We hereby officially declare the UNC Board of Governors destructive and dysfunctional and headed to hell in a handbasket full of petty infighting and naked opportunism.
You could see this coming, first by inches and feet and now by country miles:
- The clumsy handling of the still-unresolved “Silent Sam” Confederate statue saga.
- The testy relations with former UNC President Margaret Spellings, which led to her abrupt departure in March, after only three years.
- The departure as well of UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt in January.
- The persistent rumors that N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore is angling to become UNC system president (perish the thought).
And now the shenanigans (what else would you call them?) of board member Tom Fetzer, who keeps meddling in the affairs of individual campuses in what appears to be a shameless attempt to find a new job for himself.
First Fetzer, who had expressed interest in the post, insinuated himself into the chancellor search at Western Carolina University, where he derailed the candidacy of the prime candidate by leaking confidential information. Now Fetzer is at it again, having been outed as the person who provided the video footage of former East Carolina University Interim Chancellor Dan Gerlach that led to Gerlach’s resignation.
In a stroke of terrible judgment, Gerlach visited several bars near campus in September, had several drinks with students and appeared unsteady on his feet when returning to his car and driving off.
Yet, even as an official Board of Governors investigation of the incident was transpiring, Fetzer, a former Raleigh mayor and state Republican Party chairman, went rogue for a second time and did his own sleuthing. Fetzer hired a lawyer to obtain surveillance and traffic video of Gerlach. Incidentally, that same attorney, Peter Romary, also investigated the Western Carolina chancellor search for Fetzer.
Fetzer said he conducted the side investigation because he lacked confidence in the board’s investigation. Which raises still more questions.
But what is painfully obvious is that the Board of Governors is spinning out of control, with warring factions and clashing agendas. And all this scratching and clawing is mostly Republican versus Republican. There are no Democrats on the board.
Yet, somehow nobody seems to be held accountable. Thus, Fetzer has twice gone off the grid to play amateur gumshoe and still retains his seat on the board.
As of Thursday, at least some board members finally were publicly condemning Fetzer’s actions. But that’s not enough. Fetzer needs to go.
“When you think you can operate without consequences, you do,” one board member told NC Policy Watch’s Joe Killian.
Meanwhile, a panel that is supposed to be overseeing 17 campuses — and to be hiring several chancellors, as well as a new UNC system president — keeps punching itself silly.
This is an outrage and an embarrassment and, if left unchecked, it will do lasting damage to the UNC system’s integrity and reputation, as well as its ability to attract the best leaders.
Would you want to work for these guys?