|Chairperson of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform|
February 18, 2010 – December 1, 2010
Serving with Alan Simpson
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Position abolished|
|President of the University of North Carolina|
October 3, 2005 – December 31, 2010
|Preceded by||Molly Broad|
|Succeeded by||Thomas Ross|
|19th White House Chief of Staff|
January 20, 1997 – October 20, 1998
|Preceded by||Leon Panetta|
|Succeeded by||John Podesta|
|White House Deputy Chief of Staff|
October 3, 1994 – January 11, 1996
|Preceded by||Philip Lader|
|Succeeded by||Evelyn Lieberman|
|18th Administrator of the Small Business Administration|
May 7, 1993 – October 3, 1994
|Preceded by||Pat Saiki|
|Succeeded by||Philip Lader|
August 8, 1945 |
Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S.
|Political party||Democratic Party|
|Alma mater||University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Erskine Boyce Bowles (/ /; born August 8, 1945) is a US businessman and political figure from North Carolina. He served from 2005 to 2010 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.
In 2010 Bowles served as the Democratic co-chair of President Barack Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with Alan K. Simpson. Bowles and Simpson co-lead a business group, The Campaign to Fix the Debt.
Early life and education
Bowles was born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina and is the son of Jessamine Woodward Boyce Bowles and the late Hargrove "Skipper" Bowles, Jr., a Democratic politician who ran unsuccessfully for Governor of North Carolina in 1972. Siblings include Hargrove Bowles III, Mary Holland Bowles Blanton and the late Martha Thomas Bowles. Bowles graduated from Virginia Episcopal School before attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a member of 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 private equity firm 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.
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 contender 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.
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. One of his most significant appointments was that of Holden Thorp as the tenth chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who resigned on September 17, 2012 in the wake of several athletics-related scandals. Bowles also spoke at the campus memorial service in memory of slain student body president Eve Carson.
Bowles is also a member of the board of directors of General Motors, Morgan Stanley, Norfolk Southern Corporation, and North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company and serves on the North Carolina Advisory Board of DonorsChoose.
Bowles was appointed in 2010 to co-chair President Barack Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with Alan K. Simpson. The commission deadlocked, and the co-chairs' report on a policy for budget deficit reduction was not adopted by the Obama administration. Surprised by the rejection, Bowles later stated he believed that Obama decided to abandon the report and let [incoming House Budget Chairman] Paul Ryan go first, and then he would look like the sensible guy in the game, based on advice from his political advisers and over the objections of his economic team.
After North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue announced that she would not run for a second term in 2012, Bowles was mentioned as a possible candidate, and polling put him almost even with likely Republican nominee Pat McCrory. But on February 2, 2012, Bowles announced that he would not seek the governorship.
On August 14, 2012, Bowles gave an interview with The Daily Caller where he asserted that he is not "backing away" from his praise of Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan. Said Bowles: “I think he's smart. I think he's intellectually curious. I think he is honest, straightforward and sincere. And I think he does have a serious budget out there — it doesn’t mean I agree with it by any stretch of the imagination. But I'm not going to act like I don't like him or that I don't have some real respect for him." Along with his praise of Ryan he also had criticism of the current government. Said Bowles: “The people of this country get it. They know that the fiscal path this country is on is not sustainable and that these deficits of over a trillion dollars a year are a cancer that in time will destroy our Country from within..." Despite his praise of Ryan, Bowles says he plans on voting for President Obama in November. “Who I vote for is my business, but I am certainly a registered Democrat and I’m proud to be so,” Bowles said in the phone interview. “And I certainly envision voting for the president for sure.” 
- 2004 election for U.S. Senate
- Richard Burr (R), 52%
- Erskine Bowles (D), 47%
- 2002 election for U.S. Senate
- Elizabeth Dole (R), 54%
- Erskine Bowles (D), 45%
Bowles is also a member of the board of directors of:
- President Emeritus of the University of North Carolina
- Directorship, Morgan Stanley
- Directorship, Norfolk Southern Corporation,
- Directorship, North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company
- Directorship, North Carolina Advisory Board of DonorsChoose.
- Directorship, Facebook, Inc., which announced September 7, 2011 that it had named Bowles to its board.
- Directorship, Cousins Properties, Inc.
- Directorship, Belk, Inc.
- Former Directorship, General Motors
- Weisman, Jonathan (February 17, 2010). "Bowles, Simpson to Head Debt Commission". The Wall Street Journal.
- "North Carolina media won't sue over UNC open meetings law violations". Diverse Issues in Higher Education. January 26, 2006. Archived from the original on July 27, 2007.
- "Holden Thorp resigns as chancellor". ESPN.com. September 18, 2012.
- "Bowles to retire as UNC president". WRAL. February 12, 2010.
- Price, Jay (February 12, 2010). "Erskine Bowles will retire as UNC president". News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina). Retrieved February 12, 2010.[dead link]
- "Erskine Bowles: Values, work ethic guided career". News and Record. December 25, 2010.
- "NSC 8-K 05/10/2012". SEC. May 10, 2012.
- Newmyer, Tory, Simpson-Bowles: The hangover, CNN Money, 13 February 2012
- De La Merced, Michael (September 7, 2011). "Facebook Adds Bowles to Its Board". The New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
- "NSC 8-K 05/10/2012".
- Clinton, Bill (2005). My Life. Vintage. ISBN 1-4000-3003-X.
- Fix the Debt
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Issue positions at OnTheIssues.org
- Works by or about Erskine Bowles in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Erskine Bowles collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Fix the Debt campaign founded by Simpson and Bowles
|Administrator of the Small Business Administration
|White House Deputy Chief of Staff
Served alongside: Harold Ickes
|White House Chief of Staff
|Party political offices|
|Democratic nominee for Senator from North Carolina
|Democratic nominee for Senator from North Carolina
|President of the University of North Carolina
|New office||Chairperson of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform
Served alongside: Alan Simpson