Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Outlook for Higher Education in NC

A group of 30 Big Heads with the portentous title "UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions" is meeting for the first time today, and a student group has formed to protest the makeup of the committee, which is apparently charged with setting goals and directions for the 16-member University of North Carolina system.

The protesting student group, calling itself N.C. Student Power Union, is upset about the old, rich, white man  lack of diversity on the committee. There's only one student representative. There's only one faculty member representative. There's only one staff employee representative.

The N.C. Student Power Union didn't tell the half of what's wrong with that committee, seeing as how it also includes the power base of the NC Republican Party, particularly the ultra-right, Tea Party wing, the very people primarily responsible for the major, crippling budget cuts to the university system in the last two state budgets (both vetoed by Gov. Perdue, whose vetoes were overridden) and for the general weakening of all public education in the state.

Thom Tillis, Republican Speaker of the NC House, is on the committee.

Phil Berger, Republican NC Senate President Pro Tem, is on the committee.

Lew Ebert, President of the NC Chamber of Commerce, who is very actively supporting Tea Party darling Paul Newby for the NC Supreme Court, is on the committee.

Robert Ingram, former president & chief operating officer of GlaxoSmithKline, who according to OpenSecrets has given some $96,000 to Republican causes, is on the committee.

Fred Eshelman, a  Big Pharma mogul who principally funded RightChange in 2010 and who was therefore directly responsible for much of the sleaze that was directed at Cullie Tarleton and Steve Goss, is on the committee.

Art Pope, the prelate of predatory conservatism, the Death Star of the NC political universe, the Big Boss who bosses around Tillis and Berger (see above) and got his own puppets on the Tillis and Berger payroll, is on the committee.

The very people who have been most consistently and tenaciously critical of a Liberal Arts education in North Carolina are going to be setting priorities for our best institutions of higher education. Students ought to be organizing to call attention to the radical tilt of this crucial advisory committee.

And incidentally, ASU Chancellor Ken Peacock is also on the committee.


brotherdoc said...

This truly is a skewed committee. I am vexed that if Pres. Ross picked this crowd he missed so many important constituencies of our state other than corporations and BOG members who already have a stake in the status quo. Clearly whoever put that crowd together had attention focused like a laser on the political powers that (currently) be in the General Assembly. Where is: geographical balance? K-12 education? other economic and cultural areas important to our state?

Anonymous said...

The new fracking committee is stacked with industry insiders, this UNC committee is stacked with right-wing, rich asshats. Berger's education plan is straight out of ALEC.
Education as we have know it in NC is on the verge of Republican collapse.

A vote for Republicans at any level in NC in Nov. insures that vouchers (our tax money)for religious schools that teach flat-earth BS are guaranteed, our air and water will be polluted, Medicaid will be decimated--get ready to house the infirmed, including grandma in your basement--and the lack of public investment will take us farther down economically.