News

New video surfaces of former ECU chancellor’s night out drinking with students

New video has surfaced that appears to show former East Carolina University Interim Chancellor Dan Gerlach weaving and stumbling down a Greenville sidewalk after a night that included drinking with students — and then driving away.

The video, sent anonymously to WRAL, follows Gerlach’s resignation over the weekend. He had been on administrative leave since video of him drinking and dancing with students at a bar near campus came to light early this month. The UNC System had been conducting an investigation into the incident ever since.

ECU Interim Chancellor Dan Gerlach.

Gerlach initially defended himself over the incident, which he said was just being open and accessible to students. He later admitted to poor decision making but said he was the target of a those who wanted to keep him from becoming the school’s full-time chancellor. In his resignation statement, Gerlach takes full responsibility.

“As Chancellor, I had the responsibility and the duty to live out the East Carolina Creed to the
fullest extent possible,” Gerlach wrote. “The Creed states that ‘members of our academic society exemplify highstandards of professional and personal conduct at all times.’ On the night of Wednesday, September
25 and early morning of Thursday, September 26, I did not live up to these standards as well as the UNC
System standards that demand excellent judgement and discretion from the campus leaders. I did not
model the behavior that we try to teach our students and to uphold ourselves. Upon reflection and
discussion, I believe that this shortcoming was significant enough that my resignation is in the best
interest of the University.”

“Make no mistake: the responsibility is mine,” Gerlach wrote.  “It is not the press, not the University or system leadership, and not anyone else who put me in this situation. It was I who made the choices that led to this action. There is no one to hold accountable for the situation except me.”

The UNC Board of Governors are meeting in special session Tuesday, including a closed-session during which they are expected to discuss Gerlach and the future leadership at ECU. The ECU Board of Trustees will also meet Tuesday afternoon.

News

ECU interim chancellor resigns following controversy over drinking with students

The interim chancellor of East Carolina University has resigned, the UNC System announced Saturday.

“East Carolina University Interim Chancellor Dan Gerlach has submitted his resignation, effective immediately, which I have accepted,” said Interim UNC System President Bill Roper in a prepared statement. “I believe that this action is in the best interests of the entire East Carolina University community. I have begun the process of identifying the next interim chancellor for ECU and will share more information with the university community as soon as possible.”

ECU Interim Chancellor Dan Gerlach.

Roper placed Gerlach on administrative leave early this month after photos and video of him with students in a bar near campus caused controversy.

UNC has been investigating the incident since.

Earlier this month Vern Davenport, chair of the ECU Board of Trustees, told Policy Watch he believed Gerlach had done a fine job as interim chancellor but his future depended on the outcome of the investigation.

“It’s in Dan’s best interest and the entire East Carolina community’s best interest that a thorough investigation be done and I expect it to be concluded quickly,” Davenport said. “Which direction it’s going… I have no comment on that. But I do support he process that we’re going through.”

After the incident in the local bar Gerlach initially defended his behavior but later said he believed it was bad judgement. Still, he said, he believed the photos and video were circulated to keep him from becoming the full-time chancellor at ECU.

News

Daily Tar Heel on Tim Moore as UNC President: “Hard to imagine anything worse.”

N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore

With lawmakers and members of the UNC Board of Governors openly suggesting this week that N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore would be a good choice for President of the UNC System, The Daily Tar Heel’s editorial board is also weighing in.

The student newspaper of UNC-Chapel Hill, the flagship campus of the 17 school UNC system, said the choice could be disastrous.

From an editorial published this week:

At a recent meeting of the UNC System Presidential Search Committee, former UNC Board of Governors chairperson Harry Smith said the committee’s goal is to select a president who can serve for 5 to 10 years. But a decade with Tim Moore at the helm of public higher education across North Carolina could have disastrous consequences. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine anything worse.

The next UNC System president must be virtuous, with a reputation of reaching across the aisle and building credibility with political opponents. Moore has shown countless times, however, that compromise and integrity are not his strong suits.

The editorial traces divisive political acts in Moore’s career from his time as an undergraduate at UNC-Chapel Hill to the recent “surprise” House vote to overturn Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto. The pattern, the paper said, is one of Moore prizing politics above all and believing the ends justify the means.

That isn’t what the UNC system should be looking for in its next leader, the editorial said.

Moore could be the perfect choice for UNC System president — if you’re looking to uphold the status quo of political turmoil and moral turpitude that have plagued the UNC system since its inception.

One of the biggest problems with the UNC System is the uncomfortably close relationship that its leadership enjoys with the Republican-controlled General Assembly. Granted, Moore may not be the reason the system is broken, but he most certainly benefits from its corruption. In fact, many BOG members have made significant financial contributions to Moore’s campaign.

And, as N.C. House Speaker, he is at least partially responsible for the many failures of UNC System leadership in recent years, considering BOG members are elected by the General Assembly itself. In North Carolina, there’s a clear revolving door between higher education and the state legislature — and conflicts of interest abound.

Our goal as a system should be to move forward — morally, academically and financially. But progress will be impossible if we appoint a president who has nothing to offer except controversy and a broken moral compass. It would only take us backward.

Being president of the entire UNC System is an incredibly important job. We can, and must, do better than an openly partisan, morally corrupt career politician.

Read the whole piece here.

 

News

The UNC Board of Governors, diversity and politics

The N.C. House voted unanimously late Wednesday to place Reginald “Reggie” Holley on the UNC Board of Governors.

But that unanimous vote came after a sprawling and sometimes heated debate.

That’s because Holley, a Republican lobbyist who many legislators know well, is in many ways exactly who lawmakers would like to see on the board of governors. A Black first generation college graduate, Holley founded his own business and has worked in state government and politics.

Reginald R. Holley

But he is also a Republican lobbyist — the sixth current or former lobbyist on a board dominated by conservatives with strong connections to the General Assembly’s GOP leadership.

Democrats have for years decried the lack of gender, racial and political diversity of the board, whose members are chosen by the GOP dominated House and Senate.

Even with the addition of Holley, the 24-member board has just three black members (the other two are Darrel Allison and Pearl Burris-Floyd, who have their own histories as lobbyists).

It also has just five women.

None of the members of the board are openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

All but five of the board’s members are Republican — and the non-GOP members are unaffiliated.

There are no Democrats.

Critics have for years noted that as the board has become less politically diverse it has become more antagonistic toward groups and people not in step with conservative political orthodoxy. Examples range from academic centers and university faculty to student groups and top university leadership.

Public conflicts with political overtones led former UNC System President Margaret Spellings — who was Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush — to step down from that position last year, followed by UNC Chancellor Carol Folt. A rash of chancellor resignations has led to a situation in which four of the UNC system’s 17 campuses are operating with interim chancellors even as the board searches fo the next president of the system. The political environment is such that lawmakers and Board of Governors members themselves are openly speculating that Tim Moore, the politically divisive Speaker of the N.C. House, will ultimately get the position.

With all of that in mind, Democrats argued Wednesday the process of choosing members of the board of governors should be reformed to prevent political conflicts of interest. Diversity should also be a strong consideration in choosing future members of the board, they said, which should look a lot more like the university system it represents.

During Wednesday’s debate on Holley’s nomination, Rep. Donna McDowell White praised him personally and said she believes he will add to the diversity of the board.

“I think in most scales, when we determine diversity, African-American is still on the list,” White said.

“I love Reggie’s bald head,” White said. “And it is truly African-American.”

News

UNC Board of Governors nominee moves forward without facing committee questions

The House is scheduled to vote on the appointment of Reginald R. Holley to the UNC Board of Governors today, following a favorable report from the House Rules Committee Tuesday.

Holley did not attend the committee meeting, despite several lawmakers saying they were told Holley would attend and answer any questions they may have.

Reginald R. Holley

“Usually in the normal election process they will come in and answer a few questions or they’ll come by and introduce themselves so we can ask them then if we want to,” said House Minority Leader Daren Jackson (D-Wake). “That hasn’t happened. There are a number of things I would like to have asked him.”

There is currently an interim UNC System President and interim chancellors at four of the UNC system’s 17 campuses (ECU, Fayetteville State, UNC-Chapel Hill and the UNC School of the Arts.). The board is going to have to make some import leadership decisions quickly, Jackson said — and it would be nice to know where Holley stands on how those decisions should be made.

The exits of former UNC President Margaret Spellings, former UNC Chancellor Carol Folt and former ECU Chancellor Cecil Staton came shrouded in controversy after conflicts with the board of governors.

House Minority Leader Darren Jackson (D-Wake)

“I’d like to know o know what thoughts he had on that,” Jackson said. “I’d like to know what he’s looking for in the next leader of the university system. I think those are fair questions I’d like to get answered.

Jackson said he didn’t know Holley and has only  “seen him around the building” in his role as a lobbyist.

That, he said, is its own problem.

If elected, Holley would be the sixth current or former lobbyist on the current 24-member board of governors (the others are Tom Fetzer, Thom Goolsby, Darrell Allison, Pearl Burris-Floyd and David Powers).

“Lobbyists shouldn’t be allowed to be on the board of governors,” Jackson said. “When you have people who are dependent on the Speaker and the Pro Tem to get legislation moving and the Speaker and the Pro Tem are dependent on PAC fundraising and things like that. And then you’re going to put lobbyists on the board of governors? You can’t have an independently thinking, independently operating board of governors that way. They’re just going to be an extension of the General Assembly. And that is not the purpose.”