Editorial: UNC’s Spellings gets ‘F’ from GOP critics

So, apparently George W. Bush’s education secretary is too liberal for the Republicans on the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors.

A faction on the board – appointed by the Republican-controlled state legislature – have been sniping at UNC President Margaret Spellings, the former education secretary, for the past month.

First, 15 of the 28 board members – led by former Raleigh mayor Tom Fetzer and former state senator Thom Goolsby – dashed off a letter to Spellings, chastising her for not consulting the board about “Silent Sam.”

“Sam,” is the campus nickname for a monument to former UNC students who served in the Confederate Army, on the edge of the Chapel Hill campus.

As in other places, the statue has become a flashpoint for protesters who want Sam removed, silently or not. Spelling and UNC-CH Chancellor Carol Folt had jointly written to Gov. Roy Cooper, expressing security concerns and seeming to suggest that Sam ought to be moved.

Fetzer, Goolsby, et al., took umbrage that Spellings didn’t ask them please before that letter was dropped in the mail.

Board members were also known to be miffed that Spellings wrote an op-ed column for the Washington Post urging President Trump to uphold DACA, the “Dreamers” exemption.

Then came a contentious board meeting, in which the new majority bloc put forward a number of resolutions, including reviewing the size of Spellings’ staff, cutting tuition and moving the university president’s office to Raleigh or the Research Triangle – any place, it seems, other than Chapel Hill, where it presently is.

May we humbly suggest this smacks of micromanaging and not very wise managing at that.

Tuition cuts are great, but as Republicans are wont to ask, how do you pay for them? This legislature isn’t raising UNC appropriations any time soon, so the reduced tuition revenue would have to be met by slashing campus budgets.

Moving the university system’s management out of Chapel Hill would be extremely expensive (as a few governors pointed out) and would serve no good purpose – other than sticking it to “Pinko Hill,” as the late Jesse Helms used to call it.

Republicans who used to sit on the Board of Governors, like PPD founder Fred Eshelman of Wilmington, expounded conservative principles, but they worked with Democrats on the board and the administration to make the university system better.

These days, though, it seems cooperation and compromise are for weenies and snowflakes.

As Ronald Reagan used to say, this is no way to run a railroad. If the new governors don’t want to get rid of Spellings, as they did Tom Ross, they should just sit back and let her do her job.