New, smaller UNC Board of Governors takes shape

The UNC Board of Governors will have eight new members and four incumbents for 12 seats, following an election by the legislature that saw more turnover than usual.

On Wednesday, the state House elected six members to the board, including two Republican former lawmakers.

Those elected Wednesday are:

▪ Kellie Hunt Blue of Pembroke, a county government finance director and chair of the UNC Pembroke trustees.

▪ Rob Bryan, a Charlotte business executive and former Republican House member who lost his re-election bid last year.

▪ Carolyn Lloyd Coward, an attorney from Arden and trustee of Western Carolina University.

▪ Leo Daughtry, a Smithfield attorney and retired Republican lawmaker.

▪ Wendy Murphy of Wallace, a longtime UNC Wilmington trustee.

▪ Doyle Parrish, a Raleigh businessman and incumbent member who will serve a second term.

“I am excited for these outstanding individuals to serve on the UNC Board of Governors and continue to improve our world-class higher education system,” House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican from Kings Mountain, said in a statement. “Thank you to all of the members, candidates and stakeholders who contributed immensely important input to this process of selecting the officials who oversee our universities, faculty and students statewide.”

The new members, along with six elected from the state Senate, will take office this summer on the governing board that oversees the 17-campus public university system in North Carolina. It is one of the most sought-after appointments in the state.

The next board will remain overwhelmingly Republican and male, with five seats occupied by former legislators. Not counting the student representative, who does not have a vote, the board will have six women, four African Americans and one American Indian among its 28 members.

The Senate-elected members are:

▪ former Raleigh mayor and former state Republican Party chair Tom Fetzer, now a lobbyist from Wilmington.

▪ Steve Long, a Raleigh attorney.

▪ Marty Kotis of Summerfield, a real estate investor and restaurateur.

▪ Randall Ramsey, owner of a boat building company in Beaufort.

▪ former Sen. Bob Rucho, a Republican from Matthews.

▪ Harry Smith, a Greenville business executive.

Kotis, Long and Smith are incumbents.

The next board will remain overwhelmingly Republican and male, with five seats occupied by former legislators. Not counting the student representative, who does not have a vote, the board will have six women, four African-Americans and one American Indian among its 28 members. Women will comprise 21 percent of the board, but 57 percent of UNC system students are female.

The legislature recently acted to downsize the board from 32 members to 28 this year, making the race for board seats more competitive. The board will be reduced to 24 members in 2019.

During the debate on shrinking the body, African-American lawmakers raised concerns about the possibility of less diversity on a board that governs a system with five historically black campuses and one historically American Indian university. In the end, the number of black members will remain the same, and an American Indian member will be added.

The process of choosing members saw more upheaval this year, especially considering that the Republicans have controlled the board elections since 2011.

Three incumbents were not re-elected by the House: Roger Aiken, an investment broker from Alexander; Henry Hinton, a broadcast executive from Greenville; and Dr. Joan Perry, a physician from Kinston. In an unusual development, two of the board’s officers – Aiken, the vice chair, and Perry, the secretary – were not given a second term. Scott Lampe, a Charlotte motorsports executive who leads the board’s budget and finance committee, was not re-elected on the Senate side.

Also gone from the board by summer will be most of the members of the presidential search committee that hired President Margaret Spellings. Besides the election turnover, two had already left the board and two will complete their terms this summer, leaving only two members of the search panel.

Some legislative leaders expressed displeasure with the board last year on a variety of issues, including secrecy in the presidential search and chancellors’ raises that were awarded behind closed doors and not initially made public. However, some members have expressed concerns that the board has less independence than in the past and is too beholden to the legislature.

Jane Stancill: 919-829-4559, @janestancill