The University of North Carolina today hired Thomas W. Ross, president of Davidson College since 2007, as the 17-campus system’s next president. Although it’s a big leap from a small liberal-arts college to a top public-university system, the new leader is a veteran of North Carolina politics. A graduate of the Chapel Hill campus’s law school, Mr. Ross, who is 60, served for 17 years as a judge on the state’s Supreme Court. He is a native of Greensboro, like Erskine B. Bowles, the system’s current president, who will step down in December. Mr. Bowles, a White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration, is co-chair of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The university, which has long been one the nation’s best-financed public systems, has faced recent state budget cuts.