Saturday, November 14, 2015

Naming of Margaret Spellings as UNC system president called ‘a disturbing new low’ - The Washington Post

Naming of Margaret Spellings as UNC system president called ‘a disturbing new low’ - The Washington Post:

Naming of Margaret Spellings as UNC system president called ‘a disturbing new low’






In recent years the University of North Carolina system — long considered one of the best in the country — has sustained massive budget cuts by the state legislature as well as efforts to force some academics to change their priorities. Now there is a new challenge: the appointment of Margaret Spellings, education secretary under President George W. Bush, as system president. The move — by a Republican-dominated governing board — is being attacked by students and faculty as a political move that will damage the state.
Spellings was chosen last month to run — starting in March 2016 — the system of 16 universities, with 222,000 students. She will earn enough to put her in the top range of college presidents: a  $775,000 base salary for each of five years in a contract that also gives her deferred compensation of $77,500 annually and potential performance bonuses, and use of a presidential home.
She was selected by the system’s Board of Governors, which had forced out Tom Ross, who was tapped as president in 2010 when Democrats controlled the legislature. Ross — who had a long academic career, unlike Spellings — was believed to have been opposed to the budget cuts and other priority changes being sought at UNC.
The News & Observer reported in August on e-mails showing that conservatives expressed delight when the board voted on Jan. 16 to oust Ross (who earned a base salary of $600,000 in his final contract year):
That day, several supportive emails and messages arrived in the inbox of board Chairman John Fennebresque. “John – this is certainly good news,” wrote U.S. Rep. George Holding, a Republican from Raleigh. “I know you will find a great replacement. Best, g.”
The selection of Spellings was so controversial, even within the governing board, that its chairman, John Fennebresque, resigned a few days later. According to NC Policy Watch, “just three days after she was hired, the chair of the UNC Board of Governors announced he was resigning from the board, following calls from his colleagues to step aside as a result of the acrimonious search process and the jumbled dismissal months earlier of Spellings’ predecessor, Tom Ross.” Fennebresque had, NC Policy Watch reported, said with tears in his eyes after Spellings was appointed that he  hoped she would prove to be a great UNC leader.
Spellings oversaw the initial implementation of No Child Left Behind when she was education secretary under Bush, from 2005 to 2009, and she currently is the head of the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. While education secretary, she convened the Commission on the Future of Higher Education, which in 2006 released a report with controversial recommendations, including a call for colleges and universities to focus on training students for the workforce and supporting research with commercial applications. She also served on the board of directors for the Apollo Group, the parent company of the for-profit University of Phoenix, which paid her more than $300,000 for her involvement.
The choice of Spellings has sparked savage criticism by students and faculty, who have said that she is not a suitable president for the vaunted UNC system and that she was chosen as a political move because she is likely to accept Naming of Margaret Spellings as UNC system president called ‘a disturbing new low’ - The Washington Post:

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