Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Gov. Cooper Trolls Berger/Moore

Cooper with Ross and Spellings.
Yes, that photo is from today.
Photo Jeff Tiberii

This morning Gov. Cooper announced that he is naming a special "Commission on the Future of Public Universities in North Carolina" to take a close look at how the UNC system is operating, presumably and particularly, the highly partisan Republican regime on the UNC Board of Governors (BOG) and on the boards of trustees of the various constituent colleges -- the partisan regime established by Berger/Moore as a further instrument of their authoritarianism.

Cooper's commission will be purely advisory. It will therefore be (1) attacked and then (2) ignored by Berger/Moore, but perhaps it can help focus more of the public on the degrading of higher education in North Carolina.

"We need serious, diverse leadership," the guv's press release said, which we ain't currently got on the UNC BOG. The BOG is 100% appointed by Berger/Moore and is 80% Republican (often from the volcanically partisan branch of the party), with only four unaffiliated voters, and one measly Democrat. As soon as Roy Cooper won the 2016 election, Berger/Moore quickly wrote legislation to extend their rule, assigning the appointment of all constituent university trustees to their own heavily partisan BOG. Currently, the governor can appoint precisely no one to any university governing board.

Diversity? You've got to be kidding!

As close as the guv's press release gets to naming the stunts that have destroyed the BOG's reputation is this paragraph, wherein he alludes to the scandals and collusions that have highlighted the UNC system during the last decade (or since Berger/Moore took over in 2010):

"Unfortunately, a spate of controversies over the last few years has led to concerns that boards plagued by undue political influence and bureaucratic meddling hinder effective university governance. Instability and political interference can have significant impacts on campus leadership, turnover and academic experience for students, and can threaten the university’s reputation and the state’s economy and communities."

Just some highlights of that partisanship which Cooper didn't enumerate: the firing of UNC President and humanist Tom Ross in 2015; the forced resignation of replacement President Margaret Spellings in 2018; the all-too-obvious jockeying of House Speaker Tim Moore for various academic appointments; the 2019 sudden resignation of UNC Chancellor Carol Folt, judged soft on the Confederacy after she supported the removal of Silent Sam from campus; the heavy thumb of an Arkansas donor who seems to have single-handedly nixxed the appointment of Hannah-Jones to the School of Journalism; the refusal to reappoint a widely respected UNC Law professor to the University of North Carolina Press Board of Governors after he questioned the legality of the university's giving a Confederate group a bunch of money to take Silent Sam off the campus; the planned relocation of the UNC System offices from Chapel Hill to Raleigh, presumably so everybody can see the Berger/Moore resting bitch faces more clearly, a proposal that led BOG member Leo Daughtry, a former GOP state lawmaker, to abruptly resign his seat, saying publicly that moving the offices was a further indication of the board’s recent failure to provide "a sufficient buffer" between politics and the university system.

How Do We Know the Guv Just Gave Berger/Moore the Finger?

Who did Cooper appoint to co-chair his commission on higher education? Why, Tom Ross and Margaret Spellings. Isn't that pretty much an eff-you? Also a dare, since Ross and Spellings form an impressive bi-partisanship that ought to be above criticism. (Ha!) Ross was president of the UNC System from 2011 to 2016, a former superior court judge, and president of Davidson College. Spellings was president of the UNC System from 2016 to 2019 and served as the U.S. Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush.

Such distinguished educators might give the GOP some pause in attacking their integrity. Naw. They'll find a way.

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