Tension on UNC's campus as meetings are held about Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- There was tension and uncertainty on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus on Wednesday as the new Board of Trustees met for the first time.

Faculty all over campus met and many of them expressed support for Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz.

This comes as our newsgathering partners at The News & Observer learned that there were potential efforts to remove the chancellor from his position.

Faculty Chair Mimi Chapman called an emergency meeting because she was "concerned that state politicians, UNC-CH trustees and UNC System Board of Governors members are moving to replace" him.

"He is a Tar Heel. He knows the system and if he is removed, we could wind up in a worse situation," Dr. Deborah Stroman told ABC11 on Tuesday.

Dr. Stroman has heard rumblings about concerns going back to Silent Sam and the truthfulness of how that was handled, even though that was under the previous administration.

"And now here we are with this unfortunate situation with Nikole Hannah-Jones -- so those are examples of people questioning whether or not he is indeed the right man for the job," Stroman said.

The meeting on Wednesday quickly went into closed session.

But right off the top Chapman explained that, over the weekend, she heard directly from someone who was part of a meeting in which names were being solicited for an interim chancellor. She said it wasn't a matter of 'if' efforts would be made to remove Guskiewicz but 'when.'

The Board of Trustees does not have the power to unseat him, only the UNC Board of Governors can do that.

During the meeting, the faculty council began drafting a resolution in support of the chancellor.

All of this is coming in the wake of several controversies including the Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure case and the resignation of UNC's police chief.

The UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty of Color/Indigenous Faculty Group released a statement on Wednesday that said it strongly opposes "any efforts to remove our campus leader, without any input, whatsoever, from our faculty, staff, students and other members of the Carolina community."
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Our newsgathering partners at The News & Observer learned that meeting may be over potential efforts to remove Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz from his position.

Guskiewicz was named the 12th chancellor and 30th chief executive officer of the United State's oldest public university in December 2019 to replace Carol Folt, who held the position since 2013.

Guskiewicz made his name as a neuroscientist and nationally recognized expert on sport-related concussions.

Full statement from the UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty of Color/Indigenous Faculty Group:

"We strongly oppose any efforts to remove our campus leader, without any input, whatsoever, from our faculty, staff, students and other members of the Carolina community. Such interference flies in the face of long-standing principles of shared governance at UNC-Chapel Hill.
As stated on our Faculty Governance website, "since the University of North Carolina opened its doors in 1795, faculty have shared responsibility with a Board of Trustees for running the campus. Principles of shared governance and best practices for keeping strong the faculty voice in university policy-making were articulated as early as 1920, when the American Association of University Professors published its first statement on shared governance between faculty, administrators, and trustees."

We urge the UNC-System Board of Governors and the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees to honor the long tradition of faculty governance at UNC-Chapel Hill and refrain from any unilateral action to remove Chancellor Guskiewicz."

Meanwhile on UNC's campus, Hussman School of Media and Journalism faculty met in the lobby of Carroll Hall regarding the core values posted on the wall, saying the values are center of "raging controversy" surrounding Nikole Hannah-Jones' tenure case.

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There was tension and uncertainty on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus on Wednesday as the new Board of Trustees met for the first time.

As part of Hussman's $25 million gift to the school, an agreement was made to have the values statement chiseled in granite. Some faculty are working to stop that from happening.

While Dean Susan King said the school shares Hussman's commitment to restoring trust in the media, she also said no donor should have influence on academic freedom, including who is hired or what is taught.

Among Hussman's core values are aspects like "impartiality being the greatest source of credibility" and "drawing a clear distinction between news and opinion."

Some faculty told ABC11 they cannot find fault in the statement, with some saying they do not align with the values of the school.

Professor Deb Aikat told ABC11 that "objectivity and both side-ism" when covering events such as the Jan. 6 insurrection and marginalized groups do not work.
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On Wednesday, Walter Hussman Jr. released a statement to ABC11 reiterating his commitment to the school and elaborated further on his involvement in the Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure saga.

Hussman said Dean King approached him about Hannah-Jones' consideration for the Knight Chair and and did not seek involvement in the matter.

Hussman said after learning more about Nikole Hannah-Jones and the "1619 Project," he conveyed concerns to the dean which he says were rooted in his values of "honesty, accuracy and impartiality."

Hussman said he took no further action except for a limited number of private emails.

"It is my earnest desire that the University and the Hussman School emerge from this unfortunate experience in a better place, and that we all use it as a teachable moment," said Hussman. "Certainly, I have learned something about the special implications of being a major donor, and I hope all of us have learned the value of nuance, the importance of separating facts and assumptions, the value of reasoned discussion, and the virtues of agreeing to disagree."

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