John Fennebresque has resigned from his post as Chair of the UNC Board of Governors.
Not only has Fennebresque stepped down as chair, according to a news release, Fennebresque has resigned his seat on the board effective immediately.
UNC System spokesperson Joni Worthington sent the release announcing the resignation just before one o’clock Monday afternoon. The board elected a new System President on Friday.
Several members of the board had called for Fennebresque’s resignation for the process he led to name a new President, which drew criticism from board members, legislators and faculty members for being too secretive.
Fennebresque is quoted in the release saying, “It has been my honor and privilege to serve on the UNC Board of Governors, and I am delighted we could bring in a nationally proven and accomplished leader to serve as the next President of this great University System. Margaret Spellings has the experience, vision and courage we need to navigate the forces transforming higher education. She is skilled in working with education professionals and a variety of constituencies to bring people together, and she has expressed her strong desire to more vigorously focus attention on providing educational opportunities for all people.”
Fennebresque went on to say that following the completion of the search for a new President, “I believe now is the time for a fresh start for our University system and its 17 campuses, as well as for this Board of Governors.”
Fennebresque first came under fire in January when he announced President Tom Ross would be removed from the position. When speaking with reporters following the decision, Fennebresque only had complimentary things to say about Ross and never gave a firm reason for the decision to remove Ross. Fennebresque did rebut claims that the move was political; Ross is a Democrat and the board has shifted to a nearly-unanimous Republican makeup in the years since Republicans have claimed a majority in the North Carolina General Assembly.
Ross said in the release, “While John Fennebresque and I may have had our differences at times, he truly loves the University of North Carolina and has been a tireless, passionate advocate for it. He has served the UNC system with great dedication and commitment.”
Fennebresque was named to his second term on the 32-member board earlier this year. All board members are appointed by North Carolina lawmakers – half are appointed by the House and half appointed by the Senate.
The statement adds Fennebresque’s seat on the board will remain open until the Senate reconvenes and a replacement is chosen to serve the remainder of the term through 2019.
Current BOG vice chairman Lou Bissette Jr. will assume the chairmanship until the board can elect a new leader, according to the release, which will come after a required 30-day waiting period.