The James B. Hunt Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy — a catalyst for transforming public education in the state and the country — lost nearly a quarter of its budget in July 2015, when the state legislature cut its funding.
In February 2015, the UNC-system Board of Governors had asked the Board of Trustees to put together an extensive review of the institute along with four other UNC centers and institutes to review their purpose and contributions to the University and the state of North Carolina, Board of Trustees Chairperson Dwight Stone said.
The decision to review the institute wasn’t meant to assess how much funding it should receive, Stone said.
“It wasn’t from a funding standpoint,” Stone said. “It was from a purpose standpoint.”
The review committee for the Hunt Institute suggested it could be integrated more into UNC through “formal affiliations with the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Education or the School of Government,” according to a memo from Carol Tresolini, Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives, to Provost Jim Dean last month.
However, the review committee also said if the institute did not integrate more into UNC, it should “affiliate with a university or organization outside the UNC system or to pursue independent nonprofit status.”
Tresolini said the Hunt Institute will continue to grow and do great things whether it’s separated from the University or not.
“I think the Hunt Institute will continue to do the good work that it has been doing whether it’s a part of the University or as a separate entity altogether,” she said.
The committee was chaired by Kevin FitzGerald, who is now retired from the UNC-system General Administration.
“This is a great time for the leaders of the Hunt Institute and the University to examine where’s the best place for the Hunt Institute to flourish,” FitzGerald said.
April White Henderson, interim director of the Hunt Institute, said a separation would not mean that the institute would no longer be affiliated with the University.
“We expect our partnership with Carolina to continue, whether that’s through the School of Education, the Department of Public Policy, Kenan-Flagler (Business School) or the Center for Public Service,” she said in an email. “The Institute’s Foundation Board feels very strongly about continued collaboration.”
Stone said because the report on all five centers is 143 pages long, there is a possibility that the Board will not make a decision tomorrow and will have to wait until its next meeting in May.
Henderson said no matter what the Board of Trustees decides, the Hunt institute will continue to value its relationship with UNC.
“The recommendations presented were logical and, we believe, in no way specifically targeted the Institute. The Hunt Foundation Board is now considering the best options and opportunities for the Institute and its future, and that includes the recommendations set forth in the report,” she said.