UNC BOG ….. Now What?

February02/ 2015

Upon watching John Fennebresque’s recent trainwreck press conference, Bill Clinton exclaimed “THAT is the definition of “is”!” ….. Much maligned NFL Commish Roger Goodell agreed to share his Executive Deer-In-The-Headlights Award with the UNC Brd of Governors Chairman. Even Bozo Joe Biden noted “OMG, that was painful.” “Joe knows” painful press conferences.

As Pete Carroll’s Seahawks must somehow “go on” following their recent unexplainable actions, the UNC System must too “go on” following whatever it was that their Chairman, recently did to / with / about their now pouty Lame Duck President Tom Ross. The UNC BOG is in dire need of solid common-sense direction. Here’s it is…..

It has been a week or so. The HazMat crew is still sifting thru the debris. Trying to make heads or tails out of whatever it was that John Fennebresque meant to do regarding the disposition of Thomas Warren Ross – President For Now of The UNC System. The regional media immediately declaring Ross to be Saint Thomas The Aggrieved was likely not Fennebresque’s intent.

That Tom Ross was not of the same ideological mindset as his administrative oversight board was obvious for the past several years. Had Erskine Bowles been born a year or so later than he was, and not opted to retire when he did, Tom Ross would likely still be comfy cozy as Prez of quaint little Davidson. Have they renamed it Curry College yet?

As the NC General Assembly was in the process of a historical political upheaval, the “lame duck” (THAT phrase, again!) Board of Governors needed a new CEO. A search was conducted and completed by them what was there at the time. Voila Tom Ross took office in 2011 as his oversight board transformed to its current make-up. A group of appointees that would never appear as contributors on a Z. Smith Reynolds radical left-wing donor list.

How the members of The UNC Board of Governors are appointed has not changed since the late venerable Bill Friday set it up back in the 60s. The NC General Assembly (NCGA) nominates and then elects the 32 members on a rotating basis assuring a continuity of experience. The political leanings of the UNC BOG members is no more or less consistent with the political leanings of the majority of the NCGA than it has always been despite what the decidedly left-leaning media would want you to believe.

NOTE: UNC BOG members receive ZERO “pay or honorarium” other than standard state government travel expenses, which many never submit. That board members “rake in BIG $$$” is simply one of numerous bald-faced myths about the BOG. They “rake in” NO bucks. Neither do Trustees.

What did change as Tom Ross was taking office in 2011 was the majority composition of the NCGA. Replacing Ross in favor of a more intuned CEO was a given. How that would be finessed was the question. “Finesse”, alas, was totally lacking in Chairman Fennebresque’s sledge-hammer actions of a few weeks ago.

Now the UNC BOG has a pouting Lame Duck President for, apparently, A YEAR and a Board Chairman who, alas, performed under pressure just like his old law partners at Moore & Van Allen might have predicted he would. Not good. Charming and finesse never appearing in anyone’s description of John Fennebresque’s skill set.

If “they” ask me for my opinion…. and believe it or not several movers & shakers HAVE asked me; here is what I recommend.

(1) John “Sledge Hammer” Fennebresque is now a millstone around the neck of the UNC BOG. His current four-year board term expires this coming June. Normally he would simply be renominated / reelected. BOG members can serve three consecutive terms. I suggest Fennebresque “be strongly encouraged to” opt OUT for whatever contrived reason. “Spend more time with the family” is a common out. “Pursue other career options” was why McLean Stevenson left M*A*S*H after one season and why Pernell Roberts left Bonanza. “Life long desire to trek across Patagonia”. Apply for the Offensive Coord gig with the Seahawks? Who cares? Just go away John……. Thanks for your service blah blah blah. Elect an interim (and less combustible) Chair to serve out the remaining year of John’s term as Chair. I know of two excellent choices; but will not publicly burden them with “AgentPierce endorses _______”.

(2) What to do with the pouty Lame Duck Tom Ross for the next twelve months? I have the PERFECT task to keep Tom busy as he transitions out. Grab hold of something solid as you read further. The shaking you will experience is a 10.5 on The Richter Scale shattering every plate glass window along fabled Franklin Street. For comparison…. when Mary Willingham blew her whistle, that only registered a 7.2. This is waaaaay bigger than that.

I am proposing that the Administrative Headquarters of the Univ of North Carolina System be physically relocated to Raleigh as a resident member of the NC State Government Complex. A move that is long overdo for oh-so-many reasons.

The current UNC GA HQ on Hwy 54 / Raleigh Road in Chapel Hill houses the 100 or so employees of the UNC GA (General Administration). While an attractive building “amid the lofty pines” as BobLee would say, the facility is long overdue for a thorough renovation. “A lot of asbestos” among other issues? Which tells you how old the building is.

NOTE: The current UNC GA staff of “about 100” likely is 25% over-staffed as befits any academic bloated bureaucracy. I’m not even suggesting trimming the fat for the time being. Just move all 100 to Raleigh. Two buses and a mini-van should do it.

Vacate that building, selling the facility and the land to UNC-CH to renovate or implode or sell it to Roger Perry to convert into more trendy Glen Lenox condos or up-scale retail chic. Get the UNC GA out of the shadow of “The Flagship” where it never should have ever been to begin with.

The President’s stately mansion on Franklin Street will become the UNC Chancellor’s residence. The current Chancellor’s manse hidden up in the woods gets sold off. Downsizing can be a wonderful thing.

Finding suitable office space for the 100 employees in / around Jones Street / The State Capitol will not be an issue. The fabled “Pink Palace” of the NC Dept of Education currently houses more deadwood than South Dakota. That could be upfitted ASAP until a permanent HQ can be created.

There will be no deleterious effect on current staff. Thousands commute daily within the “Triangle” as is.

NO! Absolutely NOT to anyone suggesting NC State’s Centennial Campus as a new home for the UNC GA. Trading cheek-by-jowl proximity to one System’s campus for another is just plain stoopid.

As a show of my magnanimity, I WILL consider an RTP site as a compromise to a downtown Raleigh site.

The UNC GA has always been in Chapel Hill because until recently The UNC Brd of Governors was totally dominated by UNC-Chapel Hill partisans…. The NC General Assembly was also dominated by UNC-CH partisans. Both are no longer as UNC-CH-centric.

At one point within the past decade, 25 of the 32 BOG members had undergraduate and/or graduate degree affiliation with UNC-CH. Currently only 15 BOG members do. Currently 5 of the 32 have NC State degrees in case you were wondering, and I’m sure you were. One is from Cullowhee. None from Pembroke. The majority of the 18 campuses comprising the System have no affiliate seats on The BOG. I think that is Preposterous but that is a topic for another rant.

Tom Ross can, hopefully, keep himself out of trouble for the next eleven months overseeing the physical relocation of the offices. He could sabotage it, so assign a retired Marine gunny sergeant to shadow him.

This long-overdue relocation of the UNC-GA could start immediately. Having John Fennebresque make the announcement of the decision to do so is a scary thought. “Scary” or “juicy” depending upon one’s affection for bureaucratic trainwrecks.

GUARANTEE: The McClatchy-owned N&O and Charlotte Observer as well as Jim Goodmon’s WRAL will adamantly oppose the relocation….. because it is being initiated by individuals and legislative bodies that they despise with a decidedly unhealthy passion. 98%+ of the residents of Chapel Hill will likewise react in a quite profane and obscene fashion for the very same reason. They too despise the current BOG and the current NC General Assembly. Yawn.

Since McClatchy, Goodmon and most of Chapel Hill already despise these entities to the nth degree, what difference will their terminally constipated opinions make? Thats like asking State fans to approve UNC Football staff hires. OUCH!

This proposal makes waaaay too much sense to have any chance of ever happening but it oughta.

PS: That earlier column about Art Pope maybe becoming the Next UNC System Prez was simply intended to discombobulate both the radical left-leaning media and the even more radical UNC-CH faculty squirrels…. which it certainly did. Bwahahaha!

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