On Thursday, November 4, 2021, the UNC Board of Trustees voted on measures that could (1) extend their influence and involvement in the admissions process and (2) involve themselves into lower level hiring decisions — people two to three levels below the chancellor or vice chancellor levels.
Regarding admissions acceptance, prior to Thursday’s meeting, the Coalition learned of a proposed move to transfer the handling of admissions acceptance appeals away from the Provost office to the Board of Trustees. There is high demand for admission to Carolina. In 2020 UNC-Chapel Hill received 44,379 first-year applications. The overall acceptance rate was 24 percent – 48 percent for North Carolina applicants and 14 percent for out-of-state applicants. The candidate pool for Carolina is always full of very well-qualified, highly accomplished, engaged and talented applicants. Limited space and a 24 percent acceptance rate mean many well-qualified applicants are not accepted. When this happens, parents and applicants may decide to submit an appeal to see if anything can be done to reverse the acceptance decision. In the past these appeals have been managed by the Provost office in a fair, non-partisan way. While we are sure that the Board of Trustees would have the best intentions, we do not understand the reasoning behind their wanting to insert themselves in the applicant appeals process. Including the Board of Trustees in the process invites appeals from those who expect favorable treatment for whatever reason.
UNC System President Peter Hans discouraged the trustees from granting themselves full power to have the final say on an individual admissions case that’s being appealed. He requested that they further study and discuss what such authority would look like. So, at the meeting, the Board of Trustees removed language from their resolution that specifically references applicant appeals, but still enabled them to “…create any number of committees… to make recommendations to the Board of Trustees and to establish panels to hear and decide certain appeals on behalf of the Board of Trustees.” We believe this is just another way, and possible loophole, to insert themselves in the admissions appeal process. We hope we are wrong and will be watching closely.
As for involving themselves in lower level hires, the Board of Trustees adopted a resolution stating that the authority of Tier II hires “is delegated by the Board of Governors to the chancellors and the respective Boards of Trustees of the constituent institutions.” Tier II hires include Senior Associate Deans that oversee different parts of the College of Arts and Sciences, Associate Deans for Research in the respective schools and many others. The Chancellor often delegates this authority to deans so that they can choose their own leadership teams. So, in addition to this being a huge administrative burden for the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees to be involved in, it potentially undermines a dean’s ability to create their vision for a particular school. The prior process for Tier II hires at Carolina was handled by the University Chancellor or a delegate of the Chancellor. Now it seems that the Board of Trustees will insert themselves in lower level hiring decisions going forward. This inserts more administrative red tape into the process and, perhaps, increases administrative cost. The resolution appears to be a solution looking for a problem. We hope this will not lead to political purges or political hires and will be monitoring to shine a light on any issues that arise.
At The Coalition for Carolina we are rededicating ourselves to the University’s promise of Lux Libertas—light and liberty—and the principles of open inquiry, free speech, equity and inclusion. We urge you to join us in our very important mission: To protect the State of North Carolina’s most valuable asset: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. If you agree that neither the Board of Governors nor the Board of Trustees should be involved in matters of college acceptance, lower level faculty hires, or any number of issues that amount to overreach, please join our nonpartisan coalition. Share your thoughts, send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org, or donate to ensure that we can shine as bright a light as possible on these issues in real time. We want to reach as many people who love our University as possible.
We will continue to be vigilant and do what we can to protect the University we love.