They just wanted "someone new." Translation: a high-profile Republican.
Fennebresque appointed the BOG search committee for that high-profile Republican, putting himself on the committee, and then clapped down a dome of secrecy, effectively cutting the other two-thirds of the BOG out of the process.
The General Assembly decided to meddle, as only they can meddle. They passed a law saying that three top candidates for Tom Ross's job had to be made public and brought to the full BOG for discussion. That law has not yet been signed by Gov. McCrory, so ... oops (as you will see).
News broke yesterday that Chairman Fennebresque had called an emergency meeting of the full BOG for today and that -- lo and behold! -- Mr. Fennebresque's preferred, lone candidate will be present for an "interview."
Fennebresque's move sparked a kind of fire storm:
1. Republican Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and Republican House Speaker Tim Moore jointly wrote a letter to Fennebresque saying he was out of compliance with the will of the General Assembly's new law (which -- oops -- hasn't been signed and formalized by the governor). BergerMoore wrote that "calling an emergency meeting to discuss only one candidate could be viewed as the Board’s attempt to circumvent the overwhelming will of the elected people of the State of North Carolina prior to the bill becoming law.”
2. BOG members Thom Goolsby and David Powers both wrote letters to Fennebresque demanding he resign. Goolsby: "Among other things, in your short tenure you have blocked board members from accessing university staff for public information about the system, botched President Ross’ termination, hired an incredibly controversial search consultant and barred two-thirds of the board from participating in the hiring process." Etc. It only gets meaner after that.
3. Meanwhile, the name Margaret Spellings, along with her photograph, landed in the pages of the Raleigh News & Observer, the leak that Fennebresque had apparently feared most.
4. Countdown to Fennebresque's resignation from the BOG begins ... NOW!
5. Countdown to Margaret Spellings withdrawing from consideration as the new president of the UNC system also begins now.
6. Countdown to the further destruction of a once-great university system ... actually began months/years ago when the Republican backward-movers took over every lever of North Carolina governance.