Yesterday, the University of North Carolina System Board of Governor’s Committee on Governance recommended that no action should be taken on East Carolina University Board of Trustees members Phil Lewis and Robert Moore.
In the meeting on Feb. 5 of the UNC BOG’s Committee on University Governance, Lewis and Moore were asked various questions by the committee. Both parties represented themselves individually.
UNC System’s Director of Media Relations Jason Tyson said during the meeting it was decided that no action shall be taken against Lewis and Moore, and the time to follow the decision should be seen as a “healing process” for ECU.
“The Committee on University Governance, which is a standing committee of the UNC Board of Governors, is recommending to the UNC BOG that no action be taken on ECU BOT members Lewis and Moore. The full board then will meet and will concur with the Committee on University Governance, or they can make a separate decision,” Tyson said.
The East Carolinian reached out to the student involved with the ECU BOT scandal for an interview and was subsequently directed to that student’s lawyer who has not gotten back to us as of Wednesday.
BOT member Jim Seagrave said, in a message to The East Carolinian, that the lunch meeting between the unnamed student, Lewis and Moore was a “clear set up.” Seagrave said the unnamed students meeting with Moore and Lewis occured after she left ECU and was no longer a student under the UNC System.
“The girl was not even a student (at ECU) when they went to lunch. 100% a set up,” Seagrave said.
Allegations of misuse of power have also been made against BOT chair Vern Davenport and BOT member Fielding Miller by Moore and Lewis. Seagrave believes Moore and Lewis did not break any laws.
“They didn’t do anything that every politician in this country does every single day, they take donations and donate to others to try and influence,” Seagrave said.
In a memorandum written on Wednesday, Feb. 4, the ECU Faculty Senate Officers, Jeff Popke, Crystal Chambers, Amanda Klein and Purificacion Martinez, called for the UNC BOG to remove Lewis and Moore from the ECU BOT.
“As faculty members, we believe that success in fulfilling ECU’s mission requires that those in leadership positions act in the best interests of the University and ‘exercise authority honestly and fairly, free from impropriety and threats, favoritism, and undue influence’ as mandated in Section 200.7 of the UNC code,” the memorandum said.
In an interview with Chair of the Faculty Senate, Jeff Popke said the Faculty Senate wished to join the other voices showing disappointment with the violation of UNC System policy by Lewis and Moore.
“The officers had a vigorous discussion about this and felt that responsible leadership required of us that we add our voice to those that are extremely troubled by what they say in that transcript,” Popke said.
Contrary to Seagrave’s statement, over 1,500 ECU students and alumni who have signed the online petition circulating to remove Lewis and Moore believe it is a direct violation of UNC policy 200.7 and a violation of basic ethics.
Seagrave said other BOT members have offered this kind of financial assistance to students for more than a decade, and the current uproar surrounding Moore and Lewis is a smear campaign.
Seagrave said Davenport and Miller both knew about Lewis and Moore’s plan to meet with unnamed student in advance, and that they and a past member of the BOT, encouraged the anonymous student to record the conversation at the meeting.
“Fielding (Miller) and (Vern) Davenport knew about this lunch meeting in advance. So the leadership of our BOT could’ve stopped all of this at this point. They could have said, ‘Don’t go to this meeting, it’s not a great idea.’ They could have called up their fellow trustee members, Lewis and Moore, and told them this ain’t a good idea, that it’ll look bad for ECU and if it gets out it’ll cause a whole lot of issues,” Seagrave said.
Seagrave sent a letter on Jan. 27 to David Powers, chair of the Committee on University Governance, which stated that Davenport, Miller and Vince Smith requested the removal of Lewis and Moore without consulting the rest of the Board of Trustees.
In the letter, Seagrave said that this unilateral action taken by Davenport violates UNC Policy 200.7, which is the same policy that Davenport accused Lewis and Moore of violating.
“Three board members took unilateral action, 10 board members didn’t even know it happened until the letter was sent, they used a UNC BOT letterhead, that means that they basically signed my name to that letter without me even knowing about it,” Seagrave said.
Seagrave then said that multiple BOT members met with current Student Government Association president Colin Johnson last summer in order to try and win his vote, including Davenport, Lewis and Miller.
“In an attempt to get Colin’s vote for the leadership they believe should be in place, everybody was lobbying Colin,” Seagrave said.
Johnson said he did meet with the BOT members last summer, but it was because he was a part of the BOT. He also said that he was not aware of Davenport and Miller’s knowledge of the meeting between Lewis, Moore and the student.
Johnson denied any inside knowledge or connections to ECU Greek life during his election, despite being accused of this by the anonymous student who met with Lewis and Moore.
“I don’t know what’s meant by ties, I certainly went and communicated with chapters of Greek Life, but I don’t have any close personal ties with anyone besides students,” Johnson said.
The East Carolinian called Moore and Lewis for the third time regarding a statement on the matter, neither returned our calls. We also reached out to Davenport for comment, but have yet to hear back.