We’re Hoping for a Better Year for Carolina

After a year marred by political interference and governance overreach at UNC, the Coalition for Carolina holds high hopes for a better 2024.

We are deeply concerned by the departure of Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz. But we are hopeful that Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts, who starts January 12, will be a strong and stabilizing leader.

We are heartened by UNC System President Peter Hans’ stated intention to appoint a search committee that will conduct an open, nationwide search for the best permanent chancellor to lead the University in the years ahead.

We hold confidence that our coalition has had a positive impact at Carolina. We believe that our concerns have been heard by Interim Chancellor Roberts, President Hans, the UNC System Board of Governors and some members of the UNC Board of Trustees.

We are grateful to you – our members, our followers and our financial supporters – for stepping up and speaking out in support of our work.

Our numbers have grown and people are engaged. In 2023 our content reached 1, 586,174 people and garnered 658,053 engagements. This 41% engagement rate is nearly double the prior year’s engagement rate of 22%.

Last month, more than 600 of you signed our online petition that urged President Hans and the Board of Governors to ensure that the next Chancellor at Carolina maintains the standard of excellence that we all expect at America’s oldest and greatest state public university.

In interviews and conversations since he was appointed to the interim position, Lee Roberts has promised to be independent. He has made clear that, while he welcomes input from trustees, he reports to the President.

He appears sincere in his commitment to supporting the UNC faculty, in terms of financial compensation and respect for their role in ensuring that Carolina fulfills its academic mission without political interference and the threat of retribution.

In 2023, these actions eroded the confidence of the faculty and many of us who love and support Carolina:

  • The trustees and the legislature pushed through the establishment of a School of Civic Life and Leadership without notice to the faculty or administration. We hope that, with faculty engaged now, the school will become an open forum for diverse opinions, rather than what Trustee Dave Boliek once termed a platform for “right-of-center views.”
  • John Preyer, new chair of the trustees, publicly scolded Chancellor Guskiewicz and the university for defending before the U.S. Supreme Court what used to be considered the law: consideration of race as one of many factors in admissions.
  • The legislature passed a new law requiring state universities to switch accreditors every time they renew accreditation. This is costly, time-consuming and holds no value.
  • The legislature also passed a law that says the state will match donations only for distinguished professorships in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in the future. The new law explicitly precludes state matches for distinguished professorships in journalism and law. This clearly was political retribution against UNC.

We are concerned that these actions will lead to the departure of faculty, problems retaining faculty and difficulty in recruiting new faculty.

On the positive side, a bipartisan study commission chaired by former UNC System Presidents Tom Ross and Margaret Spellings mapped out a comprehensive road to governance reform. President Hans, the Board of Governors and the General Assembly should give this report full, fair and thoughtful consideration. Follow this link to access the full report.

This coming year, we will continue to report – and listen – to you.

We conducted an online survey of our members last year. You expressed a deep-seated belief that repeated meddling by trustees and legislators is hurting UNC. You described yourselves as “worried,” “angry” and “frustrated” about Carolina’s future.

You made clear that you’re willing to take action – signing petitions, talking to trustees and legislators, sharing information with friends and family, and donating to groups like our coalition that oppose government overreach.

We are heartened by your love and support for Carolina. We pledge to take seriously our responsibilities to the University, to you and to all who love this priceless gem.

Our mission is to protect one of our state’s most treasured assets: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We have come together to support and defend the University of the People and its independence from partisan interference. We are dedicated to the University’s promise of Lux Libertas—light and liberty—and the principles of open inquiry, free speech, equity and inclusion.

In 2024, we will remain committed to this mission.

As Chancellor Guskiewicz said last year, “As the nation’s first public university, we have a responsibility to be a place that brings together people of diverse backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints to debate the issues of our day…. We are working to support a culture of respect, debate, and discovery. It won’t be easy and will often feel simply uncomfortable. Yet these are the skills our students, and we as citizens, need to be stewards of our democracy.”