- Margaret Spellings, a former secretary of education under George W. Bush, will become the University of North Carolina system’s new president in March, but, in the meantime, students and faculty are already protesting her appointment in front of the board of governors.
- The Huffington Post reports that the protest, scheduled to coincide with the board’s morning meeting today, is being organized by liberal groups including Faculty Forward Network, Greenpeace USA, Ignite NC, and UnKoch My Campus, who want to call attention to Spellings’ record of corporatizing education and the secretive process used to appoint her.
- Besides opposing the board’s decision on Spellings, students are also advocating for an end to the board’s practice of meeting during breaks and exam periods, which they say excludes their ability to participate and violates the spirit of open meetings laws.
Those who have followed Margaret Spellings’ appointment will not be surprised to hear about the scheduled protest. It is not unlikely some legislators will show up to add their support. The legislature passed a bill that requires the board of governors’ search committee to bring three finalists before the full board before asking them to vote on a presidential appointment. The board, however, approved Spellings’ appointment in an emergency meeting before the governor signed the bill into law. While the UNC system said the committee conducted a seven-month, three-part, “exhaustive” search process, the full board of governors did not consider any alternative candidates.
The process has been heavily criticized in a politically charged environment full of distrust, which reflects the contentious relationships between public university boards and state legislatures across the country.