We don’t need more visionaries at UNC

Recently, the newly “elected” (by the University of North Carolina system Board of Governors) UNC chancellor at Wilmington grabbed the attention of the Wilmington StarNews editorial board. (Link below)

Dr. Jose V. “Zito” Sartarelli had a “lot to say.”  Sounding progressively extraterritorial, editors wrote, he took them “seamlessly” to a “new place.” Not surprising Dr. Sartarelli is an avant-garde globalist—not just foreign born and a world traveler, but a visionary for “greater globalization” at UNCW. Formerly a “global officer” at West Virginia University he also was a board member of the Council of the Americas.

The announcement of Sartarelli’s election was made in April, 2015. (Link below) Interim UNCW Chancellor William A. Sederburg said that Zito’s energy and background are “an ideal fit for the university, particularly during this time of great growth and momentum.”

I don’t know what an “ideal fit” means, but growth and momentum at the UNC are as sure as death and taxes.—the demise of classic academic education for students and higher taxes for us.

UNCW Trustee Wendy Murphy is impressed with Zito’s “passion for making a difference.” Everyone makes a difference; the question is what results from the difference he makes.

Incidentally, I don’t know what North Carolina taxpayers and our legislators think about this new expansion of the UNCW mission, but I believe that adventures in globalism—“policy in which the world is seen as the appropriate sphere for a state’s interest”—is not in the best interest of the citizens of this State.

Of course, global interactions between private business people are a given, but new social adventures by public university officials invariably lead to diverting resources from the core mission and curriculum—shortchanging students, parents, other taxpayers and diluting the primary purpose of higher education.

According to StarNews editorial, Sartarelli wants to jump the number of “international” students from the current 350 up to 1500. Supposedly, the UNC Board of Governors will be “financially incentivizing” (subsidizing) them with new-found money. But the UNCW will likely have to add more financial aid—and, of course, “diversity”—resources to prop up the globalization project.

Naturally, editors believe Zito’s “vision and style” are needed. Because he is bold and “may rock the boat a bit,” they say: “It is critical that he has the support of the faculty and staff, but also alumni and the community.”

Why should we support this new vision? None of people in the groups listed above elected this chancellor to his post. We don’t know if any of them share Zito’s vision. Furthermore, why did the Board of Governors presume to impose his sweeping worldview without carefully consulting this “community”?

Rocking the university boat with additional cargo could be a mistake. Rather than checking out the crew, space and condition for the appropriate mission, Cpt. Sartarelli may be overloading the academic ship.

As a member of this community and someone who follows the mission creep—more like a sprint—of Big Education, I am suspicious of this social project.

It may enhance the resume and international reputation of Dr. Sartarelli; give the UNC Board of Governors bragging rights to being visionary and help editors feel good about hobnobbing with multicultural elites, but it probably will do little or nothing to strengthen the general quality of the core liberal arts curriculum needed at the university. It may even make it worse.





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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