Under the Dome

UNC presidential search committee set

The committee that will search for a successor to UNC President Tom Ross is finally set, after back-and-forth negotiations and several changes in the group’s size and makeup.

The UNC Board of Governors apparently had trouble reaching unanimity when it came to which members should be on the all-important search committee.

First the board changed its policy regarding the search process, shrinking the committee to what some members said would be a more manageable size – nine members. Then, nine couldn’t accommodate the number of people wanting to be on the committee.

“It’s just so difficult when you have 32 great members and you’ve only got a certain number of slots,” said the board’s vice chairman, Lou Bissette.

On April 2, a nominating committee met in Charlotte at the law office of Board of Governors Chairman John Fennebresque. From that meeting a slate of 11 members emerged, with two chairs recommended – Joan MacNeill and Ann Goodnight.

But concerns were raised about the recommended slate’s lack of experience with searches. Then, earlier last week, the nominating committee called another meeting in Greenville and decided that the search panel needed just one chair – MacNeill, a former Western Carolina University trustee chair who joined the UNC board in 2013.

Goodnight was recommended as a vice chairwoman along with Therence Pickett, who will be the only African-American on the search panel. And a 12th member was added – former board chairwoman Hannah Gage, who will be the only Democrat on the committee.

Board policy had called for the immediate past chairman to be on the search committee, but the most recent former chair, Peter Hans, has left the board. A voice of experience was needed, said Bissette, filling in for Fennebresque, who was ill and didn’t travel to Greenville for the board’s meeting at East Carolina University.

“You like to think that ideologies don’t matter because we’re all trying to find the very best leader for the university system, but in reality you do need a viewpoint of different ideologies in that process,” Bissette said. “There’s very little about this system that Hannah does not understand.”

On Friday, the full board approved the 12-member slate: MacNeill (chairwoman); Goodnight and Pickett (vice chairs); Fennebresque; Bissette; Gage; Joan Perry; Frank Grainger; Doyle Parrish; Craig Souza; G.A. Sywassink; and Raiford Trask.

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Twitter: @janestancill