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UNC Faculty Group Says Secrecy to Hurt New University Head

RALEIGH, N.C. ― Faculty representatives for North Carolina’s public university system said Thursday the next president of the 17-campus University of North Carolina will take the job with extra baggage by failing to meet with teachers and researchers first.

A statement issued by the UNC Faculty Assembly ahead of Friday’s vote on a new president complains that professors and others should have been able to meet and measure candidates during the confidential selection process. The statement signed by the group’s top officers said the secretive search by the UNC Board of Governors and the top candidate’s indifference to meeting in advance will make the new president’s job harder.

“No student attends our campuses, 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,” the statement said. “Yet the board continues to act without the advice and counsel of the constituencies whose expertise they need to effectively govern the institution.”

The statement was signed by Faculty Assembly chairman Stephen Leonard, a political science professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Gabriel Lugo, a mathematics professor at UNC-Wilmington and the group’s chair-elect.

The university is replacing Tom Ross, who is being pushed out of the job by board members who said they wanted a change.

The UNC board’s personnel committee was scheduled to meet privately Thursday to review the incoming president’s compensation.

Some board members and legislative leaders have complained the selection is being speeded up to beat an end-of-the-month deadline after which the UNC governors could be required to consider at least three candidates before choosing a new president.

State Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, last week warned the university board that failing to consider multiple candidates “would not be viewed favorably.” The board is selected entirely by lawmakers.

“I will take them at their word that they are going to present to the board three serious candidates, and we’ll see,” Berger said.

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