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?”


Study Only What You Want? Not If You Want to Be Successful

Recently, a general education course at UNC-Chapel Hill, “Big-Time College Sports,” was canceled. This sparked controversy after the course’s professor, Jay Smith, argued that the class, which he had taught in previous semesters, was axed because its treatment of Chapel Hill’s recent academic/athletics scandal cast the university in a negative light. Lost in much of … Continue reading “Study Only What You Want? Not If You Want to Be Successful”


A Graduate’s Perspective: Thought Police Are Undermining Higher Education

During my time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I graduated this spring, many of my peers and professors seemed to genuinely care about the free exchange of ideas, students were often pushed to explore all sides of an issue, and analysis of factual evidence was usually a key goal of … Continue reading “A Graduate’s Perspective: Thought Police Are Undermining Higher Education”


Dear Secretary DeVos, Please Prioritize Financial Literacy

Congratulations, Secretary DeVos, on your recent appointment to lead the U.S. Department of Education. Now the real work begins. Your position requires you to prioritize competing educational ideas to promote the mission of “student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness.” While much attention has been given to your advancement of school choice, I write to … Continue reading “Dear Secretary DeVos, Please Prioritize Financial Literacy”


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”


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 Higher Education Establishment’s Self-Interest Goes Unchecked—Again

Recently, a legislative proposal aimed at improving graduation rates at the University of North Carolina system’s 16 institutions was nixed due to vehement opposition from university leaders. In its place is a watered-down initiative that delays much-needed reform and emphasizes academic handholding rather than high academic standards and student readiness. There is a strong connection … Continue reading “The Higher Education Establishment’s Self-Interest Goes Unchecked—Again”


Should Universities Be “Sanctuaries” for Illegal Immigrants?

On November 16, thousands of students at public and private universities across the country walked out of classes to protest the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. One of their main goals was to urge college officials to declare their campuses as “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants—a controversial move that could start a political battle … Continue reading “Should Universities Be “Sanctuaries” for Illegal Immigrants?”


Will We, at Last, Do Something About Accreditation?

Accreditation is supposed to act as a quality guarantee for colleges and universities, but it works very poorly. Students can and regularly do graduate from accredited schools without having learned anything. It’s as if toasters with the Underwriters Laboratories seal were prone to shorting out and catching fire. We know, for example, that a large … Continue reading “Will We, at Last, Do Something About Accreditation?”


Will the Surge of Support for Free Speech on Campus Do Any Good?

Last month, PEN America, the U.S. branch of an international organization, published a strong defense of free speech on college campuses. The nearly century-old group stands for the idea that “People everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to make it possible for everyone to … Continue reading “Will the Surge of Support for Free Speech on Campus Do Any Good?”