Jim Hunt As Chancellor? Not On My Watch!

Today’s Triangle Business Journal features NC State “booster” Steve Stroud doing a little “boosting” for someone else: former four-term governor Jim Hunt.

Stroud, it seems, thinks Hunt would be a dandy occupant for the vacant chancellor’s chair at NC State: “Jim Hunt would do a great job bringing the university back together.” In fact, says Stroud, it’s “absolutely logical” to put Hunt in the chancellor’s office.

Sorry, Mr. Stroud: Jim Hunt as chancellor would be perhaps the worst possible choice for NC State as it cleans house in the wake of a disastrous political patronage hiring scandal.

Jim Hunt as governor ran a political patronage machine that permeated every corner of state government. Key “patronage persons,” with approval or disapproval rights over hiring decisions made by managers and personnel professionals, were sown throughout the state government structure. At Broughton Hospital in Morganton, for example, the “patronage person” during the Hunt years was – a barber. That’s right: if you wanted to hire someone at one of the state’s largest mental health institutions, you cleared it with the barber.

That was state government under Jim Hunt. And it’s exactly what we don’t need at NC State.

The Klown Kar-full of officials exiting the school over the past few weeks – chancellor, provost, board of trustees chair – got the bum’s rush because of precisely the kind of political patronage hiring that was SOP in the Hunt era. Mary Easley, it’s now clear, was placed in her overpaid, cobbled-together sinecure because her hubby the Gov and his pals wanted her there – pure political patronage. No job posting. No interview process. No review of applications. Just a few quiet emails and phone calls, and … presto! Mary Easley’s getting $14,000.00 per month to call up the Washington Speaker’s Bureau and teach a class for which a “colleague” was paid $5,000.00 per year.

And now, out pops Steve Stroud from the smoking ruins of our university’s honor and proposes that the remedy for a ruinous political patronage hiring scandal is: install North Carolina’s king of political patronage hiring as chancellor. It is to laugh, if only the man wasn’t serious.

Restoring integrity to university hiring practices is central to repairing NC State’s reputation both internally and with the public it serves. Assigning Jim Hunt to oversee that process is like assigning Otis the town drunk to fix problems at the ABC store. NC State can, and should, do better than Jim Hunt.

General NC State Administration

33 Responses to Jim Hunt As Chancellor? Not On My Watch!

  1. Cosmo96 06/12/2009 at 7:36 PM #

    Dear Cardiff Giant,

    I find your post to be baffling and confusing. You seem to suggest that there is some other way to conduct operations within the UNC system besides playing politics and putting one’s own interests above the good of the university. Why, next thing you know, you’ll be suggesting that these novelty “aeroplanes” will have practical applications as well! Let me put it this way: If we were to hire some stranger instead of a cronie for a high-ranking administrative position, how would we know who is scratching our backs, or whose back we are scratching? How would we know if they would even scratch us back?!?! Understand? Look, those of us who really know what’s best for the university would be better served if you and those like you just put aside these silly notions of “restoring integrity to university hiring practices” and focused on fantasies of astromen taking rocket-propelled spaceships to the moon!

    Archetypal Self-Serving NC State Official

  2. Flannel Avenger 06/12/2009 at 8:43 PM #

    Talk about going from bad to worse.

    How long do you suppose it would be before Jim Hunt had the money designated for repaving Hillsborough Street redirected to his cronies driveways just like the good ol’ days?

  3. bigjohn 06/12/2009 at 9:18 PM #

    I got the email from the alumni assn. today that referenced the in house blog “Red and white forever” or some such stuff. I went to the ? and answer part with Bob Jordan and another trustee that talked about creating an oversight committee so that these kinds of debacles don’t happen. This is rhetoric for “You can hire highly qualified professionals to run the university, but you can’t trust a $400,000 chief operating officer employee to do the ethical thing”. How about if you wrote into each contract, “If you steal or divert the $ to your friends, or to those who gave you the job, you are fired, and you will be prosecuted, and will not get any severance or payout”. Anyone qualified to run the university can understand these simple terms and would readily agree. If it’s unethical, or outside of approved policy, then you are screwed out of this dream job. Move on! I hear the excuse, at my day job at another ACC university, that somebody, usually a long term employee, doesn’t do their job because they are poorly trained, were improperly managed, or didn’t understand the rules. It’s high grade bull manure, and an excuse not to confront the real problem.

    Personnel is simple – Do the right thing, come to work, treat everyone fairly, and be fully aware that the little people know the BS when they see it, and they know if you are a cheat and a thief, even if you haven’t been caught yet.

    Economics is simpler – When your outgo exceeds your income, then your upkeep will be your downfall.

    No to Jim Hunt! He’s a nice man who is also everything politically that is mentioned above.

  4. DireWolf 06/12/2009 at 9:38 PM #

    Jim Hunt as the next chancellor, no. But he would be an effective interim chancellor. I believe he would make the hard decisions in the short term that would lead to success for whomever gets the final appointment.

  5. bigjohn 06/12/2009 at 9:52 PM #

    We have an interim chancellor, and he has said most of the right things, so far.

  6. highstick 06/12/2009 at 10:00 PM #

    Absolutely freaking NO!!!! Too much of a politician and I can’t stand listening to his mush mouth. He makes Jesse Helms, Fritz Hollings, and Strom sound like the most eloquent speakers ever to open their mouths~!~

  7. graywolf 06/12/2009 at 10:12 PM #

    No, No and Hell No. Why put the fox in the chicken coop? Hunt is the king of the good ole boy’s network we have endured and got us where we are today.

  8. TomCat 06/12/2009 at 10:30 PM #

    This is the most IRRATIONAL, SHORT-SIGHTED DISRESPECTFUL and STUPID post EVER in the history of this website. Jim Hunt has dedicated his life to this state. Are you even AWARE of what the UNC system looked like before Jim Hunt? Are you aware 3 US Presidents asked this NC State graduate to serve as the US Secretary of Education? I KNOW— Jim Hunt. I KNOW the hours, upon hours, upon hours, upon hours this man… has dedicated- working and sweating on HIS OWN DIME to bring jobs, investment, military, federal funding, education, industry, foreign investment, technology, equity, healthcare to this state. WITHOUT JIM HUNT —- THIS STATE IS MISSISSIPPI. Before you SMEAR a fellow NC State alumnus -one of the greatest the state of North Carolina has every produced- I suggest you get off your lazy self-serving a** and dedicate 50 years of YOUR life to something….. to ANYTHING productive and see where YOU stand. I KNOW Jim Hunt and I KNOW the absolute monumental work much of which will never be known publically or credited— which we now reap the benefits. SHAME ON YOU — FOR SUCH AN ABSOLUTELY SHALLOW and IGNORANT POST and SMEAR OF A NORTH CAROLINA PATRIOT—- AND I’D SAY THE SAME THING IF YOU SMEARED JESSE HELM’S NAME. DESPICABLE. SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. beowolf 06/12/2009 at 10:48 PM #

    Hey, TomCat, before you burst a blood vessel, you might want to actually refute some of the claims instead of shouting about what a dedicated, hard-working patronage-slinger Hunt was.

    GREAT POST, Cardiff.

  10. Cardiff Giant 06/12/2009 at 11:12 PM #

    No worries, Beo. Tomcat is the Demon Barber of Broughton Hospital, you see. *snicker*

    You might query Tomcat on what our national educational rankings were before and after the “Eddication Gubnor” did his dirty work. For hours, upon hours, upon hours…

  11. old13 06/12/2009 at 11:25 PM #

    TomCat = Kennel? Sounds like him.

  12. Buck 06/13/2009 at 1:17 AM #

    It’s no disrespect to Jim Hunt to say he was a great public servant for the state, but ALSO that he is not what the University needs as a chancellor. Clearly, the Chancellorship of N.C. State is not something a political figure should be offered. A world class university NEEDS a world class educational administrator… ala Marye Anne Fox. This person should also be someone who demands excellence in everything the Univesity does (from ag research to engineering to athletics). God bless Jim Hunt, God bless the state of North Carolina, but there is never a time to hand out the chancellor position of a great research institution to anyone but a first class experienced administrator of another serious research institution. THIS DECISION DEMANDS USING YOUR HEAD, NOT YOUR HEART!!

  13. SMD 06/13/2009 at 2:55 AM #

    I don’t disagree with the point that given what just happened, we don’t need another “insider” as Chancellor. However, I think the comparisons to Gov. Hunt’s patronage system and what he might do as Chancellor are sort of apples and oranges.

    ALL government is a system of back-slapping patronage done by people on both sides of the aisle – relationships are the coin of the realm. Gov. Hunt was (is) a master at it. Perhaps patronage isn’t ideal, but by and large gov’t at all levels runs every day because of it.

    Academia is not immune to this – as we just witnessed – but there’s no way that the academic world is a political as the governing world.

    Given that, I don’t think you can extrapolate the Hunt patronage system to say that he would do the same thing at State. Heck – is there a higher profile cheerleader for our school? That makes it sort of hard to argue that Gov. Hunt would just be another croney in there.

    I am more dissapointed with State’s so-called leaders than I am with the Easleys. What Mike and Mary did was just act as sleazy politicians – which happens all the time. You’d think that Oblinger and his cronies would have defended our great university and not kow-towed to the Easleys.

    Gov. Hunt would have defended NC State (and he’s no friend of the Easleys. 😉 ).

    I am off two minds on this – on the one hand, I get that fresh, non-insider blood is needed and Jim Hunt ain’t it.

    But on the other hand – if he could serve for a few years as more of a figurehead Chancellor whose job it is to sell NC State, leaving the daily management to others, he could really do great things to help us restore our reputation, get more grants and research in, etc.

    Of course – he’s gotta be pushing about 75 doesn’t he? Of course, at 75 he gets more done than most 50 year olds. The last time I saw him speak he has literally returned from some overseas trip that day and was still rarin’ to go.

  14. PoppaJohn 06/13/2009 at 7:25 AM #

    Who would you recommend?

  15. Noah 06/13/2009 at 7:57 AM #

    The WORST possible choice?

    Sweet Jesus you people are blind.

    The WORST?

  16. Cardiff Giant 06/13/2009 at 8:21 AM #

    Who would be a worse possible choice, Noah? I mean, it is not possible that a Hillsborough Street bum or a sex offender could get the chancellorship except in the most ruthlessly literal sense. Shaw’s former president has left the state, so we’re probably free of that risk.

    Whom would we likely to see in the bunch that is worse, under the specific circumstances now existing at State, than Jim Hunt? Hunt would send a loud, clear message that NC State has learned absolutely nothing from this mess.

    PoppaJohn: Personally, I’d like to see a professional from out of state, preferably a southern state (but that’s a tertiary consideration). Someone along the MAF mode with somewhat better diplomatic skills would be the ideal selection in my view. We need someone who will confront the business-as-usual mode that permeates NC State at all levels, and who is both (a) assertive enough to confront that mode and insist on substantive change and accountability, and (b) diplomatic enough to pull that off.

    But please, no party hacks of any stripe or good ol’ boy types.

  17. phillypacker 06/13/2009 at 8:42 AM #

    Forgive me if I am exposing my ignorance here, but why not do a national search, vet applications from within NC and without and choose the best person? Why wouldn’t that be standard instead of this cronyism-infected approach current in place?

  18. old13 06/13/2009 at 10:00 AM #

    To me the best approach NCSU could take on getting a new Chancellor is to a) establish strong criterion for selection (i.e., character, education and academic experience, academic achievements, successful top level university administration experience a must, etc.) and stick to it, and b) conduct a search on a truely national basis closely following the established selection criterion.

  19. beowolf 06/13/2009 at 10:33 AM #

    C’mon, Cardiff, throw Noah a bone and modify your stance somewhat. You could say Hunt is in the top quintile of worst possible choices or something.

  20. packplantpath 06/13/2009 at 10:37 AM #

    When faced with a scandal caused by political backscratching, the stupidest thing you could do is to hire a career politician to run the show. So, yes, I think this would qualify as the worst idea ever. Not because Jim Hunt is a bad guy, but because he is a politician with a history in this state.

    Tomcat, I’d say that anybody with 50 years as a public servant in local government (or any government) could be a symptom of our problems and not a solution.

    The worst, no, Noah, I’ll grant you that. The worst would be to hire Mike or Mary Easley to run things. But this wouldn’t be much better.

  21. Great Dane Guy 06/13/2009 at 10:48 AM #

    I would be torn on Hunt. I see CG’s points and agree, but I bet Lee Fowler would be on a hotter seat. I remember Hunt from Reynolds, when he was there in his red jacket. I bet he would have no problems holding Lee to tangable results.

  22. packalum44 06/13/2009 at 11:35 AM #

    “NCSU Alumni and other interested parties…DON’T FLATTER YOURSELVES!”


    James Baxter Hunt Jr.

    Guys, Jim has better things to do than run NC State such as go to the beach, fish, and dine out at fine Wilson establishments such as Rockys, Beefmaster, Bills BBQ, Dicks Hotdogs, and the Legacy. Plus he’s too old. He turned down the job the last go ’round.

    He was a hell of a governor who did lots of good for NC and NC State. He gave us Centennial Campus. At the time, Jim asked the Chancellor what piece of land he wanted. After responding that he wanted so and so piece, Jim said, “Why don’t you take all of it.”

    To note his “political patronage” is like saying linebackers hit really hard. ALL politicians do this.

    Moreover, comparing Jim Oblinger to Jim Hunt is apples to oranges. Oblinger is an outsider from the midwest. He isn’t a good ole’ boy as many here say. Jim is a good ole’ boy but he’s the LEADER of good ole’ boys. He would not be manipulated by anyone because there is no one more respected and connected than Jim Hunt. Having him as Chancellor would make an immediate positive impact. It would be like getting Bill Cowher as our head coach. He would wring out every penny he could from boosters and funding from the state.

    But don’t flatter yourselves. Whether you like him or not, he ain’t coming here.

  23. ess 06/13/2009 at 1:31 PM #

    I have known and been friends with Jim Hunt for many years (For the record, I am a lifelong Republican).If you have followed his career closely, you would not argue that he has been one of North Carolina’s great leaders. I know,because I have worked closely with him on many important North Carolina projects. Wolfpackers should know that he played a key role in bringing us the World Class RBC Center. They should also know about his love and devotion toward and for NC State.

    I never envisioned he would be willing to take this job long term. He does have the skills and leadership abilities to set this University on the right track. Invaribely, factions will emerge from this trying time and we need a leader who can calm this unrest and bring NC State back to its rightful position as the “Leader of the Pack”.

    FOR THE RECORD, my ONLY interest is that which is best for NC State and its future.

    Steve Stroud

  24. blpack 06/13/2009 at 3:02 PM #

    Bad idea. Do a national search with some the high criteria listed above. Our standards/expectations should be high for the new chancellor. Now is not the time for someone like Hunt. An outsider may be best.


  1. Right Angles » Blog Archive » I’m not the only one incensed by the Hunt-for-chancellor movement - 06/12/2009

    tr3su5 Muchos Gracias for your article. Really Cool.

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