Repairing Academia’s Crisis of Meaning

Traditionally, higher education introduced students to life’s most fundamental questions: “What is good?”; “What is true?”; “Do our lives have meaning beyond the material?”; and so on. The focus used to be on developing the whole person: To lift students morally and ethically, to pique their curiosity in all things, and to instill, as Cardinal … Continue reading “Repairing Academia’s Crisis of Meaning”


Our Accreditation System Has Bennett College Struggling for Life

Founded in 1873 in Greensboro, North Carolina, Bennett College is one only two of historically black colleges just for women. It has been a four-year college since 1926, but in recent years it has, like so many other small, private colleges, found survival increasingly difficult. The school’s enrollment fell from 780 students in 2010 to … Continue reading “Our Accreditation System Has Bennett College Struggling for Life”


Commencements Show the UNC System’s Struggles with Political Neutrality

In 2017, the North Carolina legislature passed House Bill 527 (now State Law 2017-196) to foster open inquiry in the state’s public colleges and universities. One of the provisions ordered the University of North Carolina system Board of Governors to produce an annual report on two categories of intellectual freedom: free speech and institutional neutrality. … Continue reading “Commencements Show the UNC System’s Struggles with Political Neutrality”


Bill Roundup: The Higher Ed Topics Prioritized by the North Carolina General Assembly

May 9 was the “crossover” deadline for bills in the North Carolina General Assembly. For a bill to have survived past that date, it must have either passed at least one chamber or carried a substantial spending component. For bills focused on higher education, about a dozen are left standing—mostly because they contain appropriations. Bills … Continue reading “Bill Roundup: The Higher Ed Topics Prioritized by the North Carolina General Assembly”


The High Price of Faculty and Administrative Salaries in the UNC System

Faculty pay can vary greatly across universities and even within the same university system. Among University of North Carolina schools, the type of institution can matter as much as a professor’s job title. Yet, for even the most highly paid professors, their salaries are eclipsed by administrators. A Martin Center analysis of salary data from … Continue reading “The High Price of Faculty and Administrative Salaries in the UNC System”


Political Science Needs Intellectual Diversity, But Few Realize It

Political science is the study of homo politicus, what Plato considered the most quintessential of human behaviors. Over the centuries, it has generated a library of observations, theories, and findings about the way we think and act. The work has forged a broad consensus in many of the discipline’s realms of inquiry. Yet, although academic … Continue reading “Political Science Needs Intellectual Diversity, But Few Realize It”


The Challenges That the UNC System’s Top Teachers See for the Future

Good teaching is vital for college students to learn, but the work demands on professors and what type of work is actually rewarded means that teaching can be of secondary importance. To keep teaching quality high, the University of North Carolina system tries to recognize great teaching. For 25 years, the UNC system has given … Continue reading “The Challenges That the UNC System’s Top Teachers See for the Future”


The End of Being a Duke Professor and What It Means for the Future of Higher Education

The end of the spring semester marks the 20th anniversary of my professorship at Duke, first as an assistant professor and then as an associate professor of the practice at the Sanford School of Public Policy. During this time, I regularly taught the required ethics class for all undergraduate public policy majors. I won multiple … Continue reading “The End of Being a Duke Professor and What It Means for the Future of Higher Education”


How NC State Became Free-Speech Friendly

Free speech on North Carolina’s campuses has come a long way in the last decade. North Carolina State University is the most recent school to earn a “green light” from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for its speech policies. Nearly ten years ago, when the Martin Center partnered with FIRE to take … Continue reading “How NC State Became Free-Speech Friendly”


The Radical Experimental College in the Blue Ridge Mountains

North Carolina is widely respected for institutions such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University, both research-intensive and high-prestige schools. But it’s less known for a radically experimental college that was tucked away in the Appalachian mountains more than half a century ago. Just east of Asheville, Black Mountain College … Continue reading “The Radical Experimental College in the Blue Ridge Mountains”