by Jay Schalin
Director of State Policy
The UNC Board of Governors, may want to reconsider using Isaacson, Miller as the search firm in the hunt for a new system president. It appears that the Governors are blowing a chance to bring a badly needed reform-minded president to the system. After 40-plus years of liberal Democrat governance, the system could use some house-cleaning.
We at the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy were concerned when we saw earlier this year that the Governors had picked Isaacson, Miller to conduct the search for a new president. This was worrisome, especially since BOG chair John Fennebresque appears overly concerned with demographic characteristics like race and gender instead of more important qualities—like a long record of sound policy-making decisions. Isaacson, Miller is a firm that specializes in finding “diversity” candidates:
The second distinguishing feature of our firm is our longstanding commitment to bringing women and people of color to senior management positions. For over 30 years we have established networks that support us in our efforts to build and present diverse pools of candidates. Over the life of the firm, 43% of our placements have been women and 23% have been people of color.
But re-reading an old Minding the Campus article (sent by Baker Mitchell) revealed something disturbing about Isaacson: they were the search firm that brought Gene Nichol to William & Mary. In fact, he was the only candidate not then already employed by W&M deemed worthy of the job by Isaacson. We all know how that turned out—Gene performed so abysmally he was ridden out of town on a rail. (Pretty much how he performed as dean of the Colorado and UNC law schools).
So now we’re more than just concerned. And we have to wonder; if the aim was to stop Tom Ross from continuing in the job due to his liberal tendencies—a reasonable goal—why would you hire a firm that specializes in liberal candidates? Can there be anything more pointless than causing a public relations nightmare by getting rid of somebody and then hiring a replacement likely to have the same policies?
I need a beer.