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Governance, Academic Freedom, and Institutional Racism in the University of North Carolina System

April 28, 2022 / PSU-AAUP

This report by the Special Committee on Governance, Academic Free­dom, and Institutional Racism in the University of North Carolina system considers the influence of the gerrymandered North Carolina state legislature on the systemwide board of governors and campus boards of trustees and how political pressure has obstructed meaningful faculty participation in the governance of the UNC system. It also assesses how the environment for academic freedom in the UNC system has been weakened by the politiciza­tion and increased centralization of system governance and by mounting political interference in university policy. Finally, the report focuses on key issues of institutional racism within UNC: the racial climate, institutional inequities, and retention of faculty of color. It demonstrates how the areas of governance, institutional racism, and academic freedom overlap significantly.

The report focuses on UNC–Chapel Hill as the flagship campus but also examines events across the entire system, including ones at Appalachian State University, Fayetteville State University, and East Carolina and Western Carolina Universities, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on faculty governance. Through interviews with more than fifty individu­als across the UNC system, the report details the pattern of political interference that has characterized the entire system since 2010, when Republicans won majorities in both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly. The report explains how the legislature subsequently consolidated its control over board appointments, taking away the governor's power to make appointments to campus-level boards of trustees.

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