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Martin Center President Considers UNC System’s Office Relocation

Jenna Robinson writes for the Martin Center about the planned move of the UNC System offices from Chapel Hill to Raleigh.

There has been talk for more than a decade of moving the UNC System Office out of Chapel Hill. Past Board members and Chancellors noted that the System Office’s proximity to UNC-Chapel Hill gave the university’s flagship institution additional influence within the system that other institutions didn’t enjoy. In the past, RTP was suggested as a “neutral” location.

More recent plans have called for the system to move to Raleigh. In June, the News & Observer reported that the Senate Budget Bill included a study to consider “available options for consolidating the facilities of the Department of Commerce, the University of North Carolina System Office, the Community Colleges System Office and the Department of Public Instruction into a single location.” …

… But now, what was once only a vague possibility will become reality. The budget clearly states that the Offices shall move—well before the study is completed in 2023. …

… While it’s true that UNC-Chapel Hill has, in the past, seemed to exert a special pull over the System as a whole, this move is a sudden and expensive change.

The UNC System is already in the middle of moving from the outdated C.D. Spangler Building on Raleigh Road to the Center for School Leadership Development—an additional two miles from UNC-Chapel Hill’s main campus. The new building has ample parking and sufficient facilities to live stream meetings as well as house the UNC System staff in one location.

And it seems that UNC-Chapel Hill’s influence has already been waning. Notably, the board did not accept any of Kevin Guskiewicz’s suggestions for new UNC Board of Trustees members in 2021.

In the past, the Martin Center has recognized the potential benefits of moving the UNC System out of Chapel Hill. But they must be carefully considered and weighed against the substantial costs.

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...