This past week outgoing UNC@CH Chancellor Holden Thorp sat down for an extended wide-ranging one-on-one interview with legendary Chapel Hill media mogul Jim Heavner (WCHL et al). Jim played “Mike Wallace” and Holden was extraordinarily candid as he prepares to see The Old Well in his rearview mirror. I’ve listened to every word and offer you that same opportunity.
The likelihood of you listening and actually changing your carved-in-stone opinions are marginal at best regardless of what your opinions are. Nevertheless, I DARE you to listen.
The unique demographics of this audience covers the breadth of the spectrum re: Opinions About UNC@CH. Sure, Jim serves up a few softballs but also brushes Holden off the plate a few times.
DISCLAIMER: I still “like” Holden Thorp. Hell….. I like Jim Heavner too; and Art Chansky and Bubba and Bob Kennel and most of you to the degree I know most of you. Can I like and still disagree with the same people? I like to think so.
There were moments in these interviews where I almost screamed “HOLDEN! Dude are you just terminally clueless?” and moments I said “Oh, NOW I understand why so&so did such&such.”
Holden Thorp is, unashamedly, a career academic and as washed-in-the-blood of socio-cultural “liberalism” as anyone who has trod his life journey would be. I would not classify him as an extremist but you might. Holden’s boss – Tom Ross – IS a far-Left radical extremist, but this column is not about him.
Holden still does not know what a “deep snapper” is and cannot quote the infield fly rule. He does believe Dean Smith will go to Heaven and does believe there IS a Heaven for Dean to go to. Take THAT Bart Ehrman!
He truly does “love” UNC@CH and Chapel Hill. I don’t believe in “institutional love” but I realize many of you do embrace the concept relative to your academic institution of choice.
One conclusion I reached in listening to these 90-minutes of candid comments is:
Even today – May 2013 – Holden does not fully accept that a primary component of the “job” (his job for the past five years) as Chancellor of a large public university is to deal effectively with…..
• Balancing the several pros / many cons of Big-time College Football & Basketball with “the institutional mission”
• A State Legislature that holds stewardship responsibility for tax-payer dollars. Dispensing those $$$$ carries with it a right as to how those $$$ will be utilized. Just give us the money. but not your meddling opinions ain’t how it works.
• A mainstream media that, while highly partisan ideologically, will shuck aside that partisanship when it smells blood in the water from a high profile administrative scandal.
Those three components individually and collectively have continually interfered with his personal passion of being “Mr Chips The Headmaster” keeping the learning lamp well-oiled for inspiring youth. Life’s a real bitch sometimes, ain’t it.
Thus his upcoming role as Provost of Washington University in St Louis should be EXACTLY what he likes to do and what he should be exceptional at doing. We should all be so fortunate to find such an ideal match for our passions and skill sets. Few men do.
Of particular interest to most of you….. his answer to Jim’s questions about The Firing of Butch Davis in retrospect is further confirmation of MY incredible insight on the whole inglorious mess. To wit:
(paraphrasing) …… with Bubba Cunningham as (a real) AD that would have all been handled much more expeditiously and effectively….. DUH ! Ya think?
Jim brings up Hodding Carter’s strong disagreement with Holden as to who should be in charge of big time college athletics. That Carter was a poobah with the infamously toothless Knight Commission which has turned out to be “tits on a boar hog” must be considered.
Holden reveals hitherto unpublicized info on the ever-elusive Deborah Crowder and her sinister motives and her accomplices. That part gets pretty juicy.
The discussion of the current brouhaha over the UNC Honor Court is interesting. I always saw that silliness as “college kids playing at being real adults”. Sure, let’em pretend to adjudicate little campus dust-ups….. but for Gawd’s Sake don’t give’em any real authority. Geezzzzzz.
On Holden’s strong personal and professional distaste / disapproval of the current “governance” system for UNC@CH and The UNC System one must go back to his being born & raised a yellow dog liberal Democrat. He is a product of a Lib/Dem upbringing and 25 years in a VERY VERY liberal working environment.
Liberals and Conservatives all do agree that “politics is a dirty word and all politicians are lyin’ no-count dirty dawgs EXCEPT the ones I vote for of course”. When all of us complain about something “being political” or being “politicized” we say it with a sneer and curled lip and a sniff like “who cut one?” We are really complaining that “their idiots” are screwing it up…… and “our idiots” would do it less stoopidly.
The several times Holden or Jim mention Governor Pat McCrory or (the eeeevil) Art Pope you can hear the venomous spittle hitting their microphones. Bless their hearts. Hehehehe……
Holden laments that the UNC BOT and BOG are “too political” which means – too many of them right-wing nutjobs who can’t see the world with the intellectual clarity and priorities of purpose that I do….. they are simply not “as smart” as I am.
He is NOT referring to the prior 50 years of the UNC system as designed by Kindly Ol’ Bill Friday and run thru Jim Hunt, Mike Easley, Marc Basnight, Tony Rand and their gang of pompous shysters, flimflammers, and carney sideshow freaks.
The UNC System and UNC@CH had become more obesely bloated than Jabba The Freakin’ Hutt. Was that due to some reason other than the gang of drunken Democ-sailors who were in charge all those years ???
Throughout the interview you might notice that Holden never actually accepts much / any personal accountability for the mayhem, mishandling and muddling that has characterized the last 60% of his tenure as Chancellor. Some observers might score that as a character shortcoming. Since I like the guy I’ll just remind you Holden Thorp IS a liberal Democrat.
Accountability is not their strong suit. OK, unless it involves killing Osama Bin Laden…. which Jim and Holden do not discuss.
I hope you will listen to this interview. As I note upfront, if you don’t like and don’t trust Holden Thorp you probably still won’t when you are done. If you do like and do defend Holden you will be able to keep doing that too. You can cherry pick words and phrases to fortify whatever 3rd – 4th – 5th hand “facts” form the foundation of the rock-solid POV you have on any of this.
No mention is made of “the rings” nor is there a picture of Jennifer Wiley. Darn.