UNC board releases summary of controversial closed-door meeting

Posted November 16, 2015

Members of the UNC Board of Governors meet in Chapel Hill on Nov. 13, 2015.

— The University of North Carolina Board of Governors on Monday ​released a short summary of a controversial closed-door meeting during which the panel awarded raises to a dozen of the system's chancellors.

While the short narrative, authored by the board's acting chairman, Louis Bissette, adds a few details to what is already known about the meeting, it falls short of a full accounting of the session. A spokeswoman for the UNC system emailed the document at 4:59 p.m.

The board met on Oct. 30 to handle several pieces of routine business, including a report from its Personnel and Tenure Committee. That committee had recommended that the UNC system recommended changing the salaries of a number of chancellors.

Making those changes evidentially proved contentious and provoked an hours-long closed session during which several different proposed changes to compensation were debated and rejected.

"Following extensive discussion and modifications to the recommendations, the Board voted to approve and authorize the president to finalize and implement the salary adjustments reflected on the attached chart, after notifying the affected chancellors," Bissette wrote in the summary.

The vote was 16-13, evidently taken by a show of hands rather than a roll-call vote, which would have recorded the position of each member present and voting.

The statement also attached a chart of the salary changes made at the time of the meeting and released to the public three days later. Once they became public, the raises sparked discontent from members of the system's faculty, many of who have not seen a substantial raise in years. UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt and North Carolina State University Chancellor Rand Woodson received two of the biggest bumps.

Although public bodies in North Carolina are allowed to discuss compensation for employees behind closed doors, they are supposed to take final action on such raises in public. Also, public bodies are required by the state's public records law to make changes to salaries and compensation available immediately.

The Board of Governors last week voted to turn over recordings of that closed-door meeting to lawmakers. Those recordings are being reviewed by legislative attorneys to see if open meetings or records laws were violated.

A legislative oversight committee is scheduled to question Board of Governors memebers on Wednesday.

Bissette and other members of the Board of Governors said last week that they delayed the release of information to ensure chancellors heard about the salary changes from UNC President Tom Ross rather than through media sources.

The board should eventually release minutes of its closed-door session once the purpose of sealing the meeting is no longer relevant. However, spokeswoman Joni Worthington said those minutes have not yet been drafted.


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