Marc Basnight's announcement earlier this week that he was retiring from the State Senate was a blow to the UNC system, a primary beneficiary of Basnight's support n the 18 years when the influential politician did much of the decision-making in Raleigh.
It wasn't as big a blow as it would have been had Democrats still been in power; Republicans took control of the General Assembly in November's elections, muting the longtime Senate leader's powers.
Basnight was a force for the UNC system, protecting its budget even in the toughest times while blessing initiatives that led to the system's growth.
Lest there be any doubt of Basnight's influence on the universities, look today to the News & Observer's letters page.
On it, you'll find this letter from James Moeser, the former chancellor at UNC-Chapel Hill.
He writes in part:
Basnight was an incredible champion of higher education. Certainly, the University of North Carolina has never had a better, more loyal or effective friend than Marc Basnight in its whole history spanning three centuries. His effect on UNC-Chapel Hill was nothing short of stunning.
From the passage of the bond bill at the beginning of the decade, the battle to retain our overhead receipts, which led to the great run-up in research funding at Carolina, through the approval of the Cancer Hospital, the N.C. Cancer Research Fund and, most recently, the imaging building, his fingerprints are indelibly etched in the history and the future of UNC.