‘Dem Damn UNC BOTers Are ……. !

June25/ 2012

As promised, today we continue our widely-acclaimed “debunkification” of common myths & legends surrounding the citizen support organizations of the UNC System.  Today we examine the Board of Trustees (aka “BOT”) which serve each of the 16 UNC campuses.   As with our earlier report on the BOG; the Truth about this august body differs from the steaming pile o’ outright BS that fuels countless screech-athons by friends & foes of various campuses…….

REMINDER: My providing “the Truth” about UNC BOTs should be seen as a physician offering sound medical advice and medication, which, if taken, will assuredly make one wiser and better equipped to deal with reality.   But dealing with reality is a frightening proposition for many.   Designing one’s own version of reality and screaming it in ALLCAPS to equally ignorant colleagues is always an available option.

BREAKING NEWS:  UNC HAS INDEED offered Drew “Son of The Butcher” Davis a “preferred walk-on” opportunity as an in-coming freshman at UNC this Fall.  No word on whether Drew will get “a game ball” too.  Historians are already saying THIS is Larry Fedora’s “Most Unwise Decision Not Involving The Word “Legitimize” …..

Many of you expressed appreciation for our “Truth About The BOG” while others said “thanks, but no thanks” and prefer to continue bloviating pure BS in your on-line screeds.  We never intended to deny you that option.

The BOTs’ primary difference from the BOG is that BOTs are “advisory boards” rather than administrative boards.  I.E. BOTs cannot, by charter, take many of the actions that lynch mob assemblages vehemently “suggest” they should take.  They can recommend that the Chancellor take, or not take, various actions but he/she is free to do otherwise.

Chancellors report to the President of the UNC System, not to the Trustees.  The UNC President, on the other hand, IS responsible to the BOG which IS an administrative body.   “Administrative” versus “advisory”.  Both begin with “A” but have quite different meanings.

UNC BOTs are composed of 13 appointed members.  Eight of those members are appointed by the BOG.  Four of those members are appointed by the Governor of North Carolina.  One is the current student body president of the particular campus.  Members are appointed for four-year terms and can serve a total of two consecutive terms.  The terms of the twelve non-student members are staggered with various members joining / leaving the board as terms expire.

With 33% of the BOTs appointed by NC’s sitting governor and NC having had a Democratic governor for the past 20+ years, it can be safely assumed that 30%++ are guaranteed to be of a similar persuasion.  In our BOG expose we noted that a Democrat legislature appointed most of the BOG who appoint the remaining 66% of Trustees.  Ergo, finding a Democrat trustee who has contributed to a Democratic politician’s campaign is not exactly “needle-in-a-haystack” difficult; but there are a few of the (R) persuasion sprinkled here and there.

Contrary to prevailing myth….. BOT members are not “paid” for their service but rather, like BOG members, are entitled to government per-diem for time spent in actual board business.  As with the BOG, the vast majority of BOT member do not even submit expense reimbursement requests for their time / travel.  Gorging oneself at the taxpayers trough is not “why” individuals accept appointments to be university trustees.

NOTE: UNC BOTers and Butch Davis recruits DO share one “perk” – relative to on-campus parking tickets. Wink, wink…… 🙂 .  Several years ago a BOT member suggested that BOT members be granted Lifetime campus parking privileges ???  That was a suggestion that the Chancellor quickly rejected much to that BOT member’s chagrin.

“Why” individuals serve is therefore open to speculations.  If one rejects the altruistic “give-back my time/expertise to my alma mater” then one is left with “impress my friends & colleagues” and/or “finagle an invite to Augusta or Figure Eight” or that old stand-by “meet rich divorcees/widows/widowers”.

Having control over how one spends one’s time relative to occupational obligations is a key common factor among Trustees.  Two days meetings are held six times/year with “committee meetings” on top of the full board meetings.

There is a similarity in “the type” of folks who are BOTs and BOGs and it is common for individuals to serve on both over time.  One cannot do so simultaneously however.  One might notice a general similarity however in a room full of nekkid BOTers and nekkid BOGers.  One similarity would be a distinct lack of tattoos among all in the room.   Waistlines, hairlines and bloodlines tend to run the gamut.

NOTE:  If one buys into the current “class warfare” philosophy of the Obama administration and has a strong adversity to “rich folks” and “rich white folks” in particular; one might look askance at a typical BOT.  Although there are quite a few “rich black folks” among the 200 or so trustees in “the system” at a given time

Not all “rich folks” are considered “Fat Cats” but generally all “Fat Cats” are “rich folks”.  Unless one is a veterinarian, saying the term “Fat Cat” is always done with a loathing sneer.  In the hierarchy of the animal kingdom – “board monkeys” and “Fat Cats” are pretty much bitter enemies.  The “cats” don’t worry too much about the “monkeys” but the “monkeys” obsess 24/7 about the “cats”.  It’s one of those fundamental Laws of Nature.

MYTHBUSTER:  Not all BOTs are “trust fund babies” (aka “Silverspoons”) at all.  There are several Horatio Algers on the current UNC BOT including the current chairman – Wade Hargrove.  Unless one considers “daddy owned/ran a fish market in Clinton” as “comes from privilege” and “to the manor born”….. now, to be fair, not all UNC Trustees have cropped tobacco, pulled cotton and “worked their way thru UNC bussing tables in Lenoir Hall”, but some have.

It is not uncommon for trustees to be “street-wise” with the particular “street” about which they are wise being Wall Street.  Uh oh!  If that bothers you, then prepare to be bothered.

There are no “diversity” requirements relative to BOT membership.  But this being THE University of North Carolina, “diversity” is never “not a factor” in selecting a new Trustee.  If you know a transsexual Commanche dwarf, let the Governor know ASAP; or let me know and I’ll notify the Governor or my BOG buddies.  In the world of academic institution trustee diversity, Native American dwarfs count double.

Some trustees follow sports with an abiding passion.  Some do not.  All trustees are aware that among the great unwashed “sports” is pretty much all that matters.  Few trustees share that level of passion but there have been a few who were very close to it.  Trustees, like the great unwashed, also live vicariously thru the achievements of others especially athletic achievements.   As we all learned with one particular distaff trustee from Memphis, some even follow recruiting…… FWIW: BOTers have absolutely no influence over who the Head Football Coach offers “preferred walk-on” status to.  Neither does BobLee….. sigh, sob, sniff.

MYTHBUSTER:  The BOT did not “hire” Butch Davis or Holden Thorp or Uncle Julius nor does the BOT have the power to fire those individuals.  They can go on record as approving or disapproving of such high profile hires, but the hiring / firing authority lies with the Chancellor and/or the President w/ approval of the BOG.  Remember now – the BOT is an advisory body. The BOG is the administrative body.   Yes, there IS a difference.

That UNC trustees/ fat cats commandeered the hiring of Butch Davis was not because they were entitled to do so; but, rather because the AD at that time was a well-intentioned bumbling doofus.

A wise Chancellor will call upon the individual and collective wisdom of his/her Trustees for advice in key hires (or fires) but he/she can go against their recommendation.  To do so however is very very rare and usually leads to a dysfunctional meltdown as is currently in progress in Virginia.

Specifically, Holden Thorp COULD have fired Butch Davis months before he did so; but to do so would have gone against the public position of his then Trustee chairman the infamous BOTBob Winston and his two influential co-horts.  In retrospect, he probably should have chosen that course.  20/20 hindsight!

When a Chancellor and his/her board do not agree on a course of action, such disagreements are usually mediated in private conversations.  BOT meetings are matters of public record so consensus is the norm by the time actual votes are taken.

As NCSU’s infamous Trustee BoyBlunder – McQueen Campbell – learned; knowing the limitations of a Trustee can save a trustee from public humiliation and save a Provost and a Chancellor their careers.   Trustees do NOT hire or fire governor’s wives or Swahili instructors; but are entitled to their opinions of who is hired or fired.

Well boys and girls, that’s about it.  Trustees are people too.  If you were prone to hate “trustees”, brussel sprouts, Democrats, lawyers, “anyone who ever went to “Chapel Hill” and “anyone whose daddy owned a fish market” then you have BobLee’s permission to continue doing so.

If a little knowledge is indeed “a dangerous thing” then you are now more dangerous than you were 10 minutes ago.  Choosing to “drink deep from the Perian Spring” is up to you.


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