An open search for UNC’s chancellor

For the first time in almost two years a demonstration of leadership is emerging from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Carolina chancellor Holden Thorp took the bold, courageous and only step by resigning from his position effective at the conclusion of the current academic year. In the end, it was only Thorp who stuck his head above the fog that had descended upon and plagued all levels of UNC leadership – everyone from Thorp to Carolina trustees, UNC system president Tom Ross and the UNC Board of Governors. The fog is so thick, in May of this year Ross proclaimed the “situation” resolved. No one could look beyond their Carolina pride (21 of out of 32 voting BOG members are UNC alumni); make the necessary and tough decisions; the leadership failure is shared by all. Thorp’s decision is the appropriate one. He now understands the penalty of leadership.

The vacuum of leadership was deafening and destructive, not only to Carolina but to the entire UNC system. Ross, trustees and the BOG can regain the public’s trust by conducting an open and more transparent search for Thorp’s replacement. Bring the finalists to campus. Allow them to share their vision with the campus. Gain valuable community feedback.

The UNC system is no stranger to open chancellor searches. Appalachian State University chose their current chancellor in an open search. He and other finalists made public visits to campus, interacting and speaking with various university constituencies. Paul Gates, former ASU faculty chair and member of the search committee told The News and Observer in 2004 that, “It went off without a hitch. It gave us a second look at the candidates and how they interacted with each group. If they’re on thin ice at home, we don’t want them here.”

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UNC’s private dental school

There’s a new scandal brewing at UNC Chapel Hill. As a part of their investigative reporting, the News and Observer has requested internal documents from the university’s dental foundation. The university has claimed the documents are not public records because the foundation is a “separate” not for profit organization.

The News and Observer responded with a harsh editorial, UNC made some bad calls:

One factor that brought all this to The N&O’s attention was an audit of the foundation helping the dental school, an audit that led to the resignation of the head of that foundation, who had been Tami Hansbrough’s boss. The N&O has been trying to obtain a copy of the dental foundation audit and related expense records, but has been told by foundation officials that those things are not public records. If they’re connected to a public university’s dental school and its fundraising, then they are public records and university and foundation officials only deepen suspicions when they try to claim otherwise. Thorp should support the release of the records immediately.

UNC chancellor Holden Thorp’s claims that the foundation is separate from the university are laughable. Try giving money to the foundation online, you’re redirected the university’s development site. The foundation appears to be staffed by UNC employees, with @unc email addresses. Just take a look below at this screen shot of the dental foundation’s website… which just so happens to be located on a university url:

The foundation staff are even listed in the UNC Staff Directory.

It’s quite clear that the UNC Chapel Hill School of Dentistry’s Dental Foundation is very much a part of NC’s public university and thus subject to public scrutiny and transparency. For some time now I have called on UNC President Tom Ross to make a leadership change at Carolina, and could not agree more with The N&O’s editorial conclusion, “With a scandal in the football program that resulted in a coach’s dismissal and fraud investigations involving the African studies curriculum, Thorp should now understand the necessity of public disclosure and candor.”

Board may oust Thorp

A source close to the University of North Carolina system indicates that some members of the Board of Governors are working to remove Holden Thorp as chancellor of the Chapel Hill campus. The members intend to make a formal motion at the Board’s next gathering if UNC President Tom Ross fails to dismiss Thorp by the September meeting.

When asked why, the source simply said, “The university is the laughing-stock of the nation and the damage is spreading to the entire system. The only solution is transparency and a leadership change.”

Honest NC will provide further details as they become available.

Fire Holden Thorp

Once again Holden Thorp, the embattled chancellor of the University of North Carolina, had failed the nation’s oldest public university.

Thorp lied to the media with regard to the NCAA investigation; now he’s claiming to be a champion for low tuition.

“We’ve done a wonderful job of keeping the tuition down at a time when Virginia and the (University of California) are charging twice what we’re charging,” Thorp told the News and  Observer.

A wonderful job?!? Who cares what UVA or the California system charges for tuition. The North Carolina Constitution – which demands low tuition – does not speak to other state’s institutions or as academics call them “peer institutions.”

Again, Thorp demonstrates a fundamental disconnect between the university and its constitutional mandate. I guess that is what we get for hiring an individual who was barely qualified to lead one of our community colleges.

Thank you Bev





A big Honest NC shout out and thank you to Gov. Bev Perdue.

Thank you for NOT seeking re-election.

This is another nail in the coffin of former state senators Marc Basnight and Tony Rand’s stranglehold on North Carolina state government.

One more crony in the “Basnight/Rand Corruption Machine” is out.

Whose next? UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp.

The news from Gov. Perdue is another victory for Honest NC.

UNC Truth Battle – part 5

Members of the Media and Friends of Open Government:

Please find two emails: (1) from UNC President Tom Ross and (2) from Brent Barringer, lawyer and BOG member, in response to may email “Confidence in UNC should be restored, not deteriorated.”

As you will read, UNC leaders refuse to answer the fundamental question – was any UNC business discussed at this “informal session”? If business was discussed, then it is CLEARLY a violation of the NC Open Meetings Law.

I will of course copy you on my response to UNC leaders. They may try to avoid the issue by “attacking” my words, yet the truth is on our side.

The definition of a lie is, “a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive.” President Ross is right to say I do not have all the facts – that is not possible because the public and media were NOT ALLOWED at this “informal gathering.”

Yet I know the truth; University business WAS discussed, and under NC law the meeting should have been announced to the public, media should have been invited, role taken, and minutes kept.

With the truth on my side, I have thus come to the unfortunately conclusion that UNC leaders are and have lied about this matter.

In a time of NCAA investigations, million dollar contract bailouts, rampant cheating, resignations and firings, budget cuts… we need and must demand openness. And that is why I will continue to ask UNC – who among them will lead?

I’ll keep you updated, andrew

PS – what also amazes me is that no one leading our great University stopped and asked, “they say what we are about to do is legal, but is it ETHICAL?”

Related posts: UNC Truth Battle – part 4

UNC Truth Battle part – 3

Part 3 of HonestNC’s ongoing series, “UNC Truth Battle”:

Part 1
Part 2


University of North Carolina system President Tom Ross’ response to my initial “observations.”

Dear Mr. Payne,

Thank you for your email and your opinions. I regret that you have chosen to accuse the members of the Board of Governors of misleading the public and being liars without having all the facts. Your words are strong, less than civil and, in my opinion, are inappropriate.

Because you have raised concerns that a recent orientation workshop for incoming and returning members of the UNC Board of Governors may have violated the state’s Open Meetings Law allow me to offer to you some additional information. This informal session, facilitated by a Fellow from the Association of Governing Boards, offered the 16 members who had yet to be sworn in and the 16 continuing board members an opportunity to get to know one another better, to learn about general principles of good governance, and to consider how they all can work together most effectively in support of our University system. At the outset, our General Counsel distributed and reviewed clear guidance on the University’s duties and obligations under the Open Meetings Law and took great care to ensure that the workshop discussions didn’t stray into University business.

As an attorney who spent 17 years on the bench, I believe in the law and am going to do my absolute best to ensure that we abide by it. I am confident the University and the Board of Governors fully complied with the law during both the pre-meeting workshop and the official board meetings that followed.

Best regards,

Thomas W. Ross
The University of North Carolina
PO Box 2688
Chapel Hill, NC 27515