University boards are supposed to be the backstop that keeps the administration from running wild. Unfortunately, board members are often content to just enjoy the perks. They’ve got better things to do than battle with the president and faculty.
The University of North Carolina Board of Governors (BOG) has in the past fought some good fights, but now seems to be backsliding. So argues Jay Schalin in today’s Martin Center article.
He writes that “it now appears that the pressure is taking a toll on the decision-making capacity of the board. Recent actions by the board altering governance procedures suggest the possibility that many of the members just want to get out of the line of fire and are willing to yield their rightful authority to do so. This may damage the system for many years to come.”
Here’s one example — the BOG has voted to give the system president more say in the selection of chancellors for the individual campuses. That’s a mistake, since we need more oversight in those important selections, not less. Furthermore, the BOG now has a rule against allowing any member to conduct his own investigation into the background of a candidate, even though such an investigation recently disclosed enough bad information to crush a candidacy.
Perhaps most telling of all, when the state legislature gave the BOG the authority to hire its own staffer to provide information not filtered through the office of the president, the BOG declined to exercise it.
Schalin concludes, “Sadly, the board is shrinking its own influence at a time when the state, more than ever, needs them to be assertive and stop the university system’s increasing politicization and overspending.”
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