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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

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The UNC Chapel Hill Daily Tar Heel reported late last night that a former Assistant Dean of Students, three current students and one former student have filed a civil rights complaint against the university over alleged efforts by officials in the University Counsel’s office to squelch sexual assault complaints.

“In 2011, the University Counsel’s office pressured Melinda Manning, then UNC’s assistant dean of students, to under-report cases of sexual assault, according to a complaint against UNC filed to the U.S. Department of Education by Manning and four others.

Manning, three students and one former student filed the complaint Wednesday, alleging that the University has violated the Clery Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, among other federal laws. Read More

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A small group of state education and business leaders met today in Chapel Hill to have initial talks about what the role of higher education is in the state, and whether it should continue to expand.

The UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Initatives is tasked with coming up with a five-year strategy of where the 17-school systems should head in light of the rocky economy, a legislature less included to invest heavily in the schools and rising tuition costs.

The makeup of the 31-member committee has drawn criticism, with heavy representation from the business committee and two of the state’s biggest conservative political funders, Fred Eshelman of Wilmington and Art Pope of Raleigh, serving on it.

Eshelman chaired Tuesday’s subcommittee meeting, where a smaller group of members gathered to hash out a plan for how the larger committee should approach the five strategic goals – setting degree attainment numbers; strengthening academic quality; serving the people of North Carolina; maximizing efficiency and ensure the long-term financial stability of the UNC system.

The biggest source of differing opinion at Tuesday’s meeting centered around discussions about how many people in the state need or should go to college, and what degree attainment goal numbers the UNC system should have.  Read More

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With the recent advent of the new  UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions, there’s been a lot of controversy about the group’s inclusion of two right-wing millionaire businessmen: chain store magnate Art Pope of Raleigh and pharmaceuticals industry mogul, Fred Eshelman of Wilmington. Chris Fitzsimon has been reporting and commenting on this story frequently.

Interestingly, some observers — especially in the Wilmington area —  have expressed the opinion that while they support the criticisms of Pope, they disagree with attacks on Eshelman. In this narrative, Eshelman is conservative, but a good guy and BIG supporter of UNC who’s getting a bum rap by being  grouped with Pope. Eshelman, himself, has complained that his politics are not relevant to his involvement in the new committee.

A new story posted today by WRAL’s Mark Binker helps make clear, however, why that argument doesn’t wash.  Read More

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Be sure to check out today’s edition of the Fitzsimon File to get the lowdown on yesterday’s meeting of the “UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions.”

The most optimistic spin: People who care about the future of higher education in our state will have their works cut out for them if they want to resist the folks committed to dismantling it.