Members of the Board of Governors, the system president, legislators and the general administration, among others, told the Boston Consulting Group — hired to audit the system after Margaret Spellings was selected — they understood what defined each stakeholders’ “swim lanes.”
“But you were also clear that those swim lanes have not always been honored over the last couple years,” said J. Puckett, senior partner and managing director for the firm. “And that people have gotten out of their swim lanes, and that they’ve done that because they’ve been uncomfortable.”
Puckett presented preliminary findings Friday at the BOG’s retreat.
The Boston Consulting Group has completed around 140 of its intended 150 interviews with board members, general administration leaders, chancellors, faculty and student leaders and legislators. The firm’s representatives visited UNC-Chapel Hill Jan. 7.
Stakeholders agreed the UNC system is the crown jewel of North Carolina but said it has lost a sense of direction.
“It is a quadrilateral of mistrust, between and across the legislature, the board, the GA and the institutions,” one interviewee told the group.
Puckett said many spoke of the system’s glory years — “A bit of the bloom is off the rose right now,” he said.
Those interviewed spoke of a “significant, system-wide culture shift,” with emphasis on establishing clear system priorities and better trust and granting a greater level of autonomy to universities.
“You have great pockets of talent, and a lot of it’s sitting out in your institutions,” Puckett said.
System priorities were categorized under five themes — access, affordability, student success, economic impact and excellency and diversity in institutions. The UNC system’s general administration was also criticized for being too reactionary and far removed from institutional nuances and lacking clear communication.
“In any environment where you have (a) lack of clarity and where you have a build up of misalignment and lack of trust, anybody that sits at the middle is going to get squeezed,” Puckett said. “And that has happened, and (the general administration) have felt the pinch of being in the middle.”
Spellings said the final report will be released mid-March, along with several recommendations to move the system forward.
“This is not our viewpoint on you,” Puckett said. “This is your viewpoint on you.”