We'll know when ECU main campus is serious about their no smoking policy when certain grounds and facilities staff...

Partisan rancor threatens university system


UNC president Margaret Spellings looks through paperwork during the Board of Governors meeting in Chapel Hill, N.C., Friday.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The divisiveness and rancor exhibited in a recent meeting of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors is a threat to the reputation and stability of a university long regarded as North Carolina’s crown jewel.

Relatively speaking, North Carolina is a state with many pockets of poverty; it suffers from the racial divides seen in other southern states; its anti-union, “right-to-work” tradition has been a black eye in terms of its reputation among other states with high-tech dreams; its history in the civil rights movement is not good; and the 30-year tenure of the late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms gave the state an image as an outpost for right-wing politics.

But always, or so it seems anyway, the University of North Carolina system has been a point of pride. From the smallest institutions such as UNC-Asheville and its writing and arts programs to the wonders of UNC-Chapel Hill and its breathtaking health care system and N.C. State’s cutting edge work in science, technology and agriculture, the university system has been universally admired, literally around the world.

Now, thanks to the amateurish, partisan rancor dividing the current edition of the UNC Board of Governors and the almost childish outbreak of anger evident in a recent meeting, North Carolinians should justifiably worry that the university that belongs to them is in jeopardy.

A cabal of 15 of the 28 members of the board exposed divisions in a letter criticizing the university system’s leaders, including President Margaret Spellings, for their handling of a controversy over the presence and possible removal of “Silent Sam,” the Confederate memorial statue that has stood in a prominent spot on the Chapel Hill campus for more than 100 years.

Gov. Roy Cooper, asked for his advice, told university leaders they could remove the statue – one of many under question around the South after the Charlottesville tragedy – if it posed a safety hazard. They didn’t, but Republicans who now dominate the BOG were angered that Cooper’s advice was even sought.

In a BOG meeting Thursday, some of the same disgruntled members offered a flurry of resolutions supporting a lowering of tuition and fees – pandering to the general public – and then suggesting reorganizing Spellings’ staff and moving the system headquarters out of Chapel Hill, to avoid the appearance of favoritism toward the flagship campus.

Board member Joe Knott, a conservative by any measure, took issue with the suggestions, saying changes might be fine “but there are ways to do that without doing damage to what has been built over hundreds of years.” And Leo Daughtry, board member and former Republican legislator, criticized what he saw as the “sentiment and intention” of the letter and said emails “were clearly written to undermine the leadership of the University.”

Spellings’ strongest supporters, the ones who helped direct her hiring after the dismissal of President Tom Ross, are gone from the board in a downsizing by the legislature, where it was rumored that legislative leaders favored the appointment as president of Peter Hans, a long-time Republican operative who has once served as the chair of the Board of Governors. Spellings brought Hans on board in fact, to her General Administration office.

Then there’s former Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer, who seems to be at the center of the storm. Fetzer sent the letter critical of university leadership on the Silent Sam issues, and defends the current disputes, saying, “Raging internal conflict is a long-held American tradition.”

That’s a shallow justification for an internal revolt led by people who have no idea of the complexities of running a university system, but plenty of ideas about hard-ball politics. They’ve succeeded in banning the important work of the UNC Center for Civil Rights from doing legal work for low-income and minority groups, a proud part of its history.

The really bad news is: More shenanigans and destructive action is sure to come, which does not bode well for the future of the crown jewel.

The News & Observer


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


June 23, 2018

Of the many words Donald Trump used this week in defense of his horrific policy to separate children and their parents at the border, one tweet should especially trouble Americans.

It's not the tweet you think — the repulsive one from Tuesday that said undocumented immigrants "infest our…

Immigration Separating Families-14

June 22, 2018

Would Republicans in Congress stay mute if a president imposed income or sales taxes on U.S. industries on an arbitrary whim? We doubt it, so it’s dispiriting to see Senate Republicans let Donald Trump impose tens of billions of dollars in border taxes without so much as a vote of protest.…

US Iran Congress-4

June 21, 2018

If ignorance is bliss, the state Senate might be the happiest place on the planet. It also may be where the largest number of President Barack Obama haters hang out.

It is the logical conclusion: It is not about state money since the state’s hospitals have agreed to a plan that would cover…

N.C. Legislative Building

June 20, 2018

The trade war with Canada over steel, aluminum and milk understandably grabs the headlines. But flying under the radar is the battle over Canadian newsprint, a skirmish that’s hurting businesses and costing jobs.

In January, the U.S. Commerce Department, responding to a complaint from a New…


June 20, 2018

Lawmakers in Raleigh usurped local control and eschewed local input when they set a new early voting schedule last week.

The House and Senate on Friday set a 17-day early voting period that ends the Friday before Election Day, eliminating a popular Saturday from the schedule. All early voting sites…

June 18, 2018

Master impersonators taking on multiple identities to vote as other people. Dead people rising from their graves to haunt your neighborhood polling place. Non-citizens descending by the caravan to vote alongside true Americans.

The mythical beast known as “voter fraud” is as…


June 17, 2018

About a year ago, state Republican leaders vowed to retaliate in response to a painful rebuff from the U.S. Supreme Court, which had just refused to review a lower court ruling striking down the Legislature’s 2013 discriminatory voter ID law.

“All North Carolinians can rest assured that…

June 16, 2018

Supporters of North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program say a new report by N.C. State University researchers shows that the state voucher program is helping students from low-income families.

That’s far more hype than fact.

What the study makes clear is there’s no way to…

June 15, 2018

Music is healing. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School put that theory on display Sunday night in New York with their stirring performance at the Tony Awards — beautifully.

The students, all from the school’s drama department, brought the house down singing the…


June 14, 2018

The Singapore summit was, without question, a triumph for Kim Jong Un and his North Korean regime. A dictator who has ordered the murder of his own family members, and who oversees a gulag comparable to those of Hitler and Stalin, was able to parade on the global stage as a legitimate statesman,…

APTOPIX Trump Kim Summit-5
109 stories in Editorials. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 11
        Next Page»   Last Page»