Jonathan Howes became special assistant to the chancellor and adjunct professor of regional planning and public policy at UNC at Chapel Hill in August 1997. Prior to that, he served as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources under Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. Howes originally came to UNC at Chapel Hill in 1970 when he was appointed the first full-time director of the Center for Urban and Regional Studies and research professor in city and regional planning. In February 2001 he completed eleven months of service as interim general manager at WUNC radio, where he now serves as chair of the Community Advisory Board. Also, Howes is a member of the UNC at Chapel Hill board of directors and past president of the Botanical Garden Foundation. His teaching interests focus on environmental policy, North Carolina politics and public policy, and the university and the community.
Howes served as mayor of Chapel Hill from 1987 to 1991. Currently, by appointment of Governor Hunt, Howes chairs the board of the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Authority responsible for administration of the $50 million Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. The trust fund has stimulated dramatic expansion of the state parks system, including the recent acquisition of Grandfather Mountain and Chimney Rock Park. He also chairs the board of Audubon North Carolina and is vice-chair of the board of directors of the North Carolina Aquarium Society. He is past president of the Friends of the Museum of Natural Sciences has served on the boards of the Triangle Land Conservancy, the Triangle Community Foundation, and the Triangle United Way. He recently completed service as board chair of the Carol Woods Continuing Care Retirement Community in Chapel Hill. Howes is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and recently chaired of NAPA’s board of trustees.
Howes was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he attended the public schools of Knox County. In 1959 he earned a B.A. degree in history and political science at Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio. In 1961 he earned a Master’s in Regional Planning degree from UNC Chapel Hill and in 1966 the Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard. He and his wife Mary have lived in Chapel Hill since 1970. They have three grown children and eight grandchildren.