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Governor signs executive order establishing commission on UNC System governance

Governor Roy Cooper announced a commission Tuesday to study how the UNC System functions, who governs it and how.

The Governor’s Commission on  the Governance of Public Universities in North Carolina, created by executive order, will be headed by former UNC System Presidents Tom Ross and Margaret Spellings, a Democrat and Republican respectively.

“North Carolina’s public universities are our most valuable assets,” Cooper said in a statement Tuesday. “And the key to building a stronger economy with opportunity for everyone and they need serious, diverse leadership committed to working together for the good of our students, faculty, future employers and our state.”

Gov. Roy Cooper

“Seeking unbiased review and recommendations on proposed reform from bipartisan leaders with first-hand experience building our great universities will ensure the UNC System’s continued success,” Cooper said. “And I appreciate President Ross’s and President Spellings’s willingness to lead this commission.”

Ross was ousted from his position in 2015 by a new Republican majority on the UNC System Board of Governors. While the board gave no explanation for removing Ross, they did say it was not related to his performance in the position.

Spellings, a former education secretary in the George W. Bush presidential administration, replaced Ross. But after a series of conflicts with board members and criticism from conservatives that she was too independent, she stepped down from the position halfway through a five year contract.

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