UNC Board was not pressured on Ross


From John Fennebresque, a Charlotte lawyer and chair of the UNC Board of Governors, in response to “At UNC, a session of Politics 101” (Aug. 25 editorial):

Let me be clear: The UNC Board of Governors was never pressured in any way to replace University system President Tom Ross.

All of the emails cited in your story came in response to the Board of Governors’ independent decision to begin the process of leadership change. The Board had reached this conclusion over many months, and we initiated the process on Jan. 9, in a meeting I had with Tom Ross. A week later, the Board voted to move forward with this change. Your editorial seems to suggest that the Board must have received earlier pressure to take this action. That is simply not true. As chairman, I never received any call or any form of communication from anyone urging me to replace Tom Ross. Instead of relying on facts, your editorial relied on loaded phases such as “draped in politics” and “the whiff of politics.”

Only one point in your editorial was on target. Our choice of a new UNC president will demonstrate whether the system is “engulfed by political winds,” as your editorial states – or whether the Board picked an outstanding leader who will both uphold our university system’s stellar reputation and navigate the many tough challenges ahead. That’s exactly the type of leader we are committed to finding through a rigorous selection process that has already brought forth a significant number of exceptional candidates – all interested in leading the best university system in the country, the University of North Carolina.

Until then, let me assure you the University is growing and thriving, with increasing numbers seeking admission year after year, in recognition of the unparalleled education and value our 17 campuses have and will continue to provide the people of North Carolina.