First the UNC Board of Governors couldn’t tell us why they fired UNC President Tom Ross. Now, they don’t even know what they want in a replacement. That’s what came out of a meeting of a BOG committee charged with finding Ross’ successor.

As Board Chair John Fennebresque put it:

“We want a change agent, but we don’t know the specifics of what we want to change. Do I think the board ought to get together and be able to talk back and forth about what they’re looking for? Yes. Do I think there will be a precise itemization of the factors or traits of a new leader or a new job description coming out of that? Probably not.”

Rarely have we seen a public official admit so blatantly that the body he runs has no idea what they are doing. I can’t believe this is going to help the recruitment process. As one search consultant said, “Folks from Boston to Berkeley kept saying, ‘Jerry, what’s going on in North Carolina?’ It doesn’t feel right to people afar when they look at what we’re doing here.” Well, it doesn’t feel right to a lot of us who are watching up close.

All of the consultants agreed that the UNC system needs a leader who is exceptional and “nontraditional.” But why would somebody exceptional come to an institution that just fired a highly respected president for no reason and take a job with no clear expectations? What a fiasco.

John Fennebresque may love the university, as he said in his N&O profile last weekend, but he has no business running the UNC Board of Governors. And he certainly should not be talking to the press.


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