Regarding the Board of Governors’ recent firing of UNC system President Tom Ross: The 11,022 faculty members working at 16 campuses of the University of North Carolina system have an obligation to be involved in all decisions at the university that affect its educational mission. The Board of Governors does not own the university system. It should make decisions only with meaningful participation of the other two pillars of governance: faculty and administrators.
According to American Association of University Professors principles, no decision on retention of university presidents should be made without assessing the level of confidence in which he or she is held by the faculty. In firing Ross, the board declared its disregard for shared governance.
The board can technically fire a senior administrator, but when it unilaterally fired Ross without input from the faculty, it demonstrated its hostility to and disrespect for the important role of the faculty across the UNC system. Adding to this disrespect, board Chairman John C. Fennebresque refused to give any rationale for ousting Ross and instead praised his skills.
By leaving faculty out of this important decision, the board leaves us questioning whether it is acting in the university’s best interest. How will the board restore our trust?
We call for solidarity among faculty at all campuses and reiterate our commitment to defend one another across the system. We encourage all who value academic freedom and the integrity of the university system of governance to speak out against these recent actions.
Officers, UNC-Chapel Hill Chapter of American Association of University Professors, Chapel Hill