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Wednesday April 14th

Chancellor says he was 'aware of' but did not 'participate in' Silent Sam negotiations

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz makes opening remarks ahead of the awards at the 39th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Keynote Lecture and Award Ceremony on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. "We must continue to confront our history so we can learn from that history, fuel from the learnings and move forward together," he said.
Buy Photos Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz makes opening remarks ahead of the awards at the 39th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Keynote Lecture and Award Ceremony on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. "We must continue to confront our history so we can learn from that history, fuel from the learnings and move forward together," he said.

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said he was aware discussions were "occurring through the UNC System" prior to the Nov. 27, 2019 Silent Sam settlement, in a campus message Thursday. 

The settlement between the UNC System and the N.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans, which was overturned this time last year, would have provided the SCV with a $2.5 million trust for the monument's preservation.

Guskiewicz's Thursday message follows revelations of the settlement that came from The DTH Media Corp.'s lawsuit against the UNC System for alleged violations of North Carolina Opening Meetings Law. It was revealed that the five members of the Board of Governors tasked with finding a solution to keep Silent Sam off of UNC's campus had no part in the negotiations with the SCV. 

Rather, four individuals took part in these negotiations: SCV lawyer Boyd Sturges; UNC System lawyers Ripley Rand and Tom Shanahan; and Clayton Somers, UNC-Chapel Hill's vice chancellor for public affairs.

Guskiewicz said he did not participate in the UNC System's negotiations regarding a settlement after the Board of Governors and UNC System resumed responsibility for the future of the Silent Sam monument in December 2018. 

"That authority remains in place to this day," Guskiewicz said in the message. 

He said he "learned that the specific terms of the settlement were nearing completion shortly before Thanksgiving" 2019. The settlement between the SCV and the UNC System was announced on Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving.  

Guskiewicz said the BOG requested that Somers work with the System "find a solution" to keep the monument off of UNC's campus. Once Guskiewicz became interim chancellor, Somers provided him with "general broad updates regarding the progress of this project," Guskiewicz said Thursday. 

"Let me be clear, my unwavering priority was to permanently remove the monument from campus, and I believe the System Office and the five BOG members heard that loud and clear from our campus community as well," Guskiewicz said. 

UNC-Chapel Hill's chapter of the American Association of University Professors called on Guskiewicz to resign in a statement Thursday, because of "serial dishonesty" shown by the chancellor and other University leaders.

university@dailytarheel.com

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