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New UNC Boss Margaret Spellings Likes Controlling the Mic

CHAPEL HILL – Margaret Spellings drove from Texas last weekend and moved into the yellow mansion on Franklin Street. On Tuesday, with significant headwinds, she’ll start the job as president of the UNC system.

It’s been four months since Spellings was elected president by the UNC Board of Governors, a Republican-dominated board that pushed out the previous leader, Democrat Tom Ross, in a messy and divisive process.

Since then, Spellings has been the target of student protesters, faculty groups, gay rights advocates and the NAACP. Critics have seized on any number of things: her board service for a for-profit university; her $775,000 UNC salary; her lack of an advanced degree; her penchant for calling students “customers”; her past remarks about a PBS cartoon; her role in the No Child Left Behind law; her hiring of a consultant with private money to study the UNC system office; and her longtime association with former President George W. Bush, for whom she was an education adviser in Texas, domestic policy adviser in Washington, U.S. education secretary and most recently, head of his presidential center in Dallas.