In Defense of a Dutiful Trustee

On November 26, The Dartmouth published a column called In Violation of a Trustee’s Duty, by Bill Montgomery of the Dartmouth Class of 1952. The article called for Todd Zywicki’s punishment or forced resignation as a member of the Dartmouth Board of Trustees because of remarks made by Zywicki while speaking at the 2007 Pope Center Conference.

Since we at the Pope Center are not privy to all of the insider information at Dartmouth, we cannot comment about all of the charges against Zywicki by Mr. Montgomery. However, we expect that the charges we know nothing about are no more substantial than the charges for which we do have knowledge, and those are completely without merit.

Meet the New Boss

Most people expected the “insider” to become the next president of the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS). The big question was, which insider would the governing State Board of Community Colleges choose at its December 6 meeting?

In what might be considered a triumph of the visionary over the financial expert, Dr. Scott Ralls, the current president of Craven Community College in New Bern, was selected over Kennon Briggs, the system’s vice president for business and finance for the past ten years. Before becoming Craven CC’s president, the 43-year-old Ralls was the NCCCS vice president for economic and workforce Development.

Campus Safety vs. Civil Liberties

The slaughter of 32 students and teachers at Virginia Tech by a disturbed gunman on April 16, 2007 had an impact on the American campus similar to the impact the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks had on the entire nation. It became more than a loss of lives; it was a reminder that danger can strike at any time, and a warning shot urging a new vigilance. In the immediate aftermath, universities across the country rushed to tighten up their emergency procedures and to increase safety precautions.

Within two days of the shooting, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper initiated the formation of a task force to study the emergency readiness of local colleges. Shortly after, UNC President Erskine Bowles convened The Campus Safety Task Force to specifically scrutinize the UNC system’s preparedness. The Task Force’s final report was introduced six months later at the November Board of Governors meeting by Leslie Winner, UNC system vice president and General Counsel who chaired the commission. The Board of Governors passed the task force’s proposals resoundingly.

Storming the Academic Fortress

Editor’s Note: Jay Schalin is a writer/researcher for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in Raleigh.

The spirit of the Spanish Inquisition is alive and well in the American university, according to George Mason University law professor Todd Zywicki, in remarks he made at the 2007 Pope Center Conference. Academia has a “new dogma” based on multiculturalism, environmentalism, and feminism, he said. “They will enforce it viciously.”

The higher education establishment can often seem to be a near-monolithic power that ruthlessly crushes any opposition, as Zywicki suggests. Yet it is coming under increasing attack by those who want to perpetuate America’s culture and traditions.

The reform movement was very much in evidence at the conference on October 27th, with both speakers and guests who are active participants in a wide variety of attempts to alter higher education’s current path.

Unintended Consequences or Deliberate Bias?

The two keynote speakers at the 2007 Pope Center Conference agreed that U.S. higher education seems lost and adrift when it comes to the crucial task of transmitting cultural knowledge and morality. But they offered very different explanations for this confusion and different approaches to restore the missing sense of purpose.

One of the speakers, a consummate Ivy League insider, believes that the problems are mainly the result of “unintended consequences” and that the academy can redeem itself. The other, who left his tenured faculty position to concentrate on working for the reform of academia, believes the problems are ideological in nature, and the initial drive for reform must come from outside the educational establishment.

The insider is Harry Lewis, the former dean of Harvard College, a Harvard computer science professor, and author of . He is troubled by the relativism that pervades the academy and its failure to establish educational priorities for students. “[W]e offer little guidance or structure to suggest what is important, little suggestion that anything is more important than anything else,” he told the audience at the Hilton RDU Airport at Research Triangle Park on October 27.

Hate Slandering Hoaxes? So Do We!!!

The scene was the George Washington University campus in the heart of Washington, D.C. The event was focused on a highly sensitive subject likely to stir passions: it was called Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, a national event initiated by controversial author-activist David Horowitz. The event’s co-sponsor was a national organization for conservative students, the Young America’s Foundation (YAF).

The posters advertising the event were crude and offensive. They said, “Hate Muslims? So Do We!!!”

At first glance, it appeared as if the posters were indeed the work of the YAF. The only clue that the posters were part of a deception to discredit them was in the fine print, and subtle to boot: “Brought to you by Students for Conservativo-Fascism Awareness.” That is, it was the only clue if you accept the premise that conservatives are by nature racist, and not clever enough to hide it.

Otherwise, people not prejudiced against conservatives could have guessed, from the clownishly exaggerated racism displayed, what the posters really were – a political hoax intended to smear conservatives.

At the Crossroads in Chapel Hill

The resignation of James Moeser, the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was not unexpected. Seemingly within minutes of his announced retirement during his 2007 State of the University Address, a 19-member search committee for his replacement was formed, and a promise was made to have a successor by the time he leaves at the end of June 2008.

Moeser’s replacement will have big shoes to fill, for the current chancellor left a large footprint on the Chapel Hill landscape. Moeser’s robust leadership was praised by students, officials and the media, yet his years at the helm were not without controversy, and his vision for the future of the university was not shared by all.

Moeser’s resignation gives UNC President Erskine Bowles and the Board of Governors a chance to consider whether the future of UNC-Chapel Hill will be to follow the tone and tenor of Moeser’s administration or to move in a different direction. Moeser’s administration was extremely successful in a number of ways, but some of his policies may not be sustainable, and the critical issue of undergraduate education seemed of secondary importance.

Marx, Mao, and Mischief at UNC

Claims that professors use their classroom positions to indoctrinate rather than educate their students crop up frequently in today’s polarized political climate. A geography course at Chapel Hill appears to be a perfect example.

The description in the course catalogue indicates that “Geographical Issues” focuses on three themes. There’s no hint of any political orientation or agenda.

Once you read the syllabus, however, it becomes clear that the course is not so much about the study of geography as an objective social science. Instead, it seems intended to plant seeds of doubt about, or even hostility to, free markets, international trade and the United States. The actual readings confirm this impression. This article examines the course.

Forecasting the UNC of the Future

The University of North Carolina Tomorrow Commission, created in March 2007, won’t report formally until January 2008, but its probable goals are already discernible. The theme of its inquiry seems to be that the University of North Carolina of the future will serve a rapidly growing population with changing demographics and will face a rapidly evolving economy.

To contend these changes, the commission is seeking ways in which the university system can move forward technically, become more fully integrated with businesses, communities, and other educational systems, create a more engaged faculty, and address current weaknesses such as the teaching of so-called “soft skills.”

UNC Tomorrow was commissioned by the UNC Board of Governors “to determine how the 16-campus system can best meet the needs of North Carolina and its people over the next 20 years.” It is comprised of 25 business, community, and academic leaders. The process so far has produced exploratory studies by the commission’s Scholars Council and has included a tour of all sixteen campuses in the UNC system and several brainstorming workshops conducted by the Institute for Emerging Ideas, a think tank associated with N.C. State. The second phase began on September 10 with the first of twelve “townhall”-style Regional Listening meetings with citizens and local officials at different locations around the state.