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UNC considers new structure for presidential search

UNC System President Tom Ross, right, sits with UNC Board of Governors Chairman John Fennebresque during a Jan. 16 press conference. Ross was forced out of his job by the board.
UNC System President Tom Ross, right, sits with UNC Board of Governors Chairman John Fennebresque during a Jan. 16 press conference. Ross was forced out of his job by the board. hlynch@newsobserver.com

A panel of the UNC Board of Governors is proposing changes to the process of choosing the next UNC system president.

On Tuesday, a working group of the board discussed several ideas for restructuring the committees that will search for a successor to UNC system President Tom Ross, who will step down early next year.

It's unclear exactly when the presidential search will commence, but it is likely to launch in spring. The board this month acted to push out Ross, who has said he was not ready to retire but will leave in 2016 after five years on the job.

Board members said Tuesday that they are tinkering with the 1996 policy that guides searches in order to make the procedure less prescriptive.

Traditionally, the process has included several committees; a panel to write a leadership statement of qualities sought in the next leader; a screening committee to narrow the pool of candidates; and a search committee to identify finalists and recommend a final pick.

A new process is likely to include the same groups, but a slimmed down search committee (up to 13 board members compared to the previous number of 20) will make up the core of the other two committees. That search committee would include the three officers of the board. Currently, the officers are Chairman John Fennebresque, Vice Chairman Lou Bissette and Secretary Dr. Joan Perry.

On Tuesday, the panel discussed guaranteeing membership of the student member of the board on the search committee.

Up to 20 members would be added for the leadership statement committee, to include broad representation of chancellors, faculty, students, staff and alumni from the 17 UNC campuses. For the screening committee, an additional five to seven Board of Governors members would be added to the core group.

A nominating committee of the board would appoint members to each of the three other committees.

The Board of Governors is expected to vote in February on proposed changes to the presidential search policy.

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