UNC System President Gains More Power To Select University Chancellors

Sep 17, 2020

Image from the January 2020 University of North Carolina Board of Governors meeting.
Credit Courtesy of UNC System

The UNC System president will now have more say in choosing new chancellors when vacancies arise at the system's 17 campuses.

On Wednesday, UNC Board of Governors approved a major change to its policy on chancellor searches, at the request of Peter Hans, the UNC System's new president.

In the past, the president would select a candidate from finalists put forward by each individual university's own Board of Trustees. Now, the president will be able to submit two candidates for consideration by those campus-based boards, and the boards must return at least one as a finalist. The president will then recommend one of those finalists to the Board of Governors for approval.

Four members of the Board of Governors voted against the measure, arguing it could have a chilling effect on applicants for open chancellor positions, who might assume the outcome of the search was pre-determined.

"You're giving the president the unfettered right to choose a chancellor, and that's wrong," said Board of Governors member Leo Daughtry, a former representative in the North Carolina General Assembly. "That's bad government."

Board member Dwight Stone called it "a bad visual for the president" referencing other critics' complaints that the policy change is a power grab from local university boards, as reported by the News & Observer.

Hans said he has "every incentive" to work with universities' own boards of trustees.

"I think selecting a chancellor has always been a collaborative process, and that's not going to change," Hans said.

According to Hans, one advantage to the new policy is that he will have greater capacity to cultivate talent from within the UNC System, rather than relying on outside consultants to seek applicants early on in the search process.

The policy will not affect chancellor searches already in process at Fayetteville State University and East Carolina University, where North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore has been rumored to be interested in the vacant chancellor position.