UNC-system Board of Governors member Steve Long alleged that Chairperson Harry Smith is the reason for the series of resignations in the UNC system, according to an article by WUNC.
The Raleigh attorney said Smith was the cause of East Carolina University Chancellor Cecil Staton's departure announced Monday, according to WUNC, as well as former UNC-system President Margaret Spelling's early resignation, announced this fall.
“(Smith) does not have a full-time job,” Long told WUNC on Tuesday. “He treats the UNC system as his full-time job, and he supplanted (Spellings) in managing the university (system). He would call her five times a day, text or email 20 times a day. I mean, this is just not what a president of an organization wants from their board chair. And she had had it, and just went back to Texas.”
Long also said Smith was "obsessed" with criticizing and undermining Staton's leadership at ECU following a rejected business deal in 2016, WUNC reported.
“I don’t think the public appreciates just how relentless Harry Smith has been,” said Long, according to WUNC. “Margaret Spellings told me, virtually every conversation she’s had with Harry ended up with some discussion of ECU and his criticism of the leadership. And there are numerous Board of Governors members and Board of Trustees members who’ve had the same experience.”
At a news conference on Monday, Staton said he did not initiate his plans to leave, according to WUNC. Kieran Shanahan, leader of ECU's Board of Trustees said the chairperson is working to "micromanage a university."
The BOG has also had an active presence at UNC this year, and ultimately will decide the future for Confederate monument Silent Sam that was toppled by demonstrators in August. The BOG's plans are expected to be announced in late May.
While it would take two-thirds of the Board's vote to remove Smith from his position, according to WUNC, Long said he doesn't believe the votes are there.
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