The Corner

Education

The Pseudo-Scandal Over a UNC Chancellorship

(Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

In North Carolina, there’s a furor over the recent selection of Darrell Allison as chancellor of Fayetteville State University, one of the UNC system institutions. The “progressives” are howling mad and perhaps that’s a good sign.

In today’s Martin Center article, Jay Schalin looks into the controversy.

One complaint coming from the leftists is that Allison lacks academic experience and doesn’t have a Ph.D.

Schalin’s riposte: “Much of the work on campus that requires some academic expertise is handled by provosts and deans; the president largely manages people and money. What the job needs is high-level organizational and communication skills, both of which Allison would have developed over the years, given his background. While Allison has not been directly employed in academia, he is no stranger to the world of education, having spent the last 16 years working for school choice and charter schools as the North Carolina President of Parents for Educational Freedom and, more recently, as a director with the American Federation for Children. He has also gained insight into higher education by serving on the board of trustees of his alma mater, North Carolina Central University, and on the University of North Carolina system’s Board of Governors (BOG).”

He points to the fact that there have been highly successful higher-education leaders who did not come up through the academic ranks, such as Mitch Daniels at Purdue.

Moreover, not having been steeped in the culture of higher education could be a very good thing, Schalin argues. “Mandating that top administrators can only serve if selected or approved by academics increases the danger that academia will remain locked forever in an endless loop of narrow conformity. Those who spend their entire adult lives in academia and move up in the hierarchy tend to share a common set of beliefs that is often at odds with the rest of society; reform and rejuvenation will not come from inside the academy.”

Indeed so. The “progressives” who delight in using our education systems as training grounds for people who share their vision don’t want to lose their hold on power.

Schalin rightly concludes, “The fact that his appointment was legal and ethical according to both statute and tradition does not matter to the left. The academic zeitgeist is moving away from universal principles to power relations. Allison’s appointment—and the attempt to delegitimize it—should be viewed in that light.”

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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