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The UNC Board of Governors heard from several top lawmakers Thursday as part of an attempt by the system’s governing board to improve relations with the elected officials that fund them.

So, what advice did they get?

Bring more conservative voices to campuses, keep cutting administrative costs and, when you are asking for more funding, make your case quickly and clearly.

Republican state Reps. John Bell, Tim Moore of Kings Mountain, and Nelson Dollar of Wake County spoke Thursday afternoon with members of the UNC Board of Governor’s public affairs committee.

Dollar, the top budget writer in the House, said in his opening remarks that he and many of his Republican colleagues want to see conservative voices welcomed on the 17 campuses that are part of the UNC system.

“We want to make sure that diversity on campuses means among other things … that more conservative voices have a hearing as well and (are as) welcome at the campuses,” Dollar said.

The conversation Thursday comes as the UNC is preparing its budget requests for the next two years, which the state legislature will take up in its long session beginning in January. Though it avoided significant cuts for this year, public colleges and universities in the state have weathered deep cuts in prior years that trimmed nearly a half-billion dollars in 2011.

Bell, who is finishing his first term, said he hears from constituents and others who think the university system is still too top-heavy.

“Let’s start streamlining some of this bloated administration,” he said, adding that he think there are too many academic centers at various university campuses.

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1-7-13-NCPW-CARTOONThis morning’s Winston-Salem Journal lays it out pretty clearly in an editorial on the matter of funding for the University of North Carolina. The paper says it is time for Gov. McCrory to stand up to his budget director and conservative political moneybags, Art Pope (who has launched a new and public effort to forestall needed growth in university spending).

This is from the editorial:

“Pope, who has his own conservative political constituency, has long been a UNC critic. The UNC operations request alone is for 4.6 percent. And while Pope had instructed state agencies to keep increase requests to 2 percent or less, the university’s response must be considered in historical context.

Over the last five years, the UNC operational budget has been cut by hundreds of millions of dollars. UNC officials have found efficiencies to cover some of those lost funds, but they’ve also weakened the education they deliver.

Additionally, students have been hit with big tuition and fee increases while state funding has dropped. All of this in a state where the constitution guarantees a university education that is as close to free as is ‘practicable’…. Read More

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You know things have taken a turn for a worse already under conservative control of the UNC system when the pro-discrimination forces on the religious right are happy with one of the first, major, high-profile decisions.

According to NC Values Coalition director Tami Fitzgerald, the Board’s decision to force LGBT kids back into same-sex living arrangements where they can be more easily bullied once again has brought “sanity to the university housing environment.’

Got that? God forbid that some gay 19 year-old boy might be able to room with a straight co-ed! As the WRAL story notes, more than 100 colleges around the country provide for a gender-neutral housing option (an option that former Chancellor Holden Thorp — a person who has actually interacted with a few modern college students — said was vital to protect the safety of some kids).    

But never mind that now; the sex-obesessed religious right (the same troubled group that fought against laws to protect bullied LGBT kids in the K-12 system for years) is still committed to returning North Carolina to the 1950’s — whatever the cost.  

 

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You know North Carolina has jumped off the cliff into the abyss when even two conservative figures with close ties to the John Locke Foundation are deriding the latest budget and tax policy choices made by state leaders.

Here, for instance, is longtime Locke Foundation Board member Assad Meymandi in Saturday’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“Some 60 years ago, the founding fathers of the new North Carolina – transforming an agrarian society into an educational, technical and industrial state – folks like the late Bill Friday, Archie Davis, Gov. Luther Hodges and others saw the future salvation of our beloved state by heavily investing in education.

Their efforts have produced, among other things, a very strong UNC system of 16 campuses, parallel with the creation of the incomparable network of community colleges. They also advocated a strong N.C. Symphony, N.C. Museum of Art and other cultural and artistic institutions to attract educated and culturally inclined people to the state. Investing in education has paid off. N.C. economy has thrived because of its excellent public universities. UNC-Chapel Hill alone brings in annually around $900 million in research money and grants. It is truly frightening to see what the legislature is doing to the budgets of UNC system, N.C. community college system and UNC-TV. Read More

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According to Raleigh’s News & Observer,  this morning, Governor McCrory made the following rather embarrassing statements to right-wing talk show host, “morals” crusader and and high-rolling casino patron Bill Bennett:

“I think some of the educational elite have taken over our education where we are offering courses that have no chance of getting people jobs.”

“If you want to take gender studies that’s fine, go to a private school and take it. But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.”

He also promised to advance legislation to make higher education appropriations “not based on how many butts [are] in seats but how many of those butts can get jobs.”

He went on to say that “Right now we pay based on how many students you have, not how many jobs you are getting people into.”

This afternoon, UNC President Tom Ross issued the following classy and common sense statement in response:  Read More