New Name for the Pope Center

The Pope Center is changing its name at the beginning of 2017.

The Pope Center for Higher Education Policy is excited to announce that it will soon change its name to the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. The new name was announced at the Pope Center’s first annual policy banquet on November 10 (video), and the formal name change will take effect in January 2017.

The Pope Center board of directors voted to change the organization’s name in October. The Center’s president, Jenna A. Robinson, explained that confusion between the Pope Center and the Pope Foundation prompted the change. While both organizations were named for John William Pope, they have different missions. The Center is an independent public charity with a mission to promote excellence in higher education. Robinson explained, “The new name will allow us to create our own identity⏤focused on our mission of academic renewal.”

Former Gov. Dr. James G. Martin
Former Gov. Dr. James G. Martin

The new name honors former North Carolina Governor James G. Martin. Art Pope, chairman of the Pope Foundation, said “Jim Martin has always been a strong advocate for higher education. His leadership and passion for North Carolina have been an asset for our state for decades. The Pope family has long had a friendly and supportive relationship with Governor Martin, and I know my parents John and Joy Pope would be delighted to see such an honorable man’s legacy associated with the Center.”

Governor Martin, a graduate of both Davidson College and Princeton University, has maintained a commitment to higher education for decades. He served as an associate professor of chemistry at Davidson College for twelve years. During his time at Davidson, Governor Martin was already shaping higher education policy. While there, he helped design Blue Sky Curriculum, which encouraged independent study and broadened course offerings.

Martin began his political career as a county commissioner in Mecklenburg County, where he served for seven years. He was then elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972, representing North Carolina’s 9th Congressional district for six terms. During his service as governor from 1984 until 1992, Martin continued to focus on higher education issues. Martin has served on the Center’s board of directors since 2010.

“As a former college chemistry teacher, I have become increasingly concerned that there is too little commitment to academic rigor on our campuses,” Governor Martin said. “So I have especially admired the scholarly critique by our staff at the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy—even as I now have to get used to its new name.”

Moving forward, the Pope Center’s name will change but its mission will carry on.