An especially pernicious brand of environmentalism—”sustainability”—is on the verge of becoming an unstated, but very real, part of North Carolina State University’s mission. University leaders are developing an aggressive public relations campaign and curriculum change that could create a system in which students are inculcated in social justice, environmental justice, and progressivism—all of which are tenets of sustainability. Left unchecked, this seemingly harmless movement (which has a strong presence at other North Carolina universities, too) could sow the seeds of social upheaval by turning hearts and minds away from the principles of a free society.
The Pope Center’s latest report, The State of the State University 2015: Critical Facts about the University of North Carolina System, is a must-read for students, parents, taxpayers, and policymakers who want the UNC system to achieve its highest potential—and its peak efficiency. Here’s hoping that, in 2016, North Carolina leaders, instead of sugarcoating the shortcomings identified in this report, choose instead to address them head on.
A new report on intercollegiate athletics programs produced by the UNC system’s general administration shows that the hardest lesson from the largest academic scandal in NCAA history is being ignored. Athletes with weak academic skills continue to be admitted to universities where they have little chance of successfully completing rigorous coursework.
The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013, along with the massacre of nine black churchgoers last summer in Charleston, South Carolina, created racial hysteria and gave rise to an anti-intellectual movement that has now extended to American campuses. Its promoters want to purge society—and our universities—of historical relics and symbols that they say glorify white supremacy and perpetuate racism.
Common threads running throughout the latest campus upheavals include attacks on principles of free speech and a willingness on the part of school officials to mollify students and cede control to leftist protesters. Given higher education’s track record, however, both developments are unsurprising.
John Fennebresque’s friends and coworkers call him “Czar.” That appears to be a fitting nickname, for his imperious exercise of authority was his downfall as chairman of the University of North Carolina system’s Board of Governors. Additionally, his yearlong control of a supposedly democratic governing body exposed serious flaws in the way the UNC board conducts its business.
The search for the next University of North Carolina system president has finally concluded. Margaret Spellings, secretary of the U.S. Education Department during George W. Bush’s second presidential term, was unanimously elected by the system’s Board of Governors on October 23. Spellings, who will take the helm in March 2016, is a moderate Republican, but one who shows some promise of developing into a reform-minded university leader—a very welcome possibility. She opposes what she calls universities’ “send us the money and leave us alone” approach, and some of her views on higher education challenge those of the academic establishment.
Heightened skepticism regarding the value of the humanities and liberal arts is not just the result of external factors that are outside of higher education’s control, such as economic malaise or policymakers’ job-centricity. Internal problems related to debased curricula and hyper-politicization, for instance, may be more harmful to the future of the humanities. Unfortunately, at a recent event sponsored by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Program in the Humanities and Human Values of the College of Arts and Sciences, university leaders failed to acknowledge those problems, much less take ownership of them.
State authorization policies govern the approval of new schools and degree programs; many of the affected institutions are for-profit, vocational, and online schools. North Carolina is one of several states called out in a recent American Enterprise Institute report for having cumbersome, ineffective authorization policies. The report offers several solid proposals that, if implemented, would reduce for-profit schools’ regulatory burden and open the door for new innovators seeking to expand in the Tar Heel State.
The state’s higher education budget is usually a mixed bag of “the good, the bad, and the ugly,” and this year’s is no exception. However, the legislature should be commended for addressing a number of important issues that traditionally have been neglected or overlooked.