The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal is a nonprofit institute dedicated to improving higher education in North Carolina and the nation. Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, it has been an independent 501(c)(3) organization since 2003. It was known as the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy until early January 2017.

The Martin Center is located at 353 E. Six Forks Road, Suite 200, Raleigh 27609.

Martin Center Goals

Our goals are to improve colleges and universities, especially in North Carolina.

We want to:

  • Increase the diversity of ideas taught, debated, and discussed on campus;
  • Encourage respect for the institutions that underlie economic prosperity and freedom of action and conscience;
  • Increase the quality of teaching and students’ commitment to learning so that they graduate with strong literacy and fundamental knowledge;
  • Encourage cost-effective administration and governance.

To do this we will:

  • Inform parents, students, trustees, alumni, and administrators about actual learning on campus and how it can be improved;
  • Inform taxpayers about the use and impact of their funds;
  • Find ways to acquaint students with ideas that are dismissed or marginalized on campuses today;
  • Be a watchdog for legislative and administrative governance.


The university system in the United States has accomplished a great deal of good, but we believe that higher education in the United States, including North Carolina, has strayed from its chief goals of scholarly inquiry and responsible teaching.

All too often, universities allow teaching to become shallow and trendy, failing to challenge students intellectually and disparaging traditional principles of justice, ethics, and liberal education. Students know little about the history of their country or the institutions that led to this nation’s prosperity and liberty. Students can get by without taking rigorous courses, and non-academic activities overshadow scholarship. As a result, many college graduates have poor skills in computation, communication, and logical analysis. Faculty are allowed excessive latitude in what they teach and often get away with little teaching at all, because research is emphasized. Taxpayers as well as students and their families pay hefty prices to support a system that often appears to provide little educational value.

To address these and other problems, the Martin Center conducts studies in areas such as governance, curriculum, financing, access, accountability, faculty research, and administrative policies. We explore ways to increase the accountability of trustees, administrators, faculty, and students. And we engage in the broader dialogue about how to improve higher education around the nation.

In these endeavors, we are motivated by the principles that have traditionally guided public policy in the United States: limits on government; freedom to pursue goals through voluntary means, both for-profit and nonprofit; accountability through private property rights; and the belief that competition is an excellent regulating force.


Martin Center projects include articles, research papers, lectures, conferences, and other projects:

  • An email commentary on higher education, the Clarion Call, and the higher education section of the John Locke publication Carolina Journal.
  • Conferences and lectures.
  • Research papers. Recent papers include Pell Grants: Where Does All the Money Go? And The State of the State University: Critical Facts about the UNC System.
  • Websites providing information about North Carolina colleges and universities for potential students and for alumni.


Jenna A. Robinson is president of the Martin Center; George Leef is director of research; Jay Schalin is director of policy analysis; and Jesse Saffron is managing editor.

The chairman of the Martin Center is Arch T. Allen, former vice chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a former member of its Board of Trustees.

Additional information, including staff biographies, is available at About the Staff, Board of Directors, and Academic Advisory Committee.