UNCW board of trustees emphasize the need for free speech at their quarterly meeting

Veronica Wernicke, News Editor

The UNC Wilmington (UNCW) board of trustees (BOT) met for their third quarterly meeting on Jan. 29 to hear and give updates on their committees and other related university operations.

Among the highlights of the meeting, Dennis Burgard, a BOT member, posed a question about the risk of free speech that was brought up in the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee (ARCC) report. Christy Burnett and John Scherer both briefly explained the relevance as related to the greater national issue towards protecting free speech and expression.

“I think it needs to start at the top, it needs to go into every classroom and it needs to filter all the way down to the students who feel the same ability to speak what they feel and say what they think without fear of retribution, without fear of being assaulted, attacked or having a reputation ruined because they don’t say the words another person thinks they should,” said Burgard. “I think this is vitally important this university address that specifically in the broader context of what we’re saying.”

Other than that interjection, the meeting ran business as usual.

Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli began the meeting with a declaration stating things the university has and has not done well in.

Sartarelli listed things that the university has done well like growth with quality, funding, adding new programs, recovering from Hurricane Florence, handling the coronavirus and keeping students on-campus and athletics to name a few. 

Meanwhile, things that could improve included retention, attracting more freshmen, research, increasing the number of diverse students at UNCW (specifically Black students) and creating a better sense of belonging, particularly for Black students. 

The board then moved into their committee reports.  

Up first was the Audit, Risk, and Compliance Committee (ARCC) report presented by Gidget Kidd, acting committee chair. During their meeting on Jan. 28, they were given presentations on the midterm overview for the quarter ending on Dec. 31, 2020, from the Office of Internal Audit. 

Their committee also approved the revised audit plan for the fiscal year 2021 and the board as a whole also approved it. Their committee also was given presentations about the enterprise risk management current risks as well as the 2020 financial audit for UNCW and associated entities. 


The UNCW clocktower (Kayl)

Next, Carlton Fisher, Business Affairs Chair, presented his committee’s report. At their Jan. 28 meeting, they heard presentations about recent and continuing sustainability efforts from the Office of Sustainability, the 2020 financial statement and updates on current capital projects (construction) and an overview of how the coronavirus (COVID-19) relief funding was spent for 2020.

Burgard, Educational Planning and Programs Committee Chair, reported on the committee’s meeting. At their Jan. 28 meeting they heard updates about the faculty senate regarding their activities and their recent December elections (Nathan Grove will continue to serve as president for 2021-2022 academic year).

They were also given divisional updates from James Winebrake as well as presentations by Mike Walker, associate vice chancellor and dean of students; James DeVita, associate professor in the Watson College of Education and Brian Victor, interim vice chancellor for Student Affairs regarding high-impact practices and goals of that counsel.

Yousry Sayed, External Affairs Committee chair, reported on his committee’s recent meeting. They heard updates from the Office of Community Engagement relating to fundraising efforts, updates about UNCW’s new website design, athletics updates and updates about government relations via Mark Lanier, who serves as the liaison for the BOT. They also approved a quasi endowment for the alumni association diversity scholarship which was also approved by the board. 

Lastly, Maurice Smith, Accountability and Renewal Committee chair, gave a report of the committee’s first meeting.

Fisher Student Center (Lindsay Henefer)

After the reports, the board moved into the chancellor’s report. 

In lieu of a report from Sartarelli, a presentation from Eddie Stuart, vice chancellor for University Advancement and Missy Kennedy, associate vice chancellor for University Advancement, were given regarding the university’s new campaign. The campaign dubbed “Like no Other” will officially launch on Feb. 2 and looks to raise over $100 million for the university. 

Stuart reported they have already raised over $86 million. In addition, they are looking for 50,000 gifts from alumni. 

Following the chancellor’s report the board moved into a closed session allowed under the Open Meetings Act. 

After returning from their closed session, the board approved the personnel and honorary motion items from the closed session and adjourned shortly after since there was not any old or new business.

The board’s next quarterly meetings are scheduled for April.