UNCC students, alumni want president to build relations

The next UNC system president should build a better relationship with the legislature, community members said at a UNC Charlotte forum Monday night.

Seven people addressed nine UNC Board of Governors members and a handful of search committee participants tasked with replacing President Tom Ross, who the board announced in January would step down in early 2016.

The UNC system board has faced criticism for forcing the early retirement of Ross. Some saw it as a political move by a Republican board hoping to please the GOP-led legislature.

UNCC junior Vincent Cahill worried about “political mires in Raleigh” hurting UNC system schools.

“I think the University of North Carolina is a gem ... but has been handicapped in recent years,” he said.

Brett Keeter, an alumnus, hoped the next president could work with the General Assembly effectively.

“It’s important that the leader of the UNC system has a good level of communication with the legislature,” he said, claiming Ross did not.

The meeting was the final of four, afterfollowing sessions at UNC Asheville, East Carolina University and N.C. Central University this week.

UNC board member Joan MacNeill said the thoughts expressed Monday echoed those at the other locations.

Zack King, who represents the Association of Student Governments as a nonvoting board member, lamented that only two UNCC students spoke. King said the majority of students from the four meetings came at his request.

MacNeill said students have been able to comment online, and the board has received more than 4,000 comments.

The board announced Friday it picked the Boston-based firm Isaacson, Miller to conduct its search. Next, the board will write a leadership statement with the qualities it wants in job applicants.

Taylor: 240-472-0171; Twitter: @LangstonITaylor