Spellings' first UNC board meeting relatively calm

Posted March 4, 2016

— Loud student protests disrupted several University of North Carolina Board of Governors meetings following the board's selection of Margaret Spellings as the new president of the 17-campus university system.

On Friday, the first Board of Governors meeting where Spellings was actually at the table, the protest was fairly muted.

Security was beefed up at the Rudolph Jones Student Center on the Fayetteville State University campus, and demonstrators were told they would have to leave their large protest signs outside if they wanted to get into the board meeting.

Inside, about a dozen protesters held small placards saying, "Invest in Instruction" and "Justice for Students: Affordable, Quality Education." As Spellings spoke, some stood up, turned their backs on her, shouted briefly and walked out.

Meanwhile, UNC chancellors provided a strong show of support for Spellings. Fayetteville State Chancellor James Anderson told the board that he and other chancellors want to give Spellings a chance to demonstrate her leadership abilities.

The Board of Governors passed a resolution backed by Spellings to make board meetings more transparent, including streaming them live online and setting aside a public comment period.

"I want to plant the seeds for us to have strong and lasting partnerships and even friendships with stakeholders from students to faculty to legislators, business leaders, civil rights and faith leaders," Spellings said. "All of them have valuable expertise to contribute."

Transparency is among her top priorities, Spellings said, as are making the UNC system more accessible and affordable and boosting student achievement.

The board also voted to impose a $1 million penalty against UNC-Chapel Hill for exceeding the 18 percent cap on out-of-state enrollment. Board members said the violation took away slots at the university that should have gone to North Carolina students.


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