Son of Skipper

Word on the street is that Erskine Bowles will be the next president of the UNC System, succeeding Molly Broad.

One OP reader wrote in about this selection saying "He is not perfect BUT - He loves this school and state and is not taking the job as just another rung on a corporate ladder. Someone who thinks about more than money and donors will be great."

He certainly has the ability to out-corporate UNC's chancellor (and that's saying something), but he could also be a powerful advocate for the state's education system. What do you think?



The Herald has a page 1 story on this today.

My first choice would have been King Nyle.

I thought the quotes in this article were pretty telling:

J. Bradley Wilson, who chairs both the UNC system board and the search committee, said Bowles' background in financial matters was one of his best characteristics.

"He certainly brings a set of financial skills to this job that may be unparalleled in the history of this university," Wilson said. "I would certainly expect his business acumen to be one of his strengths."...

State Sen. Robert Pittenger, a Mecklenburg County Republican, said Thursday he hopes Bowles will bring a critical eye to the university's financial books.

"Erskine comes from investment banking experience and I think he will provide good fiscal management to the UNC system, which needs to be better managed," Pittenger said.

In the good old days. businesses and institutions would place someone at the top who understood their mission, believing that this person could hire key staff with the necessary financial skills. The local example comes to mind of broadcaster JIm Heavner hiring Bob Woodruff to provide financial management for his growing media conglomerate.

The is a further step in the consolidation of corporatist control in state government:

Corporatism or neo-corporatism is often used popularly as a pejorative term in reference to perceived tendencies in politics for legislators and administrations to be influenced or dominated by the interests of business enterprises. (Wikipedia)

At least this will get Bowles out of politics. BTW, like the appointment of Robert Rubin as Treasury Secretary, Bowles selection by Clinton was emblematic of why Clinton was so beloved by Wall Street. I'm sure the same folks are now bullish on UNC.

The same report also says:

"Erskine comes from investment banking experience and I think he will provide good fiscal management to the UNC system, which needs to be better managed," Pittenger said. He cited legislative data that showed, he said, that 45 percent of the UNC system's personnel costs are non-academic, administrative staffers.

"We're very top heavy," Pittenger said. "There's a lot of waste inside the system that I think he'll be able to evaluate and correct."

Moving funding out of administration and back to teaching is mission related and is clearly needed. I hope that expectation is achieved. However, I would have more faith if he wasn't taking the outrageous $425,000 salary. Donating part of it back to student aid is nice, but I'd prefer an ethical stand on administrative costs for EVERYONE not just OTHERS.

I sure hope Terri's observation is the indicator of what's coming. With a selection process that was reportedly a show and that hefty salary he's going to have to make quite an effort to win the hearts and minds, I think.

Overall, though, I'm with Dan ... glad he's out of politics. Maybe he'll inspire Elizabeth Dole.

Last I heard, King Nyle was in Nashville. I'm just proud of him that he's still alive after hearing about him from my parents....

Wikipedia also says that "In the recent literature of political science and sociology, corporatism (or neo-corporatism) lacks negative connotation. In the writings of Philippe Schmitter, Gerhard Lehmbruch and their followers, 'neo-corporatism' refers to social arrangements dominated by tri-partite bargaining between unions, the private sector (capital), and government. Such bargaining is oriented toward (a) dividing the productivity gains created in the economy "fairly" among the social partners and (b) gaining wage restraint in recessionary or inflationary periods."

I guess it all depends on which definition you want to use to make your point, especially when preceeded with an adjective of choice.

It would be nice if all were bullish on the UNC system.

I last saw the King playing piano at Irregardless here in Raleigh about 15 years ago.


also (I used to have a pretty complete set of the Centipede but lost them about 20 years ago)

Hmm... Those working for UNC contractor Aramark don't sound too bullish.

From the DTH, 4/21/2005,

A handful of workers sat around a table in a Steele Building conference room while supporters stood behind them. The 14 employees detailed their work experiences and explained the need for better working conditions and the ability to unionize.

“I feel that as workers, we have the right to organize a union,” said George Noell, the sales manager for Circus Room. “I look at (how supervisors treat me) as harassment. … I don't think that they're fair in what they do.”

Noell and other workers went on to explain that they rarely get breaks, are belittled and threatened, receive little or no raises and are left without ample benefits.

Several workers said they have suffered silently because they fear repercussions for speaking out.

“I've got children, and I'm scared to lose my job,” said Christine Moore, who works at Rams Head. “There's got to be some kind of justice.”

"tri-partite bargaining"??
"dividing productivity gains 'fairly'"???

No, the positive connotation of corporatism has not yet arrive on Planet Earth.

No, the positive connotation of corporatism has not yet arrive on Planet Earth.

Lots of political science and sociology professors out there who have varrying viewpoints. Hence it helps the communications process for people to understand how you are using a term with multiple definitions, unless of course one should assume that the default setting is the negative.

From all I can tell, Mr. Bowles was annointed by political insiders in the legislature and on the Board of Governors more than 18 months ago. The push to move Molly out and Erskine in has been a well-orchestrated charade, with barely a nod in the direction of transparency and open public discourse.

I'm sure he'll be fine and UNC will do well under his well-connected leadership. But I'm less sure the motto on our state's license plates will ever have much relevance for North Carolina democracy. "First In Freedom" doesn't hold much water when we find so much of the public's business done in back rooms by a handful of good old boys.

Today's N&O offers this:

"When Bowles was Clinton's chief of staff, he was approached about becoming UNC president. But Bowles said the timing was bad, and the post went to current President Molly Broad."


The license plate motto is "First in Flight."

We actually invited Nyle Frank back to lead the parade at the 2nd. Carrboro Music Festival in 1999, which he did in purple cape and crown. Afterward he gave a magnificent performance at the ArtsCenter. Later he said it was the best day of his life.

Justin, Jim has been around a few years. "First in Freedom was on our plates. The plate was issued at the end of 1974 to honor the Mecklenburg Declaration of 1775. The plate immediately caused a storm of controversy over the slogan “First In Freedom”. The slogan drew objections from people who criticized North Carolina for its foot-dragging on issues of freedom and equality for blacks and women. Other ‘special interest' groups questioned the right of a southern state that had seceded from the union during the Civil War to claim to have been "First in Freedom". Some people taped over the slogan. Eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (in a separate case, over the New Hampshire slogan 'Live Free Or Die') that car owners could obliterate offending slogans on their license plates. Special interest groups pressured the NC State Legislature to change the slogan. In 1982, North Carolina changed the tag slogan to 'First in Flight.

I stand corrected!

UNC spent 75K with a national search firm and wound up hiring their own candidate? Interesting.

As a professional, how does that $75K rank? Is it a lot for a search of this type, or not much, or just about right? That might tell us something about the process.

Justin, it appears Fred was quoting from this site that has a photo of the old plate.

I knew about the plate but I thought it was "First in Freedom" because of the Halifax Resolves.

The fee is actually quite favorable given the national caliber of the search and the level of the position, if they did a full search and due diligence qualification of all the finalist candidates.

Note that this was the search fee to the firm and probably not the total cost of the search---all the expenses (flying candidates in for interviews, lodging, advertising, any kind of credentialing) was in addition to the professional fee.

I guess I just can't get over a nagging suspicion that Bowles was the choice all along, and they just went through the formalities of a search process. That is however, my personal opinion only and probably not fair.

Sounds like Molly Broad was the Matt Dougherty of this saga.

I was a big fan of his before he refused to take the bar exam after spending all that time in law school. But that was the coup de grace.

Nyle refused to take the bar exam? I knew him when he was a grad student in poli sci in 1969

or maybe Molly Broad or Matt Dougherty wouldn't take the bar exam? Or was it Erskine? (It''s ocnfusing when threads get hijacked)

In the 70's (Gerry, correct my date if it is wrong) when
NC was debating whether to be state number 49 to
allow liquor sales by the drink, the motto was
"First in Freedom -- Last in Liquor". Somehow, that
never quite made it to the license plate.

I think that Oklahoma was number 50.

Liquor by the Drink referendum in Orange County was September 1978, three days after Mecklenburg which voted first.

A bit of trivia: The first year the bar was open at the Carolina Inn, I wasn't able to serve beer. They changed the law regarding serving alcohol and wine on University property, but forgot about beer.

Fred, I have always understood that the actual source of controversy over "First in Freedom" was that the Mecklenberg Declaration of 1775 may have been a falsified document. I don't know all the facts of the matter, but see



But who knows? Not me.

King Nyle was reported to have refused to take his bar exam. Legend has it that he actually refused in person.

I doubt Erskine Bowles would do such a thing. I may be wrong but Erskine (and the rest of the Democrtaic Party)would probably sit in quiet support if the Bush neo-cons decided to systematically nuke South America.

To me, Nyle is a far more inspiring figure than Bowles and would make a far better president of the UNC sysytem than Bowles. There we go - thread connected...


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