Thursday, December 18, 2014

ASU Research Centers Under Threat of Extinction

A six-person committee of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors (BOG) is weighing the fate of three research centers at Appalachian State University as part of a much larger review of some 34 centers across the entire University of North Carolina system. Savvy observers have noticed that many of the targeted centers study groups and issues that are anathema to Art Pope and the Civitas Institute.

All 32 members of the UNC Board of Governors were appointed by the Republican pooh-bahs in the General Assembly. The six-member "hit squad," drawn from those 32, are all Republicans, save one who is unaffiliated. These six people will issue recommendations next month, at which time the full BOG "could choose to validate these centers, cut their funding, roll them into existing university departments or disband them entirely."

"We have no political agenda," said the chair of the hit squad. (Dearest Mr. Chairman: We may have fallen off the turnip truck yesterday, but we didn't fall on our head.)

Three research centers at Appalachian State University are on the list of 34 for intensive review. Two are housed in the ASU College of Business: Brantley Risk and Insurance Center and the Center for Economic Research and Policy Analysis. The third is much more central to the disdain of the Civitas Institute: the Research Institute for Environment, Energy and Economics, where there's a heavy emphasis on alternative energy and "sustainability," ancient bugbears to the market fundamentalists at the Civitas Institute.

We'll know in January just how free of "political agenda" the hit squad was.

Meanwhile, at other UNC institutions, research centers that focus on women, native Americans, poverty, economic equality, civil rights -- they're also awaiting their fates. As their missions seem "counter to the agenda of the Republican-controlled state legislature," as Sam DeGrave wrote, the personnel at those research centers might best be looking at job openings in other states that haven't yet turned backward.

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