Mythbusting: The UNC BOG

BobLee
June21/ 2012

  As promised, today I will begin to dispel assorted myths, misconceptions, falsehoods and “whoppers” re: The UNC BOG / BOTs.  If dispelling these myths et al will strike at the core of your life’s essence you may wish to leave now.  Truth does not necessarily “set one free” and can cause board monkeys to chew off one or both thumbs.  Proceed at your own risk……

DISCLAIMER:  Knowing the “Truth” about the mythical BOG and BOTs will not dispel the quite real “helluva mess” that has been partially uncovered at UNC-CH.  That “helluva mess” will still be festering after you have read the following.  You may still loathe all things UNC-CH blaming that institution and all its members for any/all disappointments you have endured in your life.  Likewise, if “UNC not playing in a BCS game” is your over-riding life disappointment; that too can continue to be your primary focus.

Today we focus on The UNC BOG:

(I apologize for the wordiness necessary to explain this stuff)

BOG stands for “Board of Governors”.  It is an administrative authority composed of 32 members all of whom are appointed by the NC General Assembly.  The BOG oversees an 18-campus UNC “system”.  The BOG selects a President as its chief executive officer.  Said president reports to the BOG as his/her supervisory up-line.  Members serve 4-year terms and may be reappointed for two additional consecutive 4-year terms for a total of 12 years before having to leave the board.   There are no “requirements” for appointment other than surviving a nomination process involving both the House and Senate of the NC General Assembly.

NOTE: Various universities and university systems call their citizen administrative / advisory groups by all sorts of goofy names – Governors – Regeants – Visitors – Curators – Trustees etc etc.  In this attempt to “be different” from others they end up being “the same”.  If the group naming thing seems silly, think about all those funny caps and gowns and assorted rainments they wear at “special occasions”.  Similarities between academia, fraternal and sororial organizations, and 3rd world dictatorships in this regard are not coincidental.

Eight slots of the 32 come up for appointment every two years during what is known as the “long session” of the Gen Assembly.  Those slots are filled by a combination of reappointments and/or new members.  “Anyone” can enter the appointment process by contacting a GenAssembly member and submitting a personal resume and cover letter outlining your interest in being appointed.

Listing your “username and password” on a partisan fan monkey board is not required nor is how much you really really love or really really hate one or more UNC System member institutions.  (NOTE: mention of “really really hating” anything is not recommended).

Nomination lists are usually pared down to 10-20 names from both the House and Senate.  Those two lists are made public and are then further pared down to the number of seats being appointed.  Potential nominees often withdraw their names from consideration to avoid not making the final cut and thereby incurring some degree of public embarrassment.

“Getting nominated and subsequently appointed” involves much the same process as getting on a high school student council and/or a church session.  Those doing the voting tend to support individuals they are familiar with either via personal relationships and/or via noteworthy achievement.  “Familiarity” can be advanced by informal networking among the members of the General Assembly.  Whatever information one includes in one’s “application” will certainly be part of that familiarization process.

If an individual is unimpressive in both face-face communication and/or in his/her life’s work, the odds of being nominated are not very good.  Expressing extreme anger, ill-temperance and a conviction that one is a perpetual victim of unfair persecution has never proven a successful image to promote in gaining appointment; but that’s not saying it won’t work.

Is supporting the political campaigns of GenAssem members “helpful” in acquiring their support?  It never hurts but is NOT a requirement.

An association with any particular UNC institution is not a requirement for being nominated nor appointed.  Matriculation at any member institution on an undergraduate or graduate level is not a requirement.  UNC BOG appointments are not officially related to specific member institutions.  Each institution is not given one/more seats to fill.  At present, two UNC System members have no members with a personal relationship to their campus.  Conversely one – UNC-CH – currently has 19 BOG members with a link to its campus.

In theory, all 32 BOG members could be passionate alumni of Elizabeth City State University.  In theory…..

I am on record as a proponent that EVERY member institution should have a minimum of one BOG seat for a noteworthy representative of its living alumni.  If an institution has no one meriting BOG appointment, that institution’s worthiness to be in the UNC System should be re-evaluated.  That would not preclude other members from having multiple representatives.

The question of what constitutes being linked to one institution is somewhat subjective.  Having a degree from XYZ is one way of course.  Sporting a window flag and/or bumper sticker is another.

Coincidentally, an analysis of the total membership of the NC General Assembly reveals that UNC-CH is also the primary alma mater of choice.   Many attribute that fact to a high % of politicians being attorneys and UNC-CH having a popular regional law school.  Why “law” and “politics” seem linked is a discussion for another day.  It could be because “politicians” create the “laws” that lawyers deal with daily.  Or, it could somehow be tied to the Knights Templar and The Big Bang Theory.

All but eight of the current BOG were appointed by a veto-proof majority of Democrats led by now-departed Marc Basnight, Tony Rand and their cronies.  The BOG nomination /appointment process was tightly controlled by “party bosses” who micro-managed the process “behind closed doors” for multiple decades.  Their appointees did seem to have amazingly similar backgrounds in both political and institutional affiliations.  Political contribution records tended to be consistent too.

In 2011, the process was much more “open” and more “diverse” as regards the relationship of appointees to certain institutions.  That institutional diversity is expected to continue so long as former conditions do not reoccur.  This situation is “good or bad” based on each citizen’s own affiliations.

Are BOG members “compensated”?

In preparing this column I randomly asked ten adult acquaintances of reasonable awareness – “How much do BOG members get “paid” to serve?”    Guesstimates ranged from $20,000 to “a whole lot”.  ……The correct answer is ZERO.

Yes, Erskine Bowles, for example, is on various corporate Brds of Directors and receives high 6-figure compensation for doing so.  Serving on a corporate BOD is not the same as serving on a government administrative board.  Bet you didn’t know that, did you?

BOG members receive a government per diem for the days they are attending to BOG functions.  They routinely stay overnight at The Carolina Inn for their once-every-two-months meetings.  The nightly room rate is $150 but members receive only a $75 allowance ergo the balance is out-of-pocket.   One does not choose to serve on the UNC BOG to gorge oneself at the public trough.

One member estimated he spent 400+ hours in his BOG involvement over a recent year.  He is an attorney who’s billable rate is in excess of $500/hour.   You do the math.   In his case, he billed out A LOT of hours in his career prior to being appointed to the BOG and willingly accepted the trade-off he was agreeing to.  His situation is not unique.

Another BOG member who is a corporate executive (with a Fortune 100 company) revealed he uses accrued vacation days when he is attending to BOG business.  Would YOU be willing to do so?

NOTE: It is a matter of record that the vast majority of BOG members do not even bother to submit “expense reports for reimbursement” despite the ability to do so.

Why do individuals want to / agree to serve as BOG members, if not for pecuniary gain?

A variety of reasons related to individual egos and altruistic bent.  It makes for a nice addition to one’s obituary, or has to this point……  It may impress one’s social/professional contemporaries for what’s that worth……  It provides a nice networking tool for what that’s worth……  Or, (drum roll) it is an opportunity to “give back” one’s time and expertise to advancement of higher education for the overall betterment of mankind. ….. yikes!

Is “not getting financial compensation” a factor in the BOG nomination / appointment process?  Would it be for you?

Could you / Would you agree to donate considerable time to your 4-year BOG commitment?  Between formal meetings there are “committee involvements” researching and information gathering on the board’s lengthy agenda items.  The 2-day meetings every other month are the “tip of the iceberg” of one’s time involvement.

Young adult “corporate ladder climbers” rarely have the flexibility to do the above.  Having the financial wherewithall to “serve” traditionally involves well-established personal income streams not adversely affected by one’s frequent absences from “the office”.   Ergo, BOG members tend to be 50+++ and of a social class strata often derided by those who are not members of said “social strata”.

Owning a chain of strip clubs or having connections to a drug cartel could produce that financial freedom but still not survive the nominating vetting process.

Being an effective member of an assemblage such as the UNC BOG requires a comfort level in such a situation.  That comfort level comes thru a series of previous involvements in collaborative group processes – community and professional committees and boards.   Personalities of individual members may contain assorted eccentricities and quirks but said quirks must be adaptable to compromises and group process.  Mavericks, rogues, hot-heads and goggle-eyed nitwits tend to be very ineffective in such situations.   Refer back to that “really really hate” reference.

Are BOG members likely to possess all the virtues, vices, attributes and shortcomings of society in general?  History shows that to be a strong liklihood.

The most vocal opponents of any organizations such as the UNC BOG come from those who view themselves as “outsiders” to the social / professional streams that gravitate to these organizations.   93% of BOG-haters also profess a strong suspicious dislike for their city council, their child’s PTA, their boss, their in-laws, and “the cable company”.

>><<

For those of you who’s orbits are limited to your immediate environs….. just north of North Carolina is the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Virginia’s state-wide university system is in even GREATER CHAOS these days than is ours.  Mr Jefferson’s school in Charlottesville (aka their “flagship”) is currently as administratively unstable as any Central American banana republic or sub-Saharan African hot-spot.   Not a good year for “flagships” apparently.

FWIW; Virginia has an appointed citizen advisory board system not unlike NC’s or for that matter most states’ public universities.  Perhaps “mob rule” involving anonymous crazies brandishing pitchforks and torches would produce different results.  “Different” but not necessarily more effective.

In coming weeks we will examine the BOTs that advise each UNC campus and their individual and collective relationship to campus Chancellors.  Be warned – BOT members don’t “get paid” either.

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