BOG Protesters Agree to Deal to Dismiss Charges

Resolutions were reached against two of the three protesters facing charges following their arrests at the UNC Board of Governors meeting in late January.

The individuals were arrested after a group of protesters took over the BOG meeting, speaking out against the election of Margaret Spellings as the new System President.

Madelein Scanlon, Olufemi Shittu and Irving Allen all appeared before Judge Jay Bryan in Orange County Court on Thursday.

Madelein Scanlon. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Madelein Scanlon. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Scanlon was facing misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct in a public building and resisting a public officer. She was also charged with felony assault inflicting physical injury of a law enforcement officer.

Shittu was facing a sole misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct in a public building.

Allen is facing misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct in a public building and resisting a public officer.

Scanlon and Shittu each agreed to a deal with the state to dismiss their charges upon completion of certain parameters.

Scanlon admitted guilt to the misdemeanor charges and pledged to not commit any criminal offense – other than minor traffic offenses, pay the $180 fines/court cost, complete 24 hours of community service, to not assault, threaten or harass the victim or any witnesses – which in this case would consist of members of the Board of Governors – and Scanlon is not allowed to go on the premises where any BOG meeting is being held over the next year. In exchange for her admitting guilt on the misdemeanor charges, the felony assault charge was thrown out on Thursday. If Scanclon completes the requirements put forward by the court before February 2, 2017, the misdemeanor charges will be dismissed.

Olufemi Shittu. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Olufemi Shittu. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Shittu admitted guilt to the misdemeanor disorderly conduct in a public building charge, which will be dismissed if she completes requirements by February 2, 2017. The parameters for dismissal include not committing any criminal offense – other than minor traffic offenses and paying $230 in fines/court cost. Shittu also pledged to not assault, threaten or harass members of the BOG and to not go upon the premises where any UNC Board of Governors meeting is being held over the next year.

Allen also appeared in court on Thursday and could agree to similar parameters, but his court date was held over to allow him time to meet with counsel.

IMG_1928The 32-member Board of Governors will be meeting again on March 4, at Fayetteville State University. That will be the first meeting led by President-elect Spellings.

Protesters Arrested at UNC Board of Governors Meeting

Protesters disrupted the UNC Board of Governors meeting once again on Tuesday, just as they did at the board’s December meeting.

Protesters were not removed one-by-one as they were before, instead continuing to chant after they were asked to stop and sit back down. As protesters took over the table reserved for members of the Board of Governors, four of the individuals were forcibly removed from the room by UNC Police.



The protesters were charged with obstructing an official meeting and resisting an officer. One protester could be heard screaming from the hallway after being removed; UNC Police Chief Jeff McCracken says that she was charged with assault on a public official.

McCracken says he is pleased with how the officers handled the situation.

“I think the behavior, the response of the officers here was completely dictated by the behavior of the protesters today,” he says. “We hate that we had to take any action but that was their choice.”

Protesters were upset over the physical way in which one of their peers was arrested. McCracken reiterated that he believes the action of the officers was dictated by the protesters.

“She resisted the efforts of the officer to escort her from the room,” McCracken says, “and that was what resulted in the contact.”

McCracken adds that he doesn’t believe the officers were left with any choice when dealing with that individual protester.

“She was making every effort not to be escorted from the room,” McCracken says. “She wrapped herself around a chair. She began screaming. And that was the only thing the officers could do to get her out the door.”

McCracken estimates that 40 officers were on hand for the board meeting, admitting that is more than normal in anticipation of the protests.

“This whole situation is not normal,” McCracken says.


The protesters were speaking out against the election of Margaret Spellings as President of the UNC System.

One of the protesters says the actions today were the result of feeling that their voices had not been heard so far in the process.

“We’ve tried going through their channels,” she says. “We’ve tried asking for meetings. We’ve tried petitioning. We’ve tried all the paper, ‘respectful’ channels so to speak, right, but they haven’t listened. They’ve completely ignored us.

“So we don’t have any other option.”

She adds that the protesters do believe their actions will result in change from the board.

“Right now, our goal is to put so much pressure on the Board of Governors that they cannot physically ignore the fact that UNC does not want Spellings here,” she says. “That UNC does not approve of what they’re doing.”

Another protester, who identified himself as a 2014 graduate of East Carolina University, says the protesters are prepared to continue disrupting board meetings.

“This isn’t a new fight,” he says. “The Board of Governors has been trampling over the necks and the backs of students since we can remember. If you look at what happened in the current state of students in North Carolina, it’s a giant failure of their part.”


Spellings was not in attendance on Tuesday. She officially takes over as President in March.

The individuals arrested were Madeleine Scanlon, Irving David Allen, Olufemi Shittu and Jennifer Myers, according to a UNC System spokesperson. Myers was issued a time-limited trespass warning by UNC-Chapel Hill Police Department but the magistrate found no probable cause on any charges. Shittu was charged with disorderly conduct and released on a written promise to appear. Allen was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting and obstructing an officer and released on a written promise to appear. Scanlon was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting and obstructing an officer and assault inflicting serious injury of law enforcement officer, which is a felony. Scanlon was released after posting a $500 unsecured bond. Scanlon, Shittu and Myers are scheduled to appear in court February 4.

Congressman David Price Thanks Tom Ross Criticizes BOG in House Remarks

Tom Ross’ tenure as the President of the UNC System officially came to a close on Monday.

The UNC Board of Governors announced in January 2015 that Ross would be removed from that position. That was the start of an oft-criticized 12 months for the board as it elected former U.S. Secretary of Education under George W. Bush Margaret Spellings to succeed Ross.

Fourth District North Carolina Congressman David Price spoke on the House floor on Thursday thanking Ross for his years of service. Price also criticized the decision to remove Ross as president.

I cannot fail to note that Tom is leaving the presidency of UNC prematurely. The Board of Governors last year made an unexpected, unexplained decision to request his resignation, while acknowledging that his stewardship had been exemplary. This leaves little doubt that the decision was based on the fact that Tom does not share Board’s partisan loyalties. This was not only shabby treatment of an outstanding public servant; it also set a dangerous precedent for a university system that for most of its history has been free of this sort of political manipulation.

Tom has handled this difficult situation with characteristic dignity and grace. His final contribution as president may be one of his most important: to help us move beyond this episode in a way that avoids recrimination, protects the university’s integrity, and builds on the many achievements of the past five years.

Tom Ross

Tom Ross

Price spoke against the firing of Ross the day the decision was announced as well.

Price said during his remarks on the House floor that, “I have long admired Tom’s dedication to the university, and I am grateful for his service to our state.”

Price praised Ross for his leadership during “economic adversity” while “protecting (the university system’s) mission and securing its financial footing.”

Ross has a position at the UNC School of Government following a leave to pursue research.

Junius Gonzales has been named interim president until Spellings will take over as president in March.

Listen in to WCHL next week as Ross speaks with WCHL’s Blake Hodge.

Read the full comments from Congressman Price below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor a good friend and a devoted public servant, Tom Ross, who retired this month as President of the University of North Carolina system.

My wife Lisa and I have known Tom and his wife Susan for many years. His son Tommy served in my office, making a major contribution to the development of the House Democracy Partnership. I have long admired Tom’s dedication to the university, and I am very grateful for his service to our state.

A graduate of the UNC-Chapel Hill law school, Tom answered the call to serve as the UNC system’s President in 2011, in the midst of some of the greatest financial challenges that the university has faced in its history. UNC not only overcame these challenges; it has thrived thanks to Tom’s perseverance and strategic vision.

During his time at UNC, Tom made it easier to transfer from North Carolina community colleges to the four-year UNC institutions, expanding nontraditional students’ access to higher education. He has focused effectively on the access of active-duty military and veterans to the system and on enhancing their chances to succeed. He has carefully overseen the selection of 11 new university chancellors, guaranteeing another generation of exceptional leadership for the system’s 16 constituent universities.

Perhaps most importantly, Tom has led the university through economic adversity, protecting its mission and securing its financial footing. Compared to the beginning of Tom’s tenure, UNC system graduation rates have risen 18 percent while spending per degree has dropped 15 percent – remarkable achievements that reflect Tom’s leadership.

Tom’s life has been dedicated to public service. He came to UNC from Davidson College, his alma mater and one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, where he served as President from 2007 to 2011. At Davidson, he implemented the Davidson Trust, a new initiative designed to fully eliminate student debt through grants and student employment. This innovative program has helped ensure that Davidson graduates do not face a financial burden as they begin their careers. He also oversaw a period of exceptional growth at Davidson, in part inspired by the on-campus career of Stephen Curry, who has gone on to become the NBA MVP and a global superstar. I suppose it’s true that success begets success.

Before his tenure at Davidson, Tom was President of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, which provides tens of millions of dollars annually in grants to organizations devoted to economic empowerment. Tom also spent 17 years as a judge on North Carolina’s Superior Court, directed the state Administrative Office of the Courts, and led the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Committee, where he oversaw the development and implementation of new sentencing guidelines for non-violent offenders.

I cannot fail to note that Tom is leaving the presidency of UNC prematurely. The Board of Governors last year made an unexpected, unexplained decision to request his resignation, while acknowledging that his stewardship had been exemplary. This leaves little doubt that the decision was based on the fact that Tom does not share Board’s partisan loyalties. This was not only shabby treatment of an outstanding public servant; it also set a dangerous precedent for a university system that for most of its history has been free of this sort of political manipulation.

Tom has handled this difficult situation with characteristic dignity and grace. His final contribution as president may be one of his most important: to help us move beyond this episode in a way that avoids recrimination, protects the university’s integrity, and builds on the many achievements of the past five years.

Lisa and I wish Tom well as he transitions to teaching and prepares for future endeavors. With Susan’s unfailing support, he has made lasting contributions to our state’s judicial system, nonprofit sector, and private and public higher education. He leaves our University stronger in important ways, despite the difficult economic and political environment in which he was called to lead. And he still has much to give. I am pleased to join thousands of North Carolinians in thanking him for his tireless service and in anticipating his contributions yet to come.

Margaret Spellings: Embodiment of Corporatization of Higher Education

I want to talk with you about UNC. I’ve been on the faculty of the geography department for 21 years. I love UNC.

A few days ago, police removed me from the UNC Board of Governors meeting. I was in good company – faculty from Appalachian State and East Carolina University were also ejected. A student from UNC Chapel Hill and two community members stood up and spoke out as well. One-by-one SEVEN people were detained for speaking out.

Our message is simple:  Margaret Spellings’ values are wrong for North Carolina. We ask the Board of Governors to terminate Margaret Spellings’ appointment as President and start a new and transparent search for a new president.

From the Commentators‘ Archives: Raleigh Mann asks “Who is Margaret Spellings?”

Margaret Spellings’ record shows she cannot lead the UNC system. She is the embodiment of corporatization of higher education. Margaret Spellings consistently supports private OVER public interests.

When she was Secretary of Education, she could have fought to expand funding for higher education. What does her record show? Administration requests for higher education funding went down 24 percent.

Spellings’ record on protecting funding to historically Black Colleges and Universities is EVEN MORE TROUBLING. Discretionary funding requests by the administration for HBCUs went down by 36 percent, a total of 87.4 million. WE MUST DEFEND OUR STATE’S HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES.

Will you stand with me on January 22 when the Board meets again in Greensboro on the campus of North Carolina A&T? I hope to see you there.

Altha Cravey

Protesters Rally At UNC Board of Governors Meeting

A group protesting the UNC Board of Governors and their decision to hire Margaret Spellings as UNC System President tried to force themselves past police officers and into the meeting, which was held Friday morning at the Friday Center for Educational Innovation.

Although the meeting was an open session, protesters were denied entry and were told it was because the room was at full capacity.

“I’m here because this is clearly the wrong decision for North Carolina’s higher education system,” said Appalachian State education professor Greg McClure. “We have an individual that has a bachelor’s degree as her highest level of education preparing to run one of the nation’s oldest public institutions of higher education.”

UNC Board of Governors

Protesters at the UNC Board of Governors meeting on Friday.

After being denied entry, protesters began chanting “Spellings must go!” and “Let us in!”

Inside the meeting, seven protesters were detained and told to leave the building for disrupting the meeting.

“Throughout the meeting, even though they closed the doors and sat there all serious and everything, we could still hear the chanting outside,” said Michael Behrent, a history professor at Appalachian State who was one of the protesters who was detained.

After leaving the building to greet the protesters who were kicked out of the meeting, a group of three, who locked arms, tried to force their way past police officers barring the entrance to the meeting.

While police were pushing the protesters away, others began pushing forward in an attempt to break through the line of police.

One officer held up a taser and the crowd immediately backed up.

“Folks I can’t let you in,” the officer said.”I’m sorry.”

The officer did not use the taser.

The crowd began chanting “this is bull****” and “back up, back up, we want freedom, freedom, all these racists a** cops we don’t need ’em, need ’em.”

The protesters stayed until the meeting went into closed session, continuing to chant, trying to disrupt the meeting.

They left shouting “we’ll be back.”

“We feel (Spellings) brings an anti-education, pro-corporate set of values to the UNC System, which we object to very agressively,” said Harry Phillips, professor emeritus at Central Piedmont Community College.

Spellings will replace outgoing system president Tom Ross.

The election of Spellings in October capped off a 10-month saga of accusations and acrimony that began when Ross was unexpectedly forced to step down in January.  The UNC Board of Governors also received criticism for possibly violating open records laws.

The video below shows the protesters attempting to make their way into the UNC Board of Governors meeting.

It contains strong language.

We also have video via @WCHLChapelboro that shows the protest from another angle at the UNC Board of Governors meeting.

UNC Board of Governors Will Give General Assembly Closed Session Minutes

The Board of Governors met in special session on Friday to consider a request from some members of the General Assembly for a copy of the minutes from the October 30 meeting, where the board voted in closed session to give 12 Chancellors pay raises, but did not disclose that information in open session.

Joe Knott, who was appointed to a four-year term on the board earlier this year, said that he felt the request from the legislators was overreach.

“What has been one of the keys to preserving academic excellence here has been the insulation of the university from political control,” Knott says. “That is the role of the Board of Governors.”

The board, ultimately, voted to give legislators the minutes from the closed-session-pay-raise debate.

The meeting took an odd turn when Knott accused lawmakers of attempting to influence the recent selection of a new System President.

“One of the legislators gave our chairman instruction as to who the next President should be,” Knott says. “This, of course, is extremely beyond the pale.”

Knott added that Chairman John Fennebresque, who resigned following the tumultuous Presidential search, deserved credit for refusing that suggestion from the legislator.

But other members of the board were visibly frustrated with Knott and said that if he had evidence of that, he should bring it forward.

Knott refused to identify the legislator who made the request, the candidate they had pushed for, or how he knew that the request had been made.

“I’m satisfied that it did,” he says. “And I’m satisfied that that is the sort of thing that would be very dangerous to the continued health of this institution.”

Former state Senator and current member of the Board of Governors Thom Goolsby said he has received no pressure or direction from members of the General Assembly since moving to the board.

“I think Mr. Knott’s statements were completely unwarranted on anything I’ve experienced on this board,” Goolsby says. “I’ve received nothing but support and hands-off as far as my decisions go from the General Assembly. But I am happy to receive any direction or question they have from me and to hear what they have to say, because they answer directly to the people.

“I’m given a four-year term. They’re given a two-year term.”

Vice Chairman Lou Bissette, who has been leading the board since the resignation of Chairman John Fennebresque following the election of Margaret Spellings as System President, was the recipient of praise from many members of the board for his leadership style in the interim.

Board member Marty Kotis said he is happy with the announcement that the board will receive a presentation on open records laws in North Carolina at its December meeting.

“Comments by Mr. Knott overshadowed our Chairman Lou Bissette,” Kotis says. “He is phenomenal. He is really pushing for more transparency here. We’re all excited about his actions.”

The board sent the requested information to the legislature on Friday afternoon and is scheduled to release it to the public when it has been properly formatted for public circulation.

Dear Chancellor Folt

Dear Chancellor Folt:

You came to Carolina in our most difficult hour.

And the darkness has not yet lifted.

Chancellor Folt

Alta Cravey

We need a strong leader right now, someone who can speak for all North Carolinians, for staff, students and faculty at UNC Chapel Hill.

You have immense power & responsibility as Chancellor of the UNC system’s flagship campus.

You can be our voice and in this way help guide the UNC system.

Last week, UNC’s Board of Governor’s voted in closed session to give huge raises to UNC system Chancellors.

SPEAK UP for North Carolinians who struggle to pay for their children’s skyrocketing tuitions.

SPEAK UP for staff who work tirelessly to keep our campus beautiful and clean and keep everything working smoothly.

SPEAK UP for students who deserve to study without the burden of life-long debt.

SPEAK UP for faculty who haven’t seen raises in years.

SPEAK BACK to those who want to run Carolina as if it were a corporation.

Tell the Board of Governors that you prefer to stand with ordinary North Carolinians across the state and with smaller campuses and with the Systems’ Historically Black Universities.

Tell them you REJECT the idea of living like royalty when so many North Carolinians are hurting and when so many who work at UNC Chapel Hill aren’t getting raises.

STAND with North Carolinians, Chancellor Folt and we will stand with you.


— Altha Cravey


(Listen to Alta Cravey’s Commentary)

Pushing Spellings into the pantheon, not the trash bin

Let’s help her all we can.

That is what I am telling my friends in the university community when they express displeasure at the selection of Margaret Spellings as their new president, or when they complain about the UNC Board of Governors’ presidential selection process and some of its other recent actions.

First of all though, you should know that I am a friend and big admirer of the current university president, Tom Ross. By all accounts, he has done, a masterful job. Even though the current board of governors signaled the end of his presidency a year ago, he remained on the job, cooperative, productive, positive, and successful.

I am sorry he is leaving. The state and the university communities are losing an extraordinary leader.

That said, why am I cautioning others in the university to help the new president rather than berating her for her past political connections and public service?

My answer is another question: Will our state university system be better if she succeeds or if she fails in her new job?

If success includes securing the resources to maintain and enhance the universities’ program, in addition to leading and managing its operations, Spellings has a good chance to succeed.

Our university president is the connective link between the university and the state legislature and its leaders, the ones who make the decisions each year about the amount of state resources that will be allocated to higher education.

Even more important, perhaps, the legislature can make laws that regulate the operation of the university, as it did last month when it amended the law to change the selection procedure for presidents. Another example occurred in 1963, when it passed the Speaker Ban Law that restricted freedom of speech on university campuses.

Unlike most state higher education governing boards, UNC’s board of governors is selected by the North Carolina legislature.

Ms. Spellings lacks two qualities that have been important to prior UNC presidents who followed the legendary 30-year tenure of William Friday:

  1. Public higher education administration experience, as with Molly Broad, and
  2. Significant experience in North Carolina public life, as with Dick Spangler, Erskine Bowles and Tom Ross.

Although she lacks both these qualities, Ms. Spellings knows the national education establishment, perhaps better than all her predecessors, and because of her political experience in the Republican camp, she can expect a warm welcome when she asserts the importance of her education to our state as an advocate to the Republican leadership in our state legislature.

The challenge to supporters of the university should not be to destroy Spellings, but rather to use her vast political experience and connections to preserve and enhance the university.

If her political connections and experience give her an open door to legislative leaders; if she uses that access to explain how the institution underpins our state’s progress and advocate for the resources it needs to continue its leadership role; and if she is willing to stand in the door to prevent unnecessary and detrimental legislative meddling, then she may follow her presidential predecessors into the pantheon of heroic North Carolinians.

On the other hand, if her background and connections lead to her being a puppet of some ideologues whose agenda is to hobble the university, she could wind up in the trash bin of North Carolina history.

I am hoping for the pantheon, not the trash bin.

Who is Margaret Spellings?

raleigh mann

Raleigh Mann

Our university’s system Board of Governors, manipulating rules to speed up the process, has handed the presidency of our state’s university system to a non-academic with strong Republican political credentials.

Margaret Spellings will replace Tom Ross, a distinguished leader this board praised for his effectiveness, but fired for reasons they could not explain.

I will explain it for them.

Tom Ross is a Democrat and that, we’ve learned, is unacceptable.

Listen to Raleigh Mann’s Commentary

So, who is Margaret Spellings?  Well, her political connections to George W. Bush and his political strategist Karl Rove go back about 25 years when she lobbied for the Texas School Boards Association  and Bush was running for Governor of Texas.

Bush chose Spellings to run his 1994 gubernatorial campaign.  When he became president, he made Spellings his domestic policy adviser then Education Secretary.  That’s when she championed No Child Left Behind, the program that forced teachers everywhere to scrap their lesson plans and devote their efforts to preparing their students to take lots of tests.

She left that job and moved on to head the Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.  Spellings does have academic credentials of a sort,  She served on some corporate boards.  One of them is the parent company of the for-profit university, the University of Phoenix.  Another is a collector of student loans.

The cynical behavior of this board of politicians who chose her is so far beyond disgraceful, we struggle to find adequate words to express our disgust.

Listen to more from The Commentators

James Moeser, former UNC Chancellor, tried.  He said of this board’s in-fighting and the state legislature’s meddling that the worst aspects of partisan politics have now infected the leadership of this university system.

Partisan politics have no place in education.


When politicians tamper with education, the people always lose.

— Raleigh Mann

Spellings Elected Unanimously Following Divisive Search Process

The UNC Board of Governors on Friday unanimously elected Margaret Spellings to serve as the new head of the 17-campus UNC system for the next five years.

“I’m thrilled to be coming here,” she says. “I’m thrilled for this next chapter in my career, and for the opportunity to lead this fine, fine set of institutions to a place of national prominence.”

Spellings served as secretary of education under President George W. Bush from 2005-2009. In her role as a domestic policy advisor, she was one of the primary proponents of the No Child Left Behind act of 2001, designed to reform primary education in public schools.

Since leaving office, Spellings has worked as an education consultant and as the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. She’s currently the president of the George W. Bush presidential center in Dallas, Texas.

While she has little experience in higher education, she says her business acumen will come in handy in the changing marketplace.

“Higher education is changing, and we have to change with it,” says Spellings. “The faculty knows that; we all know that. The public is demanding that. They want a good value proposition and they want it affordably. They want to complete in ways that are convenient to them, and we are going to meet those challenges.”

Her election caps off a 10-month saga of accusations and acrimony that began when current president Tom Ross was unexpectedly forced to step down in January.

The process to name his successor has been criticized from all sides.
Faculty members from the across the state say they’ve been left out of the loop, and denied the opportunity to meet potential candidates.

In an unprecedented move, the General Assembly passed a bill requiring greater transparency in the search process. That bill has yet to be signed into law, or vetoed, by Governor Pat McCrory.

Meanwhile, as Board Chair John Fennebresque called an emergency meeting last week to discuss the hire in closed session, some board members revolted, calling for Fennebresque to step down.

Critics say the messy search process has muddied the waters for the new president. The UNC Faculty Assembly issued a statement saying: “…the secretive character of this search […] will make it difficult to win the confidence and trust of the University community.”

Nonetheless, Spellings says she hopes faculty will give her the benefit of the doubt.

“I expect the faculty to react well to my appointment. I have skills that are different than theirs. I’m not an academic and I’m not a teacher. I’m not a researcher. I’m somebody that understands public policy making. I understand advocacy and I understand how to bring people together around a shared mission. I have a track record of doing that in my career.”

Spellings will receive a base salary of $775,000 annually. She’ll take office on March 1, 2016.

Former United States President George W. Bush released a statement congratulating Spellings.