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UNCThere were lots of compelling responses delivered by the defenders of various UNC Centers at yesterday’s inquisition in Chapel Hill, but one of the best came from Dean Jack Boger of the UNC Law School.

This is from the account in Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“Boger pointed out that the law school’s Banking Institute was created to support the banking industry in North Carolina. ‘We don’t ask that center to consider socialism as an alternative or to talk about the dissolution of large banks,’ he said. Boger also pointed out that public health professors advocate against sugary drinks in the fight against obesity.”

Boger’s observation neatly highlighted the central absurdity of the ideological attack on the various UNC Centers launched by surrogates for right-wing financier/politico and wannabe UNC prez, Art Pope: Pope has already won. It is already the mission of a vast swath of the UNC system to support, defend, apologize for and train the future leaders of  North Carolina’s corporate business establishment. Read More

News

A working group of UNC’s Board of Governors will be meeting tomorrow and Thursday to hear presentations from 34 centers and institutes from across the university system.

This week’s meetings is part of a system-wide evaluation of academic centers and institutes by the board of governors, and a final report will make recommendations about whether any centers should be dissolved or have state funding reduced.

The meetings, which are open to the public, begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Spangler Center, UNC General Administration Building, at 910 Raleigh Road in Chapel Hill.

The state legislature paved the way for up to $15 million in cuts in last year’s budget by requiring that the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors and campus leaders “shall consider reducing State funds for centers and institutions, speaker series, and other nonacademic activities.” (Click here for more background on the review.)

Several of the centers scheduled to make presentations this week include groups that provide services or study issues affecting minority or disenfranchised groups of North Carolina residents. Those include groups like the Center for New North Carolinians at University of North Carolina-Greensboro and the Center for Civil Rights; the Sonya Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History and the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, all on the Chapel Hill campus.

 

The schedule of presentations is below:

 

Centers Institutes Working Group Agenda Dec 10 and 11.pdf by NC Policy Watch


N.C. Policy Watch will be at the meetings Wednesday and Thursday, and you can get updates via Twitter at @SarahOvaska.

News

The University of North Carolina’s board of governors has narrowed its probe of centers and institutes for possible closures down to 34 groups.

The Republican-led state legislature paved the way for up to $15 million in cuts in last year’s budget by requiring that the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors and campus leaders “shall consider reducing State funds for centers and institutions, speaker series, and other nonacademic activities.”

The review – which began earlier this year with 237 centers from a variety of academic disciplines– is led by a working group of members of the UNC system’s Board of Governors.

The 34 remaining groups are spread across the university system’s 16 campuses, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and East Carolina University have the most groups still under review.

The centers flagged Friday by a working group from the UNC Board of Governors will hear presentations next Wednesday and Thursday before making final recommendations about shutting down any of the centers or reducing state funding. Of the 34,  seven of the groups are already under examination at the campus level for possible closure.

The Board of Governors will separately review the nine centers and fields that work in the marine science fields in the beginning of 2015.

Several groups that concentrate on providing services or studying issues that affect minority or disenfranchised groups of people remain under review by the UNC Board of Governors. Those include groups like the Center for New North Carolinians at University of North Carolina-Greensboro and the Center for Civil Rights; the Sonya Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History and the the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, all on the Chapel Hill campus.

Gene Nichol, the outspoken head of the poverty center, has rankled members of the UNC Board of Governors concerned about Nichol’s vocal criticisms of policies under Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican majority in the state legislature. (Note: Nichol is on the board of the N.C. Justice Center, the non-profit that house N.C. Policy Watch, but he did not have any role in the reporting or writing of this post.)

Jim Holmes, the UNC Board of Governor’s member leading the review effort, reiterated that the review isn’t aiming to weed out controversial centers.

“Everyone is looking at this like there’s some agenda,” Holmes said. “I can assure you, there’s not.”

Groups under review may be terminated, lose state funding or could continue operating as it is or be folded into an academic department, Holmes said.

Holmes also said Friday that the group wants to create a new “public advocacy” policy for centers that re-state the limits and type of political or partisan activities UNC employees can engage in during work hours.

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Commentary

UNCIn case you missed it over the weekend, ECU English professor Robert Siegel made a compelling case in Raleigh’s News & Observer for a more energetic resistance from the higher education community against the sustained attack being waged by the state’s conservative political leadership. In particular, Siegel faults UNC administrators — saying they’ve “confused access with influence.” He points to the way Wake County’s public education community fought back against the hostile takeover engineered by conservatives a few years back:

“When schools were attacked in Wake County, an outraged citizenry packed school board meetings, demonstrated on the streets of Raleigh and committed civil disobedience. That public outcry translated into door to door campaigning and phone calling that resulted in defeating five out of five board members and returning the schools to a mainstream course.”

He concludes this way:

“UNC administrators all the way up to the president and Board of Governors need to get out from behind their desks and get away from their interminable meetings. Talk to the people, not just students on your campuses. That’s preaching to the choir. Get out into the smaller towns and more rural counties. Hold town meetings. Explain to citizens the importance of higher education. Many of their sons and daughters are the first in their families to attend a college or university. Explain what this state will become if higher education fails.”

Now is the time to speak truth to power. Rent a bus and, in the spirit of great civil rights activists, speak truth to power. That would be a bus we would be proud to ride.

Read the entire op-ed by clicking here.

Commentary

UNCThree UNC system schools will now be able to admit students with lower SAT scores if their grade point average (GPA) is higher than required. The three year pilot program, approved by the UNC Board of Governors on Friday, will allow North Carolina Central, Elizabeth City State and Fayetteville State Universities to admit students on a sliding scale where the lowest admissions requirement would be an SAT score of 750 and a GPA of 3.0.

The schools selected for the program are all historically black colleges and all suffered enrollment declines when the UNC system raised minimum SAT (and GPA) requirements from 700 to 750 in 2011 and then again to 800 in 2013.

According to data released earlier this month by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, African American high school seniors scored lower on the SATs than any other race. This is consistent with African American students performance on the SATs for the past twenty years. Yet, historically black colleges tend to always require SAT scores whereas many predominately white universities have made it optional.

One factor that can affect SAT scores is a family’s economic status. Read More