Friday, October 16, 2015

Chaos at the University of North Carolina Board of Governors; Or, Proof That Republicans Can't Run ANYTHING

John Fennebresque
Okay, to recap: The University of North Carolina Board of Governors (BOG) is now 100% Republican, mostly appointed by the Republican leaders in the NC House and Senate. The BOG fired the highly popular and by all reports very effective president Tom Ross early this year, and then BOG president John Fennebresque could not give a single reason to the press for that firing.

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."

Margaret Spellings
Fennebresque's choice: Margaret Spellings, former Secretary of the Department of Education under George W. Bush.

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.”

Read more here:

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.


Mike said...

When Bush era people met skeptical opposition, no matter how strong, they just dug in their heels and became more convinced of the virtuousness of their policies. So, I'm not as sure as you seem to be that Spellings will withdraw or that Fennebresque will resign. Anyway, even if you're right about Spellings, we now know in what direction the BOG wants to look for candidates. It's not good for the university system.

Anonymous said...

Why would Fennebresque resign? Why would Spellins - a big fan of No Child Left Behind - pull her name out of consideration? Why wouldn't she want to supervise a system filled with students left very far behind by NCLB?

They will both remain and an idiot will be handed to reins to the UNC system. Absolutely a most epic fail for UNC-system and a huge loss for all the students within it. Faculty will leave but NCGOP wants that to happen. Horrible for NC.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure Spellings will step aside. She seems to be the favored candidate of the Art Pope camp - his Center for Higher Education fawned over Spellings when she was in the Bush administration.

I would suggest doing some serious research on her background, just in case she stays in the race for the job. Just a cursory look through the web highlights the fact that she just has a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and had absolutely no background in education before being appointed in Texas to head up education efforts in that state after managing George W. Bush's first campaign for governor. When working at the US Department of Education, Spellings was charged with being "asleep at the wheel" when scandals broke with mismanagement and fraud of student loan funds.

After leaving office, one of her jobs was organizing the US Chamber of Commerce's education propaganda campaign on defending the free enterprise system - a campaign that painted critics of corporations as "unpatriotic" or "radicals".