Under the Dome

UNC's new leader must offer to leave Blue Cross

September 3, 2010 

As a UNC system search committee zeroed in on Tom Ross as its top choice to run the state's public universities, one influential member was faced with a conflict.

Brad Wilson is president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. He was also a member of the UNC search committee by virtue of his emeritus membership on the UNC Board of Governors, which he chaired several years ago.

Ross is also on the Blue Cross board, named to it earlier this year. As such, he would play a role in making employment and compensation decisions that could affect Wilson.

So when Ross' name popped up during the search committee's deliberations, Wilson said he stepped out of the room. He declined to participate in Ross' interviews to avoid a conflict of interest.

Now, Ross must offer to resign from the Blue Cross board. The organization's bylaws require that members offer to step down if they change jobs; however, the board doesn't necessarily have to accept that resignation, so Ross may remain on the board, Wilson said last week. The matter has yet to be addressed.

The insurance board is heavy with members familiar with the university system. A second member of the UNC presidential search committee, Walter Davenport, sits on the Blue Cross board as well, but he did not sit out the Ross interviews, according to a UNC system spokeswoman. He is not a Blue Cross employee, as Wilson is, and thus didn't have the same conflict, the spokeswoman said.

Harold Martin, the chancellor at N.C. A&T State University and a former UNC system vice president, is also on the Blue Cross board. Other members include Jeffrey Houpt, the former head of the UNC Health Care system, and Lloyd Hackley, a former chancellor at Fayetteville State University.

Blue Cross hasn't disclosed what it's paying Ross for board work. Other board members were paid $33,047 to $51,314 last year, Blue Cross reported in a filing with the N.C. Department of Insurance.

Ross was hired last week as the next UNC system president. He starts work Jan. 1 at an annual salary of $525,000.

Parting words

In a farewell message e-mailed to N.C. Highway Patrol staff this week, former Commander Randy Glover was strident and took aim at the media.

"I will be a trooper for eternity," Glover wrote. "No one will ever take my pride and the respect I have for this organization. The rich history that those before us have made and for those who gave their lives doing what was expected. All the critics in the world can use their ink by the barrels to tear the organization down, but it will never extinguish the flame that we bear. They don't get it. The reasons are simple. We do it to protect and serve."

Glover, who stepped down Tuesday, will return to his home in New Bern, where a retirement party is scheduled for Sept. 24 at a waterfront convention center. The menu for the event, sent out with the invitation, includes smothered and fried chicken, boiled and fried shrimp, string beans and sweet potato casserole.

Hoyer to address N.C. Dems

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland will be the headliner at the Democrats' Vance-Aycock Dinner on Oct. 9 in Asheville.

Hoyer, a one-time rival of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is credited with helping unite the House Democratic caucus. Hoyer is in the middle of a fierce political fight, with some experts predicting that the Republicans will take control of the House in November.

This will be the 50th Vance-Aycock fundraising dinner, which as always is held at the historic Grove Park Inn. But it will be the last one to go by that name. The Democrats have decided to no longer honor former Democratic Gov. Charles Brantley Aycock because of his involvement in the white supremacy campaigns of 1898 and 1900.

By staff writers Eric Ferreri, Michael Biesecker and Rob Christensen

eric.ferreri@newsobserver.com or 919-932-2008

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service