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Governor of North Carolina (1977-1985; 1993-2001)

Jim Hunt is a nationally recognized leader in education and has led his state through twenty years of dramatic economic change.  Serving a historic four terms as Governor, Hunt has been at the forefront of education reform in his state and in the nation.  The Rand Corporation reports that North Carolina public schools improved test scores more than any other state in the 1990s.  Governor Hunt wants them to be first in America by 2010.

Hunt is currently a partner in the large Southeastern U.S. law firm of Womble Carlyle Sandridge and Rice practicing in the Raleigh, North Carolina office.  He also chairs the board of the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy.  Part of the University of North Carolina system, the Institute was established in 2001 to work with current and emerging political, business and education leaders on a national level to improve public education.

As governor, Hunt focused on early childhood development and improving the quality of teaching in America.  His Smart Start program is a nonprofit, public-private partnership rooted in each of the state’s one hundred counties providing quality child care, health care, and family support for each child who needs it.  It is funded primarily by the state but is also supported heavily by private corporations and individuals.  Smart Start has been visited and studied by early childhood leaders from all fifty states and many foreign countries.  It received the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award from the Ford Foundation and the
John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Hunt has devoted much of the last fifteen years of his life to excellence in teaching in the United States.  In 1985 he co-chaired with David Hamburg the “Committee of 50” which led to the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy and eventually, to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.  He served in that capacity for ten years, developing standards for what accomplished teachers in America need to know and be able to do and assessments to “board certify” them.  Governor Hunt also serves as the chairman of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future at Teachers College, Columbia University.  Its report in 1996, What Matters Most:  Teaching for America’s Future, is stimulating major changes in teacher education programs and public policies that advance teaching.  Governor Hunt also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

A strong supporter of high standards in public schools, Governor Hunt has served as chairman of the National Education Goals Panel and vice chairman of the board of Achieve, Inc.  He has put into place in North Carolina one of the nation’s most rigorous approaches to measuring student performance, requiring mastery of promotion and graduation and providing assistance to turn around failing schools.

His state’s economic gains from educational improvement have been impressive.  North Carolina has regularly led the nation in new job creation per capita and in foreign investment.  He has focused on new technologies by establishing the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina, and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.  In higher education, he serves as chairman of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education located in San Jose, California.

His work has been recognized with numerous national awards:
    • The Education Commission of the States “James B. Conant Award”
    • The Horace Mann League’s “Friend of Education Award”
    • The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education
    • The National Mentoring Partnership “Award for Public Leadership”
    • The Children’s Defense Fund Award
    • The Columbia University Teachers College Medal for Distinguished Service
    • The Women Executives in State Government’s “Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award”
    • The American Academy of Pediatrics “Child Health Advocate Award”
    • The National Secondary Schools “Distinguished Service Award”
    • The National State Boards of Education “Policy Leader of the Year Award”
    • The Council of Chief State School Officers “Distinguished Service Award”
    • The National Education Association “Friend of Education Award”
    • The National 4-H “Outstanding Alumnus Award”
    • The National Wildlife Federation’s “Conservation Achievement Award”
    • The Honor Award from the Soil Conservation Society of America
    • The National Religious Heritage Award

Hunt holds B.A. and M.S. degrees from North Carolina State University and a J.D. degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He and his family lived in Katmandu, Nepal, from 1964-1966 where he served as a Ford Foundation Economic Advisor to His Majesty’s Government.  He has served on the Commission on US-Japan Relations for the 21st century and working with the Asia Society, co-chairs the National Commission on Asia in the Schools.

He and his wife, Carolyn, live on their beef cattle farm in eastern North Carolina.  They have four children and nine grandchildren.


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