At UNC, New Provost Hire Raises Concerns of Political InfluenceHistorians in the News
tags: University of North Carolina, academic freedom
With the recent appointment of astrophysicist Chris Clemens as UNC’s next provost and several faculty leaving the university, some faculty members say there is a concerning trend of political influence at Carolina.
Associate UNC history professor William Sturkey recently spoke during 97.9 The Hill’s For ‘Em On The Hill about the culture of higher education. He said he has seen concerning trends of political pressure at the university.
“All of the political interference in the last few years has a lot of people worried that there might be somebody who has no experience with universities and how they actually work,” Sturkey said. “And [they are] more of an ideologue who is there not to do the day-to-day work of the university to build, but rather to shift and insert their own sort of political ideology.”
Sturkey said he was worried newly appointed members of the UNC administration would act more as political activists than administrators.
At last week’s UNC Board of Trustees meeting, astrophysicist and senior associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, Chris Clemens, was named new executive vice chancellor and provost.
Clemens will replace current provost Bob Blouin, who is set to step down at the end of the year.
Clemens has worked at the university for 15 years and held various leadership positions. He has also held past roles in conservative spaces at the university like the Program in Civic Virtue and Civil Discourse and as a funder of the Carolina Review.
The discussion surrounding his appointment was kept largely in the dark by UNC administration. Since Blouin announced his intent to step down in May, members of the Carolina community heard little about potential candidates who may fill his role.
Chair of the faculty Mimi Chapman expressed recent concern over the decision-making of the Board of Trustees. In a November op-ed published in the Daily Tar Heel, Chapman said she thought the provost search endangered chancellor autonomy and shared governance at the university.
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