by Anna Manning
From Carolina Journal:
Since January 2016, the University of North Carolina system has had two “permanent” presidents and two interim leaders (including current Interim President Dr. Bill Roper).
In recent months, UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt left in a huff, taking the Confederate memorial “Silent Sam” down on her way out. East Carolina University Chancellor Cecil Staton resigned his post after months of discussion, talks he said he didn’t initiate. Western Carolina University seemed to have a chancellor in place, but the hiring was derailed because a UNC Board of Governors member said the top candidate falsified his resume. (This is hotly disputed.)
Meantime, the system’s board has faced a barrage of negative publicity. It includes:
- a letter signed by more than 200 supporters of Staton by a prestigious group of ECU alumni, donors, and community leaders urging the Board of Governors to keep Staton in Greenville
- the formation of Reform UNC System Governance, a group of more than 1,600 UNC system alumni — including former trustees, Board of Governors members, and an ex-chancellor of UNC Chapel Hill — chastising the current Board of Governors’ for “meddling and micromanaging” in campus business.
- an op-ed in the News & Observer, the state’s largest newspaper, with former UNC President Erskine Bowles, a Democrat, and former Charlotte mayor and gubernatorial nominee Richard Vinroot, a Republican, claiming the Board of Governors is excessively partisan and exercises “heavy-handed oversight.”
Some of the shots have come from the inside. BOG member Steve Long and outgoing ECU trustees Chairman Kieran Shanahan have singled out BOG Chairman Harry Smith.
Long issued a scathing public statement saying Smith frequently harassed former system President Margaret Spellings and ran Staton out of Greenville. (Long later apologized for publicly criticizing Smith but didn’t take back the harsh language.)
Shanahan also told WITN News Smith forced out Staton, telling trustees ECU would lose state funding if the chancellor wasn’t removed.
To quote “Blazing Saddles”: What in the wide world of sports is going on here?
Read more here.