How Much of an Effect Do University Writing Programs Have?

The list of top-rated college writing programs is dominated by private institutions. But North Carolina State University is one of only a few public universities to break through. It is well-respected for how it teaches writing. According to a 2017 U.S News & World Report poll, NC State’s writing program is #12 in the nation … Continue reading “How Much of an Effect Do University Writing Programs Have?”


How the North Carolina Legislature Can Improve Higher Education in 2018

Legislators returned to Raleigh last week for the beginning of a special session. Education was at the top of the agenda, with the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee meeting Tuesday to discuss various changes to North Carolina’s K-12 programs. That’s as it should be. Here in North Carolina, education makes up roughly 40 percent of … Continue reading “How the North Carolina Legislature Can Improve Higher Education in 2018”


Howling Cow Ice Cream: An NC State Experiment in Hands-On Learning

In the past, I’ve been critical of commercial activity on North Carolina’s public university campuses. It competes with private business, attracts unfair tax advantages, and may (in some cases) violate provisions of the Umstead Act. It’s also far outside a public university’s three-part mission of education, research, and service. In most cases, I think business … Continue reading “Howling Cow Ice Cream: An NC State Experiment in Hands-On Learning”


Public Universities as Commercial Landlords: Where Do We Draw the Line?

Late last year, NC State University purchased two small office buildings on Oberlin Road, near the university’s East campus, for the price of $3.1 million. Their location, situated between NC State’s historic bell tower and the thriving private, mixed-use community at Cameron Village, has considerable commercial value. If State finds new tenants for the buildings … Continue reading “Public Universities as Commercial Landlords: Where Do We Draw the Line?”


No Lessons Learned: Campus Intolerance Intensifies in the Trump Era

At this year’s Association of American Colleges and Universities meeting, held in late January in San Francisco, a sense of misgiving filled the conference hall. Panelists raised, implicitly, the question whether higher education has become out of touch with Donald Trump’s America. They fretted over their belief that the current social and political climate is … Continue reading “No Lessons Learned: Campus Intolerance Intensifies in the Trump Era”


Bigger’s Better? In Higher Ed’s Amenities Arms Race, Bigger’s Just Bigger!

Testifying before the U.S. Senate in 2013, University of Wisconsin professor Sara Goldrick-Rab described college campuses as “glorified summer camps.” She said administrators were “engaging in an arms race to have the most impressive bells and whistles.” That depiction may at first seem hyperbolic, but even a cursory glance at many of today’s college campuses … Continue reading “Bigger’s Better? In Higher Ed’s Amenities Arms Race, Bigger’s Just Bigger!”


Your Generosity Is Helping to Improve Higher Education

As each year comes to a close, I take some time to review what the Pope Center accomplished during the previous 52 weeks, to analyze what challenges we still face, and to plan for what awaits us in January and beyond. None of our work here would be possible without you, so I wanted to … Continue reading “Your Generosity Is Helping to Improve Higher Education”


The “Snowflake” Generation: Real or Imagined?

When universities institute things such as “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings,” they often justify doing so in the name of protecting students’ mental health. Critics, on the other hand, argue that universities are more often protecting students from ideas with which they disagree and shielding them from the vicissitudes of adulthood. But there is at … Continue reading “The “Snowflake” Generation: Real or Imagined?”


Hot Tubs and Luxury Dorms and Climbing Walls, Oh, My!

All is not well on higher education’s financial front. At many colleges, tuition prices have reached record highs, enrollment is stagnant, revenues have flattened or declined, budgets are constricted, and regulatory compliance costs are skyrocketing. It would seem that in such an environment, university leaders would place a moratorium on all lavish spending initiatives—especially those … Continue reading “Hot Tubs and Luxury Dorms and Climbing Walls, Oh, My!”


Will This New College Ranking System Upend the Status Quo?

Higher education reformers have long argued that colleges’ admissions selectivity reveals little about their educational quality and how well they prepare students for the workforce and civic life. The U.S. News & World Report rankings, which have dominated the field for more than 30 years, are based heavily on schools’ acceptance rates and students’ standardized … Continue reading “Will This New College Ranking System Upend the Status Quo?”