The Carolina North Leadership Advisory Committee has meet
three times since Chancellor James Moeser formed it and gave it its charge
earlier this spring.
LAC meeting televised
Time Warner Cable channel 4 (in Chapel
Hill) will air the April 6 Leadership Advisory Committee meeting on May 11 and 12, from 9 to 11 a.m. You may view the video anytime on the web at: research.unc.edu/cn/news_archive.php.
Check back to this same link for broadcast information for the May 4 meeting.
Moeser’s challenge to the 30-member group was to identify and
then address key community issues related to the development of Carolina North,
ranging from transportation to housing needs to fiscal equity.
Since then, much of the early discussion, particularly from
Chapel Hill Town Council member Bill Strom and Carrboro Board of Aldermen
member Dan Coleman, has focused on process, open discussion and access to
In the second meeting, focus shifted to corralling all the
principles that various stakeholders have already laid out in various documents
in order to have a better sense of the areas of agreement and contention.
At the conclusion of the second meeting, the hope was to
move from a discussion of process to principles. It fell to Ken Broun, a
University law professor and former Chapel Hill mayor who chairs the committee,
to synthesize the various principles contained in all the documents, using the
report completed by the Horace Williams Citizens Committee and approved by the
Chapel Hill Town Council, as a template.
But at the start of the third meeting on
May 4, Coleman pointed out that the principles contained in the University’s
infrastructure report had not been discussed at the previous meeting or
included in Broun’s compilation of principles. And Strom suggested, in light of
that omission, that it would be necessary for the University to present the
principles in its infrastructure report at the next meeting, in the same way
that all the various stakeholders had reviewed the principles in their
documents at the second meeting.
Strom said he thought it was important to have a complete
list of principles before the committee began reviewing any of them.
Tony Waldrop, vice chancellor of research and economic
development, said the infrastructure report had been on the campus web site for
several years and questioned the value of using the committee’s time to review
it, but said, “If that is what it takes for us to move forward, we will do
Several University representatives joined Waldrop in
expressing concerns about how the focus on process had stalled the original
purpose of the yearlong set of meetings, which was to make progress in
identifying areas of agreement and disagreement, and then figuring out how
those areas of disagreement could best be addressed to meet the concerns of all
When discussion moved to defining what was meant by a
principle, Nancy Suttenfield, vice chancellor of finance and administration,
tried to cut through the semantics when she said the important thing was to
concentrate on where we disagree and why we do.
“The goal here is to reach common understanding and common
ground,” she said, whether the idea being discussed is called a principle or a
concept or a goal.
Others, including Etta Pisano, professor of radiology and
biomedical engineering, and Jack Evans, a University faculty alternate, reacted
with concern when Strom said he, as a town council member, was not authorized
to “negotiate” as a member of the committee, but merely to enter into a
“dialogue” that allows for disagreements to remain disagreements once the
committee completes its discussion.
Strom said he could not negotiate and remain true to his
charge as a member of the Chapel Hill Town Council, which was bound by the
report from the Horace Williams Citizens Committee that it had already reviewed
In response to that statement, Pisano asked Strom, “So are
you finished now?” Without willingness for give and take from all sides,
without all parities keeping an open mind and being willing to move from a
fixed position on the basis of new information and arguments, there seemed
little point to the exercise of discussing matters.
“You are saying it in an extreme manner,” Strom said, then
reiterated his position that he could not negotiate on behalf of the town
Evans said he saw two possible scenarios from what Strom was
In the first, the committee reviews the list of principles
to find those principles on which there is disagreement. After discussion of
those disagreements, the committee will find those areas that may not be able
to be reconciled, if there are any.
Under the second scenario, the committee would merely
identify those areas of disagreement without attempting to remedy them.
“I hope that is not what we are doing,” Evans said. If that
is the case, he said, the committee would merely be conducting an “intellectual
exercise” without any real promise of accomplishing anything.
Bob Winston, one of two members of the University Board of
Trustees serving on the committee, said he was hopeful that the committee’s
work would prove productive in the end. But, he said, to be productive the
committee has to move beyond discussions of process and get to work.
“I think you are going to find a lot of common ground,”
Winston said. “I think you are going to find we want to be good stewards and
good citizens and good neighbors.”
Broun, in an e-mail sent to committee members hours after
the meeting concluded, described the meeting as a success.
“I recognize that there were times when it wasn’t easy — at
least for the facilitator. However, in the end, I think that we reached a
consensus on some important, indeed fundamental, points.
“Among other things, we agreed that we are engaged in a
dialogue, not a negotiation. We will try to reach consensus on principles where
we can, but not our disagreement where we cannot.”
With that understanding, Broun said, “I believe that we can
now move forward with our substantive discussions in the spirit of cooperation
and understanding that I sensed prevailed at the end of the meeting.”