Ferrel Guillory founded the Program on Public Life — formerly the Program on Southern Politics, Media and Public Life — in 1997 to build bridges between the academic resources at UNC and the governmental, journalism and civic leaders of North Carolina and the South. He is an adjunct faculty member in the UNC Department of Public Policy.

Before academia, Guillory spent more than 20 years as a reporter, editorial page editor and columnist for The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. He has had freelance articles published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, The New Republic, America, Commonweal, Southern Cultures and The Atlanta Constitution. Guillory has contributed chapters to books on David Duke and the politics of race, on economic transition in tobacco regions and on North Carolina politics and government.

Guillory was inducted into the N.C. Journalism Hall of Fame in 2007, and in 2012 he received the Edward Kidder Graham Award that recognizes public service by a member of the UNC faculty.

Guillory is a co-founder of EducationNC, a nonprofit organization that delivers news and policy analysis on Prek-12 and post-secondary trends and issues. For www.ednc.org, he writes a weekly commentary.

Guillory is a senior fellow at MDC Inc., a workforce and economic development nonprofit research firm in Durham. Through MDC since 1996, he has co-authored The State of the South, a series of reports to the region and its leadership. He also co-authored the book, "The Carolinas: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: An Exploration of Social and Economic Trends, 1924-1999" (Duke Press, 1999), commissioned by the Duke Endowment

Gov. Mike Easley appointed him to the North Carolina Education First Task Force. Guillory served on the steering committee of the Rural Prosperity Task Force, appointed by Gov. Jim Hunt and chaired by Erskine Bowles. For the James B. Hunt Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy, he wrote the paper, “Education Governors for the 21st Century.’’ In 2000, Guillory taught at Davidson College as the James K. Batten Professor of Public Policy.


  • M.S., Columbia University
  • B.A., Loyola University New Orleans


  • Co-author, along with George Autry, The Carolinas: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, a book on issues and trends in North Carolina and South Carolina. Published by Duke Press, commissioned by the Duke Endowment, 1999.
  • Co-author, The State of the South 2010-11, 2007, 2004, 2002, 2000, 1998, 1996, a report on regional demographic and economic trends, issued by MDC Inc. (As Writer-in-Residence at MDC in 1995, I had a leading role in conceptualizing and launching the State of the South series.)
  • Southern Cultures, Fall 2012 Author of the essay, “The South in Red and Purple: Southernized Republicans, Diverse Democrats.” Interview with author Jack Bass, “On the Temper of the Times.”
  • Author, “Imperatives for Change: The Case for Radically Redesigning Public Education in America,’’ for the Education Commission of the States, MetLife/Pew “Change in Education’’ series, April 2001.
  • Co-author, along with Andrew Holton and Todd Brantley, of “How the Triangle Gives Back: A report to the region,” a study commissioned by the Triangle Community Foundation, 2008