N.C. House reverses itself on confidentiality for UNC president search

UNC_system_sealRALEIGH — After overwhelmingly voting Monday night to open the search for a new president of the University of North Carolina system so that candidates would have their names publicly announced while the search was in process, the House of Representatives reversed itself Tuesday, passing a further amendment to Senate Bill 670 that maintained the confidentiality of candidates.

The bill, which also sets term limits on the UNC Board of Governors, is immediately of concern for the university because it is in the midst of a search for a new president at the moment. Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) offered the amendment Tuesday, saying even though he applauded the efforts toward transparency the House had made, the change was unworkable.

“Confidentiality is crucial — absolutely crucial to the ability to recruit and thoroughly vet for a number of positions but particularly this position as president of the university system,” Dollar said. “All of our goal is to make sure we have the best person possible for president of our great university system.”

Rep. Grier Martin (D-Raleigh)

Rep. Grier Martin (D-Raleigh)

Rep. Grier Martin (D-Wake), who sponsored the original amendment Monday, agreed with Dollar.

“We’re looking for balance in everything, and I think we need to be careful and still support the ability of the board to get the best candidates for the presidency system,” Grier said. “At the same time, I think it’s important that we do send a message to the board that transparency is important and that they need to do better in that regard.”

The amendment passed 112-1 and the bill passed 108-4. The Senate concurred with the House amendment and the bill now goes to the governor can sign the bill into law, let it become law without his signature, or veto it.