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Here's what you missed at Friday's Board of Governors' meeting

Bill Roper BOT Meeting
UNC System Interim President Bill Roper takes questions during the media availability of the UNC Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, Jan. 31 2018 at the Carolina Inn.

The 28-member UNC Board of Governors met Friday morning at Appalachian State University for their regular session following a series of committee meetings earlier in the week. 

Updates on systemwide chancellor searches

UNC-system Interim President Bill Roper provided updates on filling chancellor positions for East Carolina University, Western Carolina University and UNC. Roper said the national search to fill the permanent position at UNC likely won’t start until later this year and may take most of the year to complete, but the current transition with Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz is going “very well.”

“In Kevin’s words, he plans to be ‘strategic, bold and student-focused,’” Roper said. “And that’s what Carolina needs right now.” 

Roper said he will be traveling to Greenville on Monday to seek advice on the search for an interim chancellor for ECU, and that he will be interviewing the three candidates submitted by the Board of Trustees for WCU soon. 

Work with state legislature

Additionally, Roper said he met with the Joint House and Senate Appropriations on Education Committees to present the Board’s budget request. He said the request is an “intentionally system-wide agenda” in conjunction with the state’s community college system, and will focus on summer enrollment funding, continued North Carolina Promise Tuition Plan funding, faculty retention and recruitment and a new approach to enrollment growth funding from projected enrollment to actual enrollment growth. 

Roper also said the Board’s legal team met with the state Board of Elections and the General Assembly to determine a path toward making employee and student identification cards admissible forms of voter ID. All of the system’s institutions submitted requests for approval of their credentials as of the March deadline, Roper said. 

“The work continues to ensure students’ right to vote,” Roper said.

Student fees and tuition discussed

Chairperson for the Committee on Budget and Finance Temple Sloan presented during the committee’s last meeting, which included a report on the 2018 Hurricane Florence Emergency Grant Program for Postsecondary Students and the 2019-2020 Tuitions and Fees Proposals.  

Although the Board passed the motion on the upcoming year’s tuition proposal, Board member Thom Goolsby raised concerns regarding the increasing rates of student debt. There will be no tuition increase for in-state undergraduate students for the new tuition and fees proposal, but graduate student tuition will increase by just under 2 percent.

“Student debt is crushing students, not only in North Carolina but across the United States at, I think, about $1.5 trillion,” Goolsby said. “... Student debt is something that we’re all concerned about and we’ve watched it double in the last 10 years as our tuition and fees have doubled. I hope that we will continue to work hard to keep tuition costs in check – our University system is supposed to be as free as possible.” 

Goolsby said he believes the UNC system should consider cosigning loans with students. The BOG passed the motion on the upcoming year’s fees proposal, which includes a campus security fee. 

Concern for lack of representation among new appointments

The BOG also approved the four-year appointment of former Board of Governors member, Raiford Trask III, for one of three positions on the UNC Umstead Review Panel.

David Powers, chairperson of the Committee on University Governance, also discussed the committee’s progress on the 2019 UNC-system Boards of Trustees’ appointments. The Board voted to approve appointments for a slate of individuals at more than 10 institutions within the UNC system.

Board members Anna Spangler Nelson and Pearl Burris-Floyd both expressed desire for the appointments and for future BOG considerations and appointments to reflect the “race and gender of their campus communities.”

“I believe that we should be sensitive and aware of the lack of women and the lack of minorities serving in these various positions,” Burris-Floyd said. 

She noted that in 2017, of the 73 appointments made by the legislature and the Board of Governors, 71 percent were male and 29 percent were female. Of the BOG’s approval of the Boards of Trustees’ appointments at the March meeting, 69 percent were male and 31 percent were female. Burris-Floyd said that although the numbers are not final because the Senate vote has not yet taken place, the 2 percent increase from 2017 to 2019 is significant. 

“That may not seem like much, but when you look around this table and you see the sprinkling of women and minorities serving the Board of Governors, then 2 percent is a big push,” Burris-Floyd said. 

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Of the 28 members on the Board of Governors, seven are women. Burris-Floyd also emphasized that 56 percent of the UNC system’s total student body population consists of women. 

“When women do things, we succeed,” Burris-Floyd said. “... I do believe as an only girl growing up in a family of four boys, we have to work collaboratively together. And when we do that, the result is phenomenal.”

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