CHAPEL HILL — The UNC systems Board of Governors will soon be led by three Triangle Republicans.
Peter D. Hans of Raleigh will become the new chairman of the board July 1, taking over from current Chairwoman Hannah Gage after serving two 2-year terms as vice chairman.
Hans was elected over Paul Fulton, a Winston-Salem businessman, 20-11. Frank Grainger was elected vice chair over Jim Deal, a Boone attorney, 17-13. Ann Goodnight was unanimously elected secretary.
Hans is a senior policy advisor for the law firm of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in Raleigh. Grainger is a Cary businessman, and Goodnight is a Cary community volunteer and businesswoman.
This is the first time the board has elected new officers since Republicans gained a majority of seats on the non-partisan board.
Becoming chairman is an enormous responsibility, said Hans, who has also served on the State Board of Community Colleges.
The chairmanships shift to the right will not change the way to board operates, Hans said. He said he will remain focused on managing the systems resources effectively amid tough economic times and controlling the rate of tuition costs.
I always operated in a bipartisan manner on both boards, and I think that its important for education to remain out of the political fray, Hans said. The university of North Carolina should be above and beyond partisan politics. That has been our tradition, and it will continue to be so.
Farewell to Gage
Gage received the states highest civilian honor Friday, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, at Fridays meeting. In her last report as chairwoman, she emphasized the importance of working across the aisle with lawmakers and businesses throughout the state to develop more bipartisan support for the UNC system.
There was a time when the business community fully supported the Board of Governors, she said.
We no longer enjoy this same support we once had, she said.
Gage also asked the board to focus on reining in tuition costs.
If the citizens of this state are standing outside the campuses because they cant afford to come in, weve failed, she said.
Also Friday, Hans said he supports the move to set up a board panel to review the investigation by UNC-Chapel Hill into academic fraud in its African and Afro-American Studies Department.
I think the panel that they have constituted to review the actions that have been taken up to this point is a good move, he said. We need to review whats been done and see if anything needs to be done going forward.
Hans avoided questions about whether the universitys response to the fraud has been transparent enough.
There are a number of opinions on that, however I feel confident that going forward we will be, he said. Its very important to us that the academic reputation of the university be held intact.
SBI a third party
UNC President Tom Ross said Friday that the UNC system and UNC-CH have been transparent in disclosing the details of academic fraud.
He defended the decision to create the four-person board committee to oversee the universitys investigation instead of bringing in an outside group. An outside group isnt needed since the State Bureau of Investigation is doing its own criminal investigation, Ross said.
We have brought in a third party called the SBI, and theyre doing an independent investigation right now, and their practice is such that we dont want to interfere, he said. I dont think they want another investigation going on.
The board committee will meet next week to review its charge and will begin work soon, Ross said. He said he didnt know when the committees report might be released.
[Theyre] going to look at everything thats been done to assure our board and assure the public that everything that needs to be done has been done.