Republicans and North Carolina higher ed: “Winter is coming”

A right-leaning public policy foundation is making waves in North Carolina’s public university system. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on how the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy is getting traction among the state’s Republican political leadership. The Center, the Chronicle tells us, aims to “[make] public colleges more accountable to the public, by holding them to their ‘chief goals of scholarly inquiry and responsible teaching’” and many believe its stances have influenced legislative proposals as well as the Board of Governors of the state’s university system, largely appointed by the GOP. More:

Jenna A. Robinson, the center’s president, calls the organization a watchdog for a university system that has become too expensive for many students because of ballooning administrative costs.

The center’s critics, however, see its influence as distorting the view of higher education in the state […]The center promotes “a very narrow, archaic view of what a university should be,” said James C. Moeser, who served as chancellor of the flagship campus from 2000 to 2008. “They’ve strongly influenced the direction of the Republican Party in the state. Most faculty are terrified of them.”

I laughed at that last line; talk about hyperbole!

This much, however, is true:

Many professors, for example, will agree with right-wing reformers that a lot of higher ed savings can come from fighting administrative bloat. Where they will differ is over power in colleges. For their part, the professors want administrations weakened so that faculty senates and tenured guild members can control the universities more securely. The reformers, on the other hand, think that the faculty structures need to be governed more effectively and wouldn’t object to stronger central administrators and presidents… if they had confidence in those officials.

The modern university is its own worst enemy, and as poor decisions and policies continue to drive higher ed prices up one thing is clear: winter is coming.

Don’t worry, our administrators will save us. On second thought, better boost your 403b contributions!

Stephen By Stephen

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Professor and quant guy. Libertarian turned populist Republican. Trying to learn Japanese and play Spanish Baroque music on the ukulele.

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