The Corner

Education

UNC Should Break the Mold When It Chooses a New President

Margaret Spellings has stepped down from her post as president of the UNC system. Now, the Board of Governors must choose a new president. Going back many decades, the UNC presidency has been in the hands of people who were at best centrists and more often leftists, meaning that no president has clashed with the dominant “progressive” mindset of the faculty and administration.

In today’s Martin Center article, Jay Schalin argues that it is time to select a president who isn’t content to let the left have its way with the UNC system. Like higher education across America, UNC’s schools are saturated with the divisive and destructive theories of postmodernism, multiculturalism and instrumentalism.

North Carolina is a largely conservative state, but the UNC system has been run by people of a very different philosophy. Schalin writes,  “The time may never be better to give this important constituency their due. The UNC Board of Governors is the most conservative it has ever been. If balance is to be restored—and it is imperative that it is—it is likely to happen now. Just adding another centrist to run the system does not address its extreme imbalances.”

The problem is that there are very few men or women in the country who have “the right stuff” for the job. Schalin continues: “Nobody expects the next UNC system president to be a full-fledged culture warrior eager to leap into the ideological fray. But he or she should at least acknowledge that a major problem exists beyond the needs to cut costs or boost graduation rates. There is an intellectual battle that needs to be fought, no matter how much it upsets entrenched interests and the permanently aggrieved. A one-sided university system does not serve the state well.”

If we hear wailing from Chapel Hill sometime next year, you will know that the Board of Governors has chosen a new president who will fight the intellectual battles that need to be fought.

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

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