The Pulse

Former UNC Board of Governors chair Fennebresque honored for leadership, after resigning

By: - October 30, 2015 12:27 pm

The University of North Carolina’s governing board honored its former chair Friday, who resigned earlier this week after considerable acrimony and criticism of his leadership during a search for the university system’s new president.

UNC system president Tom Ross (left) and John Fennebresque, UNC Board of Governor, in file photo.
UNC system president Tom Ross (left) and John Fennebresque, UNC Board of Governor, in file photo.

The board unanimously approved a resolution during its monthly meeting acknowledging how John Fennebresque “led the board and the University through numerous controversial issues of vital importance to its future, and did so without compromising his integrity or values.”

Fennebresque, 68, a Charlotte attorney with the McGuireWoods law firm, has served as the UNC board chair since 2014, and had been on the UNC Board of Governors from 1995 to 1999. He returned to the board in 2011, and had just been re-elected by the state Senate to his third term this summer.

He resigned from his post Monday, just three days after the board selected former U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings as the next president of the 17-campus system. Spellings will begin her job in March. (Click here to read my article from earlier this week about her.)

Fennebresque did not attend Friday’s board meeting.

The new board chair will be selected following a 30-day waiting period, possibly at its next scheduled meeting on Dec. 11.

Fennebresque’s brusque demeanor and the bungled way he handled the ouster of UNC President Tom Ross last January as well as issues that popped up in the search for Ross’ successor prompted several of his fellow board members to call for his resignation.

The board’s divisions became public as the board was nearing the end of the search for the new president.

Lou Bissette, an Asheville attorney and the vice-chair of the UNC Board of Governors who is serving in an interim role, acknowledged Fennebresque’s challenges in comments made at Friday’s board meeting.

“He did have a very tumultuous period in this office,” Bissette said. “But he has a number of accomplishments he can be proud of and the board can be proud of.”

Ross, in his report to the board on campus achievements, also expressed his thanks for Fennebresque’s leadership.



Resolution Honoring Chairman Fennebresque_102915 by NC Policy Watch

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Sarah Ovaska-Few

Sarah Ovaska-Few, former Investigative Reporter for N.C. Policy Watch for five years, conducted investigations and watchdog reports into issues of statewide importance. Ovaska-Few was also staff writer and reporter for six years with the News & Observer in Raleigh, where she reported on governmental, legal, political and criminal justice issues.