News: Quick Takes

Bill advances cutting UNC Board of Governors from 32 members to 24

The UNC Board of Governors has 32 members — too many to be efficient, say legislators. Shown here: Board member Thomas Goolsby (center) during a March 2016 board meeting. (CJ Photo by Kari Travis)
The UNC Board of Governors has 32 members — too many to be efficient, say legislators. Shown here: Board member Thomas Goolsby (center) during a March 2016 board meeting. (CJ Photo by Kari Travis)

RALEIGH — The University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors has 32 members, and that’s too many, say sponsors of a bill that would cut membership to 24.

Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, called the move good policy.

“The board is charged with pretty serious business, and that is oversight,” Rabon said.

The reduction, he said, would improve efficiency and benefit students.

“That’s who deserves a strong board.”

UNC board members are selected and appointed by lawmakers from the state House and Senate. Under House Bill 39, the number of appointees provided by each chamber would go from 16 to 12.   

Twenty-four board appointees are sufficient in administering and overseeing the UNC system, members of the Senate Education Committee said Tuesday before voting in favor of the bill.

H.B. 39 passed the state House on Feb. 8. It now heads to the Senate Committee for Rules and Operations for further scrutiny. If found favorable, the legislation will go before the Senate.

The decision to shrink the board isn’t sudden and follows much discussion among senators, said Rabon.

A smaller board is sensible and practical.

“We have seen the need to become more efficient, and that alone is what has prompted us to go forward with this,” Rabon said. “And I think you can agree that it’s easier for a smaller number of people to get into a room and come together and have time to talk and have time to have their input, and to work together than it is for a larger number.”

David Powers, a BOG member whose term will end in 2019, said the board is officially neutral on H.B. 39, but he told Carolina Journal he values the legislation as a step toward more inclusive and productive board meetings.

“An action like this would allow for more robust discussion and would really help improve collaboration and decision making,” said Powers, noting that the current number of members sometimes leads to shortened discussions during board meetings.