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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


As you may have noticed, recently university governing boards have been appointing Presidents and Chancellors under conditions of increasing secrecy and without wide consultation with faculty.  The University of Iowa is a recent case as is the University of North Carolina.  The following is a state from the University of North Carolina Faculty Assembly about the UNC Board of Governors' tendency to refuse to engage in shared governance.--Michael

The Leadership and Policy Statement of the University of North Carolina notes that the institution “operates under an arrangement of shared governance” that “honors the important traditional role of the faculty in the governance of the academy.” (http://www.northcarolina.edu/content/leadership-and-policy )

Regrettably, for the better part of a half decade, the UNC Board of Governors has repeatedly failed to follow its own stated principles of good governance. 

The UNC Faculty Assembly has faithfully advised the Board on best practices regarding admissions, tuition, financial aid, leadership appointment processes, curricular design, research and freedom of inquiry, and processes of peer review, yet the Board has repeatedly refused to acknowledge – let alone discuss – points of counsel they have been offered. Instead, they have frequently promulgated ill-advised policies and practices that have proven detrimental to the best interests of public higher education in this state.

The recent mismanagement of the Executive office of the University, from the firing of Thomas Ross, to the hiring of the new President, is but the most egregious in a long train of problematic governance actions.

The failure of the Board to seek the advice and counsel of the staff and faculty is both shortsighted and troubling. No student attends our campuses to be taught, no funding agency or organization provides grants of research support, and no business, governmental entity, or civic organization has come to our institutions seeking public service expertise, because of the teaching, research and service achievements of the Board of Governors or the President of the University. Yet the Board continues to act without the advice and counsel of the constituencies whose expertise they need to effectively govern the institution.

Over the years, the most effective and respected leaders of the University system and its respective campuses have argued that their success is contingent on the support of staff and faculty. We now appear to have entered an era when it is not support, but an ill-informed indifference, that defines how governing authorities in the University think of their relationship to those who carry out the core mission of public higher education. No institution of higher learning has ever achieved excellence and distinction without an active, engaged, and committed community of staff and faculty. It is then incumbent on the Board of Governors to now begin – as it always should have been -- cultivating effective shared governance if the University is to continue on the path of excellence and achievement.

The faculty will not prejudge the commitment of new President to the well-being of the University. But he or she must understand that the secretive character of this search, and his or her own indifference to consulting with staff and faculty when s/he was an active candidate for the position, will make it difficult to win the confidence and trust of the University community.

As this leadership transition unfolds, foremost among those confidence building principles must be a steadfast and unyielding dedication to seeking the best advice and counsel possible, and a readiness to stand against the debasement of institutional governance that has brought the future of the University into doubt.

22 October 2015

For the UNC system Faculty Assembly
Stephen T. Leonard, UNC-Chapel Hill, Chair
Gabriel Lugo, UNC-Wilmington, Chair-Elect


Story comes to the surface about University of North Carolina's plan to hold emergency meeting to talk with president finalist Margaret Spellings (10/15).  This meeting is scheduled for Friday, 10/16, seemingly in an effort to bypass a bill not yet signed, which "requires the search committee to bring forward three candidates to the full board for discussion."

Amidst a call for John Fennebresque’s resignation (10/16) we see positive and negative discussion regarding What a Margaret Spellings Presidency Might Mean for North Carolina (10/16), with critiques on her political involvement (10/20) and her past actions combating LGBT equality (10/21).

Faculty continue to criticize UNC president search process (10/21), noting that '"The failure of the Board to seek the advice and counsel of the staff and faculty is both shortsighted and troubling.'  Concern over this lack of shared governance is widespread (10/22), as is the realization that Spellings is surely in (10/22).

Compiled by Alysse Rathburn


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