Pope Center president: The ‘Conservative’ UNC Board of Governors Doesn’t Act Very Conservative

Jenna A. Robinson submits the following:

Over the past year, the UNC Board of Governors has taken heat on a number of topics, most notably the decision to seek a new System president and the Centers and Institutes oversight process. At one meeting in Charlotte, student protestors shut down the Board’s proceedings. Some had to be escorted from the building by campus police.

But those two instances are the only examples of real change by the Board. Campus outrage notwithstanding, the Board has done very little in terms of furthering conservative reform.

Examples from the past year are illustrative:

    • Last week, administrative salaries were raised—despite serious objections from several Board members.
    • Last year, the Board requested a budget increase of $288 million, or 11.3 percent.
    • Only three centers were cut—despite evidence that dozens engage in political activism.
    • The Board voted to lower admissions standards at three UNC institutions—despite objections from several Board members.
    • The presidential search process is opaque to anyone who is not on the search committee—even other members of the Board!
    • Too many Board leaders and members say “Yes” to all of UNC’s requests.


But we know that many reformers are on the Board. Many have proven their reformist bona fides. So, why hasn’t there been any change?

    • Board members don’t receive information in time to make informed votes. In one instance, 99 pages of documents were added to the Board’s materials on the morning of the meeting.
    • Asking questions is difficult. Last year, the Carolina Journal reported, “a new board policy [BOG Chairman John] Fennebresque implemented requires either his authorization or approval from committee chairmen to seek additional information not in the board’s meeting packets.”
    • New reform-minded members are locked out of the presidential search process. Instead, the committee includes two former members of the Board whose terms ended in July.
    • Board members are given very little time to ask questions or make comments on proposed policy changes.
    • The UNC Presidential Search Committee, made up of just 11 of the Board’s 32 members, has shared very little information about the process. In an article entitled “UNC-system president search leaves public in the dark,” the Daily Tar Heel reported, “the search for [Tom Ross’] successor has remained largely a mystery, with only three months left in his term.”
    • Reformers on the Board have no power to set the agenda, seriously limiting the issues they are able to affect.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

Reader Comments

  • ajbruno14

    I think its time we “true conservatives” stop fooling ourselves when it comes to evaluating politicians. Republicans continually campaign on being conservative, yet many veer away from conservatism when it comes to governing. We see this at every level, from Congress raising the debt ceiling, to the state promoting and expanding reliance on toll roads, to towns buying hotels and movie theaters!. What makes his even worse is non elected party leaders not challenging them. They should be called out by national chair Reince Priebus and state chair Hasan Harnett for failing to legislate as they promised. So, this leaves it to us, to call out both GOP chairman and GOP leadership each and every time they fail to measure up to the principles of the party. ajbruno14 gmail

  • Earl

    Jenna Robinson has certainly revealed the Republican frauds on the BOG. The Board of Governors is the most important board in the state and just look at the hypocrites our legislative leaders have appointed! The BOG Chairman is clearly a poor leader, but most of the other BOG members are just as bad. I cannot believe that, except for four members, the entire BOG voted to lower standards at the schools already suffering from academic problems and abysmal graduation rates. What are these Republicans thinking? You would think that Jim Hunt and Gene Nichol were in charge! And BOG members don’t even know who is being considered as Tom Ross’s replacement? Please tell me that Fennebresque and Company aren’t going to blow the most important appointment of this decade in North Carolina.