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John Fennebresque, UNC BOG chair

John Fennebresque, UNC BOG chair

A subcommittee of the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors meets in Charlotte tomorrow to talk about the search for a new president of the 17-campus higher education system.

The board’s presidential search nominating committee is holding a public meeting at the McGuire Woods law firm in Charlotte, where UNC Board Chairman John Fennebresque is a vice-chairman at the law and lobbying firm.

Though the meeting is at a private law firm, it is public and open to anyone who wishes to attend. The meeting is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the McGuire Woods law firm, 201 N. Tryon Street in Charlotte.

The only items on the agenda are a review of past presidential searches and discussion by the committee.

UNC President Tom Ross

UNC President Tom Ross

The 32 members of the UNC Board of Governors, all of whom have received appointments from a Republican-led legislature, are looking for a new president after President Tom Ross was unexpectedly pushed out in January. Fennebresque, the board chair, cited a general desire for change while praising Ross for his leadership and denying that politics played a role in Ross’ ouster.

The state’s open meeting laws allow public bodies (like the UNC Board of Governors) to hold their meetings in areas usually off-limits to the public as long as the general public is allowed to attend, said Brandon Huffman, a Raleigh-based attorney with the Stephens, Martin, Vaughn and Tadych law firm, which specializes in First Amendment issues.

“They can have it there,” Huffman said. “They do have to allow the public the same access as they would at any other venue.”

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UNC Board of Governors Chair John Fennebresque at the Feb. 2015 meeting. (Photo taken by Sarah Ovaska)

UNC Board of Governors Chair John Fennebresque (Photo taken by Sarah Ovaska)

John Fennebresque, a Charlotte attorney who serves as chair of the UNC Board of Governors, responded this week to criticisms of recent decisions  to raise tuition, close three academic centers and get rid of its much-respected system president, Tom Ross.

In an editorial published Thursday by the Charlotte Observer, Fennebresque said the board was happy with Ross’ performance but wanted to bring a fresh perspective to the 17-campus system.

From Fennebresque’s editorial:

We recognize some of our recent efforts to move the University forward have generated criticism and concern for some. Our decision to raise tuition is as unpopular with the board as it is for the people of North Carolina, and it further illustrates the need to look closely at everything the University is doing.

As I have said previously, President Tom Ross has led the University with distinction throughout his tenure. Our decision to proceed with a leadership change had nothing to do with his performance, but simply reflects our belief that all great institutions can benefit from a change in leadership from time to time.

We will conduct a national search for the next UNC system president with great care. We intend to carry on the long tradition of selecting a president of the highest caliber to lead and build on UNC’s foundation of excellence.
Read more here.

 

The board is moving ahead with its presidential search, and this week chose nine members to serve on a nominating committee to select the members who ultimately will screen applicants.

Fennebresque said he hopes to have hired someone by this fall. Ross’ contract keeps him at the helm of the university system until 2016 Read More

News

The lists of nominees for a combined 16 seats on the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors are out.

UNCsystemLawmakers in both chambers of the legislature are expected to hold elections by March 19 to choose 16 of the board’s 32 members who oversee the 17-campus UNC system. The House and Senate will select eight members apiece.

The new members will be joining the university system board as a search to replace Tom Ross, the UNC system president, gets underway, after the board decided in January to part ways with Ross. The current board, all of which received appointments from a Republican-led legislature, are also considering “right-sizing” the university system, a process that could end in consolidating or closing some campuses, and after the board decided to close three academic centers, a decision seen by some as an assault on academic freedom.

Among those being nominated are former state Sen. Thom Goolsby, a Wilmington Republican who resigned from his seat last year to become a lobbyist, and J. Edgar Broyhill, a Republican Winston-Salem investment banker who also serves on the board of the  Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, a conservative N.C. higher education think-tank largely funded through Art Pope’s family foundation.

Members leaving the board in 2015 include Ann Goodnight, the wife of SAS founder Jim Goodnight; G. Leroy Lail, a businessman with the Hickory Furniture Market; and Peter Hans, a former board chair and Raleigh lobbyist who is expected to join the N.C. Banking Commission.

Below are the nominees from the House:

House BOG

Source: N.C. House Clerk’s office (Names with w/d have withdrawn from consideration)

and the Senate:

 

2015 Board of Governors Nominees by NC Policy Watch

News
UNC President Tom Ross

UNC President Tom Ross

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently requested and reviewed hundreds of emails that UNC President Tom Ross received Jan. 16, the day he was forced out of his job by the UNC Board of Governors.

Ross, who had been the head of the UNC system since 2011, has said he hoped to stay on with the university system, but a board appointed by Republican leaders opted instead to replace him in 2016, a move that many by surprise.

Ross plans on staying on as president until January 2016 or until his successor is selected, whichever is later.

Among the messages Ross received on the day he was dismissed were notes from another former UNC president, Erskine Bowles, as well as Fred Eshelman, a former Board of Governor member and prominent Republican fundraiser.

You can read more of the email snippets over at the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Commentary

Tom Ross_1162015If you haven’t done so already, check out Charlotte Observer contributor Alice Carmichael Richey’s essay decrying the UNC Board of Governor’s inexplicable firing of system president, Tom Ross (pictured at left).

As Richey argues persuasively, the Board’s actions simply ought not to be allowed to stand in their present form — i.e. unexplained.

“The board acknowledged its decision had nothing to do with Ross’s ‘performance or ability to continue in the office’ and was made despite the board’s belief that he ‘has been a wonderful president’ with a ‘fantastic work ethic’ and ‘perfect integrity’ who ‘worked well with [the] Board.’”

After quoting the board chair, she goes on:

“All of this begs at least two questions: Why did the board make this decision and, no less important in light of public reaction, will the board reconsider? Read More