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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

CFCC Board aims to remove Trustee Ray Funderburk at special meeting


The Cape Fear Community College Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss the possible removal of Trustee Ray Funderburk III — a recently appointed member of the board who has been more outspoken than others, and who recently voted against an additional raise for college President Jim Morton.

The college has announced the meeting "for the purpose of discussing the potential removal of a Trustee" — but officials have not said that Funderburk is the trustee set to be discussed. However, several sources familiar with the board’s operation have confirmed it.

It is not clear on what grounds the board will consider Funderburk’s removal. State law provides for removing trustees for absenteeism, but Funderburk’s attendance has been regular. It also allows for removal under fairly broad rationale, including if a trustee is "not capable of discharging, or is not discharging, the duties of his office as required by law or lawful regulation, or is guilty of immoral or disreputable conduct."

The law describes the removal process as originating with the State Board of Community Colleges — but may not technically disallow individual college boards from initiating their own removal processes. WHQR has asked CFCC for clarity on this point.

According to state law, a two-thirds majority — or 9 of the board’s 13 trustees — will have to agree in order to remove Funderburk, who was appointed by the New Hanover County school board last summer. The meeting must be conducted in open session.

In an interview with WECT on Monday, following the announcement of the removal meeting, former trustee Jimmy Hopkins noted that Funderburk had disagreed with college President Jim Morton, and said other trustees are afraid to do so for fear of retaliation.

Funderburk was the lone dissenting vote in July of last year, when the other trustees voted to increase Morton's salary from around $286,000 to $322,584. Funderburk later told WHQR he was concerned by the lack of information provided ahead of the vote, saying, "when I was considering Mr. Morton's salary, I didn't even know how much he made, currently. I was given no packet, nothing to base [it] on."

The July pay increase was Morton's second 10% bump, following a similar raise in early 2021 (other employees got a 2% raise at the time).

Hopkins was himself removed for alleged absenteeism last year by outgoing county chairwoman Julia Olson Boseman. His removal came shortly after a private disagreement with president Morton. Funderburk tried to publicly address Hopkins' removal during the subsequent CFCC board meeting, butwas forced into a closed session, instead.

Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature. He loves spending time with his wife and playing rock'n'roll very loudly. You can reach him at BSchachtman@whqr.org and find him on Twitter @Ben_Schachtman.