This is the second of a three-part post about the UNC Board of Governors which is scheduled to elect officers at a regular meeting, Friday, June 15. Much of what is written is my opinion. Some is based on communications. And some comes from the UNC system website.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m one of many NC State University loyalists and graduates (BA Political Science ’77) who believes the UNC Board of Governors—the politically appointed group of 34 people who are supposed to look after North Carolina’s public 17 institutions of higher learning—is biased towards the Chapel Hill campus. My belief is for good reasons which go back more than a couple of years but which are more and more prevalent today.
A recent The News& Observer article, Board of Governors keeps hands off UNC scandal, is related to the academic fraud (with emphasis on athletes, especially football and basketball players) being perpetrated at UNC-Chapel Hill and the lack of a thorough and demanding investigation of UNC-Chapel Hill by the UNC BOG. A few years ago, the BOG raked my alma mater over the proverbial coals for allegations far less egregious than today’s mess at UNC-CH. Reading the story and the remarks from other NC State loyalists, I may have well been reading my own comments.
The academic troubles at UNC-Chapel Hill continue to trickle from the campus thanks to inquiries made by The N&O and other media but the BOG and UNC system President Tom Ross, in my opinion, are stone-walling and becoming more and more headstrong against a thorough investigation obviously afraid of doing additional harm to UNC-Chapel Hill. The BOG and Mr. Ross are being protective of the “Carolina Brand” and that makes them a laughing stock. But, pressure continues to mount for the UNC BOG to do more than wait on an investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation which, from what I understand, was instigated by the SBI and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and not by the BOG, no matter who says who did what and when. The SBI and the OCDAO told UNC they would be investigating matters of financial fraud and forgery of official documents. It wasn't the UNC BOG asking for the investigation. The UNC BOG is a reluctant participant in this examination of possible criminal activity.
President Ross is quickly losing credibility with the public because he says fraud perpetrated by UNC professors and staff is not worth a BOG investigation much less by his office. Maybe a recent revelation as printed in The N&O, UNC football players flocked to suspect class, will force the UNC BOG to quit protecting the Chapel Hill campus and do what is right. That’s the hope here; it’s not to embarrass UNC-CH but to do what’s right and save face for the entire UNC system, all 17 institutions and not just to hide the shame of one.
While for the most part Wolfpackers tolerate the UNC BOG, in general, we believe the UNC BOG and the General Administration—at least the UNC-CH connected members and Mr. Ross—play favorites with the campus in Chapel Hill. The UNC General Administration offices are in Chapel Hill, which is good and bad. It’s good because it keeps a closer hand on the shenanigans that happen on that campus; it’s bad because it keeps a closer hand on the shenanigans that happen on that campus.
The BOG membership is stacked against not only NC State but against the other 15 institutions that make up the UNC system. If you look at the UNC BOG make-up based on academic credentials you get a good picture of where each member’s loyalties lie, though each member of the BOG may beg-off bias and say the first concern each has is to the education offered throughout the UNC System, but that’s just their talking points.
In reality, the loyalty of the members of the UNC Board of Governors is with those who appointed them in the first place, the General Assembly and then to their favorite University. Those who only want to serve one term can do as they wish. If they want to serve longer and if they want to be re-elected to the BOG, they must go along and get along. Some do and some don’t. Those who bow to the leadership’s wishes and the politics of the General Assembly can stay for a long time, unless the General Assembly leadership changes which happened last year. Those who don’t go along are just filling a seat until their term is up.
By perusing the UNC (system) website, I discovered, not to my amazement, of the 34 members of the Board of Governors (including two emeritus members and not counting the one student member), 22 BOG members have educational connections to UNC-Chapel Hill either by an undergraduate or graduate degree or, if the website is correct, in the case of one, by just attending UNC-Chapel Hill but, according to the website, not graduating at all in anything from anywhere.
In the interest of full disclosure, there are five BOG members who have educational connections to (degrees from) NC State University; one of the five Wolfies also earned a degree from UNC-CH. And, with five links, NC State University is the second most represented educational institution on the BOG. However, only eight of the 17 institutions making up the UNC system are represented on the BOG which means there are nine UNC system institutions not directly represented. Here is a list of the 17 member institutions of the UNC system and how many members of the BOG are represented by each. Some BOG members represent more than one member institution through his/her education:
Appalachian State University: 2
East Carolina University: 2
Elizabeth City State University: 1
Fayetteville State University: 0
NC A&T State University: 1
North Carolina Central University: 2
North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics: 0
NC State University: 5
UNC Asheville: 0
UNC-Chapel Hill: 22
UNC Charlotte: 0
UNC Greensboro: 0
UNC Pembroke: 0
UNC Wilmington: 0
UNC School of the Arts: 0
Western Carolina University: 1
Winston-Salem State University: 0
To add insult to injury to those without direct representation, here’s a list of all other colleges and universities represented on the UNC BOG:
Campbell University: 2
Davidson College: 1
Duke University: 2
Harvard University: 2
High Point University: 1
King College (Bristol TN): 2
Morehouse College-Atlanta: 1
New York University: 1
Salem College: 1
University of Cincinnati: 1
University of Jodhpur (India): 1
University of Miami: 1
University of Missouri: 1
University of Pennsylvania: 1
University of Rome: 1
University of Virginia: 2
Vanderbilt University: 1
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: 2
Wake Forest University: 2
Wayne County Community College: 1
While earning degrees or attending non-UNC system institutions should not preclude anyone from serving on the BOG, in the interest of the 17 member institutions, it would be better if each member of the BOG has an academic connection to UNC system’s 17 member institutions. Appointees might include being an ardent supporter who makes educational (not athletics) monetary donations to the institution, but campaign contributions to a politician of choice and being a lobbyist to the General Assembly and giving in to the demands of a BOG Chairperson or the President of the UNC System should not be a credential.
Those who don’t meet this suggested requirement of having a degree from a member institution or being an ardent financial supporter (not an athletic supporter) of a specific member University may have the entire system at heart, but this should be more than a political board, especially one that leans heavily toward one of its members, especially if that one member institution is UNC-Chapel Hill. Think I’m biased? Against UNC-Chapel Hill in this case? I’ve admitted I’m an NC State University loyalist so obviously I have my biases. In reality, UNC-CH should be treated with high regard but so should all the other 16 institutions be treated equally and UNC-CH should be treated as the others are treated, warts and all.
With a desire for fairness, I have a solution for the make-up of the BOG, one that will reduce NC State’s five BOG spots to two, but, as the march toward the election of BOG officers this Friday approaches, one that also will change how the leadership is chosen so politics is removed. Read about it in tomorrow’s post.