University Sent A Threat For Thinking About A “Free Speech” School

( Belle Wheelan, president of the accrediting body The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), announced during a meeting of the Governor’s Commission on the Governance of Public Universities in North Carolina on February 7 that a letter would be sent to the board to explain its unanimous decision to hasten the development of the School of Civic Life and Leadership. Opponents of the vote claim that the faculty was not told about the school before the resolution, which led to criticism of the vote.

According to The James G. Martin Center For Academic Renewal, the president of the organization that accredits the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) threatened to write a letter of reprimand to the board of trustees after it agreed to move forward with plans for a school devoted to fostering open discourse- in other words, Free Speech.

The board of UNC-Chapel Hill will receive the letter as a result of a recent news report claiming the board decided to implement the new curriculum option without consulting the administration or faculty.

A UNCC trustee named Marty Kotis said he asked for a copy of the letter after seeing Wheelen speak about it while observing the meeting from a distance, but SACSCOC informed him that no letter had been prepared. Wheelan explained to Kotis that Margarette Spellings, a former UNC president and the commission’s co-chair, had asked her to write the letter, which was an inquiry rather than a censure.

The committee was established by Democratic North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper after 2022, although the Center claims it has little control over the UNC System.

Kotis said, “It seemed strange that she would be conversing with someone outside of the chain of command of the institution about a letter.”

The letter is “not a genuine threat,” Kotis said. “Our board hasn’t done anything illegal, and neither has our school. “Now, I would argue that both Dr. Wheelan and former President Spellings have definitely done something wrong here, but our board has acted entirely within its rights in enacting the resolution that requests the acceleration of development. No laws have been broken by us.”

Kotis informed the DCNF that the board had been given comparable notices that it would have letters from the accrediting organization.

Faculty members said they were unaware of the school until the board’s action, which alarmed them.

There was also concern that the board voted on the resolution despite not being on the Jan. 26 meeting agenda. Kotis said that the board’s “bylaws allow for items from the floor to be brought up” and that it is a “regular occurrence.”

“The faculty definitely should have a say in these items, but it doesn’t mean that all faculty have a say,” Kotis said.