Editor's Note: As of May 13 information in this article has been updated to reflect the most recent and accurate information provided by the East Carolina University Board of Trustees Secretary Megan Ayers.
The North Carolina General Assembly will appoint two members for East Carolina University’s Board of Trustees (BOT) in late May to fill open seats, one of which includes Vince Smith, whose seat as a member of the board will be up for reappointment.
The University of North Carolina (UNC) Board of Governors (BOG) elected two new members to the ECU BOT, Cassandra Burt and Dave Fussel, at its meeting on April 22. The BOG also reappointed two members to the ECU BOT, Fielding Miller and Jason Poole.
Assistant Secretary to the Board of Trustees Megan Ayers said in an email statement the NC General Assembly will appoint two members to the board in late May. Smith is one of the trustees up for reappointment. She said Smith would have to be reappointed through the NC General Assembly, either from the Speaker of the House Tim Moore or the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Philip Berger.
“In accordance with bylaws, all new board members will be sworn in at the first meeting after July 1,” Ayers said.
Student Government Association (SGA) President Chandler Ward said the University of North Carolina Board of Governors is one of several parties who will present the East Carolina University BOT with possible appointees from several persons of interest at the time of designated appointments. Alongside the UNC BOG, the North Carolina General Assembly, President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives will present possible appointees to the BOT, according to the bylaws of the BOT of ECU.
There is discussion amongst the UNC BOG and the BOT about re-appointments and new member inductions, one of which includes Smith, Ward said. He said these discussions lead to decisions by the UNC BOG on whether they'd re-appoint existing members or appoint others.
“Whenever there’s someone up for reappointment they’re always going to have those discussions,” Ward said. “There’s discussions of appointing new members or reappointing current members. They’re in the process of either do we reappoint these members or do we put someone else in there cause they haven’t made that decision yet.”
Ward said a member of the UNC BOG has advocated for an unnamed appointee with no direct ties to Greenville, North Carolina, or ECU to fill the open seat in Smith’s place once his current term ends.
“He’s (Smith) up to re-election so there’s a potential opening spot and they’re trying to put someone else in there,” Ward said.
Given previous issues between the BOT and SGA, Ward said he hopes for this position to be filled by an appointee who isn’t on the political side of matters. He said he would like to see the position filled by an appointee who works to provide proper support to students.
“Just because of all the frustrations we’ve had with the BOT a couple years ago and how that tied into SGA, the last thing I want is to have some person there just pushing a political agenda you know versus someone who has continuously been in support of students,” Ward said.
Matters such as the re-appointment of members and inductions of new members, Ward said, should not be conducted without students' knowledge when these types of decisions directly impact students.
Ward said Smith has been receptive of all student needs brought before him on the board by former SGA President Tucker Robbins. He said he anticipates there to be pushback on the insertion of a possible appointee by the UNC BOG.
“You know a lot of these types of things go on behind closed doors and students have no idea and all of a sudden say hey here’s this new guy who’s going to be making major decisions about your university and you know students are like what,” Ward said.
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