The East Carolina University chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) passed a resolution this week condemning proposed changes to the chancellor search process at UNC System schools.
As Policy Watch reported in July, new UNC System President Peter Hans has proposed changes that would allow the system president to insert final candidates into search processes that traditionally happened at the Board of Trustees level.
Under the current system, an individual school’s board of trustees conducts an independent search and forwards at least two finalists to the UNC System President. The president chooses a final candidate to submit to a final vote by the UNC Board of Governors.
Hans’s proposed change would allow the UNC System president to add up to two candidates to search process. Those candidates would go through the same interviews as other candidates, but would automatically move forward as part of a slate of finalists for the position.
In effect, the president would have the power to insert finalists into the search process without approval from the board of trustees. The president would then choose a final candidate from a slate that, in part, he or she already had chosen.
The ECU AAUP resolution calls the proposed changes “a radical and dangerous expansion in the powers of the system President and would eradicate institutional sovereignty and shared governance in the process where it is most critical; that is, in choosing an executive leader who has the trust and support of the University community.”
The changes are particularly of interest at ECU, which is currently holding a chancellor search. In February two trustees told Policy Watch that N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) was aggressively seeking the chancellor’s position. The board, which has been divided on a number of contentious issues, has seen tensions over whether Moore’s candidacy would be a flagrant conflict of interests.
Several board members said they do not believe it would be proper for one of the state’s most powerful elected officials, responsible for appointing members of both the Board of Trustees and the UNC Board of Governors, to take a job on which those boards would ultimately vote.
In February Joseph Kyzer, Moore’s communications director, responded to Policy Watch’s questions about whether Moore is seeking the chancellorship.
“Speaker Moore is seeking re-election to the state House in 2020, plans to run for another term as Speaker if elected, and is focused on serving higher education students and campuses through his position in the General Assembly,” Kyzer said Wednesday.
Kyzer did not respond to a follow-up question asking whether Moore’s run for re-election would preclude him from also seeking the chancellorship at ECU.
Moore’s office has not responded to subsequent questions about his interest in the position, including inquiries made after and about Hans’s proposed changes.
Questions and interview requests to Hans have gone unanswered. The phone number listed for him on the UNC System website connects to a number that does not have an active voice mail box.
Several members of the UNC Board of Governors and members of various boards of trustees have expressed concerns about what the changes could mean for the process.
One of the state’s leading higher education groups, Higher Ed Works, has also editorialized against the proposed changes.
Below, read the ECU chapter of the AAUP’s statement in full.