Tom Ross exits with grace, sets example
The fiasco that has revolved around the UNC Board of Governors for the past several months just added another chapter. After demanding the resignation of UNC President Tom Ross, the chairman of the Board, John Fennebresque, himself stepped down. After fumbling for a way to explain the decision to fire Ross other than the truth, because of his politics, Fennebresque became mired in controversy. Tom Ross recently spoke out, however, and added a graceful ending to this disappointing display: “While John Fennebresque and I may have had our differences at times, he truly loves the University of North Carolina and has been a tireless, passionate advocate for it. He has served the UNC system with great dedication and commitment.” Well done Mr. Ross.
The tumult that led to the resignation of John Fennebresque from the chairmanship of and membership on the University of North Carolina system’s Board of Governors was largely of his own creation.
The Charlotte lawyer, 68, had a reputation as blunt, and then he took it upon himself to demand the resignation of UNC President Tom Ross. It was something other Republicans on the board wanted as well, but Fennebresque showed his inexperience in public office by clumsily dismissing Ross and then fumbling to provide a reason why. He denied the exit was political, a claim no one believed.
Now, with a new president, Margaret Spellings, chosen from candidates with Republican ties, Fennebresque says it’s time for new board leadership. In fact, his exit comes one step ahead of a mutiny.
Ross, however, put an appropriate and gracious period on the end of the Fennebresque sentence. He said, “While John Fennebresque and I may have had our differences at times, he truly loves the University of North Carolina and has been a tireless, passionate advocate for it. He has served the UNC system with great dedication and commitment.”
That note of grace from the man Fennebresque fired ought to be a lesson in class for the board’s Republicans who have embarrassed themselves lo these many months.