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A nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C., whose stated mission is to promote academic excellence and academic freedom, bestowed on the UNC Board of Trustees in October an award “for adopting a policy of institutional neutrality on political issues and for urging the acceleration of an administration proposal for a new School of Civic Life and Leadership,” according to a statement released by the board.
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni awarded the national Jerry L. Martin Prize for Excellence in Trusteeship, which recognizes trustees “who have shown exceptional courage and effectiveness in challenging the groupthink and status quo mentality that threatens the future of American higher education,” according to the council’s website. The council states on its website that it is “dedicated to promoting academic excellence, academic freedom, and accountability at America’s colleges and universities.”
Board of Trustees Chair John Preyer ’90 and five colleagues received the award on behalf of the University’s 13-member board. “I appreciate this recognition for our board’s work on behalf of the School of Civic Life and Leadership,” Preyer said in a statement. “That is collaborative effort with our chancellor, provost, and faculty, and we appreciate their support. Carolina is leading on this, and we should all be proud.”
The UNC board early this year called on the administration to form the School of Civic Life and Leadership, which has the stated goal of increasing students’ capacities for debate and deliberation with the goal of developing better citizens and leaders. Some faculty at the time criticized the board for not following traditional processes to form new schools and for not involving the faculty. In October, the University announced the inaugural nine professors who will teach courses in the school. Faculty Chair Beth Moracco ’92 (MPH, ’99 PhD) said she was “excited” by the initial list of faculty teaching in the school and was “cautiously optimistic” over assurances by the University that the school would be faculty led.