The UNC System Board of Governors met on Friday for the first time with Dr. Bill Roper serving as interim president. But with all of the new parts of the meeting, Silent Sam was still a major topic of the day.
The Confederate monument stood on the UNC – Chapel Hill campus for more than 100 years before protesters toppled the statue last August. Chancellor Carol Folt then ordered the remaining base of the monument be removed in mid-January when she also announced her intention to resign.
“Although I was not supportive of the way the monument was taken down in August, my personal position is we should not be putting the monument back on McCorkle Place,” Roper told reporters after Friday’s meeting.
The meeting began early Friday with a 30-minute public comment session where the Confederate monument was the main topic. A majority of those who spoke were against the monument being on campus and some directed comments at specific board members who had been critical of the protesters in the past. There were two speakers who asked the board to re-erect the statue on McCorkle Place.
Roper is currently weighing options for who he will appoint to serve as interim chancellor in Chapel Hill to replace Folt at the end of January. He said the interim chancellor would “absolutely” be involved in the decision-making process for the monument’s future. Five members of the Board of Governors are working with the Chapel Hill campus to bring a recommendation forward by a mid-March deadline.
“I look forward to being supportive of that effort,” Roper said.
Chair of the UNC System Board of Governors Harry Smith said that process would move forward even though the pedestal was removed.
“A lot of this stuff is new to a lot of the [board] members,” Smith said. “What I’ve always said is that if the membership can get all the fact, data and detail in an unemotional manner, and we can make sure that key and critical stakeholders and constituents are heard, that the body will work together to do the right thing.”
Meanwhile, the board voted on Friday to release an after-action report conducted by an outside law firm looking back at the events of the night the statue was pulled down.
“At that point, there were a whole lot of conspiracy theories flying,” Smith said. “Our goal was to help UNC – Chapel Hill put that to rest, as well as the public, and get a third-party, bi-partisan report that just called it straight, fact-by-fact.”
System officials said the report was being redacted on Friday and would then be made available once that process was completed.