Student Activity Fees: Who Gets What and Who Decides?

Only a small percentage of student activity fees at University of North Carolina campuses are distributed by students to campus organizations, says a new study. The majority of student activity fees are allocated by university administrators for purposes ranging from repairs to a student center to an undergraduate teaching award.

At N.C. State, only $8.85 out of the $363.50 collected per student for activities is distributed by students. At UNC-Chapel Hill, $39 of the $291.30 students must pay each year is given to student government to disburse to student organizations. “Contrary to the general impression, students are almost entirely excluded from the process of disbursing the student activity fee,” says Jenna Ashley Robinson, author of the study, “Student Activity Fees: Who Gets What and Who Decides?”

To Be or Not To Be: Shakespeare in the English Department

Nearly 50 percent of North Carolina colleges and universities no longer require their English majors to take a course in the work of William Shakespeare, says a report from the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. Shakespeare is widely considered the most important author in the English language.

The Pope Center’s report, “To Be or Not to Be: Shakespeare in the English Department,” is based on information from the Web sites of 49 four-year universities in North Carolina; when clarification was needed, university personnel were contacted. The report indicates, by specific school, which require Shakespeare for their English majors and which do not.

Editor’s note: We learned after publication that we made an error. Mount Olive College, a private school, was listed as not requiring Shakespeare for its English majors. That is wrong; it does require its English majors to take a course in Shakespeare.

With this correction, 18 of the 34 private colleges surveyed still require Shakespeare, and 16 do not. Thus, 47 percent of the private schools do not require Shakespeare for English majors.

As indicated in the report, seven of the 15 public four-year campuses (North Carolina School of the Arts was excluded), also 47 percent, do not require Shakespeare. Taken together, approximately 47 percent of all surveyed schools do not require Shakespeare.

From Christian Gentleman to Bewildered Seeker

Russell K. Nieli’s new essay tells the story of the increasing loss of purpose and focus suffered by American universities over the ages.

Nieli, a lecturer in Princeton University’s politics department, has authored an important study of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, written numerous articles on public policy topics and edited an anthology of writings on affirmative action. Nieli graduated summa cum laude from Duke University and received his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1970. He previously authored a Pope Center research paper in March 2007, “The Decline and Revival of Liberal Learning at Duke: The Focus and Gerst Programs.”

Faculty Compensation in the University of North Carolina System: How UNC schools compare with their national peers

The study is published by the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and written by Jon Sanders, a policy analyst and research editor with the John Locke Foundation.

The North Carolina General Assembly allocates funds for faculty compensation. For the 2007-2009 biennium, Erskine Bowles, UNC president, is seeking $87.8 million to boost faculty salaries. This paper will cast doubt on the need for this increase. It will provide empirical information useful for legislators, administrators, taxpayers, and others.

The Decline and Revival of Liberal Learning at Duke: The Focus and Gerst Programs

Two academic programs at Duke University are helping undergraduates experience a well-rounded education, and these programs could be copied by other universities. This is the message of a new report from the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, “The Decline and Revival of Liberal Learning at Duke: The Focus and Gerst Programs,” by Russell K. Nieli.

Duke is responding to a problem that afflicts many universities: There is no longer a “core curriculum. “ Students round out their education by selecting courses that meet loose “distribution requirements,” but the resulting education can be fragmented, limited, and incoherent.

Duke has countered this fragmentation by forming the Focus and Gerst programs.

To view the executive summary of the report, click here.

Inquiry Paper No. 25: The Overselling of Higher Education

A paper published by the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy argues that higher education has been oversold to the public. Many students who are not really interested in academic pursuits are spending a lot of time and money to get a credential that is much less valuable than they suppose.

The paper was written by George Leef, vice president for research, and focuses on many of the common themes that dominate higher education policy today.

Inquiry Paper No. 24: English 101: Prologue to Literacy or Postmodern Moonshine?

Since freshman composition became a required course at Harvard in 1872, it has seen many changes, but none so radical as the changes brought about in the 1970s, when composition theory became a specialty. Postmodern theories about teaching composition have transformed writing programs nationwide, and this paper examines what has become of freshman writing courses at the two flagship branches of the University of North Carolina, N.C. State and UNC-Chapel Hill.

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Inquiry Paper No. 23 The State of the First Amendment in the UNC system

FIRE’s Report on the State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System serves to educate the public about the rampant abuse of First Amendment rights within the UNC System, and to put North Carolina’s public colleges and universities on notice that it is unlikely—if not impossible—that most of the policies discussed in the report could survive a constitutional challenge.

Inquiry Paper No. 22 Governance in the Public Interest

The Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina has a fiduciary obligation to ensure the academic and financial health of the University of North Carolina (UNC) while serving the best interests of the state. In fulfilling its fiduciary obligation, there are a series of basic principles that the Board must apply. They include representing the entire university system, not a single constituency; understanding their role as Board members; setting the agenda; keeping informed; understanding the budget and ensuring the efficient use of resources; insisting on high academic standards, defending academic freedom and focusing on student learning.

Inquiry Paper No. 21: An Empty Room of One’s Own

For several decades, women’s studies programs have found comfortable sinecures at publicly funded universities of North Carolina including UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Greensboro, NC State and East Carolina University. Heralded by feminists as the symbols of women’s equality in academe, the programs were set up to offer majors and minors in women’s studies, advance scholarship in the field, host their own special events, and design and teach their own classes. Women’s studies programs also had their own administrators, faculty, and office space. In their way of thinking, feminists had secured in the ivory tower, what Virginia Woolf described as “A Room of One’s Own.”