After the firing of UNC president Tom Ross and the review of centers and institutes, I was prompted to research the methods other states use to appoint higher education board members.
The research showed that nearly all states value de-politicized boards. For example, California’s constitution states that “the university shall be entirely independent of all political and sectarian influence and kept free therefrom in the appointment of its Regents and in the administration of its affairs.”
Compared with most states, North Carolina’s selection process is highly politicized, short in duration, haphazard, largely hidden from the public, with inexperienced candidates who are mostly political donors.
One study suggests that those states with the best higher education outcomes have implemented nominating councils. These councils provide a rigorous process for determining qualifications, soliciting nominations, interviewing candidates, matching candidates to vacancies and making recommendations to the appointing authorities.
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The councils have the virtues of being bipartisan, operating year-round, maintaining continuity from one year to the next, being more transparent and becoming familiar with the specific needs of individual institutions. The councils are only a small enlargement of government, since members serve without pay and meet only a few times each year.
I encourage the General Assembly to study and revise the manner of selecting higher education board members.
Read the report at the United for UNC website at unitedforunc.wordpress.com/learn-more/