Education, Higher Ed

Board of Governors’ actions ‘deeply troubling,’ harmful to UNC’s reputation

The decision of the UNC Board of Governors (BOG) to expedite the departure of UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt is drawing more criticism.

After having the remnants of Silent Sam removed from campus, Folt had hoped to stay on board through end of the academic year. The Board of Governors instead gave her until the end of this month to wrap-up her work.

Twenty former members of the UNC-Chapel Hill board of trustees have now issued a letter denouncing the Board of Governors’ move to abruptly dismiss Folt in this manner:

Since arriving at Chapel Hill, Carol Folt has stood strong for the University. We are much better for the work she has done. However, during her tenure, increasing pressure from Raleigh and the Board of Governors has put politics ahead of the best interests of education, research and patient care. Silent Sam came to embody it all.

Tuesday, Chancellor Folt paid the price for her leadership and North Carolina lost another great opportunity to resurrect its history as a progressive part of this nation. Instead of allowing Chancellor Folt to leave office on her terms — at the end of this academic year — the Board of Governors held an emergency session and forced her to resign in two weeks. It is the same protocol the Board exercised when President Margaret Spellings resigned. The Board could not be satisfied to let them leave on their own terms.

Read the trustees’ full letter here.

The non-profit Higher Education Works Foundation also condemned the BOG’s action:

Folt’s departure is the latest in a sequence of troubling events for North Carolina in recent years: The abrupt dismissal of former UNC System President Tom Ross; enactment of HB2, the “bathroom bill;” the Silent Sam controversy; and the departure of Ross’ successor, Margaret Spellings, who announced her own resignation in late October 12.

With this kind of governance, can UNC-Chapel Hill continue to be viewed as one of the top public universities in the country? Repeated events like these don’t signal the stability industry and education leaders look for when they decide where to locate.

This weekend on News & Views, Policy Watch’s Rob Schofield discusses the week’s events with NC Justice Center Executive Director Rick Glazier.

Glazier believes the Board of Governors’s ideological bent will negatively impact the ability to attract new leadership and retain high-quality faculty for the university, and could even dissuade some students from applying.

Click below for a preview of that radio interview:

For more reaction on the departure of Chancellor Folt and the removal of Silent Sam, read Jane Stancill’s piece in the Raleigh News & Observer.

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