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Education

University Chancellor Searches Need to Be Above Suspicion

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Choosing a new university president or chancellor is a matter of importance and public interest when the institution is a state school. A recent selection made in North Carolina for the chancellorship of Fayetteville State has people complaining that favoritism was involved and policy was not followed.

Shannon Watkins covers the controversy in today’s Martin Center article. 

The man recently chosen to lead Fayetteville State is Darrell Allison. He had been a member of the UNC Board of Governors until late in 2020 until he resigned his position on the BOG. It has been charged that his name was added late to the list of candidates for the chancellorship in violation of state policy.

Watkins writes, “Many connected to FSU immediately protested Allison’s election, arguing that he was chosen outside the traditional search process and that his political connections secured him the position. Some even went so far as to condemn his election as ‘fraudulent.’ Others have vowed to ‘fight it until the very last day and beyond.’”

But why the furor? University types don’t usually get upset over procedural matters as this.

The reason, evidently, is that Allison is not a wild-eyed leftist, but instead favors such abhorrent ideas as school choice. How can any university be led by such a backward-thinking person?!

Sadly, Allison takes the reins at FSU under a cloud of suspicion and controversy.

Watkins argues that two lessons should be learned from this:

The first is that the UNC Board of Governors should immediately amend its policy to require a hiatus of at least a year from when a board member resigns to when they apply for a leadership position within the university system. Doing so will establish at least some distance between governing roles which will help prevent even the perception of a conflict of interest. This was not the appropriate or prudent time for Allison to take the helm at Fayetteville State.

Secondly, the FSU Board of Trustees and media relations staff need to take a hard look at how they communicate with the public. There is no excuse for their blatant obfuscation and refusal to answer questions that the state’s tax paying citizens have every right to know.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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