Chancellors “Retreat” Policy in North Carolina

Leaders of the University of North Carolina System are debating the merits of a current policy which entitles a university president who retires after 5 years of service to a one year “retreat” with his/her full pay before returning as a faculty member and earning 60% of their administrator salary. The policy gained attention after North Carolina State University’s chancellor, Dr. James Oblinger, stepped down this summer amidst questions surrounding the appointment of the former first lady to a high paying faculty position. Under the current UNC System policy, Dr. Oblinger is entitled to that retreat. Given the circumstances of his departure, however, and North Carolina’s current economic climate, the idea of paying him a full salary after stepping down was a bit much for some to take, sparking the current debate over the policy.

Ultimately, we’re talking about state funds that pay university leaders’ salaries, so it is the right of the citizens of North Carolina through their elected and appointed officials to decide whether the policy should be retained. But in making that decision, they should know that policies like the UNC System’s “retreat” policy are not uncommon, and in fact are more the norm than not, especially for campuses that seek to attract the caliber of leaders that the UNC System schools have attracted. In a competitive market, where highly sought after leaders have choices, you can be sure that not having a policy such as this one could hinder the state in college leadership searches.

So while emotions are running high in this period of economic crisis and political turmoil, North Carolina citizens and leaders would be wise to make decisions that will be best for the future of higher education in North Carolina. As a proud alum (NC State, PhD), that’s what I’m hoping for.

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