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Board of Trustees braces for membership shake-up at final meeting for many trustees

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The UNC Board of Trustees meets Jan. 1, 2019.

Standing ovations were handed out in turn at Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting, where nearly half the board held its final meeting in the Carolina Inn before being cycled out in July. 

“There are well over 300,000 living alumni,” said outgoing member Bill Keyes. “And only 12 of us get to serve on this board at any one time. It’s indeed an honor.”

Keyes was one of two members of the board, along with former Student Body President Savannah Putnam, who voted against the proposed Silent Sam plan in December. 

“There’s been a lot going on these four years,” Keyes said. “I think all of us around this board table have done everything we could to bring wisdom to the discussions to do what’s best for our university that we all love.”

As the University awaits direction on the monument from the Board of Governors, they're communicating back and forth. A five-member BOG committee has been tasked with figuring out the next move — but a deadline on the decision hasn’t been announced. 

“We have a nice collaboration going,” said chairperson Haywood Cochrane. “It is creative, but it is up to the five of them to come up with a solution that we can all agree with and recommend that in turn to the Board of Governors.”

BOG chairperson Harry Smith, who’s recently announced a softened stance on Silent Sam, has been to campus to hear student and faculty opinions, said interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz. 

With the monument’s handling taken largely out of the University’s hands, it has more time for discussion on other areas of university governance, like fundraising and mental health. 

Interim Chancellor Guskiewicz announced details for the revival of the Tar Heel Bus Tour, which will take place over fall break. The program previously ran from 1997-2008.

Three buses will disembark from Chapel Hill on Oct. 16. Carrying thirty faculty each, they will head east, west and south to “tell the story of UNC’s excellence to our fellow citizens in North Carolina,” the chancellor said. 

UNC is ahead of schedule in a grand-scale donation effort. Just past the campaign’s halfway point, the University has raised over $2.5 billion. The goal is $4.25 billion.

In fiscal year 2019, 409 donors each gave over a million dollars.

The central action item of the day was the approval of the Campus Master Plan, an implementation strategy for the next phase of University development. Initially presented to the board as a draft in May 2018, the plan's ratification has been delayed due in part to a lack of consensus when it came to its specifics. 

Kelly Hopkins motioned to bring the item out of the consent agenda and into discussion, meaning instead of the plan being passed without comment, she would have the chance to get clarification on the 15-year strategy. 

“I wanted to make sure that I felt 100 percent comfortable, and understood,” she said. “So my questions were resolved. I feel really confident with what we’ve adopted.” 

The new student body president, Ashton Martin, joined the board in its meeting for her first time. Similar to the Putnam administration, Martin plans on prioritizing efforts to improve mental health. She wants to bring a University of Michigan-piloted program to UNC, which would add mental health resources on campus. 

“We need some administrative support for that,” she said. “So hopefully I can drum up some support from the board and that will carry a lot of weight in getting that on campus.”

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