill. In 1975, Bowles helped launch the investment firm of Bowles Hollowell Conner, and remained in the corporate sector until the 1990s.

The Clinton years

In 1992, he became more involved in politics as a fundraiser for Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. President Clinton appointed Bowles to head the Small Business Administration in 1993. From October 1994 to December 1995, Bowles served as Clinton's White House Deputy Chief of Staff, in the first-term of the Clinton Administration.

After briefly returning to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he helped found the investment bank Carousel Capital, Bowles was appointed Clinton's Chief of Staff in December 1996. One of Bowles's major responsibilities was dealing with federal budget negotiations between the White House and Congress. Bowles returned to Charlotte, North Carolina and to the field of finance again in October 1998. He was also asked by North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt to head a task force on rural economic prosperity.

President Clinton and Bowles (wearing overcoat on the left)

Senatorial races

Although initially reluctant to seek political office, Bowles reconsidered a run for the United States Senate after the September 11, 2001 attacks and, in October 2001, declared his candidacy for the Senate as a Democratic candidate. Seeking to fill the seat being vacated by Jesse Helms, Bowles secured the party's nomination, but was defeated in the 2002 general election by Republican challenger Elizabeth Dole.

In 2004, Bowles campaigned again for the Senate, seeking to fill the seat being vacated by fellow Democrat John Edwards. He faced Republican Richard Burr and Libertarian Tom Bailey in a hotly contested race. The final month of the Senate campaign saw both Bowles's and Burr's campaigns turn strongly negative, with Burr's campaign attacking Bowles's associations with the Clinton administration, while Bowles's campaign attacked Burr on his support of trade legislation and special interest donations. Both campaigns spent a great deal of money, making it one of the most expensive statewide races in North Carolina history.

Despite an early lead in the polls after the primaries, as well as fellow Democrat Mike Easley running for a second term as governor at the top of the state party ticket, Bowles was defeated in the 2004 race as well. President Bush's comfortable electoral victory in North Carolina likely helped Burr considerably. During his concession speech in Raleigh at the Democratic headquarters, he thanked his supporters but seemed to indicate that he would not run for office again. Quoting his father, he said there were "many ways to add to the community woodpile" and that political office was only one of them. Accordingly, in 2005 Bowles accepted an appointment as United Nations Deputy Special Envoy for tsunami-affected Countries, once again working for Bill Clinton who was now serving as U.N. Special Envoy.

Since 2005

On October 3, 2005, Bowles was elected by the University of North Carolina's Board of Governors to succeed Molly Corbett Broad as President of the system, even though some suggest that the Board of Governors broke the law in not holding public hearings in the hiring process.[1] One of his most significant appointments thus far has been that of Holden Thorp as the tenth chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Bowles also spoke at the campus memorial service in memory of slain student body president Eve Carson.

On February 12, 2010, Bowles announced his retirement from the UNC System.[2] [3]

Bowles is also a member of the board of directors of General Motors, Morgan Stanley, and North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company and serves on the North Carolina Advisory Board of DonorsChoose.

On February 16, 2010, it was reported that Bowles will co-chair President Obama's fiscal commission with Alan K. Simpson.[4]

Electoral history

See also


  • Clinton, Bill (2005). My Life. Vintage. ISBN 1-4000-3003-X.
Government offices
Preceded by
Pat Saiki
Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration
Succeeded by
Philip Lader
Political offices
Preceded by
Leon Panetta
White House Chief of Staff
Succeeded by
John Podesta
Party political offices
Preceded by
Harvey Gantt
Democratic Party nominee for
United States Senator from North Carolina (Class 2)

2002 (lost)
Succeeded by
Kay Hagan
Preceded by
John Edwards
Democratic Party nominee for
United States Senator from North Carolina (Class 3)

2004 (lost)
Succeeded by
Not yet nominated

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