New names for UNC Board of Governors are familiar political faces

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown and “Woody” White.

The North Carolina Senate is poised to add two former Republican legislators to the UNC Board of Governors — a body long criticized as overly partisan, top-heavy with lobbyists and former GOP lawmakers and lacking in diversity.

The Senate’s Select Committee on Nominations met briefly Tuesday morning to consider six names for the board — four reappointments and two new names.

The board members to be reappointed: Joel Ford, Martin Holton, Temple Sloan and Michael Williford.

The two new nominees:

  • Harry Brown, a 16-year veteran of the Senate from Onslow County and former Senate Majority Leader, and
  • Haywood “Woody” White, a former senator and past chair of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, who also ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for a U.S. House seat in 2014.

Senator Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford), a member of committee, pointed out that the two new nominees — both white Republican men — would offer little to a board she said needs to diversify if it wants to actually represent the state and the UNC System.

“This is a very diverse state,” Robinson said. “The university system is a very diverse system. And we need to have a better representation on the board of governors for those universities — women and minorities.”

Robinson, a member of the bipartisan Governor’s Commission on the Governance of Public Universities in North Carolina, said her Senate colleagues need to begin taking diversity concerns seriously.

“The majority of the UNC system are women, yet the board of governors has very few women on it,” Robinson said. “It also does not have many minorities on it as well.”

Of the board’s 24 voting members, five are women and four are Black.

“I nominated a woman last term and she didn’t get anywhere,” Robinson said. “I figured there was no need of me nominating if you’re not going to vote.”

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Duke grad students continue unionization efforts without recognition from administration

Duke University graduate student workers rally for union recognition.

Duke University grad students are pushing forward with their campaign to unionize, despite the administration declining to voluntarily recognize and negotiate with their union.

As Policy Watch has reported, the Duke Graduate Students Union filed for a union election last Friday.

In a Monday e-mail to doctoral students and faculty, Interim Provost Jennifer Francis said Duke negotiates and has good relationships with a number of unions, including the Duke Faculty Union and  Duke University Press Workers Union. But the university looks at its relationship with its students differently, she wrote.

“The University’s institutional position remains that Duke’s relationship with our students is centered on education, training, and mentorship, fundamentally different from that of employer to employee,” Francis wrote.

“Ph.D. students are not admitted to do a job,” she wrote. ” They are selected because of their potential to be exceptional scholars. The experience of teaching and conducting research is designed to prepare them for a multitude of careers in classrooms, laboratories, industry, and non-profits — a model that has served generations of graduate students well.”

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HPU Poll looks at favorability for governor, presidential candidates

The results of the latest High Point University Poll, released Wednesday, give some insight into how North Carolinians view everything from the job being done by Gov. Roy Cooper and President Joe Biden to the name recognition of potential candidates to replace them both in office.

Cooper continued to have the strongest support of any individual politician in the poll, with 46 percent of respondents saying they have a favorable view of him, 34 percent unfavorable and 16 percent unsure or unfamiliar.

Cooper had higher approval than both the N.C. Supreme Court (40 percent favorable) and the General Assembly (39 percent)

The poll also asked about Attorney General Josh Stein and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson. Stein is running for the Democratic nomination for governor and Robinson has been teasing a run for the Republican nomination for more than a year, recently giving the GOP rebuttal to Cooper’s state of the state address.

Robinson and Stein had 22 percent and 19 percent favorability respectively. A large percentage of respondents said they weren’t sure or were unaware of either man – 57 percent for Robinson and 58 percent for Stein.

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New Meredith College poll looks at views on discrimination, Equal Rights Amendment

New polling from Meredith College examines North Carolinians’ views of discrimination and the Equal Rights Amendment, which seeks to provide protections for those experiencing it.

The full report on the poll, produced in partnership with the ERA-NC Alliance, was published Monday. It delves into how different North Carolinians see discrimination against an array of different groups – from Black and Hispanic people to LGBTQ people and religious groups like Jews and Evangelical Christians.

“The issue of discrimination and what can be done about it is as old as the United States,” the report reads. “Protecting voting rights for all citizens, the fight for equal pay for equal work, and for being treated equally in criminal matters have a long history in this country. Recently, prominent hate crimes against many groups, such as the mass shooting of Black persons in Buffalo or attacks against synagogues and their congregants, have raised additional concerns about how laws grounded in the United States Constitution can protect the country’s citizens.”

“In addition, many politicians have attacked the issue of  ‘wokeness’ as a way of targeting marginalized groups, such as the LGBTQ+ community, making it more acceptable to discriminate against members of these groups,” the report reads. “It is within this cultural and political context that we decided to survey North Carolinians about their perceptions of discrimination against traditionally marginalized groups in society, such as
women and Black people. We also decided to ask citizens about their perceptions of groups not
considered to be historically marginalized groups—men and White people—to determine
similarities and differences between perceptions of discrimination between historically
marginalized and historically elevated groups.”

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The month ahead in Higher Ed

Mark your calendars for these higher education related meetings, listening sessions and events over the next month:

Wednesday, March 8

“The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe” – a panel discussion promoting the new book in which more than 25 scholars examine the way the phenomenally successful Marvel superhero films go beyond mere thrills, delivering messages about government, public policy and society.

The discussion will include Lilly Goren, book co-editor and professor at Carroll University; Nick Carnes, book co-editor and professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy; Eric Degeans, NPR TV critic and professor at Duke’s DeWitt Wallace Center and Tom DeFalco, writer and former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics.

The event kicks off at  5 p.m. in the Holsti-Anderson Room (Room 153) at Rubenstein Library, on Duke’s West Campus at 411 Chapel Hill Drive in Durham. Parking is available at the Bryan Center garage on Science Drive.

Monday March 13

Listening session with The Governor’s Commission on the Governance of Public Universities in North Carolina Charlotte Area Chamber of Commerce, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Gov. Cooper created the commission through an executive order in November, citing a series of scandals involving the UNC System and its constituent universities. The commission is co-chaired by former UNC System Presidents Tom Ross and Margaret Spellings, a Democrat and Republican respectively. Read more