CHAPEL HILL — Former UNC System President Bill Friday died at the age of 92 on Friday, the Associated Press has confirmed.
News of Friday’s death comes just months after the former head of the UNC system had a permanent pacemaker implanted.
Friday served as UNC System President from 1956 to 1986.
Details surrounding his death have not been released.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp issued the following statement about UNC President Emeritus William C. Friday:
“North Carolina has lost one of its most remarkable citizens in Bill Friday. His influence on public higher education in our state and across the nation is legendary. In a lifetime devoted to public service, Bill Friday was committed to providing access to high-quality, affordable higher education to North Carolina students. He was tireless in his efforts to underscore the importance of higher education to people from all walks of life, as well as to our state’s future prosperity.
I always admired his conviction to defend academic freedom and freedom of speech. It was only fitting that Mr. Friday joined us a year ago today – on University Day – to dedicate the Speaker Ban Marker in McCorkle Place documenting the efforts that our own students and he made to overturn a misguided law.
As UNC President, he governed and served with passion, integrity and an abiding commitment to justice. And the positive impact both he and Ida have had at Carolina for thousands of students, faculty and staff is difficult to describe because it has been so pervasive for all these years.
Mr. Friday was exceedingly gracious in sharing his wise counsel with me when I became chancellor. He always did so with a gentle, guiding hand and a deep appreciation for the office and the responsibilities that go with it. His keen insights and common sense were unparalleled. Like so many others throughout North Carolina, I will miss Bill Friday, but I know that his legacy – especially at our University – will always live on for future generations.”