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The University of North Carolina system over all, and the flagship Chapel Hill campus in particular, suffer “from a governance structure widely perceived to be broken and from persistent and pervasive threats to academic freedom,” according to a report by a special committee of the American Association of University Professors.
The 38-page report, released today, is based on interviews with more than 50 people throughout the 17-campus UNC system in November and December 2021. It highlights “detailed patterns of political interference by the North Carolina legislature into the administration of the UNC system, overreach by the board of governors and boards of trustees into specific campus operations, outright disregard for principles of academic governance by campus and system leadership, institutional racism, and a hostile climate for academic freedom across the system.”
The special committee warned in the report that “the cumulative effect of these tumultuous events, especially since 2010, leaves the UNC system in a precarious position.”
The controversies over those events include widespread departures of faculty and staff members, including employees of color; disputes between faculty members and UNC administrators over the university system’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and the failure by Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media to hire alumna Nikole Hannah-Jones, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist. The committee’s scope was “more expansive” than the group’s typical investigations because the problems outlined were so frequent, intense and widespread, the report said.
National and state representatives of the AAUP have scheduled a press conference for 10 a.m. today at the Chapel Hill campus to discuss the report.