GREENSBORO — UNCG and one of its professors have worked out a way to let her run for office and keep her faculty job.
The five-member executive committee of the university's Board of Trustees unanimously approved a plan Friday that clears the way for Jen Mangrum to run for N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2020.
Shortly after the board's vote, Mangrum said she is "extremely excited that I can announce my candidacy" and "grateful" that the board struck a balance between its policy and allowing employees to engage in political activity outside of work.
UNC System policy gives professors and other university employees exempt from the state's personnel act three options if they want to run for or serve in a state-level elected office: They can resign, take an unpaid leave of absence or figure out a mutually agreeable way to balance the demands of a full-time job and a political campaign.
Mangrum said she can't afford financially to give up her salary while running for office. So she offered a plan to continue to teach classes, supervise interns and academic programs and handle other job duties — just as she did when she ran for office a year ago.
Mangrum is a clinical associate professor with UNCG's School of Education, where she has worked since 2008 after four years at N.C. State and 12 years as an elementary school teacher.
This time around, UNCG balked at Mangrum's initial proposal. But Mangrum and her UNCG bosses on Thursday agreed on a revised plan. Mangrum will keep her full-time faculty job, use nights and weekends for her campaign and meet weekly with her department chair to ensure that she's keeping up with work.
Provost Dana Dunn said she was "comfortable" with the revised agreement that added the weekly check-ins.
In a statement issued after the meeting, UNCG said it "continues to support our employees’ efforts to balance the pursuit of public office with their responsibilities to the university. ... Together we have developed a plan consistent with the UNC System policy that will enable (Mangrum) to campaign while continuing to deliver on her commitments to the university and her students."
Friday's meeting was conducted mostly by telephone. Dunn, Chancellor Frank Gilliam and five trustees called into the conference room on the third floor of UNCG's main administration building. Mangrum was accompanied by two attorneys. UNCG was represented by its general counsel, a staff attorney and the School of Education dean. Trustees did most of the talking and wrapped up the hearing in under an hour.
This will be Mangrum's second bid for elected office. In 2018, the Democrat lost her bid to unseat state Senate leader Phil Berger, the Eden Republican.
Mangrum is the only woman so far to announce interest in running for state superintendent, who oversees North Carolina's public school districts. She said Friday that she will make a formal announcement "fairly soon."
Three Democrats, all men, have said they plan to run. That number includes members of the Wake County and Chapel Hill-Carrboro school boards and an assistant education dean at N.C. State.
Republican Mark Johnson won the job in 2016 by beating Democrat June Atkinson, who had served since 2005.
The candidate filing period opens Dec. 2. Primary elections are scheduled for March 3, 2020.