Dear Coalition of Carolina Supporters,

We hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits.

On behalf of entire Coalition, we want to express our deepest gratitude for your steadfast support of our mission to defend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from partisan interference. Your commitment to the principles of Lux Libertas, open inquiry, free speech, equity, and inclusion is truly commendable. Thanks to your generosity, we have expanded our reach and influence, growing our community to over 25,000 dedicated supporters.

Over the past two years, our online initiatives have resonated with a wide audience, reaching more than 2.6 million individuals who engaged with our messaging and content over 625,000 times. The impact of our efforts has only intensified in the past 10.5 months. So far this year, our content has reached an impressive 1,228,930 people, resulting in 459,711 engagements. This significant increase has driven our engagement rate from 24% on average to an outstanding 38% year-to-date.

These statistics underscore the vital importance of our collective endeavors to shine a light on partisan interference and governance overreach that has detrimentally affected our beloved Carolina. Your financial support, outreach to legislators, trustees, and members of the Board of Governors have played a pivotal role in our ability to champion the University’s promise.

As we reflect on the past year, we recognize that none of our achievements would have been possible without your continued support. Your dedication fuels our advocacy, and we are truly grateful for the impact we’ve been able to make together.

In this Thanksgiving season, we want to take this opportunity to express our heartfelt thanks for your ongoing commitment to Carolina. Your belief in our cause is instrumental, and we are fortunate to have you as a vital member of our community.

We wish you and your loved ones a joyous Thanksgiving filled with warmth and gratitude.

Hark the Sound!

With sincere appreciation,

Roger Perry, Mimi Chapman, and Joyce Fitzpatrick

Other Important News: While much has been written about Chancellor Guskiewicz’s potential departure from Carolina, we share the following two pieces with you as must reads:

Little wonder why Kevin Guskiewicz might leave

We have been granted permission by Higher Ed Works to republish the following post in its entirety.

By Paul Fulton

WINSTON-SALEM (November 21, 2023) – There’s little wonder why UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz is entertaining a new job.

Guskiewicz is reportedly a finalist for the presidency at Michigan State University.1 Though he is a nationally renowned expert in neuroscience and concussions, a MacArthur Genius Award winner and a deft administrator, that’s a step down from the chancellorship at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Maybe we just don’t want geniuses running Carolina.

Just look at the environment as Guskiewicz, who became Interim Chancellor in 2019, navigated the University through one of its most tumultuous periods, including:

  • The pandemic, with ever-shifting signals on whether it was safe for students to return to campus.
  • The General Assembly stripped the Governor of any appointments to university boards of trustees and eventually appointments to both state and local community-college boards. 
  • The aftermath of the removal of the Silent Sam statue on campus, including an abortive deal to give the statue to the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
  • The UNC Board of Governors didn’t accept a single one of his and a former Board of Trustees Chair’s recommendations for appointees to the Board of Trustees.
  • Foot-dragging by the Board of Trustees on tenure for Nikole Hannah-Jones as a Knight Chair in Race and Journalism, and her subsequent rejection of Chapel Hill.2
  • A surprise resolution by the Board of Trustees to create a conservative School of Civic Life and Leadership, blindsiding the chancellor and the faculty.3 This was followed with orchestrated coverage by Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, as well as $4 million and orders from the General Assembly to hire 10-20 faculty members from outside the university.
  • A new law requiring state universities to switch accreditors every time they renew accreditation.4 This is costly, time-consuming and adds no value.
  • A new law that says the state will match donations only for distinguished professorships in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in the future. The new law explicitly precludes state matches for distinguished professorships in journalism and law.5
  •  A public scolding from the now-Chair of the Board of Trustees for pursuing a case to defend what used to be considered the law – consideration of race as one of many factors in admissions.6
  • Departures of a number of key faculty, including Kelly Hogan, Suzanne Barbour, Deen Freelon, William Sturkey and Andrew Perrin.7

MORE BROADLY, consider what’s become of public education in North Carolina. Guskiewicz can be seen as a casualty of a toxic environment that has politicized public education from top to bottom:

  • The state ranks 50th for the percentage of its GDP (gross domestic product) it invests in K-12 public education. In other words, we’re plenty able to invest more in public education, yet we don’t do it to the extent any other state does.
  • Before adoption of a new state budget in October, we ranked an abysmal 46th in starting teacher pay and 34th in average teacher pay.
  • As a result, we saw a 50% drop in the number of education majors across the UNC System from 2010-22.
  • Public schools across the state started this school year with 3,500 K-12 teacher vacancies – and an accompanying increase in classrooms with non-certified teachers.8
  • And the new state budget includes a plan to expand vouchers that give students tax dollars to attend private K-12 schools from $95 million in 2022-23 to $520 million by 2032-33, which will likely divert funds from public schools. The budget also removes any income limits for these subsidies for private schools.9

AMID THIS ENVIRONMENT of political and ideological interference, it’s no wonder Guskiewicz is considering other options.

Yet as noted above, he has steered the University through some of the most trying times in its 234-year history. He has shown courage and independence in the process.

He likes to speak of the university’s “low stone walls” – a metaphor for how researchers from different disciplines readily collaborate in their work.

There is real beauty in that.

It’s exemplified by the critical research of virologist Dr. Ralph Baric and the work of alumna Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, who oversaw the rapid development of a vaccine for Covid – a development not just for North Carolina or the United States, but for all of humanity. 

A week after the U.S. Supreme Court banned use of race in admissions this summer, he announced the university would cover tuition and fees for any student from a family with household income under $80,000.

That’s a laudable effort to stay true to the University’s tradition of access for students from all income levels – even if members of the Board of Governors didn’t like it.10

Though no one could blame him, if and when he does leave, it will undoubtedly open an opportunity for still more political meddling by Republican legislators and the Board of Governors.

I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen. But recent experience tells me it will.

I WAS A REPUBLICAN all my adult life, until both parties became too extreme and I saw the micro-meddling by Republicans in the NC General Assembly in our world-renowned University of North Carolina System.

I’m now unaffiliated with any political party. The largest group of voters in North Carolina – voters who favor public education – is unaffiliated as well. There’s a reason for that.

Republicans are clearly now a minority political party. Yet they are clearly in charge of public education in our state.

Is this what we want? I don’t want either party dabbling in public education. It was not that way when I was on the UNC Chapel Hill Board of Trustees or the UNC System Board of Governors. 

And it should not be that way today.

Paul Fulton, of Winston-Salem, is a former president of Sara Lee Corp.; former dean of the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC; former trustee at UNC-Chapel Hill; former member of the UNC Board of Governors; and Chair of Higher Ed Works. 

Follow this link to access this content on the Higher Ed Works website.

9, pp. 187-197.

A New Assault on Carolina is Happening

We are seeing signs of a more extreme political assault against UNC – and indeed all of higher education.

Trustees Welcome a Harsh Critic

Heather Mac Donald, a fellow from the right-leaning Manhattan Institute, spoke last week to the external affairs committee of the UNC Board of Trustees. She told the trustees that eliminating affirmative action “will greatly improve the ability of UNC to fulfill its mission of knowledge. What you must understand, if I may be so bold as to say so, is that racial preferences harm their alleged beneficiaries.”

She claimed that affirmative action had led universities to admit unqualified and ill-prepared students – a charge that was immediately countered by a trustee, the Chancellor and the student body president.

Here is a fact check about the most recent UNC-CH 4-year and 6-year graduation rates:

  • Overall student body: 83% (4-year); and 92% (6-year); 
  • Underrepresented students: 77% (4-year); and 90% (6-year);
  • First generation college students: 77% (4-year); and 89% (6-year).

Most institutions would be thrilled to have our 4-year graduation rates as their 6-year rates. 

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz told Mac Donald, “There’s one thing I just want to be clear about, and that is that every student at Carolina has earned their way to Carolina.”

Trustee Ralph Meekins said, “UNC was not admitting students that were not qualified.”

Student body President Christopher Everett, an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees, responded to Mac Donald at the full board meeting the next day.

He showed slides highlighting several campus leaders and successful students who are students of color.

“The individuals that I just shared with you all are nothing less than extraordinary, and we earned our spots at Carolina, not because of the color of our skin, but because of the contents of our hearts and the will to make our university a better place,” Everett said. “We are not average. We don’t need handouts. And we definitely did not flunk out when we came to Carolina.”

Korie Dean reported in The News & Observer, “Everett said he hoped the board, when making decisions about guest speakers in the future, would see him and the other students he presented and choose speakers who did not ‘question our worth.’ Everett’s remarks were met with hefty applause from meeting attendees.”

We at the Coalition for Carolina whole-heartedly agree.

Read Dean’s story here:

Watch Mac Donald’s presentation to the trustees here:

We don’t know who invited Mac Donald to the committee, but Ramsey White is the committee chair. Mac Donald was introduced by Doug Monroe, acting president of the UNC Alumni Free Speech Alliance.

The Alliance had hosted Mac Donald the night before, where she delivered a wide-ranging and free-wheeling attack on higher education. We respect her right to speak, even as we disagree. Here are highlights from her speech:

  • Many Black students are not up to the challenge, but universities are so “desperate to get their numbers of Black students up, even if doing so imposed a terrible handicap on those students”.
  • Admissions screening for resilience, leadership and community involvement is “preposterous and condescending” and that “no admissions officer has the capacity to evaluate.”
  • University leaders “are committed to a victimhood narrative.”
  • She attacked what she labeled as “the diversity/DEI bureaucracy” on campuses.
  • She attacked female campus leadership because “females way, way outscore on the trait of neuroticism”.
  • She says that not everyone needs to go to a four-year college and proposed that colleges may be able to cut enrollment by as much as 90%.
  • She mocked majors such as marketing. “Are you kidding? You should be reading Aeschylus, you idiot.” (Note: We are all for Aeschylus, but the University is a big tent able to accommodate study of ancient Greece and modern business.)
  • She concluded with her wish that UNC be reformed to conform to her ideology, but believes today’s universities are “irredeemable.” “It is hard to start a new institution that has that prestige…that’s why I like the re-founding idea of UPenn so much because you’ve got the legacy prestige, but you’re starting out on better principles… maybe UNC will give me reason for hope.” We certainly hope not.

Watch her talk here:

The National Right-Wing Attack

In an article posted Thursday by Inside Higher Ed, “The Right-Wing Attack on Academia, With a Totalitarian Twist,” John K. Wilson writes:

“Today, conservative activists will launch a public campaign to enact new model legislation called the General Education Act. Behind this bland name is a proposal for the most radical assault on faculty and academic freedom in American history. If the model legislation were to be enacted, lawmakers would force public colleges to adopt a uniform general education curriculum devoted to conservative values, give a new dean near-total power to hire all faculty to teach these classes and then require the firing of many existing faculty members in the humanities and social sciences, including tenured professors.

“The GEA’s extreme ideas are not the babblings of some obscure blogger. They are a joint proposal from three leading conservative groups—the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, and the National Association of Scholars.”

Read Wilson’s article here:

Where We Stand

At the Coalition for Carolina we believe a diverse Carolina is a strong Carolina and that all students, faculty, and staff from all background belong here. Our mission is to monitor these continued attacks, get out the facts and mobilize our 25,000-plus followers to support the University.

We’ll keep doing that.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Educate yourself. Watch Mac Donald’s presentations and read Wilson’s article.
  • Share your concerns with friends, colleagues and leaders.
  • Email, write and call UNC trustees and legislators.

Tell them to keep Carolina a place where discovery and education are paramount and political agendas are left at the door.

The N.C. Legislature Strikes Again – at Distinguished Professorships

You could call it revenge politics.

Once again, the North Carolina General Assembly is sticking its heavy hand into academics at Carolina – and taking revenge on the legislature’s critics.

This time, the legislature’s target is distinguished professorships at the University, specifically in law and journalism as targets. The humanities and social sciences will be hurt as well.

Lawmakers decreed that the state will no longer provide matching funds for new distinguished professorships at public universities, except those in science, technology, engineering or math degree programs. They’ve been providing matching funds since 1985 with the goal of incentivizing donors.

This is raw political retribution, and it is aimed directly at Carolina. UNC and N.C. State hold close to 90% of distinguished professorships.

UNC is internationally recognized for its journalism school, law school, and social science and humanities departments.  Indeed, Carolina’s commitment to the liberal arts has been the University’s “special sauce” contributing to innovation and cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Yet, lawyers, journalists, and others in the arts and humanities, including many from UNC, have a history of holding the powerful to account.

In North Carolina today, powerful legislators don’t like being questioned or criticized.

Since they have a super-majority and can override Governor Roy Cooper’s vetoes, they feel empowered to do as they will – and punish anyone who pushes back.

This is one more case of the ongoing political interference that threatens the excellence and the reputation of a great university.

Once again, it came in an obscure provision tucked into the 1,400-page, $30 billion state budget that was written in secret and rammed through the legislature in 36 hours on a party-line vote with no notice, no debate and no public discussion.

That’s how the legislature also dictated action on the controversial, right-of-center School of Civic Life and Leadership. See our earlier post.

Carolina will have a harder time retaining and recruiting outstanding faculty members. Other universities across the country will poach promising, up and coming professors away from UNC by offering distinguished professorships when we can’t.

The best students may see this as a signal they should enroll elsewhere.

This is chilling.

Legislative leaders may congratulate themselves for punishing pesky professors, lawyers and journalists who dare to challenge the powers-that-be.

Actually, they are punishing the young people who come to Carolina for a broad education that makes them not only good employees, but good citizens and good people.

Today’s students will be retiring 50 years from today, in the 2070s. They will live and work in a world we cannot imagine.

An understanding of history, literature, languages, social sciences, the arts and the humanities will be critical.

The legislature is treating those studies – and our students – with contempt.

The students deserve better. The University deserves better. The people of North Carolina deserve better.