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.
1 https://www.wral.com/video/unc-chancellor-weighing-departure-for-michigan-state-university/21152165/; https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article281934423.html.
6 https://www.higheredworks.org/2023/08/unc-students-deserve-to-believe-they-belong/; https://www.higheredworks.org/2023/08/merritt-what-we-learn-is-not-limited-to-the-classroom/; https://alumni.unc.edu/news/169345/.
9 https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2023/Bills/House/PDF/H259v7.pdf, pp. 187-197.
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.
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.
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.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the third installment of a three-part essay by Lloyd Kramer, a professor of history and former Chair of the Faculty Council at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he has been a faculty member since 1986. You can access parts 1 and 2 at the links below:
Affirming Academic Freedom at the Nation’s First Public University
Some academic colleagues and some critics outside the university argue that professors would be more respected or supported in the wider society if they remained silent or simply spoke quietly to members of the legislature and governing Boards.
Critics of the recent UNC faculty letter, for example, argue that legislative and Board interventions are mainly taking place because our university’s governing officials believe that institutional neutrality has given way to liberal ideological conformity. The outside interventions, in this view, would mostly disappear if the faculty adhered more closely to what key state leaders envision as the educational purpose of the university.
The Justification for Faculty Action
People within universities have obligations to look for the truth and to teach accurate information, yet they also have the right to interpret that information in new ways. This search for knowledge inevitably reveals complex information and creates debates about disconcerting truths that some powerful people dislike (the realities of climate change, for example, or the effectiveness of vaccines or the history of systemic racism or the anti-democratic meanings of election denialism).
Our knowledge is always moving in new directions, and people on all sides of the political spectrum are tempted to denounce scholars as “ideological” whenever they describe new knowledge that challenges widespread beliefs. There would be no reason for outside interventions if academic institutions could assure state leaders that the ideas of their faculty and students generally converged with the main beliefs of governing officials.
In the real world of academic life, however, professors and students often express ideas or pursue actions that some influential officeholders view as objectionable or one-sided, so critics of the university have decided that outside interventions are needed to correct academic imbalances and fix political problems.
Has the faculty letter therefore exacerbated a conflict that would go away if professors would stop speaking out or if they would change their behavior? This is the kind of question that Martin Luther King, Jr., eloquently addressed in his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” which he wrote after he was arrested in April 1963 for leading Civil Rights protests in Alabama.
Blaming People Who Protest for Causing the Actions They Dislike
Birmingham’s city government and police forces were violently repressing the advocates for racial equality, and some local clergymen stated publicly that while the police interventions were regrettable, they would likely cease if the protestors reduced their public marching and stopped speaking in such challenging language.
The pastors suggested, in other words, that the protestors contributed to repressive public actions because they were pursuing actions that most of the state’s governing leaders disliked.
The significance of a faculty statement about academic freedom is by no means equivalent to King’s “Birmingham Letter,” but King responded to the pastors with insights that might offer useful perspectives for those who question the UNC faculty’s critical response to the legislative and Board divergence from the modern university principles of shared governance.
“We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension,” King wrote to his critics. “We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with…. In your statement” King continued, “you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion?… Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock?”
Every strategic action carries risks. But I think that almost 700 UNC faculty signed a recent letter opposing legislative and BOG/BOT campaigns to reshape their university because they see that the interventions continue to expand.
If silence is the only way to reduce or stop these interventions, then we need to ask if this strategy could become the faculty’s own version of academic hemlock.
Although no public statement can include all the nuances that may be needed to explain complex issues, I joined numerous UNC colleagues in signing the recent faculty letter because such statements offer an important (though modest) strategic action for defending the public value and cultural traditions of academic freedom.
By Lloyd Kramer
Higher Ed Works:
- Latest Episodes: The Political Takeover of the UNC System
- UNC Commission offers recommendations legislators should heed
- Johnson and Parnell: Shortsighted decision
Daily Tar Heel
Once again, some members of the UNC Board of Trustees aren’t shooting straight with the University community.
This time, it’s about origins of the ideologically driven “School of Civic Life and Leadership” that the trustees rammed through – with the support of politicians in the state legislature – without informing and adequately consulting the University’s faculty and administration.
Trustee Perrin W. Jones from Greenville has twice written articles, the latest on May 22, claiming that the idea for the new school “goes back years—and has involved faculty input from the beginning.” (Link below.)
That is what Abraham Lincoln once called “a specious and fantastic arrangement of words, by which a man can prove a horse chestnut to be a chestnut horse.”
Here is what really happened.
Beginning in 2017, then-Chancellor Carol Folt and others at the University initiated discussions about a proposed “Program for Civic Virtue and Civil Discourse.”
But early conversations suggested that the goal was to create a new, donor-funded center that would explicitly embrace political, right wing ideas. Many faculty members strongly and vocally opposed that.
In 2019, Interim Dean Terry Ellen Rhodes announced the establishment of the Program for Public Discourse in the College of Arts & Sciences, to bring in various speakers and offer students a forum for debate.
Some faculty members still had questions and concerns, and a resolution to delay implementation of the program was presented to the Faculty Council.
The resolution failed, but that vote certainly didn’t represent faculty endorsement of the program. And the faculty clearly never endorsed creating a course-offering, degree-granting entity like the School of Civic Life and Leadership.
It certainly isn’t right to claim that what the faculty did then is an endorsement of what the trustees are doing now.
David Boliek, chair of the trustees, made clear the political purpose of the School of Civic Life and Leadership when he was interviewed on Fox News in February, introduced as someone “who helped create the school.”
He acknowledged “we have world-class faculty” at Carolina, but added, “We however have no shortage of left-of-center or progressive views on campus, like many campuses across the nation. But the same really can’t be said about right-of-center views. So this is an effort to try to remedy that.”
Now, legislators want to spend $2 million in taxpayer money on the school in each of the next two years – to promote “right-of-center” viewpoints.
Trustees and legislators shouldn’t be creating new degree programs and deciding what is taught at public universities like UNC, especially if the motivation is purely political. Whatever motivated the board of trustees, the process they deployed wound up shutting out the faculty and administration.
Further, we don’t know if a Faculty and Administration designed and implemented School of Civic Life and Leadership is a good idea or not. Certainly, if its purpose is to promote a particular political agenda and viewpoint it is not.
Faculty members are reliable, professional and have been proven leaders for decades. That is a major reason that Carolina is great. Any new program must include the faculty and administration from the beginning.
That didn’t happen here.
No “specious and fantastic arrangement of words” can prove this horse chestnut to be a chestnut horse.
Watch the Boliek interview on our March 2 post: https://coalitionforcarolinafoundation.org/the-gop-playbook-for-intervening-in-higher-education/
On Friday, February 17, 2023 the UNC-CH Faculty Council met to address the “bucket of chaos” created by yet another incidence of trustee (BOT) governance overreach. In its most recent overreach actions, the BOT failed to consult, or even inform, the faculty, chancellor, students or staff–normally charged with making such decisions– about a proposed new degree granting “School of Civic Life and Leadership”. Instead of working with the faculty and staff, the BOT paid a PR agency $50,000 to mount a national campaign to sell the proposed school on right wing media with the promise that the school will inject more right wing viewpoints onto campus. Below is a video of the entire Faculty Council meeting.
During the meeting the council passed two resolutions. One of the resolutions made clear that the previously approved “IDEAS in Action Curriculum” is different from the proposed new school and should not be used to confuse the public or justify the recent governance overreach. Here is the full text of that resolution:
“Resolution 2023-1. On Supporting the Implementation of the IDEAS in Action Curriculum
The Faculty Council resolves:Submitted by Professor Harry L. Watson (History)
The College of Arts and Sciences should be fully supported in implementing the IDEAs in Action
curriculum. We maintain that implementing the IDEAs in Action curriculum and establishing the
proposed School of Civic Life and Leadership are conceptually separate undertakings that should not be
entangled. The Faculty Council supports the adequate provision of resources to the College for the
purpose of implementing all aspects of the IDEAs in Action curriculum.”
The second resolution directly addressed the recent overreach actions and made clear the faculty’s role in creating new schools.
“Resolution 2023-2. On Disapproving the Creation of a New School at UNC-Chapel Hill
The Faculty Council finds:
1. On January 26, 2023, the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees adopted a resolution requesting the administration of UNC-CH to accelerate its development of a School of Civic Life and Leadership with a goal of a minimum of 20 faculty members and degree opportunities for undergraduate students. During the Board’s meeting, the resolution was described as an outgrowth of a budget request for $3 million to implement the existing requirements of the IDEAs in Action curriculum.
2. On February 5, 2023, the Faculty Executive Committee received a copy of an undated budget
memo requesting $5 million in recurring funds to create a new School of Civic Life and
Leadership within the College of Arts and Sciences. The initial funding would be used to support
“development of the school, hiring of leadership, faculty, programming, staff, and expansion of
the curricular work of the existing Program for Public Discourse.” The budget requirements of
the proposed new School were projected to grow to $12.6 million by the 2026-27 fiscal year.
3. Section 2-6 of The Faculty Code of University Government empowers the Faculty Council “to
determine the educational policies of the University and the rules and regulations under which
administrators and faculty will conduct the educational activities of the University” and “to
prescribe the requirements for admissions, programs of study, and the award of academic degrees
by the University in the context of the basic educational policies of the University and the special
competencies of the faculties of particular colleges and schools.”
4. The faculty has not been consulted about the creation of a new degree-granting school at UNC-
Chapel Hill. Until the Board of Trustees’ public adoption of its January 26 resolution, faculty
leaders were unaware that any such school had been proposed.
Based on these findings, the Faculty Council resolves:
The creation of a new degree-granting school on the UNC-CH campus is a matter for which faculty are
responsible. The proposal for a new School of Civic Life and Leadership did not originate with the
faculty, was not communicated to the faculty in advance, and has not been studied by the faculty. Faculty
members’ questions about the vision for the new program–such as the sequencing of coursework, the
scholarship that supports the discipline, any overlap with existing courses or programs, and the utility of
the program to our graduates—have gone unanswered.
Moreover, the Faculty Council anticipates that the proposed school will consume badly needed resources
for the University’s existing programs and facilities.
For these reasons, the Faculty Council recommends no further action on this new school until such a time as a proposal from the faculty towards this school is developed and then properly discussed.”Submitted by Professor Harry L. Watson (History)
Today the American Association of University Professors came out with their annual report on faculty salaries showing that wages for professors increased 2% “consistent with the flat wage growth observed since the Great Recession of the late 2000’s.” Despite the first raise in several years occurring this year in the UNC system, salaries at UNC Chapel Hill remain behind our peers particularly for women and people of color. Combined with so much scandal and unrest, our faculty is highly vulnerable to poaching from better funded universities – often private, but not exclusively so – that can pay them better and perhaps provide a less politicized working environment.
Last week, someone asked a faculty member what they were doing this summer, “since you’re not teaching.” Faculty are asked versions of this question all the time, whether it’s summer or not. The implication is that if they’re not in the classroom, they’re gardening, playing golf, or on a multi-month vacation. But a faculty member’s job both at research and teaching-focused institutions extends far beyond the classroom and is a year-round endeavor.
Faculty come to an institution like UNC Chapel Hill because it is a research institution, a place that will support scholarship and allow them to contribute to solving current problems and to understanding both the past and the present. The faculty’s research mission is two-fold. First, to create knowledge through data collection, archival research, field studies, the use of artificial intelligence; work that happens at the bench and at the bedside, in the library and in the community. And next to disseminate the resulting knowledge through every imaginable channel – white papers on a website, peer-reviewed journal articles, interviews, and conferences, lay publications and twitter threads. That dissemination is critical, because that is how the knowledge created here gets put to use by the larger society. Much of that concentrated research work and dissemination happens after the typical 8 to 6 day and over “holidays” when the demands of the classroom are not as pressing.
In addition to the classroom teaching most associated with faculty life, faculty members also spend copious hours with graduate students as they are becoming researchers in their own right. Chairing, editing, or otherwise overseeing their thesis or dissertation committees, writing letters of recommendation, helping graduate students prepare for presentations and job talks, supervising them in the classroom or in professional internships among other mentoring responsibilities also accounts for large chunks of faculty time.
Faculty are regularly engaged in running the institution through hiring and awards committees, through curriculum revisions and updates, promotion, and tenure committees, just to name a few. For their disciplines and professions, they are editing journals, reviewing papers and grants for foundations and federal agencies. The number of hats most academics wear is astounding, and there is so much we’ve left out. No doubt being a faculty member is a privilege, just as being a CEO, a small business owner, or a partner in a law firm is a privileged position. But that does not make those roles easy or cushy as some may believe. Here at the Coalition for Carolina we want the public to have a better understanding of academic life to fully appreciate what UNC Chapel Hill does for our state. Understanding faculty life is one part of that. Send your questions and comments and we’ll attempt to address them.
Submitted by: Dr. Mimi Chapman – Chair, UNC Chapel Hill Faculty
Click the link below to access the full AAUP Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2021-22
The Coalition was founded last summer to support and defend the University and its independence from partisan interference. We rededicated ourselves to the University’s promise of Lux Libertas—light and liberty—and the principles of open inquiry, free speech, academic freedom, equity and inclusion because we saw these principles at risk.
Over the past months we’ve stayed on mission and pointed out specific examples of how our concerns were playing out in hopes of slowing or stopping the damage. We’re making an impact and recently, thankfully, things seem to have quieted down.
While “quiet” is good, it may mean “not making headlines.” Whatever is happening, we are hopeful and will remain vigilant–not just to what’s happening in NC, but also to what’s going on in other states. To that end, a news report’s description of Governor Ron DeSantis’ Planned Sweeping Assault on Autonomy of Public Colleges in Florida caught our attentionas it paints an alarming picture:
A sweeping action to consolidate and centralize governance.
“Records obtained through a series of public-records requests show that DeSantis’ office recently developed a sweeping plan to overhaul higher-education oversight in Florida. The governor’s proposal would have centralized more power in boards run by the governor’s political appointees, made colleges and universities more dependent on money controlled by politicians in Tallahassee, and imposed more restrictions on what schools can teach….”The DeSantis plan would have even stripped university presidents of the ability to hire professors.”
Attacks on tenure, free speech, accreditation, the curriculum.
“They have passed laws ordering community colleges and state universities to dig up details about the personal political beliefs of their employees, making it harder for professors to maintain tenure, interfering with university accreditation, and threatening funding for schools that don’t fall in line with the governor’s efforts to control the teaching of slavery, segregation and institutional racism…”
An expressed belief by leaders that the Florida public universities are too liberal.
“Over the past year, Gov. Ron DeSantis and his allies in the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature have been on a crusade against public universities, tarring them as “intellectually repressive” and “socialism factories.”
As we consider what’s going on in Florida as well as other states such as South Dakota, the Coalition’s mission to preserve and protect UNC Chapel Hill from political interference becomes more vital than ever.