Since pushing out Tom Ross as President in 2015, the UNC System and member universities have experienced ongoing chaos. The source of the chaos can often be traced back to actions by governing bodies whose members are selected by state legislators.
Incidences of governance driven chaos includes, but are not limited to:
- UNC System President Tom Ross pushed out of office – 2015
- NC Governor stripped of power to appoint members to BOT – 2016
- UNC System President Margaret Spellings quits amidst turmoil – 2018
- BOG member implicated in ECU Interim Chancellor scandal – 2019
- BOG agrees to pay Confederate group $2.5M over Silent Sam statue – 2019
- BOG expands President Hans’ power to select Chancellor of his choosing – 2020
- BOG chooses one of its own as FSU Chancellor – 2021
- Unusually, none of five UNC-CH Chancellor’s trustee nominees selected by BOG – 2021
- BOT creates chaos with regard to tenure for Pulitzer Prize winning Nikole Hannah-Jones – 2021
- BOT inserts itself in the hiring of Tier II Faculty – 2021
- Reportedly, politicos are pressuring UNC-CH Chancellor to hire a particular person as provost – 2021
Note: BOG = UNC System Board of Governors, BOT = UNC-CH Board of Trustees
In addition to these instances, we’ve recently learned that the UNCW Chancellor search is proceeding in concerning ways. Apparently, the search committee has, unusually, decided not to hire a search firm. Some familiar with the situation describe the search process as “proceeding strangely”. (Here is a link to a post describing the unique way the BOG managed to install one of its own as Chancellor of Fayetteville State University.) Additionally, a 2020 policy change by President Hans now enables him to add two names to the search process and requires that one of his selections be included among the finalists. We hope that the search process in Wilmington will not result in even more chaos.
What the aforementioned chaotic incidents have in common is a tendency for NC higher education governing bodies to assert their will over those in positions of leadership, in the faculty, and on the staff at our public universities. Before this governance driven chaos, which threatens the shared governance model that has served our Universities so well, there was no glaring, urgent problem in NC public higher education that required the kind of activist intervention we are experiencing. North Carolina has one of the most respected public higher education systems in the world and at the top of that list is Carolina. Carolina is the nation’s oldest public university, graduates excellent, well-prepared students, and consistently ranks high in all the college ranking surveys. For decades the faculty and staff have delivered excellence under the shared governance model. Now a group of legislatively appointed trustees and Board of Governors members want to change that. To what end?
Photo credit: Brett Jordan of Unsplash