Silent Sam Will Not Go Back On UNC-CH Campus; Future Still In Limbo

Feb 21, 2020

Credit Gerry Broome / AP

The UNC System Board of Governors is not making any immediate decisions on what to do with the Silent Sam monument, now that it is awaiting the statue's return.

UNC System Interim President Bill Roper said he will seek a "lasting, legal solution" for the future of the statue torn down by protesters, but that it will not return to its former location at UNC Chapel Hill.

"It will not go back on campus," Roper told reporters Friday.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour delivered an order dismissing the UNC Board of Governors' settlement with the Sons of Confederate Veterans over the statue Thursday, requiring that the pro-Confederate group return the monument to the UNC System within 45 days.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans must also return the $2.5 million trust fund it received to maintain and display the statue. The trustee charged with managing the fund will provide an accounting of any money spent.

In his monthly report Friday, Board of Governors Chair Randy Ramsey addressed the judge's dismissal of the settlement.

"While I'm very disappointed that happened, we are however getting the university's money back," Ramsey said. "We will secure the monument away from campus, and we will deal with it in due course."

Ramsey made clear that UNC System officials are in no hurry to come to a final decision on where the statue will ultimately go, saying the Board of Governors has more pressing issues.

"That monument does not educate students," Ramsey said. "And this board is here to govern this university and educate the students and the people of North Carolina."

One of the urgent matters facing the UNC Board of Governors is its search for a new UNC System president. Roper has been serving as interim president since January 2019, after former president Margaret Spellings resigned.

The search committee has received several dozen applications for the job and will begin to review them next week. Ramsey said there is no set timeline for completing the search.

"We're much more interested in getting it right instead of getting it done by a certain date," Ramsey said, adding that he's encouraged by the slate of candidates who have applied.

Roper announced in September that he would not be seeking the position permanently. He is scheduled to leave the interim role in June, but Ramsey said he does not consider that a final deadline to complete the search.