Commentary

Negative reviews for right-wing environmental project at UNC start to pile up

The Greenville Daily Reflector and Greensboro News & Record joined the list of reviewers panning the plan hatched by state Senate leader Phil Berger and first reported by N.C. Policy Watch reporter Lisa Sorg to establish a right-wing environmental project at the University of North Carolina with a bureaucratic name (the “Collaboratory”) and a Berger staff (Jeffrey Warren) in charge.

Here’s the N&R in an editorial entitled “Stacking the deck”:

“Pardon our French, but who wouldn’t smell a rat?…

In July, East Carolina University professor Stan Riggs resigned from the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission’s science panel after expressing concerns that the legislature was limiting projections of rising sea levels. Among other troubling signs were the placing on hold of efforts to address the pollution of a major Triangle drinking-water source, Jordan Lake, as well as a zealous rush toward fracking in local communities without a thorough scientific vetting of the consequences.

Adding fuel to suspicions is that the new lab will be placed under the business, rather than the academic, umbrella of the university. And that UNC-CH already has an Institute for the Environment, established in 1998.

The evidence is both clear and troubling. Having obviously mastered the art of gerrymandered districts to keep power, state lawmakers now want to gerrymander science.”

And here is an excerpt from “Berger’s political meddling,” in which the Reflector echoed part of a recent editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer:

“Berger’s solution: a new policy initiative called the N.C. Policy Collaboratory, where scientists basically will be considering business implications of environmental policy.

Berger said he’d gotten a lot of complaints about “philosophical and partisan homogeneity at UNC.” Meaning, there are too many liberals there.

There’s nothing wrong with a lawmaker having a conversation with a university leader about offering a forum to more politically diverse opinions on the campus. But there’s a lot wrong with direct meddling in curricula based entirely on politics.

Berger acknowledges he’s tried to recommend conservatives for jobs. Now that he’s succeeded in pushing through something like this, he’s certainly going to continue to interfere. UNC’s faculty and leadership should say no to this political meddling in research.”

The new editorial comes on top of this hilarious entry — “Magic formula for computing results conservatives want” from “former” News & Observer cartoonist Dwane Powell skewering the plan.

2 Comments


  1. Todd

    August 29, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Follow the money. Speaking of smells, I detect more than a hint of Koch brothers’ influence.

  2. Mark

    August 30, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Big business in North Carolina took over academia years ago, just look at our community colleges. Very sad that academics lost control of their profession!!!

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