Thinking about the university

Thinkers at the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in Raleigh, North Carolina have thought about things that they think about. And, they think that a replacement for the current President of the University of North Carolina being sought by the Board of Governors must be someone who can reform the system—“put an end to the dominance of both the expansive vision and the bias” that has corrupted the mission for the past 40 years.

Many of us following the antics and activities at Big U. over decades know the corrupting themes that prevail. As the Pope people put it: the “university is an institution of the left.” The other perversion of the UNC is expanding its mission: economic development; public health care; and “radical social transformations.” These are not within the scope of education.

So, what personal characteristics will be needed by a new university president to end the imbedded biases and distorted visions at UNC according to Pope thinkers?

Overall the UNC “needs a reformer”—someone with strong leadership and courageous oversight, they write. (link below)

The future president should end UNCs “secretive” practices.

He (generic) must keep the system within close bounds (physically and morally). He must be an educator not a social problem-solver of all society’s ills (education has enough of those to keep him busy).

The new president should be skeptical and question all the “grand schemes that are beyond the scope of educational institutions” thrust at him from administrators, faculty and lobbying “stakeholders.” He must have the courage to say “no to vested interests” that, too often, have been accommodated.

Pope thinkers say the new president must have: “a thick skin, a strong spine, and an iron will.” (They admit it will be difficult in today’s meek, mushy and go-along-to-get-along society to find such a public person.) He will have to be willing to confront self-interested university people and selfish outside interests.

The new UNC leader must understand that leftist ideas and trends dominate the social academic environment, and that their biased preaching does a disservice to the development of the minds of our young people—and to society at large.

A UNC president must be skeptical and curious. Information about the system and its influences must come from outside sources (such as the Pope Center) to balance the prevailing self-interests of entrenched bureaucrats and other beneficiaries within and outside the system.

The next president must end the entrenched ethnic, gender and social “diversity.” Education institutions are supported by the public to build “character and intellect.” Students must be “challenged intellectually rather than protected emotionally.” Catering to political extremes “dampens intellectual vibrancy and (will) leave students ill-prepared” for real life.

The new UNC leader should be “savvy” to a “shifting and unpredictable higher education landscape”: a growing array of new educational opportunities to improve student performance.

Finally, the Pope thinkers suggest that the new president be someone with knowledge of the private sector of society. Lifelong academics will most likely “defend the status quo rather than change it.”

The person described above is, in my opinion, a rare bird in academia. Still, the Pope thinkers deserve credit for pondering this issue and presenting a solution for the deteriorating UNC system. Their ideas should be considered by other thinking people.



About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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