- Over 670 faculty members of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill called out the institution’s trustees and board of governors, as well as the state legislature, for infringing on academic freedom and shared governance in an open letter Tuesday.
- The North Carolina legislature is considering two bills that faculty say would overstep its bounds. The first would eliminate tenure at the state’s public colleges. And the second would create a required American history course and allow the lawmakers to determine what is taught in the course and how students would be tested, the letter said.
- The trustees at UNC-Chapel Hill, meanwhile, are establishing an expensive, credit-granting civic life school despite not seeking faculty input, the letter said. And faculty accused the UNC System board of governors of violating the First Amendment through its opposition to diversity, equity and inclusion efforts on campus.
North Carolina is one of at least a dozen conservative-run states seeing legislative efforts to diminish or ban tenure and DEI efforts at public colleges. But the University of North Carolina System has been front and center in the fight between academic governance and political interference for years. Its structure is unusually susceptible to legislative influence, as its board of governors is entirely appointed by state lawmakers.
In 2022, an investigation by the American Association of University Professors found the UNC governing board and trustees at UNC-Chapel Hill had repeatedly violated the principles of academic governance since 2010.
“Instead of heeding this warning, our leaders continue to disregard campus autonomy, attack the expertise and independence of world-class faculty, and seek to force students’ educations into pre-approved ideological containers,” Tuesday’s letter said.
The faculty signers also warned that proposed actions from the state, governors and trustees would likely lead to scrutiny from the system’s accrediting agencies.