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.

Stop the Dangerous Sneak Attacks on UNC Accreditation

Dr. Jerry Lucido from Coalition for Carolina’s Accreditation Webinar

With no notice and no debate, the North Carolina General Assembly pushed through a controversial change that will hurt Carolina.

Higher Ed Works recently reported that “as most of North Carolina [were] sifting through 1,400 pages of a new, $30 billion state budget, Sen. Michael Lee slipped a provision from an unrelated bill into HB8 to require North Carolina colleges and universities to change accrediting agencies every cycle.” (Follow this link to read more.)

This is alarming, concerning, and requires outreach to legislators and the governor to stop it.

In the above video, Dr. Jerry Lucido describes how the NC legislature’s attempt to force an accreditor change on UNC System Schools would be extremely damaging to Carolina and others.

The move appears to be a continuation of NC Senate efforts to push an extremely costly, unnecessary, and burdensome change to the accreditation process on all UNC system schools and such a move could put Carolina’s accreditation at risk.

In May of this year, the Coalition held a webinar to explain the dangers of such a move.  Please follow this link to access the recording from our accreditation webinar.  During that webinar experts explained the dangers of forcing this change–along with the pros of staying with the current accreditor.  Additionally, Dr. Holden Thorp explained what might be motivating the NC Senate to make such a dangerous move.  Here is a clip of that explanation.

Dr. Holden Thorp from Coalition for Carolina Accreditation Webinar

What can you do to stop this dangerous, extreme, political and costly action? 

Contact Governor Cooper if you do not support the accreditation change requirement in House Bill 8 and ask him to veto House Bill 8 (HB8) where Senator Lee snuck in this requirement.

Contact legislators if you do not support the accreditation change requirement in HB8 and let them know that you would like any veto to be sustained.

 Here is a link to help you find your legislators.

No Joking Matter, Mr. Speaker

As UNC students were being removed from the North Carolina House gallery last week for protesting against gun violence, Speaker Tim Moore laughed, joked that the protesters must secretly be Duke students and quipped; “This is not a pep rally.”  

They know that, Mr. Speaker.

The next day, the campus was on lockdown again. Another man with a gun was on campus. Students hid under desks, and faculty and staff sequestered in dark offices to the sound of sirens and helicopters.  

Speaker Moore’s response? He questioned why the campus is a gun-free zone.

“You’re not just going to snap your fingers and get rid of guns,” he said. “That’s not reality; criminals are going to have guns. And the best deterrent against a criminal with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

More guns and more jokes are not what we need, Mr. Speaker.

As we went on lockdown for the second time this month, we wondered: Would another member of the Carolina family be dead? Should we expect copycats or clusters? Are we doing better in our preparation than we were two weeks ago? Is this how we live on this campus?

Some of us have been with Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz during these terrible and terrifying moments. He feels the impact deeply. He knows how these incidents compromise the work of this institution and the well-being of those who work, live and study here.

He takes calls from worried parents, provides counseling resources for the campus and sits with grieving families.

Speaker Moore, you are supposed to represent every North Carolinian, not just those who agree with you on policy issues. Students were asking for action that ensures their safety on campus. That is no joking matter.

The Chancellor met the test of leadership. Speaker Moore failed it.

A Campus United by Tragedy

We at the Coalition have grieved with the Carolina family this past week, and we have been moved by the response on campus.

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz was a strong, steady leader in a tragic time. He spoke for all of us in his heartfelt video message, which he ended, “Remember, we are Carolina Strong.”

With the Chancellor, we mourn the death of Zijie Yan, a friend, father and respected faculty member.

We salute the public safety team and law enforcement officers who responded to the emergency, the faculty and staff who acted so professionally and the custodial workers who saw that doors were locked and everyone was safe, even if it may have put them in harm’s way.

Above all, we stand with the students who went through this experience and witnessed what can happen to any one of us in today’s world.

Faculty members have told us that, in many ways, the students were better prepared than anyone else. They’ve been doing lockdown drills in school since they were very young, some of them since kindergarten.

Surely, concerns will be raised and questions asked about some events that grim afternoon. Some doors wouldn’t lock. Some faculty didn’t take the first alerts seriously and kept teaching.

We are confident the University will review those issues and take all necessary steps to remedy problems.

As you can expect, some people in leadership positions expressed “thoughts and prayers” – but little more.

Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. Firm action is needed.

Guns are the leading cause of death of young people in America. Assault weapons get the most attention, but handguns cause the most deaths.

Yet, earlier this year, the North Carolina legislature – against the advice of sheriffs and law enforcement – repealed the state’s pistol-permit law.

It isn’t right for students at Carolina – or anyone – to live in fear.

For Carolina to be strong, Carolina must be safe.

Chancellor’s message:

Texts, Tears and Fears

By Mimi Chapman

Monday afternoon, I began to receive worried texts from my younger son.

We were both locked down, he at a local high school and me in my office, because of an active shooter on campus.

We’ve had scares before and students killed before, but it’s been a long time since there was an active shooter, well before that term was coined. 

This was the real deal.

Sirens, so many sirens, coming from all directions. The alarm horn sounding. Helicopters, more sirens. Long waits between Alert Carolina messages. For hours, the message was the same: Stay where you are. There is still a threat. I sat in my office, lights off, quiet as the grave.

As offices go, mine is great: spacious, windows, a big desk, table and chairs. I’ve decorated it for warmth, with photographs, awards, books and a few knickknacks. But Mondays are slow in my area of the building, with little traffic and few students or fellow faculty stopping by.

As we texted back and forth, I reassured my son. I reminded him that my office is relatively isolated. I promised him he would wake up tomorrow with a mom to bug him about getting to school on time and doing his homework, just like always.

Keep breathing, I told him. The lockdown will be over soon.

My colleague in the chemistry building was not so lucky; nor were his children. He was killed by a student, apparently suffering, angry and alienated, who knew exactly where to find him.

It could be any one of us.

When I finally got home – the traffic was awful – my son came running off the porch, tears in his eyes.

“I didn’t give you a hug this morning. I was so grumpy.”

“It doesn’t matter, honey. We have every day after today for you to hug me in the morning.”

The veil is so thin.

I’d like to believe lightning doesn’t strike twice. But of course, it just strikes differently.

Once in high school I was driving behind my mother, headed home after meeting some place. Out of the blue, a tree came down on her car. No wind, no rain, no warning.

She was fine. The tree landed on the long hood of her 1980’s Chrysler. But, behind her, I panicked.  “That’s my mother.” I remember thinking as I ran to her car. “Nothing’s allowed to happen to her.”

That time it didn’t. But just a few inches more, injury would have been inevitable.

This week, as I’ve done after so many of these events, I am vigilant, updating myself on every protocol, thinking about how I’d handle scenario X, Y, or Z.  On campus, we’re all doing that.

But even as I listen to the conversations, I can hear that we don’t get it.

Our society is awash in guns and despair. This time it’s a student. Next time it’s a white supremacist. After that, someone angry with his girlfriend. At the store. At the movie. The mall. The mailbox.

Until we replace thoughts and prayers with laws and funding, we are not safe.

Mimi Chapman is the Frank A. Daniels Distinguished Professor of Social Work and Associate Dean for Doctoral Education. She is a co-founder of the Coalition for Carolina.

Next Trustees’ Chair: An Advocate – or Attack Dog?

Members of the UNC Board of Trustees, especially the board chair, should first and foremost be advocates and champions for the University.

But John Preyer, who expects to be elected soon as the next chair, has in recent weeks attacked the faculty and administration.

First, Preyer has said he does not believe the University’s faculty council represents the true views of the faculty.

Second, at the July 27 board meeting, he questioned and chastised the Chancellor for saying that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Students for Fair Admissions affirmative-action case was “not the outcome we would have hoped for.”

“Why did we do that?'” Preyer asked. “‘Was that the right thing to do … trying to litigate a position that was found to be in violation of the law?'”

Let’s take each issue in turn.

Faculty Council

Why doesn’t Preyer respect the voting process and representative democracy?

Every year, the Office of Faculty governance staff looks at the faculty census and apportions the number of slots for the 93-member faculty council based on the number of faculty members in each school; for example, the School of Medicine has more representatives than the Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

All voting faculty are asked in a survey how they want to participate in faculty governance. 

A committee of current committee chairs and at-large members nominates individuals to different committees and to faculty council – always with an eye to three things:

  • people who are willing to do the needed work,
  • faculty members who have expressed interest in a committee’s subject matter
  • a mix of people, some with experience in faculty governance and some who are new to it.

Two people are nominated for each open position, and a faculty-wide election is held. 

That’s pretty democratic and representative, if you ask us.

You might argue that not everyone participates, thus weakening the process.  That’s true. But that is equally true in any election.

Why doesn’t Preyer respect this democratic process?

Affirmative Action (Students for Fair Admissions Case)

The campus fought the lawsuit for nine years because we believed it was mission-critical. The lower courts all ruled in favor of our admissions procedures. The first pillar of our strategic plan speaks to the need for a diverse and welcoming campus. 

So, no, the court’s decision clearly was “not the outcome we would have hoped for”! 

What outcome did Preyer hope for? Did he hope for our campus admissions team, the office of university counsel, and everyone else who worked so hard on this case to lose? Doesn’t he respect their dedication and hard work?

North Carolina has citizens of all creeds, colors, genders, and places of national origin. Serving the state means finding a way to include people from every swath of North Carolina on our campus. That is a worthy mission, one we should continue to fight for, in accordance with the law.

UNC-Chapel Hill was right to fight the case, and we are right to be disappointed that we lost.

A Time for Respect

The Board of Trustees’ bylaws say the board, “shall promote the sound development of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill within the functions prescribed for it, helping it to serve the people of the State in a way that will complement the activities of the other institutions and aiding it to perform at a high level of excellence in every area of endeavor.”

Will the man who might be chair respect that charge? Or will he use his position to continue the partisan politics attacks that in recent years have put Carolina’s reputation for excellence at risk?

Unlike the Southern segregationists who defied the U.S. Supreme Court’s school-desegregation decision in the 1950s, we will respect the Supreme Court’s affirmative-action decision.

We don’t agree with it, we don’t think it’s right, and we’ll work to change the court and the decision. But we’ll comply with it.

Preyer should respect the elected representatives of the faculty. He should respect the administration and staff. He should respect the University for standing up for diversity, equality and inclusion.