UNC-Chapel Hill trustees elect new leadership

David Boliek

Despite rumors, status of Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz is not a topic of discussion at newly configured board’s first meeting 

The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees elected new leadership on Wednesday, following the appointment of six new members to the body. 

David Boliek will serve as chair of the board, with John Preyer as vice chair, Malcolm Turner as secretary and Clayton Somers as assistant secretary. All officers were elected unanimously. 

“I look forward to working together as a group with this board and this administration,” Boliek said. “…We’re at a place where it’s time to move forward.”

Boliek and Preyer were two of the four trustees to vote against tenure for Nikole Hannah-Jones last month. None of the trustees who voted ‘no’ have publicly explained their votes. 

“Trustee Boliek is a wonderful listener,” trustee Gene Davis, who previously served as vice chair of the board, said. “He asks questions and is truly interested in hearing from others who have different perspectives.”

This is the first time that the board has met with its new members, a group that has made the body slightly more diverse, while likely maintaining its conservative bent.

Boliek also assigned chairs for the board’s three standing committees. Preyer will chair the Budget and Finance Committee, Allie Ray McCullen, the board’s longest-serving member, will chair the External Relations Committee and Rob Bryan, a newcomer and former Republican lawmaker, will chair the University Affairs Committee.

The news comes on the same day that the Faculty Governance Committee plans to hold an emergency meeting over concerns that the school’s Chancellor, Kevin Guskiewicz, will be removed by the UNC System’s Board of Governors. 

“I’m not going to speculate on rumors,” Guskiewicz told Policy Watch on Wednesday. “I’ve got a job to do and I love leading this great university.”

The committee’s chair, Mimi Chapman, called the meeting after hearing rumors that the board, trustees and state lawmakers might pursue Guskiewicz’s removal following his handling of the Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure controversy. The trustees did not mention Guskiewicz’s potential removal during their meeting. 

Although the board of trustees can take a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the chancellor, the board of governors, which oversees all 17 UNC System institutions, is the only body with the authority to fire him.

UNC System President Peter Hans appeared to dispel the rumors in a statement. 

“The university’s mission is teaching, research, and public service, not rumors and politics. I would encourage everyone to take a deep breath, focus on that mission, and not chase conspiracy theories,” he said. 

Although the Faculty Governance Committee has expressed discontent with Guskiewicz in the past, Chapman told the News & Observer she was worried that he might be replaced by someone less fit to fill the position. 

The faculty will meet at 3 p.m. on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

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