NC political shell game set to impact higher ed in the state
- Inside Higher Ed analyzes ongoing efforts in North Carolina to reduce the executive powers of incoming governor Roy Cooper, a democrat. Among them, removing the gubernatorial duty of appointing trustees to public institutions and giving the responsibility to state legislators.
- The governor has typically appointed four trustees to member institutions of the University of North Carolina System, with the Board of Governors appointing eight and one being reserved for a student member. Critics say H.B.17 will politicize the selection process and potentially jeopardize the system and schools' standing with accrediting bodies.
- Supporters say the move re-establishes the responsibilities of elected officials in managing the state's publicly funded higher education system, instead of placing powers in the hands of one person.
North Carolina is usually portrayed as one of the most aggressive states in the country in meddling with higher education, and this effort from lawmakers enhances that stereotype. But while the Tar Heel state may receive all of the attention, Republican states throughout the country are making similar efforts to cement political will over colleges and universities on a permanent basis.
In Florida, college presidential searches are now conducted and approved in part by its Board of Governors instead of individual institutions. In Tennessee, lawmakers have seized control of appointing board members for all schools outside of the University of Tennessee system. College leaders should no longer view these moves as individual state-by-state circumstances, but rather, an emerging conservative plan for higher education that could cause seismic shifts in the near and distant future.
- Inside Higher Ed Trustee appointment takes political turn