Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Will Peter Hans be UNC's next President & Tim Moore be ECU's next Chancellor?

Peter Hans
Will he be the next UNC President?
It's no secret Peter Hans, currently the President of the North Carolina Community College system, would like to be President of the University of North Carolina system. His desire to be mentioned along with noted past presidents William Friday, C.D. Spangler, Jr., Erskine Bowles, and others goes back several former UNC Presidents ago.

It's no secret Tim Moore, the Kings Mountain Republican and lawyer who is currently the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, wants to be the next chancellor at East Carolina University. His public campaign for that job has been short but his behind the scene effort has been long and intense. However, it is doubtful Moore is looking for a long-term stay in Greenville, but at least four years.

The searches for those two educational posts--UNC President and ECU Chancellor--have pretty much paralleled each other in time. And it's probable and possible that decisions on both are being held up purposely, waiting for the other to be completed. Reasoning for the delays is strictly the opposite of and for each other. Of course, search committees for both will deny one is lagging for the other, waiting for the other shoe to drop first.

Tim Moore
Will he be the next ECU Chancellor?
Moore is in an interesting position. He's basically a small-town lawyer with a good practice who is paid about $40,000 a year as Speaker and therefore has a small, state pension when he decides he's had enough of the General Assembly which could come sooner than later if the House flips from Republican to Democratic this year. Several years ago, Joe Hackney, who was Speaker when the House had a Democratic majority, retired because being in a Republican controlled legislative body "just wasn't fun anymore." 

Speaker Moore might feel the same way. His power in the NC House is his best asset, along with his calm demeanor, masking his demand for control. He is not really seeking to be mentioned with Leo Jenkins, Richard Eakin and Steve Ballard, three ECU Chancellors who served extended terms. And, he does not want to be "shown the door" as the ECU Board of Trustees did a year ago to Cecil Staton.  Part of Moore's power has been his influence appointing members of the ECU Board of Trustees, the UNC Board of Governors, and the NC Community College System. At East Carolina, Moore could get a starting salary of $450,000, which, after three or four years, equates to about $350,000 in annual retirement, far above what he would get as a retired legislator, though he could continue to practice law with either pension.

Getting the ECU job is no easy task for Moore, or is it? He must get approval from the the ECU BOT which is easier now than it was several months ago. That's when there was a change in two seats on the ECU BOT because of a circumstance so weird it has to be filed under "you can't make this stuff up." For more, read these two stories in The News & Observer: 
The replacements are likely to support Moore's candidacy for Chancellor.

The ECU BOT is supposed to send the names and resumes of two potential candidates to the President of the UNC System who then makes a selection and gets approval from the UNC Board of Governors. Bill Roper is the interim President of the UNC System, and word is that Roper seeks an educator not a politician for the ECU post just as Roper and past Presidents have done with other Chancellor vacancies on UNC campuses. It is rare, and probably unheard of, that a politician beats out an educator to lead any UNC system campus. However, Moore could be good for ECU, who knows?

The ECU Trustees might be dragging their feet with the chancellor recommendations until Roper is replaced with a "permanent President," which means nothing to the current UNC Board of Governors. The previous two, Tom Ross and Margaret Spellings, "got into it" with an aggressive BOG that preferred to give Presidents daily cues instead of hiring a President who goes to the BOG with issues to solve, programs to be confirmed, Chancellors to be selected. In other words, the UNC BOG seems to want to operate the UNC system by committee, at least some BOGers do.

To be fair, Ross was shown the door because he was a Democrat trying to tell a Republican board what to do. Spellings left on her own because she wanted to be more of a public relations President, representing the UNC system on a national level and on corporate and non-profit Boards. Fundamentally, the BOG wanted her to concentrate on UNC. Finally, Spellings had enough of the daily meddling and asked the BOG to buy out her contract. Roper has been her temporary replacement.

As ECU's chancellor selection process drags along, the UNC President search seems to have slowed as well, maybe because of the coronavirus or maybe because of disagreement among the BOG members. What is known to the BOG search committee is that a faster process in Chapel Hill would quickly resolve the East Carolina situation. That is where Hans comes in.

Hans has an impressive resume which includes his two years running the Community College system. He's a longtime lobbyist but he has channeled his desire to be UNC President through his efforts on boards and committees. As a lobbyist, Hans has figured out how to play both sides of the aisle. He has a considerable amount of influence with the legislature, Democrats and Republicans, and he understands how to serve Governors of both parties. His hardest job would be pleasing the BOG.

Hans is more of a moderate in a highly charged political world. He might not be as conservative as the current leaders of the General Assembly desire, but he might be the best option for the string-pullers in Raleigh. One wonders why Hans would like to leave his current post. Serving the Community College Board is a piece of cake as compared to the pitfalls of working for the UNC Board of Governors because of its ties back to the General Assembly. All that could change (or not) if the entire General Assembly flips to a Democratic majority this year or in two years or whenever. Who really knows how a Democratic dominated Board of Governors would act?

Hans is Republican with strong ties to Moore as well as other GOPers in the General Assembly. Right this minute, Moore could be communicating with UNC BOG members about Hans who in turn would appoint Moore to the ECU job if Hans gets the UNC job. Sort of a "you pat my back; I'll pat yours."

Since 1956, the best UNC Presidents by far have not been pure educators, coming from other educator jobs to UNC. Those three were Friday, Spangler, and Bowles, much to the dismay of the Republican leaders in the General Assembly. What made those three so good was their ability to navigate the Board of Governors and the General Assembly to promote the UNC system and to get the financial support required to make it the best public system of higher education in the country. Unlike Spellings, no doubt, Hans doesn't aspire to the national stage for himself; he wants the UNC system to remain a nationally, if not internationally, admired state-supported system for higher education.

Currently, Hans works for Moore, sort of. If both get their desired job, Moore will be working for Hans. It is somewhat of a twisted tale which is very likely to happen. Maybe sooner; maybe later. It depends on which group--UNC BOG or ECU BOT--blinks first. Stay tuned.
In an earlier post, 2020 Presidential Election Survey, readers we asked to complete a quick 10-question survey about this year's Presidential election. To get to the survey, click this link:
Jim's COVIDiary Survey #1 -- 2020 Presidential Election. The survey closes at midnight, May 31.


  1. ECU deserves to have a highly qualified, experienced person with a distinguished academic background that includes scholarly publiscation, university teaching, and university administrative experience. He, or she, also should be a person of integrity and vision. This does not remotely sound like the qualification of Tim Moore, who has campaigned for privatized education, starved the public schools of funding and teachers of pay raises, and done much the same to the once pround UNC system If the powers that be want to further demoralize higher education in North Carolina, Moore is probably their person, even though he lacks the dredentials for the job. Of course, there's the old saw about running universities like businesses. Well-qualified candidates for this job are quite capable of seeing to the business side of the university without sacrificing the core values of higher education. To hand this responsibility to Tim Moore involves nothing more than acting out of fairly base political motives without any regard for the life of the institution thsat is East Carolina University.

    1. Thank you for your comments. I get your point. As I wrote in my post..."It is rare, and probably unheard of, that a politician beats out an educator to lead any UNC system campus." ...maybe it will stay that way at ECU.