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Western Carolina University chancellor decision up in the air

Last week, the UNC Board of Governors scheduled a special session to vote on the new chancellor at Western Carolina University. The announcement of a new chancellor was expected, the culmination of a search process that began in February.

But today new board chairman Harry Smith released a statement saying the candidate being considered for the position has withdrawn from consideration. The search process itself is now, according to Smith, being reviewed and revised.

Smith’s statement:

“Today, I announce that the candidate for the position of Western Carolina University (WCU) Chancellor has withdrawn from consideration. President Spellings informed me that Alison Morrison-Shetlar has agreed to her request to continue to serve as interim Chancellor. On behalf of the UNC Board of Governors and President Spellings, I thank Alison for her leadership and service. WCU’s future is strong and bright.

The Board plans to complete an expedited review of the Chancellor search process in an effort to refine and improve it—and we expect to have the process in place in September.

The Board is committed to working with the President and the Boards of Trustees to identify the most capable and talented candidates to lead our remarkable institutions—and modifications to the Chancellor search process will do just that. Together, we are working to move our institutions—and the System—forward. Thank you.”

Patricia B. Kaemmerling and J. Bryant Kinney, co-chairs of the Western Carolina search committee, released their own statemet:

“Certainly, this is not the outcome we had hoped for, but Western Carolina University remains strong and well-positioned to continue to make great progress.We look forward to working with the WCU Board of Trustees, the UNC Board of Governors, President Margaret Spellings and the WCU campus community to ensure a successful search for our next chancellor. We are grateful to Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar, who has agreed to continue serving in the interim role, and to Dr. Carol Burton, who has agreed to remain as acting provost.

We are also immensely grateful to members of the search committee for their hard work and diligence on this search.”

Several faculty and staff members, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of being targeted by the board, said Monday that they are worried the announcement may mean the process may be politicized.

For several years faculty, staff and administration across the UNC system have expressed concern about the board taking a new, more aggressively conservative direction.

One Comment


  1. Jeff White

    July 17, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    The far right have taken over NC politics and now have complete control of the UNC Board of Governors. The bipartisan, what’s best for higher education mission, has been shattered in order to introduce a one-sided ideology. This is part of a bald faced power grab by very conservative white male Republicans to remake the board in their own image. The composition of the board does not represent the diversity of race, sex or opinions of the people North Carolina. The B.O.G. has become a cabal.

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