“I was shocked:” Former CFCC trustee reacts to his removal from board

Some trustees accused him undermining the role of an administrator by asking a teacher to change a student's grade.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 6:10 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Former Cape Fear Community College Trustee Ray Funderburk says Wednesday’s meeting to discuss his removal from the CFCC Board of Trustees was unfair.

“When I say shocked, I guess I’m kind of a small ‘d’ democrat-American, and I expected a fair, even hearing. And that was anything but, and I was shocked and I’m drained now,” Funderburk said.

Board Vice-chair Jason McLeod says Funderburk abused his power by undermining administrators and asking a teacher to change a student’s grade. Funderburk denies those allegations, claiming he just wanted to learn more about the school and its programs without having to go through President Jim Morton.

“I feel that one of the roles of any person in this kind of position is to know what’s going on and listen to the people on the ground who do the work,” said Funderburk. “And sometimes going through a president or a boss is intimidating to those people and you don’t get, necessarily, a clear picture.

North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell sits on the State Board of Community Colleges. he says school presidents, including Morton, should welcome efforts from trustees to seek transparency.

“Any public servant who has the responsibility for any money or any property that belongs to the public, if they’re not willing to accept questions that increase transparency, increase competence, increase governance, or possibly even pointing out conflicts of interest, then they themselves should leave,” Folwell said.

Folwell says he has never seen the actions taken by any board of trustees like what he has seen from CFCC’s board in recent months, alluding to the efforts to remove Jimmy Hopkins before his resignation.

“I’ve really never heard of any board of trustee member being removed,” said Folwell. “And now it seems that lightning has struck twice in one community college in Wilmington.”

Funderburk, who voted against giving Morton a raise last year, believes trustees should look beyond the administration for information.

“If we just said everything the president said is true and we’ll sit here and listen and agree, I don’t think that would be very successful,” Funderburk said. “We have to be critical thinking individuals and make decisions and maybe get our own research.”

Funderburk also questions the motives of the trustees who voted to remove him from the board.

“It almost seems to me like they’re shaping the board to do what they want to do,” he said.

When asked for an interview Thursday, Morton shared the following statement:

“The decision to remove Ray Funderburk, III, as a Trustee was made by the Cape Fear Community College Board of Trustees. I respect the opinion of the Board and appreciate their dedication to the College’s ongoing success.”

The New Hanover County Board of Education will be tasked with appointing Funderburk’s replacement.