Erskine Bowles and Richard Vinroot: Legislators’ efforts put UNC system’s reputation in peril
Erskine Bowles, president emeritus of the University of North Carolina and a former White House chief of staff, and Richard Vinroot, a former mayor of Charlotte and a one-time candidate for governor of North Carolina, can agree: The way our university system is governed needs to change.
In a GUEST COLUMN published Sunday, Bowles and Vinroot advocate for returning to the original intent of the university system’s founders and taking politics out of higher education, noting that the institution is stronger than any political philosophy. Here is an excerpt from the column:
When the Board of Governors was created in 1971, it was specifically designed to take politics out of higher education. While this has always been a struggle, it has worked well for the most part. but the rancor we’ve seen in recent years, resulting in the dismissal of President Tom Ross and the departures of President Margaret Spellings and UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt — isn’t just about partisanship.
Republican lawmakers have named conservatives of their own party to the Board of Governors and changed the governance rules to diminish any appointive authority in the governor’s office. This type of action risks turning the Board of Governors into a purely political organization doing the bidding of our legislative leaders. And, in our opinion, that puts our university’s reputation in peril.
The N&O highlights calls for a “balanced and independent” governing board
A group of prominent university supporters and former board members are banding together to call out the UNC Board of Governors for “meddling and micromanaging” North Carolina’s 17 public university campuses to the point of endangering the future of higher education in the state, according to a statement signed by dozens.
Making it work with UNC’s Board
Mary Sue Coleman, a proud UNC graduate and current president of the Association of American Universities, shared a powerful editorial on the Higher Education Works website.
“The mounting pressures on public higher education are taking a dangerous toll on our best institutions and their leaders in ways that call for concerted and thoughtful reevaluation of institutional oversight,” Coleman writes. “The boards of these institutions have a responsibility to ensure that they are working to empower the institutions’ leadership, not undermine it. UNC is hardly an outlier but rather is the latest in a troubling trend of poor board governance.”
Click HERE to read the entire column.