This is the first of a three part series examining the new president of the University of North Carolina Thomas Ross. Click here for part two.
At a hastily convened meeting on August 26th, The UNC Board of Governors voted to appoint Thomas Ross as the next President of the more than 200,000 students and more than 30,000 staff of the university system. While relatively unknown by most state residents, Ross is well known by the politically connected, especially those on the left.
A friend to many far-left organizations and a relative novice to higher education, Thomas Ross makes for an unfortunately predictable choice to be the next President of the University of North Carolina System. From a career in law to his seven years as Executive Director of the far-left funding mechanism – Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation – and President of Davidson College for three years, Ross is set to succeed current UNC President Erskine Bowles in January 2011. What is really alarming about the North Carolina Board of Governor’s choice of Ross as the heir apparent is his long history of steering hundreds of thousands in contributions to dubious organizations like ACORN.
During his almost seven years as Executive Director of the left-wing, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Ross oversaw massive contributions to an enormous array of far-left liberal activist organizations. He took what was already a politically active foundation, founded by one of North Carolina’s most prominent families, and turned it into an active organizer and funder of the lefts political agenda in North Carolina. All manner of socially left organizations were on the foundation’s dole under Ross’s administration, including the radical and nefarious ACORN organization.
ACORN is an organization of community organizers with a tarnished history of fraud, embezzlement, and conflict of interest. ACORN employees have been tried and convicted of systematic voter registration fraud according to Factcheck.org. There have been reported cases of this kind of fraud in Missouri, Washington, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and in 2007, ACORN’s Las Vegas office was even raided by state criminal investigators. In addition to fraud, co-founder Dale Rathke was found to have embezzled nearly $1 million from the so-called "charitable" funds of his organization. ACORN had strong ties to President Obama, and was actively engaged, in conjunction with other groups of identifying and turning out Obama voters in NC and across the nation for the 2008 election.
This infamous organization was heavily funded during Ross’s tenure as Executive Director of Z. Smith Reynolds. From 2004-2006, Ross pumped over $100,000 into ACORN. In 2007 alone, Ross’s last year as executive director, he contributed an additional $150,000 to the ACORN organization, "for general operating support to support and expand its North Carolina ACORN chapters." These gifts were given with the explicit caveat that the money was to be used to foster local branches of this sort of community organizing planting roots in counties across North Carolina including Wake and Mecklenburg. Ross funneled this money via the American Institute for Social Justice, a sister organization that contributed $5.6 million to ACORN’s coffers in 2008. This 2007 contribution helped to develop the infrastructure for a massive get out the vote effort to support Democratic Party efforts in 2008.
ACORN is only one example of the social leftist organizations that Ross heavily funded. Z. Smith Reynolds shelled out anywhere in the neighborhood of $16 million per annum during Ross’s tenure to groups like pro-abortion activists Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, the American Civil Liberties Union, and homosexual advocacy groups like the Rainbow Youth Coalition (RYC) and the Equality NC Foundation.
Another interesting tidbit was the vocational switcheroo that took place upon Ross’s departure from Z. Smith Reynolds. The woman who succeeded him, Leslie J. Winner, was at the time the Vice-President of the UNC System. Three years later Ross is coincidentally elected as President of the UNC System; an interesting turn of events indeed.
After scrutinizing Ross’s record, it seems clear that the UNC System is positioned to take a decidedly left turn, and the new President’s credentials leaves much to be desired. One can only hope that the implications of his leftist background and being a neophyte to the realm of higher education won’t be passed on to the hundreds of thousands of North Carolinian students he will oversee.