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UNC-system President search process revisited

The presidential search process was the focus of a UNC Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday. Board members discussed proposed changes to the policy, which hasn’t been revised in 18 years.

The board forced Ross to resign on Jan. 16, sparking an outcry across the state and prompting a group called United for UNC to create a petition demanding the board reinstate him. The petition has more than 1,000 signatures.

Ross will remain president at least until early 2016. The search for his replacement will likely begin this spring.

Association of Student Governments President Alex Parker said he wants explicit language in the revised policy to guarantee a student position on the search committee — which, under the proposed revisions, would act as a group presiding over the entire process.

“The student member is what makes the board unique across the nation,” Parker said, noting that he hasn’t heard of another university system board that includes a student. “Having that diversity and leveraging it would benefit the search process.”

Board members considered whether Parker or the new ASG leader — generally elected in March or April — should be the one to participate in the search. Several of them expressed concern that Parker would get a job outside North Carolina after graduation.

“It could be unduly burdensome for him (to come back),” said board member Jim Holmes.

But Parker said he thinks it’s typical in chancellor searches for student representatives to return after graduation and finish the search.

The ASG president currently serves only on the leadership statement development committee, which involves creating a description of the qualities needed in a new president by holding public hearings across the state.

That committee has also required four chancellors and three faculty members — but the proposed revisions would eliminate those minimums.

Stephen Leonard, chairman of the UNC-system Faculty Assembly and a UNC political science professor, said he’s concerned the faculty presence on the committee could be reduced, though he said the change could also allow additional faculty members to participate.

“We would like to see that number not go any lower than that,” he said.

Hannah Gage, a former board chairwoman, said she’d hoped to iron out some problems in the selection process for chancellors and presidents during her tenure but had run out of time.

“(The previous process) was so prescriptive that it didn’t give any flexibility,” she said. “It had very distinct committees, and there wasn’t overlap.”

The policy revisions also include a requirement for committee members to sign a confidentiality agreement not to disclose information discussed during closed session.

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