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UNC System President may get bigger role in picking chancellors

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A UNC System Board of Governors committee will discuss a policy change today that would give incoming system President Peter Hans a greater role in selecting new top executives of the system’s 17 campuses.

The proposal provides the president “the discretion to designate up to two individuals from the president’s succession planning efforts to become candidates upon their submission of complete applications.” Those candidates would “participate in search committee interviews and shall be part of the slate referred by the board of the trustees.”

Currently, when the chancellor job at UNC campuses opens up, a search committee that includes trustees, faculty, community members and students is formed to consider applications. The committee then presents a slate of candidates to the local trustees, who then send the name of at least two finalists to the UNC System president. He or she picks the chancellor-elect, subject to approval by the Board of Governors.

The change would “require the president, in consultation with the officers of the Board of Governors, to develop potential chancellor candidates within the University of North Carolina System ” and potentially attract “well-qualified potential candidates” who are current N.C. residents, according to an explanation of the proposed change.

The new policy would presumably allow Hans, who starts Aug. 1, to be more involved in the pending chancellor searches at East Carolina and Fayetteville State universities. The Greenville university has not had a permanent chancellor since the departure of Cecil Staton in May 2019, while Fayetteville State has had an interim since James Anderson resigned in June 2019.

Hans is presenting the proposal at the Board of Governors’ personnel committee meeting today with Matthew Brody, the system’s senior vice president for human resources, according to meeting notes. The full board may vote on the issue later this week.

Chancellor searches and selections have periodically sparked controversy at UNC campuses. For example, former Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer, who resigned from the Board of Governors in May, sent an email to fellow governors in July 2018 questioning the credentials of a leading candidate for the top job at Western Carolina University. His actions drew criticism of unnecessary interference from other board members. The candidate later dropped out of the search.

Under the UNC System, chancellors report to the president, not the local campus boards.

 

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