Should the headquarters of the UNC system be moved from Chapel Hill to Raleigh, where it could be closer to other state education agencies and the state legislature that has ultimate control over it?
In its recently adopted finance bill, the legislator provided for this measure. No one disputes his power to lead such a movement. But there is a great difference of opinion on the wisdom of this action.
I’m going to share some of these different opinions and then give you my own thoughts.
Respected columnist and longtime North Carolina government and culture observer Tom Campbell writes that the move would be a good development. Despite his disagreement with Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger on many educational issues, Campbell believes a college move to Raleigh would be positive.
Even though Campbell supports the move to Raleigh, he criticizes lawmakers for interfering with college life, writing that “their scum has really been raised by our state-backed universities, which they say don’t offer enough conservative philosophy to balance liberal teachings “.
But after his harsh criticism of the legislature, Campbell writes, âThere is an initiative where they are on the right track. Urged on by Pro Senate Speaker Tem Phil Berger, arguably the most powerful politician in the state, lawmakers have long wanted to move the general administration of the UNC system from what they see as the liberal stronghold of Chapel Hill. But Berger’s reason for including $ 11 million in the state’s current budget makes sense. Berger believes that the university leadership should be housed in the same building as K-12 public schools and our community colleges in order to promote closer communication and cooperation, something long discussed but never accomplished.
On the other hand, Art Padilla, author of âPortraits in Leadership: Six Extraordinary University Presidentsâ and former associate vice president of academic affairs at the UNC System, recently wrote: synergies.
Padilla remembers the âphilosophy of institutional freedom and independenceâ of the late university president William Friday.
âAs Mr. Friday used to say, the university was in the political process, but it was not in politics. This is part of the reason why we insisted that individual campuses not alone lobby the legislature. “
Padilla acknowledges that “Some may think the university should be treated like another state agency.”
But he uses Friday’s words to challenge that view. âNo society can survive without an institution at its heart that deals with values, teaches the importance of history and reveals the relationship between man and nature. It is there, in the beating human heart of the university, that you get the sustenance of the soul, where you discover what makes your heart sing, where you are motivated to go through thick and thin to do something.
For almost 10 years in the 1980s and 1990s, I worked as a lobbyist for the UNC system, walking the 25 miles from Chapel Hill to Raleigh almost every day.
This distance has served the university and the people of the state. This has discouraged lawmakers from directly probing the day-to-day details of college or campus life and seeing it as a public education agency rather than a real university.
Along the way, I had to respond to many complaints and inquiries about the political views expressed by some faculty members and the activities of projects affiliated with the university. But even the harshest critics have generally understood that vigorous and free conflict of ideas is an integral part of a strong university where preparation for thinking citizenship goes hand in hand with the creation of new ideas and new solutions to problems. of the society.
I hope the legislature will do itself a favor – save money, protect the university system, and keep the system headquarters away from Raleigh.
DG Martin has hosted âNorth Carolina Bookwatchâ for over 20 years.