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Thursday January 20th

Board of Governors moves nine UNC centers to final round of review

Carolina Women's Center, Center for Civil Rights are among centers that will give presentations next week

As a UNC Board of Governors examination of the UNC system’s centers and institutes enters its final stages, nine UNC-CH centers were moved on Friday to the final round of review.

The nine centers will be required to present to a Board of Governors working group on Dec. 10 and 11. On the list are: the Carolina Center for Public Service; the Carolina Women’s Center; the UNC Center for Faculty Excellence; the Center for Law and Government; the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity; the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy; the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History; the UNC Center for Civil Rights and the UNC Institute on Aging.

Thirty-four centers across the system remain on the list for review, with 26 centers "that we're really looking at," said centers and institutes working group Chairman Jim Holmes.

The working group has spent several months narrowing down a list of 237 UNC-system centers through two review phases. Possible outcomes for centers in the final phase include affirmation, potential termination or reallocation of funds.

Members voted to move centers to the last round based in part on brief summaries of their purpose and finances. 

Holmes said he'd like to examine whether some centers can exist separately from the university. Kevin FitzGerald, UNC-system senior vice president and chief of staff, said it's important to see whether the centers have undergone recent campus-based reviews.

UNC-CH Chancellor Carol Folt said she hopes the board will take the presentations seriously.

“Some of these are centers that people kill themselves for,” she said. “Those one-pagers do not capture it.”

All centers will be given about 15 minutes to present and answer questions, Holmes said.

"Everybody is going to be given the opportunity to come in and demonstrate their passion and their mission,” he said.

Board member Steven Long said he'd like to ask each center what specifically justifies it as a center of interdisciplinary research.

Historically, centers have been founded with the purpose of interdisciplinary research, Long said — but N.C. State University Chancellor Randy Woodson said the service-oriented centers have a key role to play at public universities.

"We create these organizations because we want to bring people together across disciplines and across the university to serve our constituency better,” he said.

UNC junior Shannon Brien, a member of the UNC BOG Democracy Coalition, attended Friday's meeting and said she didn't think the voting process was fair.

"When it comes to centers that have to do with social justice or advocacy, it seemed as though one voice could send them to the next review," she said.

Brien said the centers related to science, technology or business seemed more likely to be exempt from review. She said she was pleased to see Folt stand up so vocally for UNC's centers.

"That was really powerful for me," Brien said. "Knowing that she knows the value of this gave me a lot of confidence that she will really fight for them."

Exempted from further review at UNC are the Ackland Art Museum; the Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery; the Global Research Institute, the North Carolina Botanical Garden; the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science; the Friday Center for Continuing Education and the Morehead Planetarium.

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