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Deciding who leads a university can get complicated

16 Back up Darrell T Allison Headshot Edited 1024x741Who runs the university? What university are you asking about? Well, for example, Fayetteville State University, one of the 17 institutions that are part of the University of North Carolina, now known as the UNC System.

Clearly, the recently appointed chancellor of FSU, Darrell Allison, is the leader of that institution. But others share his authority. Allison reports to FSU’s board of trustees, a group of 13 that includes the student body president and other members appointed by the legislature and the UNC System’s board of governors. But Allison reports directly and primarily to the president of the UNC System who has the power, subject to concurrence from the board of governors, to fire the
chancellor.

If Allison has a single boss, it is the university president. But if you ask any chancellor he or she will tell you multiple people and groups must be pleased or the chancellor’s job is in jeopardy. He or she must also work with the institution’s trustees.

It is complicated enough already, but other constituents must be pleased. Near the top of the list is the institution’s faculty. Unhappy students can also bring a chancellor down. So can passionate fans of the university’s athletic teams. Donors and alumni groups can feel that the chancellor is their employee and should listen to their directions.

All these interests and groups present potential problems for every new chancellor. Wise ones will understand that while you cannot always please everyone, you must always take care to minimize friction and consider different opinions that relate to the university.

What is really tragic is for the situation to be poisoned from the beginning, but that is what has happened to Chancellor Allison. From the time his appointment was announced, opposition and concerns about his lack of experience in higher education and the process of his appointment arose from the faculty senate, the school’s alumni association, and the student government association’s president.

Previously, Allison served as a trustee at his alma mater, North Carolina Central University, and as a member of the system’s Board of Governors where he chaired its committee on Historically Minority-Serving Institutions. In 2018, Allison became the national director of State Teams and Political Strategy for the American Federation for Children, an organization that promotes school choice and was once led by Betsy DeVos.

From the beginning of the UNC System in the early 1970s, chancellors’ selection followed this procedure, taken from a UNC-Chapel Hill document describing the process: The chair of the university’s Board of Trustees, will oversee the search committee to find the new chancellor. Committee members represent the University’s Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, students and alumni. Community members will be able to provide input throughout the process. The committee will make recommendations to the full Board of Trustees, which will vote on candidates to recommend to the UNC System president who will then recommend a candidate to the UNC Board of Governors, which will elect the new chancellor.

This traditional process assured that every constituency would have some voice in the selection process even though it would be the president who made the final recommendation to the system’s board. This process was changed last year essentially to provide the president with the power to ignore the campus search process unilaterally and select any person to recommend to the Board of Governors.

The university president has every reason to seek a chancellor who will be a good partner. But it is a mistake not to bring into the selection process representatives of other groups the chancellor must serve.

As almost 50 years of university history has shown, a collaborative search process can find a person who will be the president’s strong partner without inflaming the kind of opposition that now faces Chancellor Allison.

Making the best of things

07 IMG 6382Hey you! Is the world too much with you? Reality got you down? Tired of putting up with stuff? Like Joe in “Showboat,” are you “tired of living but scared of dying”?

Congratulations, you have come to the right place. As the emcee in “Cabaret” said, “Leave your troubles outside. In here life is beautiful. The girls are beautiful. Even the orchestra is beautiful.” Today’s lesson will be how to be happy. If this sounds a bit Polly Anna-ish, or even if you don’t know who Polly Anna was, take a chance any way, read the rest of this stain on world literature. Either you will be glad you did or you will waste three minutes of your life which you might have squandered on something equally trivial. The choice is yours, read on MacDuff or turn the page.

Let us begin with our old friend Alice in Wonderland. She has the formula for happiness in the face of adversity. Jefferson Airplane suggested to “Go Ask Alice/ I think she’ll know.” Turns out the Airplane was correct. Alice reveals how to be a cockeyed optimist in her Chapter entitled “Pig & Pepper.” Learn how Alice turns limes into margaritas. Alice is lost in the woods when she comes upon a house. She sees a fish dressed as a footman go to the house to knock on the door. The door is answered by a footman who has the head of a frog. A lesser mortal might have quietly backed into the woods as mutated footmen seldom bode well for the casual observer. Alice is made of
sturdier stuff.

She marches up to the house but has a frustrating conversation with the Frog footman. Realizing the Frog is not going to help her, she opens the door herself and barges inside. Not to mix metaphors, but the house is not like that of the Three Bears. There is no porridge but it is occupied by three unpleasant beings: the Cook, the Duchess, and her Baby. The kitchen looks like a scene from the Three Stooges. Instead of throwing pies at each other, the Cook is dumping way too much pepper in the soup while throwing pots, pans and kitchen utensils at the Duchess and her Baby. The Duchess is sneezing. Her baby is alternating between sneezing and howling. It’s a pretty wild scene, lacking only hungry wolves, a mob of Oath Keepers, and a school of flying jellyfish to be double plus ungood.

Alice, being a good-hearted sort, becomes quite concerned that the Baby will be seriously injured when a flying sauce pan nearly takes off the Baby’s nose. The Duchess, having been invited to play croquet with the Queen, exits stage right tossing the Baby to Alice. Alice catches the Baby which is bucking and writhing around in her arms while making a disturbing snorting noise. Alice takes on the role of Protective Services carrying the struggling Baby outside to avoid further kitchen flying objects. “If I don’t take this child away with me,” thought Alice, “they’re sure to kill it in a day or two, wouldn’t it be murder to leave it behind?”

Once outside the Baby commenced to grunting instead of howling. This disturbed Alice. Looking at the Baby she noticed its nose had become turned up. It began to appear to be more of a snout than a nose. Its eyes had shrunk into pig like beady marbles. She told the Baby “If you’re going to turn into a pig, my dear, I’ll have nothing more to do with you.” After a bit more time, the Baby began seriously grunting. Alice looked again and sure enough, the Baby had turned into a pig. Alice put the Pig/Baby down and “felt quite relieved to see it trot away quietly into the woods.”

Now here comes the lesson of today’s column wherein Alice makes the best of a bad situation. A lot of people would be freaked out by a Baby morphing into a pig. A lot of people might have considered such an event catastrophic for the Baby. A lot of people might have considered selling the Baby to a barbecue restaurant. But not Alice. She looks on the bright side. Alice relentlessly acts like two fried eggs by keeping her sunny side up. The reverse of the Pygmalion transformation of a statue into a lady does not dismay her in the least. Alice thinks: “It would have made a dreadfully ugly child but makes a rather a handsome pig, I think.” She then “began thinking over other children she knew; who might do very well as pigs if one only knew the right way to change them.”

So, there is our lesson for the day. If circumstances go awry, find the positive buried deep within the muck. Look for the rather handsome pig in every situation. Reframe reality to see the good even if it means you are delusional. Be like the old song: “You’ve got to accentuate the positive/ Eliminate the negative/ Latch on the affirmative/ Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.”

Another plus is there is no proof that dinosaurs became extinct because their diet consisted solely of Blooming Onions from the Outback Steakhouse. Chow down!

Many Republicans still waiting for olive branch

06 Fox News on Gun Control copyOn Inauguration Day, I was encouraged to hear President Biden focus much of his speech on unity, going so far as saying, “We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.”

However, more than halfway through President Biden’s first 100 days in office, I have yet to see that olive branch be extended. I came to Washington to fight for you, no matter who is president, and to work across the aisle to deliver real results. Unfortunately, President Biden’s promises of unity have so far been empty words on issues like COVID relief, infrastructure, immigration and the latest — gun control.

Amidst a global pandemic, we are experiencing a heartbreaking humanitarian crisis on our southern border and it is being ignored by the administration for political reasons. The media continues to cover for President Biden, but nearly twice as many unaccompanied minors are being apprehended daily than during the peak of 2019.

During this Biden border surge, according to a report last week, criminal organizations trafficking women, children and families have earned as much as $14 million a day.

Migrants are packed together in facilities and not being tested for COVID-19, then being released to travel to states including North Carolina. Also, in the last week, only 13% of 13,000 migrants were returned to Mexico. These facts all point to a worsening border crisis that must be addressed.

However, instead of focusing on the border, last week President Biden unveiled a new $3 trillion spending package disguised as an infrastructure bill. The only problem — this bill will be full of Green New Deal climate initiatives that will make it harder to build any new infrastructure that our country needs. This package follows up on their $2 trillion non-COVID relief bill that was passed without a single Republican vote.

Once again, it is clear the Democrats will try and go at it alone. To pay for this package, they plan to raise your taxes, wiping out the historic tax cuts from President Trump and during one of the hardest financial years our country has seen. Cutting taxes and regulations the last four years unleashed the greatest economy we have seen — record low unemployment, record low poverty among all races and record high median income.

As Washington Democrats aim to reverse these policies and push their massive Green New Deal spending, hold on to your wallets, folks.

Last week, I was also devastated to see the recent shootings in Georgia and Colorado. As I have said, as a father, I am committed to ending this scourge of gun violence. That’s why as recently as this month, I have championed legislation that increases school safety, supports mental health, expands information sharing and tackles the root causes of gun violence.

Unfortunately, many on the left have rushed to politicize the recent tragedies in order to push for gun control legislation that harms law-abiding citizens and would have done nothing to prevent previous mass shootings. Earlier this month, House Democrats passed H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446 that would turn law-abiding citizens into criminals for helping a friend or neighbor and allow a government bureaucrat to delay a firearm sale indefinitely. These bills would only threaten our Second Amendment rights and are not the solutions we need. As President Biden and Washington Democrats renew their push for these bills, I am calling on my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to work together and pass targeted measures that would fix the problem.

If President Biden meant what he said, I remain ready to work together to end the crisis on the border, invest in our infrastructure, and end the tragic scourge of gun violence. So far, it looks like the Biden administration is working to appease the radical left, but I will not be discouraged from working to solve problems and
represent you.

This, that, and the other

05 in line polling placeLast week brought complicated, and in some ways horrifying news. First there was the Boulder shooting that left 10 people dead and yet another American community in shocked mourning. The most concerning aspect of such shootings is that they have become our new and accepted normal. Unless they happen in our own community or to people we know, perhaps even love, they garner brief national attention. Most Americans then move on until the
next one.

Many people, this writer included, believed that the 2012 murders of 6 and 7-year-olds at Sandy Hook Elementary School would motivate us to look at why we allow so few restrictions on gun ownership, even allowing private ownership of military style automatic weapons.

Instead, we seemingly decided even gunning down children was something we could live with in order to keep our firearms. It also remains true that while mass shootings get our attention for at least a brief period, far more of us die from shootings under other, less spectacular circumstances.

Americans who yearn for less carnage and are willing to accept more restrictions, including this writer, are coming to understand that nothing is going to happen until there is a mass public outcry as has happened with the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements. Perhaps this graphic from The New York Times can help us see how extreme an outlier our nation is when it comes to gun violence.

Pay attention, and be very afraid.

In addition to death by firearms, our democracy continues to be under threat. In the wake of the 2020 elections, state legislatures all across the country are debating and passing laws restricting Americans’ right to vote. Georgia’s governor signed into law last week perhaps the most regressive voting provisions since the Jim Crow era, already being dubbed “Jim Crow 2.0.” The jaw-dropping measure severely limits absentee voting and actually criminalizes giving people in line to vote either water or food.

If it were only Georgia, that would be one thing, but 40-some-odd states either restrict voting or are overwhelmingly gerrymandered or both. Several highly restrictive voting measures in North Carolina have been struck down in court, but ours remains one of if not the most gerrymandered state in the nation.

The U.S. House has just passed the For the People Act making registering and voting more accessible, but the bill faces fierce Senate opposition.

The question facing all Americans of both parties is “do we want a democratic country enough to fight for the rights of all Americans, not just those traditionally in power?” Germany and Italy lost their democracies in the first part of the 20th century as did several South American nations in the latter part of the century. There is no reason whatsoever to believe “American exceptionalism” immunizes us from the grasp of an authoritarian government.

Finally, and on a more positive note, it feels like the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Vaccinations are ahead of schedule in North Carolina, and Governor Cooper continues to loosen COVID restrictions. Already, there have been some excesses. A nightclub area in Raleigh was overrun by unmasked revelers, with one quoted in the News and Observer saying, “We’re like puppies out of the pound.”

Others are reacting more slowly, as if they cannot quite remember how to be out and about with other people. Either way, we should understand how easily a resurgence could occur and that masks and distancing are still in force, vaccinations notwithstanding.

That said, it does feel good to be even a little less confined.

Dazed and confused

10 POTATO HEADI cannot believe that I am writing this article. It seems like America is trying its best to neuter nature on sexually inanimate objects. Dr. Seuss gets schooled on what is hurtful and wrong. Coke tries to change skin color through instruction while the government is doing its part to reduce the world’s population, all in the last few weeks.

Hasbro decided they will make the beloved Mr. Potato Head gender-neutral when it announced that it would be dropping “Mr.” and “Mrs.” from the brand as part of a gender-inclusive push.

Mr. Potato Head was invented and developed by George Lerner in 1949 and first manufactured and distributed by Hasbro in 1952. By 1953, it became clear that Mr. Potato Head needed a family. Mrs. Potato Head hit the market, and they had two children, Yam and Spud. Even their kids who had friends called Kate the Carrot, Pete the Pepper, Oscar the Orange, and Cookie Cucumber, soon joined the family. The Head’s worked hard, and their makers blessed them with such luxury as a car, boat and a kitchen.

The last time we really saw the Potato Heads was in the “Toy Story” movies. Throughout the history of the toy, no one told Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head that they did not have genitalia. For most kids, it was hard enough to keep up with their ears, eyes and assorted hats, never mind their private parts. However, the big brains at Hasbro are not leaving the idea of kids being able to mix parts up; they put the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head right on the front pages by announcing the name changes to “Potato Heads.”

“Culture has evolved. Kids want to be able to represent their own experiences,” Kimberly Boyd, Hasbro’s senior vice president of global brands, told Fast Company. “The way the brand currently exists — with the ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ — is limiting when it comes to both gender identity and family structure.”

Hours later, after an uproar on social media, Hasbro tweeted, “Hold that Tot – your main spud, MR. POTATO HEAD isn’t going anywhere!” Hasbro said that it was the toy brand that was being changed and would release a “family kit” that will allow children to create all types of families.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises decided to stop publishing six books, including “And to Think That I saw it Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” McElligot’s Pool,” On Beyond Zebra!,” Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”

The Enterprise told the Associated Press that it stopped the books’ publication because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

In Coca-Cola’s diversity training, a slide presentation told employees “to be less white is to: be less oppressive, be less arrogant, be less certain, be less defensive, be less ignorant, be more humble, listen, believe, break with apathy, break with white solidarity.” I do not have the answer to corporate racial issues, but this sounds very racist.

Some stories are better seen than reading. It is worth the time to watch the full six-minute exchange on YouTube. During the confirmation hearings of President Biden’s choice for Assistant Secretary for Health, Senator and Doctor, Rand Paul (R-Ky.), asked Dr. Rachel Levine if she supported youth transgender reassignment and was criticized because he asked, “genital mutilation is considered particularly egregious because ... it is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.” He went on to ask if she supports permitting the government to override a parent’s consent to give a child puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and “amputation surgery of breasts and genitalia.” Dr. Levin responded with this is “a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed.” She promised that if confirmed, she would come to his office for a discussion on standards of care for transgender minors.

Paul went on to say that Dr. Levin supported the acceleration of minors and to allow decisions on such life-changing procedures. For the record, many parents will not allow a child to buy a cell phone more or less change their sex.

President Biden signed an executive order reversing the Mexico City policy, permitting U.S. aid money to fund groups that provide or promote abortion around the globe. This policy was first put in place by President Reagan in order to ensure that taxpayers were not required to indirectly fund abortions in other countries. This policy was expanded under the Trump administration to deny assistance to foreign nongovernmental organizations that fund other groups that support abortion services. President Biden signed executive actions aimed at expanding access to Obamacare during the coronavirus pandemic and rolling back anti-abortion policies that had been expanded by former President
Donald Trump.

“I’m not initiating any new law, any new aspect of the law,” Biden said before signing the orders. “This is going back to what the situation was prior to the president’s executive orders.”

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