updated 1/15/2008 5:04:24 PM ET 2008-01-15T22:04:24

Molly Corbett Broad, who led the 16-campus University of North Carolina system for 11 years, was named Tuesday to lead the American Council on Education, the main group representing colleges and universities in Washington.

Broad will succeed David Ward, a former University of Wisconsin-Madison chancellor who last year announced plans to retire after leading the council for six years.

The council is the nation's most prominent national higher education group, representing college presidents and helping to coordinate the work of more than 200 related associations. It lobbies on higher education issues, such as financial aid and research support, and provides professional support for college presidents.

Broad's tasks will include building good relations between the higher education community and a new administration next January and confronting growing pressure from Congress for colleges to act more forcefully to keep prices affordable.

Broad, the first woman to head the council, led the UNC system from 1997 to 2006 after holding administration jobs at Syracuse University and the Arizona and California state university systems. She is currently a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill and will take over at the council May 1.

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