TO THE EDITOR:
The Feb. 10 opinion piece “Keep a close eye on UNC’s new hire — another spokesperson” was an out-of-bounds, uniformed character attack that showed a lack of understanding of the relationship between the University and the legislature.
The piece rightly noted that Clayton Somers, vice chancellor of public affairs and secretary of the University, has only been in the job for one month and therefore his performance cannot be judged, making it perplexing as to why the paper would speculate he would “betray” the University’s values.
As The Daily Tar Heel notes, state funding for the University has been reduced in recent years.
It is precisely for that reason that Chancellor Folt identified the need for a dedicated senior official to coordinate the University’s government relations functions.
Our goal is not to “appease” or “negotiate,” as the DTH accuses, but to demonstrate the benefits the University provides the state and the need for continued strong taxpayer investment.
Our state constitution gives the legislature the role of maintaining the University and passing laws regarding its oversight.
At the same time, the University takes it upon ourselves to make sure we are fulfilling our duty to serve all 100 counties. Failing to work with our legislators would limit both the ability of the legislature to meet the needs of the University and the ability of the University to meet the needs of the state.
Going forward, the DTH should stick to facts and evidence, rather than launching baseless attacks that fail to grasp the realities of the functioning of state and federal government.
Vice Chancellor of University Communications
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