UNC-BOG Expose: Season Finale…. maybe

April15/ 2014

In what might be the exciting Season Finale of our widely-acclaimed peek into the mysterious world of the UNC Board of Governors, we muse rhetorically on how the success (or lack) of this august body is gauged.

Our previous segments on “The BOG” have generated curiosity, acclaim and criticism. That trifecta means we have provided a darn accurate appraisal. We have ruffled a few feathers thru either defending the BOG or criticizing it. Both have been warranted, we move on…..

Today’s commentary is too long by half. I debated splitting it in two, but decided not to. There is a ton of solid info in here but BEWARE – Facts can be a burden in any passionate debate.

Here are links to our prior BOG columns. If you are just joining us, you are responsible for bringing yourself up-to-date.
That Darn BOG….
UNC BOG 101….
Tom Ross Is A Nincompoop….

The UNC Board of Governors consists of 32 citizens appointed in overlapping classes via an apply / interview / nomination / election process within the NC House and Senate. Anyone can fill out an application to get one’s name “in the hopper”. The application is nothing more than one’s Curriculum Vitae / Resume.

BOG members do NOT come from academia, but rather from “the real world”. The occasional appointee might have some tangential exposure to professional High Academia… most do not. Nor should they. The UNC System is a complicated BUSINESS not a school.

Having “a sponsor” (a sitting House or Senate member) is essential. As applications are sorted thru, someone in the General Assembly needs to vouch for an applicant for that applicant to advance thru the whittling down process. How one gets in the good graces of one / more elected officials is a “if you don’t know, you probably don’t need to apply” question. It has ALWAYS been so thru decades of partisan majority control. 40+ of those years with an iron-fisted Democ majority.

A solid background in business and documented success in one’s endeavors is always good. Being comfortable around “successful people” with demonstrated acumen in understanding high finance and somewhat complicated corporate machinations tends to be an on-going trend among BOG members.

There are no specific qualifications per se. Political affiliation always has / will be a factor. One does not need to be a alumnus of a UNC System institution. In-state residency is not required. The BOG meets once/month in a two-day session at the Spangler Building on Raleigh Road in Chapel Hill. The meetings are open-to-the-public.

REPEAT from previous column: BOG members are NOT PAID for their service. They are eligible for the basic state employee per diem when traveling on BOG business. Most do not bother submitting expense requests. The term of service is four years with a maximum of two consecutive terms.

The ability to “play well with others” is helpful, but not a prerequisite. Being full of piss ‘n vinegar and a long time fan of XYZ school’s sports teams is OK, but should not be one’s trump card.

Is being “a member of the Lucky Sperm Club” a help or a hindrance? It has never been a hindrance. How much of “a help” it might be would be an interesting debate. The stereotype that the bulk of the BOG is composed of “landed gentry” is incorrect as would be any insistence that the gentry is not represented around the hollow square.

Can “just a regular guy / gal” ever hope to ascend to The BOG? Certainly, happens all the time; if said guy / gal has demonstrated a propensity for sound judgment in somewhat similar circumstances. Business networking is a valued skill set.

There has NEVER been any quota as regards BOG members having background affiliations with one / more UNC System institutions. This has been the source of THE single greatest criticism of the UNC BOG since its inception….. that it has been overwhelmingly UNC-CH-centric. This criticism is 110% valid.

Historical perusal of the board’s membership over its 50 or so years would be embarrassing in that regard. Are members, individually or collectively, overtly partisan in their board actions? That is debatable.

If the board nomination process was conscious of maintaining a broad representation across the 16-campuses, the valid criticism of being UNC-CH-centric could easily be diminished.

Certain member-campuses have NEVER had a partisan voice on The BOG. If an institution has not generated alumni of a level capable of contributing in a BOG environment, should that institution be reclassified “a community college” and deleted from the UNC System? I think so.

Howsabout if 16 of the 32 BOG seats were set aside for a designated partisan voice for each campus. Criteria for being “a designated partisan” might get tricky but could be finessed.

A graduate of UNC-Pembroke gets a law degree from UNC Law. Is he/she considered Pembroke or UNCCH? None other than Kindly Ol’ Bill Friday had degrees from both NCSU and UNC….. who claims him. So does Johnny Edwards…. who WANTS to claim him?

Affiliates from one institution being blindly partisan against other system schools based on stereotypes fueled by silly sports rivalries is a sad reality. The BOG has had it’s share of “nitwits” who truly believed they are all abuncha _______ over yonder at _______. I don’t know of any currently but I don’t claim to know all the current members.

If each institution could lay claim to at least one BOG member who supposedly would be a voice for them in debating allocation of resources, a degree of valid criticism might be averted. One being preferable to None.

The remaining 16 seats would be at-large seats with some criteria in place to limit the total number of overt partisans for any one institution. Dual affiliations must be considered. UNC, NCSU, ECU and NCCU grad schools routinely attract students with undergrad degrees from other system schools. Twenty years later on a BOG application, how would those individuals be viewed? Currently there is no consideration for partisan overload. ….. I think there should be.

Among 32 individuals, some will be strong advocates for change. Some will be strong advocates for status quo. Some, alas, will be more concerned with whats for lunch.

As for further BOG demographic segmentation by race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc etc etc etc ad infinitum; one would hope common sense might prevail. We are dealing with academia where “common sense” is frowned upon and spit upon with regularity. Give me a representative from each institution and I’ll let others fight for more Gay AfAm Amish on the board.

Reactions to this series has reaffirmed that public perception of whether The UNC BOG is “doing a good job” has many definitions.

That each member institution is open and functioning says something. Young people are entering these campuses….. progressing thru them….. and receiving diplomas in assorted academic disciplines. Most go forth to live lives of moderate achievement raising families and enduring the assorted slings and arrows of Life. “Getting a college education” has never been a guarantee of anything as regards definitions of success.

Following the Jimmy V Scandal in the early 1990s: That BOG membership was roundly criticized for its aggressive intervention in a single campus internal issue. Ergo, a provision was implemented preventing similar BOG intervention in the future. ….. Now UNC-CH finds itself in an embarrassing scandal AND The BOG is being roundly criticized for it’s LACK of aggressive intervention in a single campus internal issue.

The moral of this scenario is that an amorphous administrative body can never “win” in the court of public opinion where partisan emotions will overwhelm facts every time. Sigh.

Many who read this website aggressively criticize The UNC BOG and it’s member institutions over the ever-increasing socio-political influences on certain campuses. I share those concerns, perhaps not as aggressively as some, but more aggressively than others.

Hey, I told you upfront this one was kind of long. Read on…. there’s racy stuff about cheerleaders at the end. Not really! Keep reading.

What can The BOG do regarding the issue of overt socio-political influences on various campuses? ….. aka UNC-CH and UNC-W especially are thriving rats’ nests of liberal lunatics.

“Fire all those no-count liberal SOBs” might sound good but lacks legal and practical substance. A more reasoned solution is called for. I am not sure what that is.

How many current BOG members share the concern for the imbalanced socio-political climate on certain UNC campi?

Does current UNC Prez Tom Ross share that concern…. and to what degree?

Do exec staff within the UNC System Administration share that concern?

Should applicants’ socio-political ideology be a criteria when hiring executive level admins on each campus? What authority does The BOG have relative to these HR issue? ….. What authority SHOULD The BOG have relative to these HR issues?

Is it WRONG to have “a Gene Nichol” and/or “a Mike Adams” on XYZ campus? Or, is it only wrong if a campus does not have BOTH POV on its campus? Is exposing students to radical socio-political POVs only wrong if those students are only exposed to one side of divisive issues?

Overt Liberal Arts campuses no longer deny that they are dedicated to single-ideology indoctrination. Last week’s appearance of Dana Perino at UNC’s J-School being the exception that proves the rule.

What can / should a BOG do to remedy such situations? Should individual BOG members not willing to “do something” constructive about that influence be flogged then dismissed from the board?

The current BOG has an overwhelming Repub majority with the public perception that their assumed Conservative POVs would be having a noticeable influence. Has it?…… Is it wrong for NC Conservatives to expect recent BOG appointees by a Repub General Assembly to be more aggressive in instituting Conservative influences in high-profile intra-campus incidents? Why are BOG members seemingly reluctant to initiate the changes they were supposedly appointed to oversee implemented?

The Mike Adams Case (LINK) ….. if you are not somewhat versed re: “The Mike Adams Case” you probably don’t know what BOG stands for and have no business even reading this column. It is a BFD!

The Mike Adams Case at UNC-W has received considerable national attention recently but has not been officially noted in UNC BOG minutes nor received public comments by BOG Staff nor individual board members that I am aware of. (I could be wrong on that) …. Why Not? Nor has it been covered by local “mainstream (liberal) media”…. duh!

I am personally acquainted with a handful of current / former BOG members. We don’t always see eye-to-eye but do play in the same ballpark. A 32-member board is a ponderous mechanism for progress. I, no longer serve on boards or committees of any sort. Been there – done that – won’t do it any more. Those who do, have my sympathy.

Taking my cue from BobLee, I am trying to arrange “just lunch” with a certain prominent BOG member. Hopefully, I will have better luck than BobLee did. Too early to tell.

CONGRATS…. YOU now know 200% more about the UNC BOG than that braying jackass down the hall or across the street or married to your sister. Go forth and spread your knowledge.

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