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”


The University of Michigan’s Costly and Pointless Diversity Plan

Just over a year ago, the University of Michigan launched a new, five-year-long initiative named the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) plan. In an official statement by President Mark Schlissel, the plan’s primary goal is stated to be the creation of a “vibrant climate of inclusiveness” on campus. In order to heighten campus diversity, the … Continue reading “The University of Michigan’s Costly and Pointless Diversity Plan”


Is Academic Reform for Insiders Only?

“Reform” is an appealing word, suggesting change intended for the better. It is frequently used in discussions of higher education. Critics, especially conservative ones, point out visible cracks in the Ivory Tower and demand that they be “reformed.” Politicians do the same. And deep-pocketed donors have their own ideas of what higher education should be, … Continue reading “Is Academic Reform for Insiders Only?”


Free Speech on Campus and Academic Freedom Under Attack in Arkansas

The state of Arkansas is facing an existential threat to academic freedom. That threat, however, is of a type that normally doesn’t receive public attention. The press typically writes about speech codes and political interference with research on controversial subjects, but as serious as those threats are, they are nothing compared to that posed by central … Continue reading “Free Speech on Campus and Academic Freedom Under Attack in Arkansas”


Regional Accreditors: Kings of the Academic Jungle–or Paper Tigers? 

For many people, the topic of college accreditation is dry and arcane. But for faculty seeking to block actions they don’t like, accreditation is their last hope. By threatening its loss, they believe they can strike fear in the hearts of their adversaries and make them back down. That is why the Faculty Assembly of … Continue reading “Regional Accreditors: Kings of the Academic Jungle–or Paper Tigers? “


Opportunity Lost: UNC’s Board of Governors Rejects a Helpful Innovation

Wise decision making depends on knowledge of the full range of options and information, not with rhetoric designed to push a specific agenda. And leadership that seeks out only one side of the story will not produce good governance. Sadly, the University of North Carolina system’s Board of Governors seems to prefer limiting its information … Continue reading “Opportunity Lost: UNC’s Board of Governors Rejects a Helpful Innovation”


Remaking Society One Five-Year Strategic Plan At a Time

In January of this year, the University of North Carolina (UNC) Board of Governors unanimously adopted a system-wide strategic plan commissioned by President Spellings. The plan, entitled Higher Expectations, provides an outline of specific goals and metrics that are aimed to help the University prioritize its efforts in the next five years, essentially functioning as … Continue reading “Remaking Society One Five-Year Strategic Plan At a Time”


Somewhere Between a Jeremiad and a Eulogy

Half of me is reluctant to write something harshly critical about higher education in the United States because I’m such a true-blue believer in, beneficiary of, and insider to the system. I’m an outspoken apostle for the small liberal arts college (SLAC) form of education, a distinctly American institution. But that institution is falling fast … Continue reading “Somewhere Between a Jeremiad and a Eulogy”


Athletics Department Oversight of Academics: A Scandal Waiting to Happen

If a university ignores potential conflicts of interests between athletics and academics, it imperils itself. Athletics departments that lack academic oversight signal misplaced priorities and pose a risk of becoming a national scandal. Specifically, athletics departments that run their own academic advising and tutorial programs without supervision from the academic side of the university lower … Continue reading “Athletics Department Oversight of Academics: A Scandal Waiting to Happen”


My State Struggles With the Perils of Legislating Higher Education Reform

Universities have by and large rendered themselves unable to be policed—sometimes quite literally—and that has not gone unnoticed by the legislators who fund them. Wisconsin’s Campus Free Speech Act is just the latest attempt by states to impose some order on institutions by compelling their colleges and universities to take free speech seriously. Thus far, … Continue reading “My State Struggles With the Perils of Legislating Higher Education Reform”