Our title is copied from the title of a series recently published in the Charlotte Observer and News & Observer. The series introduction reads as follows:
“Have corrosive tensions between conservative leadership and more liberal campus cultures, along with a run of bad press, done enough to actually damage the University of North Carolina System’s traditionally stellar quality during a decade of Republican control? Are some groups of people being left behind? Read this series of special commentary from the opinion staff at The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer.”
We’ve read each piece in the series and they are very well worth your time to read if you’re concerned about what’s happening with governance of the UNC system. Several of our followers on social media have asked if we can reprint the pieces in their entirety since they require a subscription to view. Unfortunately, we don’t have permission to reprint that content, however we have shared a few of our takeaways below.
Note: One reader on Twitter asked why more republicans were not quoted in the pieces. Here is the response from Ned Barnett, the lead journalist of the series:
“We sought comment from the chair of the UNC Board of Governors, the chair of the UNC-CH Board of Trustees and House speaker Tim Moore. None responded. We asked UNC Board of Governors member Leo Daughtry to comment, he declined to comment.”
- UNC board of governors members are political appointees who then go on to appoint like-minded board of trustee members. The appointment and selection processes are, therefore, political.
- In the wake of a demoralized faculty, declining faculty salaries, and a series of embarrassing episodes that make national headlines, the UNC System president, Peter Hans, believes the fundamentals of the UNC system are strong.
Instances of GOP influence and impact on UNC system on multiple campuses is examined. Campuses highlighted include NC State, East Carolina, Fayetteville State, NC Central, Western Carolina. Topics cover covid, campus life, chancellors, the current chaos and more.
A compelling piece by Paige Masten on waning state investment in higher education.
- State investment in higher education decreased 13% between 2008 and 2020
- The expense from the disinvestment was passed on to students and parents
- Campuses have been forced to seek private funds to meet needs – both Carolina and NC State just finished billion-dollar campaigns. (We know from what happened with Nikole Hannah-Jones that private funds can come with strings.)
- Faculty pay has fallen behind that of peers
This piece details the challenges in preparing students from rural NC and other diverse backgrounds for the academic rigor that Carolina provides. The writer makes a case for adequately funding all of public education and providing the additional resources these students need to succeed.
The referenced chart shows the trend in per student funding between 2008 and 2020. Here is a quote from the piece: “
“Per-student appropriations for higher education in North Carolina decreased by 13% between 2008 and 2020, when adjusted for inflation. The U.S. average in that same time period was just a 2% decrease.”