Insights and Observations
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
By Henry Hinton
dysfunctional UNC System board
Board Member and ECU alum Phil
Dixon says new study exposes biases of governing body
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Is it possible a new
report just released from the North Carolina Center for Public Policy
Research will help East Carolina’s efforts to gain credibility and equity in
the state university system?
Board of Governors member
Phil Dixon says ECU has a lot to complain about and the report proves it.
The center, a Raleigh
based think tank and state government watchdog group, has just released a
402-page report on the selection process and powers of the 32-member UNC
Board of Governors which oversees all 16 constituent campuses in the system.
The report deals with
many facets of the work of the Board of Governors. For instance, it
criticizes the board for allowing seven tuition increases in eight years,
not having a comprehensive long range plan and lack of controls in
One major finding of the
study validates what many from the ECU camp have been screaming for years,
that the eastern part of the state does not have reasonable and fair
The report states that in
the 2003-04 school year that just six of the 32 board members reside east of
Raleigh. Most of the members historically come from the Piedmont area of
the state. According to the study, the legislature, which appoints the
entire board, is not doing its homework when choosing people to serve.
Money seems to be the
real driving force behind who gets appointed. In a recent five-year period,
candidates for appointment to the board gave political contributions
totaling $425,720 to members of the General Assembly.
Meanwhile, a candidate is
rarely questioned by any legislator on his or her views of higher education.
Dixon, who was appointed
by the state senate two years ago, calls the process of trying to get
appointed to the Board of Governors “demeaning.”
Responding to the new
study in an interview on Talk 1070’s Talk of the Town program, the
Greenville lawyer and former Chairman of the ECU Trustees, said getting
someone with ECU connections appointed to the Board is nearly impossible.
“We were trying to get
the (Greenville) mayor (Don Parrott) appointed from the House side,” Dixon
said. “ There were already five people from Asheville and they appointed
another person from Asheville as opposed to someone from down east…. that’s
absurd. When they formed the Board of Governors, three of them were
supposed to be from East Carolina.”
Dixon says the current
make up of the Board of Governors includes just four people from east of
“In recent years we
really have been under-represented, considering we are a Doctoral II
institution, have a top medical school and a Division 1 athletic program,”
said Dixon. “I think it is hard for them to overlook that.”
But they seem to do just
that year after year.
The recommendation from
the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research is that the Governor
appoint three-fourths of the 32-member board while allowing the General
Assembly the other one-fourth of the appointments.
The other interesting
finding of the center’s study deals with lack of institutional and board
control of athletics. More accountability is needed in management of the 16
universities’ athletic departments, it says.
The report says the Board
of Governors is not doing enough to hold chancellors accountable for:
graduation rates of at least 50 per cent.
exceptions to campus
policies for student athletes.
that violate the UNC system’s Administrative Code.
athletic conferences that do not allow universities to establish game
times and that do not encourage the development of minor leagues for the
National Basketball Association and National Football League.
One embarrassing part of
the report points out that since 1953 seven of the 16 schools in the system
have been sanctioned for “major infractions” by the NCAA.
Elizabeth City State,
Western Carolina and Winston-Salem State each have been sanctioned once.
ECU, NC Central and UNC-Chapel Hill each have been sanctioned twice, and
N.C. State, with a total of five infractions, ranks 17th in the nation out
of a total of 1,027 NCAA members on the all time list of schools with major
Dixon goes on to say that
one of the important issues the report does not point out is the need for
more equity in representation regarding athletic and economic issues.
“You know, we’re a
system,” Dixon said. “It seems to me we have a responsibility to help all
the institutions in the system. I think East Carolina has a lot to complain
about. When we were trying to get in the Big East we didn’t get any help
“It was a different story
for Virginia Tech,” he says. “It seems to me that the state of our economy
means there is a responsibility to get involved.”
Copies of The North
Carolina Center for Public Policy Research report on the Board of Governors
can be obtained by visiting the organization's website at
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This page updated
04/21/08 07:03 PM.