Allison breaks silence as opposition grows to FSU chancellor appointment

FSU Chancellor-elect Darrell Allison

In his first interview interview since being appointed Chancellor of Fayetteville State University, Darrell Allison said criticism has been “hurtful” but did not directly answer questions about the controversial process by which he was appointed.

In an interview with ABC-11 Allison, a former member of the UNC Board of Governors whose appointment has been opposed by students, faculty and alumni, said he has heard from “so many more that’s not so loud” supporting him. That includes faculty, students and staff, Allison said.

As Policy Watch reported last week, members of FSU’s board of trustees and UNC System sources close to the process said Allison did not make the initial cut for candidates to be submitted to the UNC System President. He was added last-minute in a move he and the trustees have not been willing to discuss publicly and ultimately chosen for the position over candidates with more education and experience.

“The initials Ph.D are important,” Allison told ABC-11. “But for what Fayetteville State University needs right now, the letters are l-e-a-d-e-r. I’m a leader and I bring good, strong leadership.”

Allison is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and UNC-Chapel Hill’s law school. He has no previous experience teaching or in administration at the university level. He has worked as a lobbyist for K-12 charter schools and as served as a political appointee on the board of trustees of NCCU and on the board of governors.

On Wednesday the Raleigh-Apex NAACP joined the FSU faculty and the school’s national alumni association in opposing Allison’s appointment.

“Even though I didn’t attend Fayetteville State, I did attend Lincoln University in Jefferson City and I’m a member of the Lincoln alumni association and I sympathize with the Fayetteville alumni association.” said Gerald D. Givens Jr., president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP.  “Most HBCU executives bring years of experience in higher education. They will have demonstrated their capacity to leverage relationships with previous HBCU presidents, governments, industries and leaders to address some of the challenges facing many HBCUs collectively, such as growth in enrollment, student achievement, fundraising, affordability and financial stability.”

Allison’s first day as FSU chancellor is March 15.

 

UNC System exploring student mental health through virtual events

The UNC System will hold a series of virtual events to explore student mental health beginning Tuesday.

The series, called the 2021 Virtual Behavioral Health Convening, will include representatives from all 17 UNC system campuses exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student, faculty and staff mental health.

“Considering the tumultuous year students have endured, it is encouraging to know that mental health is a top priority for all institutions in the UNC System,” said Toya Corbett, UNC System assistant vice president of student affairs, in a statement Monday. “Discussions during the Behavioral Health Covening will engage everyone in a concerted effort to foster a culture of care on their respective campuses.”

The virtual events will begin Tuesday at 10 a.m. and continue on March 9 and March 16. The events are open to all UNC System faculty and staff including those in the N.C. Community College system. Registration is free.

“Student mental health has long been a point of focus across the UNC System,,” said UNC System President Peter Hans in a statement Monday. “But the sweeping effects of COVID-19 have further revealed campus community needs.”

“Many of our students, staff, and faculty have experienced anxiety and depression during this pandemic with the isolation it has wrought,” Hans said. “This convening is an opportunity for us to nurture a spirit of hope, encouragement and build the resilience to endure.”

National Fayetteville State Alumni Association opposes new chancellor, selection process

The National Fayetteville Alumni Association is opposing the appointment of former UNC Board of Governors member Darrell Allison as the school’s next chancellor.

Policy Watch reported this week on the controversial choice and the selection process, which the alumni association called “flawed” in a statement Thursday.

In the statement the association’s National President, Richard D. Kingsberry, said the group will ask the Fayetteville State University Board of Trustees and the UNC Board of Governors to withdraw Allison’s name and instead select one of the other applicants recommended by the trustee board’s search committee.

The association will also be seeking “a legal investigation” into the selection process, Kingsberry said in the statement.

Allison, who was already approved by the UNC Board of Governors, is scheduled to officially take the school’s top leadership position March 15.

Read the full association statement below:

 

 

Darrell Allison, former UNC Board of Governors member, named chancellor at Fayetteville State University

Darrell Allison was named the next chancellor at Fayetteville State University Thursday.

Allison served on the UNC Board of Governors until an abrupt resignation in September, citing personal reasons. Sitting members of the board are not eligible for consideration for chancellorships within the system.

Allison, who is politically unaffiliated, was one of just five members on the 24-member board who is not a registered Republican. There are no registered Democrats on the board.

Allison is heavily involved with issues and campaigns important to the GOP, however. He is past president of school choice advocacy group Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina and was on the North Carolina steering committee for Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential bid.

He was also one of just three voting Black members. In his time on the board he was an advocate for historically minority serving institutions and chair of the board’s Racial Equity Task Force.

Allison is himself a graduate of one of the system’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), North Carolina Central University. He earned  his bachelor’s degree at NCCU and a Juris Doctor degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. Before joining the board he served on NCCU’s Board of Trustees.

He also came under fire from Black student leaders, faculty and community members for his role in the Silent Sam Confederate monument settlement with the N.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Earlier this month court documents revealed that an op-ed  an op-ed signed by five board members that ran in the Charlotte Observer and the News & Observer describing their negotiation of the deal  was not actually written by them. The five did not directly participate in the negotiations they described, according to court documents.

Then UNC System Vice President for Communications Earl Whipple testified he wrote the op-ed. Allison and board members Jim Holmes, Wendy Murphy, Anna Nelson and Bob Rucho signed the final product to add “authenticity,” Whipple said.

UNC System President Peter Hans described Allison as “a creative leader who understands the value of Fayetteville State University to the community, the region, and the state.”

“Darrell’s expansive career in education and service to the UNC System has been important to this state, and especially our HBCUs,” Hans said in a statement Thursday. “He brings with him a proven track record for student advocacy and a reputation for fostering partnerships that can further this university’s strategic goals. Through his leadership of the Racial Equity Task Force, he was a powerful voice in advancing critical issues of equity, and I know he will help us continue to push forward on this priority.”

Board of Governors Chair Randy Ramsey echoed those sentiments.

“I have worked alongside Darrell for many years now and he is not only a person of great ability but one of true character,” Ramsey said. “He is deeply committed to higher education and to the citizens of North Carolina. He brings to this position a broad understanding of Fayetteville State University’s strategic role and impact in the region.”

Allison will officially take his role as chacnellor on March 15. He follows Interim Chancellor Peggy Valentine, who has been serving in that role since July of 2019.

UNC System schools to continue in-state tuition freeze

The UNC System will continue its in-state tuition freeze for a fifth year, the system office announced Thursday.

The move comes as part of the “Higher Expectations” strategic plan adopted in 2016, which set goals for improving affordability, access, student success, economic impact and diversity. Three years in, a new report shows the system meeting or exceeding nine of the 12 metrics set as part of the five-year plan.

“When the University of North Carolina System adopted this strategic plan in 2016, no one could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic or the difficulties our state would face as a result,” said UNC System President Peter Hans in a statement Thursday. “In today’s economy, many North Carolinians are seeking opportunities to rebuild their careers, their health, and their community. This report shows how our University is clearing pathways and helping residents meet those goals. I applaud our chancellors, faculty, and staff for their hard work toward this cause.”

UNC Board of Governors Chairman Randy Ramsey said the freeze is particularly important as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

UNC System President Peter Hans.

“In these times of trial, it’s easy to lose sight of the long game,” Ramsey said in a statement Thursday. “But even with the emergencies and distractions, we haven’t taken our eye off the ball. Our universities are multitasking, making tremendous progress as they balance priorities and manage public health and safety.”

“Our System-wide tuition freeze reinforces the board’s commitment to keep college costs low,” Ramsey said. “We are also grateful to the General Assembly for helping us reduce the financial burden on our students. Together, we will ensure people from every corner of this state can afford a world-class education.”

Thursday’s announcement doesn’t mean students won’t see any increases.

Nonresident undergraduate tuition will increase by an average of 1.2 percent for the 2021-22 academic year while out-of-state graduate student tuition will increase by an average 3.9 percent tuition increase.

Student fees, which are not part of the tuition freeze, will increase system-wide by an average of 2.2 percent.

Resident undergraduates will pay an average $6,553 in tuition and fees. Out-of-state undergraduates will pay an average $20,194 in tuition and fees. Those don’t include the costs of room, board, books and other campus-related expenses.

In-state tuition at UNC’s three NC Promise schools –Elizabeth City State University, UNC Pembroke, and Western Carolina University —  will remain at $1,000 annually, as it has since the affordable tuition program began in 2018. Out-of-state students will pay $2,500 per semester at those schools.