“I think what has been one of the keys to preserving academic excellence here has been the insulation of the university from political control,” he said. “The legislature should not be involved directly with the running of this university.”
Knott accused legislators of attempting to control the selection process of the board’s next president, and said their information request represented a continuation of unusual interrupting of the board’s business by the political arm of the state government.
The board elected former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings Oct. 23 to replace current system-president Tom Ross. The closed-door search process for his successor drew criticism from faculty and legislators alike.
Board member Marty Kotis was clear in his denouncement of Knott’s statements.
“I could not disagree more with Mr. Knott on his assessment, the dissatisfaction of the board with John Fennebresque had more to do with his unilateral termination of president Ross without the full approval of the board,” Kotis said.
Kotis said the board shouldn’t engage in such rumor-mongering, and he welcomes the people examining what the board has done in closed session.
Bissette indicated the vote count to raise several system chancellors' salaries during closed-session at the board's Oct. 30 meeting will soon be released.
Faculty and staff system-wide have expressed frustration with such raises. As opposed to permanent raises for state employees, the legislature gave a one-time $750 bonus that left many frustrated, especially with the large raises given to the chancellors.
Board member Stephen Long opened the discussion by indicating the board’s commitment to providing UNC-system faculty and staff with competitive salary and benefits.
“I know for the full board that’s a major priority and focus,” he said. “Faculty and staff are the core of our university mission.”
Long indicated the board will release a more comprehensive report in December, which will cover the compensation review process and benchmark efforts to determine where the board is on faculty compensation.