What UNC president Margaret Spellings has learned after year one

What UNC president Margaret Spellings has learned after year one

It's been a year since Margaret Spellings took over as president of the UNC system. What has she learned since March 2016?

Above, UNC-system president Margaret Spellings talks with News & Observer reporter Jane Stancill.

It’s been a year since Margaret Spellings started her job as president of the UNC system. What has she learned?

How to compromise — hopefully. 

HB2, the state law requiring people to use the bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate, was passed early on in her tenure as president. Spellings said she is ready to see a compromise that will bring business and athletic events back to North Carolina.

How to make college more affordable. 

The UNC Board of Governors — the body that makes decisions for all campuses in the UNC system — recently approved a plan to bring more low-income and rural students to UNC-system schools. Part of that plan includes lower tuition at Elizabeth City State, UNC-Pembroke and Western Carolina. Each semester, in-state students would pay $500 and out-of-state students would pay $2,500. Spellings called the plan “a terrific value for our students, but also a terrific education.”

How to listen. 

This week, the Board of Governors discussed a policy that would not allow the UNC Center for Civil Rights (or any other UNC-system center) to file a lawsuit or act as legal counsel. Board member Joe Knott, who proposed the policy, said he doesn’t want the university to stray from its academic mission.

The Center for Civil Rights has worked on legal cases involving school desegregation, fair housing and environmental justice. It’s part of UNC’s law school and serves as a training ground for future lawyers. It’s common practice for law schools to have these kinds of centers, and Ted Shaw, the Center’s director, said the center fits within the law school’s mission.

(You can read more about the proposed policy here.)

Spellings didn’t offer an opinion yet. Instead, she said, she wants to learn more.

Read more about Spellings’ first year in office here.

Pressley Baird

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