The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday January 30th

Less-Experienced BOG To Take Helm in June

When new BOG members are sworn in during the June meeting, 17 of the 32 voting members will be serving their first terms.

Nine will be only two years into their first four-year term, and eight will be newcomers. The eight new members were elected this month by the N.C. General Assembly.

The BOG consists of 32 voting members, half selected by the N.C. Senate and half selected by the N.C. House. Members are not allowed to serve more than three consecutive terms.

BOG Chairman Ben Ruffin, who is serving his third consecutive term, said he is confident that the inexperience of the board will not hinder its operations.

"They bring a variety of experience with them," Ruffin said. "Most of them have served on a trustee board at a university."

He said that while learning the specific BOG nomenclature will be difficult, the board has a system in place to familiarize new members with the board.

"We have prepared a good orientation," Ruffin said. "And all new members will have to travel around to all 16 schools. We also have our own orientation so that when they start coming to meetings in July, they'll really get involved."

Priscilla Taylor, a second-term BOG member, said it took her a year to get used to serving on the board.

"It takes a while to understand the budget, how campuses operate," Taylor said.

She said in the past the board consisted of more experienced members, partly because of more stability in state politics.

"There's a greater turnover on the board now since Republicans and Democrats are more balanced at the General Assembly," Taylor said. "It will take a while for the newcomers to come up to speed."

Taylor also said she thinks the recent reduction of annual BOG meetings from 11 to eight will work well for the new members. Meetings will now take two days, giving members a better chance to study issues.

"We'll be more cohesive and build bonds to make an effective group," she said.

But Patsy Perry, a first-term BOG member, said she did not have a hard time getting to know the BOG because of her familiarity with university issues. "I'm a product of the university system."

Perry is a former N.C. Central University provost and vice chancellor and a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill.

She also said board members receive an informative orientation session.

"We talked to administrators, faculty and students at all (UNC-system) schools," she said. "We talked about their mission, their product and what they hoped to achieve."

Newly elected member Anne Cates said she already has attended one BOG meeting.

Cates said her experience on the UNC-CH Board of Trustees, where she also served as chairwoman, will be helpful.

"They give you a lot of information before the meeting," she said. "At first, I'll just listen and watch."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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