Loading...
Bless our hearts as Edmund Burke quoted: The only thing necessary for the triump of evil is for good men(and women) to...

Dysfunctional, homogenous UNC Board reinstated

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell

Loading…

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The UNC Board of Governors is a hot mess these days.

They've pushed out three university leaders: System President Margaret Spellings, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt and East Carolina University Chancellor Cecil Staton. All of them got hefty payments on the way out that could have funded academics.

The biggest issue before the board is whether or not to reinstall the Silent Sam Confederate monument, which would require paying for round-the-clock security. And personal spats between board members routinely end up in the headlines. You'd think a group of mostly white Republican men could get along.

Last week, the state legislators who appoint the board had a chance to hit the reset button. Twelve seats were up for appointments — an opportunity for some fresh faces and perhaps a bit more diversity.

Instead, lawmakers did the opposite. They reappointed 10 current board members in party-line votes, and added two white Republican businessmen to the remaining open seats. The House declined to reappoint an African-American Democrat, so the new board will become more white and male.

And for what appears to be the first time in the board's history, there will be no Democrats leading the state's university system. The bad press for university leadership is harming North Carolina's ability to attract businesses, who want a stable system of higher education to supply talent, according to Rep. Robert Reives, D-Chatham. "They're talking to us about workforce development, and that's becoming code," he said.

So why reappoint the same people? Well, when you've invited your personal friends, business associates and campaign donors to a party, it's hard to ask them to leave when they misbehave.

One of the reappointed board members once hired House Speaker Tim Moore for legal work. According to WRAL, another leads a company that has employed two top House leaders in recent months. Others who were reappointed are wealthy Republican campaign donors. Most don't appear to have a professional background in education. The one nominee the Senate didn't select was Charlotte educational consultant Kaye McGarry, who was nominated by a Republican.

Some legislators seem almost embarrassed by their actions here. A typical appointment or confirmation process at the General Assembly features glowing speeches extolling the virtues of the nominee.

But this time, House Republicans did not make a single floor speech to praise their UNC board picks. Instead of holding an open election where any legislator could make nominations, the House held an up-or-down vote on a slate selected by leadership behind closed doors. Moore refused to speak with reporters after the vote.

To the Senate's credit, it at least held the standard election, and Senate leader Phil Berger had the guts to describe the appointments as a "vote of confidence" in the current board. He told reporters that board chairman Harry Smith is doing "a good job," and that he thinks "there's a lot of diversity amongst Republicans" on the board.

While House Democrats rightfully complained that they were left out of the process, Senate Democrats did get a chance to make nominations. They didn't file a single one, instead opting to throw stones from the sidelines and complain about long standing rules governing the balloting process.

Sure, the GOP would have rejected the Democratic picks, but they could have at least showed voters what a properly diverse UNC board might look like.

Democrats seem content to wait until they retake a legislative majority and then stock the UNC board full of their own political donors and personal friends — much as they did in past decades. But it's on them to propose a different path: File legislation to restructure the UNC Board of Governors to ensure that it's a diverse group with the expertise necessary to oversee our universities.

Other state boards feature appointments by the governor and other elected officials outside the legislature. And laws governing those boards require appointees from specific professional backgrounds — so UNC's board could, for example, include seats for professors, public school superintendents and business leaders.

While the current UNC board continues to draw negative attention, now is the time to propose alternatives. The future of higher education in North Carolina depends on it.

Colin Campbell is editor of the Insider State Government News Service.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

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

Op Ed

July 12, 2019

Over the past three years, I have had the good fortune to work on a project that has the potential to transform the farming landscape in eastern North Carolina, one that involves harnessing gas produced from hog waste.

As CEO and founder of OptimaBio, our work with Smithfield Foods to capture…

Maloney

July 01, 2019

The American system of checks and balances government does not work the way most people think it does or the way the Founding Fathers said it would.

The president serves at the pleasure of Congress, just as the prime minister of the UK serves at the pleasure of Parliament, which means that the…

eleanorclift.jpg.jpg

June 26, 2019

Several Democratic presidential hopefuls are calling for Americans to make reparations for slavery. On June 19, the House judiciary subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights and civil liberties held a hearing. Its stated purpose was "to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the…

Walter Williams

June 10, 2019

The New York Times 

“Because it’s there.” For those who grew up on George Mallory’s famous explanation for his yearning to scale Mount Everest, with all the romance, danger and spirit of exploration it implied, that viral photograph of an endless line of climbers in…

June 10, 2019

Although it may not appear so, the leaders of both major political parties in North Carolina favor lowering the tax burden of large businesses. Their real dispute is about the scope and magnitude of the tax relief.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has consistently opposed recent state budgets, crafted by…

john hood.jpg

June 10, 2019

We are just weeks away from the first of 20 Democratic debates scheduled this primary season. It gets underway over two nights in Miami on June 26 and 27, and never before has there been a debate this early in the election and potentially this important.

The reason there are so many candidates, 23…

eleanorclift.jpg.jpg

June 09, 2019

Gerrymandering has always been part of American politics. After all, the term was coined in 1812 after Massachusetts governor and Founding Father Elbridge Gerry endorsed a state senate district that resembled a salamander.

Until recently, federal courts have been highly reluctant to enter the…

Steve and Cokie Roberts

June 09, 2019

It is not unfair to point out that President Trump, on many important subjects, is just an ignoramus.

A vivid illustration of this unfortunate fact came this week in London, when it was revealed that Prince Charles, a knowledgeable environmentalist, had tried to educate the president on climate…

Eugene Robinson

June 09, 2019

"When you are told all your life you're dumb, unworthy, you start believing it. God changed that for me."

Jerry, from Youngstown, Tennessee, hesitated to be interviewed by Chris Arnade, because "I don't know my ABCs, so I can't really talk right." He told Arnade, the author of the new book…

kathrynlopez

June 09, 2019

Senate Republicans are pushing back on President Trump's plan to impose tariffs on Mexico. But if Mexican officials think these Republicans are going to save them from Trump's tariffs, it's time for them to think again.

So far, congressional Republicans have managed to remain bystanders in Trump's…

MarcThiessen
174 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 18
        Next Page»   Last Page»