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Two months ago, North Carolina Central University alumnus and former University of North Carolina System Board of Governors member Darrell Allison resigned his position on the board citing personal reasons, and throwing the leadership of the system into response mode on the lack of diversity within its executive ranks.
But his departure may have been temporary, as Allison is rumored to be the top choice to become the next chancellor of Fayetteville State University; a selection that if made, could stir controversy among campus and HBCU stakeholders within the state.
A former BOG chairperson on all things Black for the UNC System in his three-year tenure, specifically in the areas of promoting its minority serving institutions and racial equity issues, Allison has been applauded for his advocacy on behalf of the system’s five historically Black universities.
But there are questions about his level of preparedness to lead an institution occupying significant real estate in the North Carolina’s industrial ties and pathways, and in working with a board that in recent years has faced serious allegations of tampering with leadership at its historically Black and predominantly white member schools alike.
Allison resigned in September, almost at the same time that the BOG approved a revamped search process that would allow the UNC System President to insert candidates into member school searches without approval from the schools or their stakeholders. For a system that has chronically appointed system staffers as presidents without formal searches for years at its HBCUs, it was a policy that surprised few and outraged many.
His executive experience in education outside of service on the Board of Govenors and the NCCU Board of Trustees is almost exclusive in advocacy and development roles for charter school education. His professional profile lists no faculty or executive experience on a campus, and has been linked to scandal alleging that he tried to steer a vendor contract at his alma mater.
For all of the good or bad, real or perceived, that tags Allison’s profile, it is his affiliation with the crooked UNC Board which makes his real or perceived candidacy for the FSU chancellorship problematic. If nothing else, Allison being a potential candidate underscores the public impression that UNC campuses and their futures are little more than golden parachutes for political operatives in the biggest racket bankrolled by North Carolina’s public trust.
If he gets the job, it signals that the UNC System surely doesn’t care who leads its Black colleges, and cares little about the skill set required to guide the schools and communities through the difficult times that will be created by the coronavirus pandemic and the world’s recovery efforts.
And for Fayetteville State, this whole controversy reveals that the ground forged over many years in building quality programs in nursing, the applied sciences, education, and business, and its efforts to become a state leaders in educational access for adult and non-traditional learners, can be scorched at any time for any reason.
The Board of Governors will meet tomorrow, with an agenda slated for discussion and presentation from its committee on personnel and tenure.