WILMINGTON — Last week, the North Carolina Senate voted to appoint Woody White to the 24-member University of North Carolina board of governors.
The defense attorney and former New Hanover County commissioner served on the UNCW board of trustees from 2018 until his resignation in September 2021. He was appointed by North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore.
White was nominated to the UNC governing body by New Hanover County’s Sen. Michael Lee (R-7). The Senate Select Committee on Nominations, chaired by Brunswick County’s Sen. Bill Rabon (R-8) took up the consideration of six names — four reappointments, two new ones — for the board on March 14. The nominations were approved the following day.
Senator Gladys Robinson (D-28), a member of committee, said the Senate should be considering more diverse nominees (the two new nominees are white Republican men) to offer true representation of the UNC system.
“The majority of the UNC system are women, yet the board of governors has very few women on it,” Robinson said. “It also does not have many minorities on it as well.”
Of the board’s 24 voting members, five are women and four are Black.
After resigning from UNCW, White claimed the university was stifling conservative voices.
“When a conservative professor fights for equality in his 1st Amendment rights and wins $700,000, he remains an outcast by an unrepentant Administration and bullied to a point where he kills himself,” White wrote in a Facebook post following his exit.
He was referring to Mike Adams, a conservative professor involved in series of controversies over his teaching methods and interactions with students. White implied the university was partially responsible for Adam’s suicide in early 2021 after he agreed to early retirement with $500,000. Mounting pressure to resign and the threat of lawsuits lead to the settlement with UNCW. Adams committed suicide one week before his effective retirement date.
White juxtaposed this situation with the university’s response to associate professor Dan Johnson, who wrote in a May 2021 Facebook post “Blow up Republicans.” Johnson apologized after the post was reported on locally in June and the university said it “acted on the information in a timely and appropriate manner,” according to WECT. At the time, White wrote to Sartarelli, complaining of a free speech double standard.
“But When a liberal professor advocates violence against conservative students, nobody says anything,” White wrote in his Facebook post. “Nothing happens.”
White also criticized the university’s response to Covid-19, namely the option to hold in-person classes virtually. He said students that signed up for a traditional class that was moved online should ask for their money back.
He also asked donors to send their money elsewhere.
“Why big donors, who care about America and its future keep giving money to these universities, I can’t figure,” he wrote. “Perhaps something can be done to change where these dollars go. Let’s see what happens.”
In a statement following his appointment to the board of governors, White said he was “humbled” state leadership chose him to serve.
“I look forward to serving the people of North Carolina and the students who attend the best university system in the nation,” White said in the statement. “Our universities face significant challenges in delivering on the promise of a well-rounded educational experience that is affordable to the average person, and that respects all points of view.”
The UNC Board of Governors oversees the operations, public policy and budgets of more than 244,000 undergraduate and graduate students in the 17 constituent university campuses across North Carolina and the North Carolina School of Science and Math.
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