Commentary

The best op-ed of the weekend

Controversial UNC BOG member Tom Fetzer

If you missed it, be sure to check out the Saturday op-ed on WRAL.com that was signed by an array of former members of the UNC Board of Governors. In it, ten prominent North Carolinians of different political parties and philosophies all agree on one thing: the current, right-wing-dominated UNC board is a group that’s running amok. This was best exemplified by the recent chaos surrounding the aborted hiring of a chancellor at Western Carolina University and the downright bizarre and inappropriate actions of board member Tom Fetzer.

This is from the op-ed “Former UNC board members concerned about current board’s ‘bad governance'”:

Good governance can take many shapes and forms, depending on the organization and circumstance, and is not always easy to see or detect. Bad governance is different – like many things, you know it when you see it.

And what we saw at a recent meeting of the UNC Board of Governors was clearly bad governance.

  • First, an individual board member took it upon himself to retain a third party to do a background check on the UNC President’s recommended candidate for Chancellor of Western Carolina University.
  • Second, a committee chairperson allowed the unanimous recommendation of a candidate by her committee and her President to be overturned by the board without returning it to the President or the committee for their input and recommendation. This inappropriate action severely undermined both….

Unfortunately, it appears our Board of Governors has become increasingly politicized, and some members are conflicted. Politics has no place in the selection of members, and any conflicts of interest must be avoided. Boards must have a high level of independence and professionalism to be effective.

What we saw last month was not good governance. Our state, our President, our faculty, our students, our entire University System deserve better. What we witnessed will negatively affect the quality of people willing to come to our Universities as Chancellors, faculty and staff.

Good governance has many positive aspects. Maybe the most important is to attract and retain great talent and leadership.  We ask our legislators and our Board of Governors to remember that they serve the people of North Carolina.  They can and should do better.

Signed by the following former members of the UNC Board of Governors:

  • Paul Fulton
  • Ann Goodnight
  • Fred Eshelman
  • Derick Close
  • Brad Wilson
  • Jim Deal
  • Peaches Gunter Blank
  • Leroy Lail
  • Phil Phillips
  • Jim Babb”

Click here to read the entire op-ed.

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