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Faculty, Trustees React To UNC Chapel Hill Rumors

Courtesy UNC Office Of The Chancellor

The Faculty Council at UNC Chapel Hill has passed a resolution in support of Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz. It comes as the chair of the Faculty Council, Mimi Chapman, said she was contacted by someone over the weekend who had been in a meeting where names were being solicited for interim chancellor.

Chapman organized an emergency – and sometimes contentious – meeting of the Faculty Council on Wednesday evening, which passed the resolution that affirmed confidence in Guskiewicz and in the "expectation of shared governance."

"It is my strong belief that this is not a time for a leadership change on our campus," Chapman said.

Earlier in the day, six new members joined the UNC – Chapel Hill Board of Trustees. The board elected Dave Boliek as the new chair. Boliek is an attorney from Fayetteville and has spent two years on the board. Earlier this month, he was one of four members to vote no on awarding tenure to journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. John Preyer, the new vice-chair, also voted no.

Boliek told the Raleigh News & Observer that he thinks Guskiewicz is a "hardworking individual" and that the Board of Trustees has no authority to remove a chancellor.

Chapman cited two names that she says she heard were candidates for interim chancellor; both are high-ranking conservative Republicans: Clayton Somers and John Hood.

Somers is currently the vice chancellor for public affairs and secretary of UNC Chapel Hill. In that role, he was reportedly instrumental in negotiating the deal between the UNC system and the Sons of Confederate Veterans over the Silent Sam monument. Previously, he was the chief of staff for state House Speaker Tim Moore.

Hood is chairman of the John Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank founded by current UNC Board of Governors member Art Pope, and is a frequent media commentator.

Guskiewicz has been criticized by Senate Leader Phil Berger and other powerful Republicans, most recently for his support of a tenure offer being made to Hannah-Jones.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Berger said that he is not involved in the day-to-day decisions of running individual campuses, but he added that: "I have questions about the many decisions that have been made at the Chapel Hill campus."

A campus-based chancellor can only be removed by the UNC system president and the Board of Governors.

In a statement on Tuesday, UNC President Peter Hans advised faculty to focus on teaching and research.

"I would encourage everyone to take a deep breath, focus on that mission, and not chase conspiracy theories," said Hans.

The UNC Board of Governors meets next week.

Editor's Note: WUNC’s Board of Directors is appointed by the UNC Chapel Hill Board of Trustees. WUNC maintains editorial independence in all news coverage, including stories involving UNC.

Dave DeWitt is WUNC's Supervising Editor for Politics and Education. As an editor, reporter, and producer he's covered politics, environment, education, sports, and a wide range of other topics.
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