Chancellor, other campus leaders react to Spellings selection


Trey Hill

Margaret Spellings was selected as the next UNC president and will begin serving in the new position March 1.

Kevin Griffin

Campus leaders have reacted to the news of the selection of Margaret Spellings as the next UNC president.

Spellings previously served as Secretary of Education under President George Bush from 2005 to 2009. She will leave her current position as president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center to take over the position on March 1.

“I congratulate Margaret Spellings on her selection as the next president of the University of North Carolina and welcome her to our state and university system. Appalachian State is a proud member of the University of North Carolina, and I look forward to working with our new president to continue our state’s long-standing tradition of excellence,” Chancellor Everts wrote in an email statement.

Some faculty leaders were critical of Spellings’ record and qualifications.

“It is is extremely disappointing, although not surprising. We know that the Republican legislature has tried to take full political control of the UNC system,” Michael Behrent, president of the campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said. “So it is not surprising that we have her.”

In addition to the political nature of the appointment, Behrent criticized Spelling’s lack of academic background and priorities.

Spellings earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and holds two honorary degrees, including a doctorate.

“Her higher ed experience is so thin that she is going to have a very hard time gaining the trust of faculty,” faculty senate chair Paul Gates said.

Gates also cited some of her past positions as controversial, including her past comments on gay rights, and her involvement with for-profit education.

Spellings ran into controversy in 2005 when she wrote a letter criticizing PBS for a show which featured a gay character, according to NBC.

When Spellings was asked about her record on gay rights recently, she said, “I have no comment on those lifestyles,” according to the News & Observer.

Spelling’s background in for-profit education included time on the board of the Apollo Group, a for-profit education  company.

The company came under investigation by the FTC in July for “deceptive or unfair acts and practices,” according to an SEC filing from the company.

Student Reaction

SGA president Carson Rich acknowledged the controversy surrounding Spellings, but said that he wanted to withhold judgment until she actually assumes the job.

“Regardless of someone’s background  or past successes and failures, I like to at least give them a chance before I develop any rash generalizations,” Rich wrote in an email.

“Margaret Spellings could do a horrible job, she could do a great job. Either way, I want to make sure my opinion is developed by her future performance and not her recent past,” Rich wrote.

The LGBT Center did not return a request for comment as of press time.