D.G. Martin

Who Could Succeed Tom Ross?

Five years ago, when the University of North Carolina board of governors was searching for a candidate to replace Erskine Bowles, I wrote in this column, “The Board will be looking for the new president who has two critical qualifications: A good feel for North Carolina’s traditions and the state’s needs, and, Successful experience at the highest level of university administration.”     Even though the current board is much different from the one that selected Tom Ross, I believe these two characteristics will be important to board members. Familiarity with and experience in North Carolina politics and culture...

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30 Years Later, Ross In Friday’s Footsteps

“He’s got great job security,” someone asserted a few years ago when UNC President Tom Ross’s job first seemed to be at risk after the party affiliation of UNC’s board of governors changed. He explained, “Look, if the board fires him, he will run for governor—not something they would welcome.” Now that the board has given Ross notice, will he fulfill the prediction and run for governor? Probably not. Democrats already have two candidates headed for a Democratic primary next year. But the U.S. Senate? Maybe. The UNC presidency and U.S. Senate races have had close connections. Even more...

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Leaving Proudly, But Not With Enthusiasm

“Fired with enthusiasm.” Last week I was reminded of that quote attributed to Clark Kerr, the legendary president of the multi-campus University of California. It is what he said when, shortly after Ronald Reagan’s election as governor in 1966, university regents ousted Kerr. He joked that he left the university the same way he came in, “fired with enthusiasm.” All this is to remind us that Tom Ross is not the first state public university president to be forced out of office after a change in the state’s political leadership. In a testament to Ross’s patient consensus-building skills, the...

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Where Politics And Literature Meet

Is my weekly column supposed to be about books or about politics? I get this question sometimes from editors and readers. In fact, one newspaper editor stopped using my column about a year ago. He wrote that he enjoyed my book columns, but “when I get a column and I have to read it to see if it’s a Bookwatch column or one on politics, I find it to be a waste of time and energy. There are enough political pundits out there that I would prefer not to see my favorite book reviewer playing partisan politics… but since...

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Celebrating NC On Screen

North Carolina loves its connections to the production of movies and television programs. But our political decision-makers did not love that connection enough to appropriate sufficient funds or extend tax credits to persuade movie and television producers to site their programs in North Carolina. That decision in the last legislative session will surely be revisited this year. The difference of opinion about subsidizing the film making business makes for interesting political alliances. Anti-big-government-libertarian Republicans will join with anti-big-business Democrats to oppose such subsidies. On the other hand, community boosters and business developers in both parties will argue that government’s...

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Four Different Looks At North Carolina Life

We can’t read them all. It is what people say to me when I start talking about four important North Carolina related books that UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch will feature in January. Even so, I say, you should know something about each of them. For instance, Bookwatch kicks off its new season with one of the most important books about the connection between our musical heritage and the music of the British Isles. Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia, by Fiona Ritchie, host of National Public Radio’s popular “The Thistle & Shamrock,” and Doug...

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Remembering The Past, But Not Chained To It

They just could not bring themselves to shake hands with their former enemies. A few weeks ago on the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, we remembered earlier reunions when some American servicemen met the Japanese pilots who had attacked them so many years earlier. Some Americans shook hands with their former enemies and exchanged memories. Others just could not do it. We understood and respected their inability to make peace with the enemies who had done them such harm. But understanding their feelings did not keep the rest of us from continuing to develop connections with...

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Holding On To Our Humanity

“What is our tolerance for brutality?” A minister asked this question from the pulpit Sunday morning and suggested that his listeners consider recent news stories relating to “enhanced interrogation” procedures by the Central Intelligence Agency. If we think these enhanced tactics or torture could be justified on the grounds that they were effective in providing useful intelligence, do we show a high tolerance for brutality? Will we accept brutality if it achieves effectively some desired results? Our past records on this score indicate we are open to this rationale. For instance, some people in our region in years past...

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In Love With A Sociopathic Dog

“Hey, come here, will you? Quick. The dead stuff is over here. Let me show you.” These are the thoughts of Solo, a German shepherd that loves his job. His job is finding the lost remains of dead humans. These dog thoughts have been translated by N.C. State writing professor Cat Warren in What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs. But simply calling Solo “her dog” is misleading. Warren’s relationship is more than owner-pet. Solo is her child, playmate, best friend, business partner, and boyfriend. She is totally into this animal. Solo is a cadaver...

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