McCrory vs. UNC: Opening a Pandora’s box, inviting lefty jihad?

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(No, lefty jihad is not an old basketball coach.) 

Gov. Pat  has trained both barrels on the public education establishment — specifically those folks within the UNC system.  The Captain of Team Charlotte™ believes that universities have allowed themselves to be hijacked by the agendas of various leftist cliques:

Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday he wants to change the way higher education is funded in North Carolina, focusing more on careers for graduates and away from academic pursuits “that have no chance of getting people jobs.”

The remarks came in a national radio interview with conservative talk show host Bill Bennett, former President Ronald Reagan’s education secretary. The breezy, 10-minute interview, in which the Republican governor touched on hot-button issues, elicited a swift, angry response Tuesday from faculty and others.

McCrory declined to be interviewed about the details. By day’s end, his staffers were trying to temper his remarks.

“This was not meant to be a personal attack on UNC,” spokeswoman Crystal Feldman said. “Gov. McCrory did not mean to tarnish UNC’s reputation.”

On the show, McCrory said “educational elite” had taken over, offering courses that have no path to jobs. He said he instructed his staff Monday to draft legislation that could alter the state money that universities and community colleges receive “not based upon how many butts in seats but how many of those butts can get jobs.”

The governor joined Bennett in criticizing certain academic areas, such as gender studies and philosophy. When Bennett made a crack about women’s and gender studies at nationally ranked UNC Chapel Hill, McCrory said, “If you want to take gender studies that’s fine, go to a private school and take it. But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.”

In an apparent contradiction, McCrory, who was a political science and education major at the private Catawba College, said he does believe in a liberal arts education. […]

That last line was a rather snarky way of suggesting that McCrory is probably not the best messenger for this issue.  He did OK with his poli sci degree.   The governor’s remarks brought a swift response from UNC system president Tom Ross:

[…] “Of course, we understand that state resources are limited and agree that there must be many pathways to jobs in the modern economy. We are completing a Strategic Plan that involved business leaders from across the state, the president of the Community College System, and legislators in our efforts to set degree attainment goals for our state that are responsive to the talent needs of the future economy. UNC is already transitioning from a campus funding model focused solely on enrollment changes to a model that considers campus performance on key measures related to student success and academic and operational efficiencies. We believe this funding model sets the right direction for our University and our state.

The University’s value to North Carolina should not be measured by jobs filled alone. Our three-part mission of teaching, research, and public service requires that we prepare students with the talent and abilities to succeed in the workforce, because talent will be the key to economic growth. We must also continue to serve the state through our agricultural and industrial extension programs, our Small Business and Technology Development Centers, our Area Health Education Centers, and through the many other ways our faculty and students are engaged in our communities. Higher education plays a key role in ensuring a higher quality of life for all North Carolinians.”  […]

I also received an interesting take on the matter from a regular reader of this site, who is also a seasoned observer of / participant in North Carolina government and politics:

“McCrory is right to advocate reform for the UNC system.  But it’s not about jobs – it’s about restoration of virtue at the core of curriculum and student life, supplanting the rampant aggressive, left-wing, secular ideology.  You can’t shoot from the hip, as is McCrory’s wont, in taking on entrenched liberal power at UNC.   I don’t think the governor has any idea how aggressively these people will fight to protect their fiefdoms.  

Tom Ross has made mincemeat of McCrory, right from the get-go – and this is not helpful to long-term UNC reform.”

This reader suggests that  Republicans in Raleigh have overlooked a relatively “easy” way to implement fundamental change within the university system —  The Board of Governors:

“The legislature has a huge say in the makeup of the board of governors.  The board of governors hires the system president and appoints most of the trustees at the 16 system campuses.  The trustees have a huge say in the appointment of administrators and faculty at each campus — who in turn actually run those schools on a day-to-day basis. ”