by Brenée Goforth
Media Manager & Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
This week, Carolina Journal’s Kari Travis reported on the ongoing search for a UNC system president. Travis explains:
UNC has paved a rocky road when it comes to hiring — and retaining — leadership. In 2016, former UNC President Tom Ross was fired without ceremony. The event created an uproar over lack of transparency in board dealings. Things escalated when the BOG, then led by John Fennebresque, hired former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings as Ross’ replacement. Fennebresque resigned amid questions about public accountability, while Spellings faced two years of protests, hurricanes, lawsuits, controversy over a confederate statue, and political baseball inside the BOG.
She resigned just two-and-a-half years into her five year contract.
Dr. Bill Roper, former leader of UNC Health Care, became interim president in January. He’ll stay as long as he’s needed, but hasn’t confirmed whether he’d seek the permanent job.
In August, UNC hired Kim Strach, former head of the N.C. State Board of Elections, to lead the presidential search. Officials are trying to balance confidentiality with transparency, Strach said Thursday, and plans to find a new leader by spring 2020.
The UNC system is looking for someone who can bring stability and strong leadership to the system. Travis explains decision-makers’ comments on the subject:
“Getting some stability in the administration is really critical right now,” said UNC Charlotte Chancellor Phillip Dubois…
“The person may be sitting in this room,” said Randy Ramsey, the committee’s chairman.
Indeed, some in UNC’s pool of chancellors should be considered for the job, member Phil Byers said of the officials around the table.
“I know that scares some of you to death,” he joked. “If you survived me for five years, then you’re probably pretty easy to get along with.”