On Art Pope and the UNC System

A few jabs from Thomas Mills to set the tone:

It’s part of why North Carolina developed a reputation as a beacon of light in an otherwise dark South. Our university system became an engine of economic progress that has made the Triangle a leader in the information age and one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country.

Pope doesn’t believe in any of that. He believes that the free market is the key to success. Higher education should be little more than job training and critical thinking skills learned in a liberal arts curriculum have little place in his world. Pope is neither a manager nor a deep thinker. He’s an ideologue born with a silver spoon in his mouth who has spent his life forcing square pegs into round holes.

Many of those discussing the possibility of an Art Pope-directed UNC System are focusing on how he might cut programs, but the more likely result would be a skewing of the curriculum, something he's been trying to do for years. But I'll let one of UNC's professors explain:

In making the distinction between serious and unserious courses, the press release invoked a litany familiar to anyone who even partially follows conservative critiques of higher education: the West is under siege in the universities by tenured radicals who “relativize” all values by placing non-Western cultures on an equal footing with Western ones and teaching frivolous subjects such as clothing and pets rather than the Great Books.

My first encounter with the Pope Center’s version of this dogma was just after my arrival at UNC–Chapel Hill in fall 2004: faculty were in the midst of a heated debate over whether to accept a donation of more than $10 million from the Pope Foundation for the creation of an undergraduate program in Western cultures. The program proposal itself was the creation of a faculty committee, and there was no communication on the proposal between the Pope Center or the Pope Foundation and the committee members. University administrators said they had initiated discussion with the foundation. But of course, the very idea of such a program was conceived with the aim of interesting the donors.

I have to interrupt here, because I find it highly unlikely the plan was devised before the Pope Center was contacted. Especially in light of the recent athletic scandal, ass-covering by some in UNC's faculty seems to be one of their greater skills. And it would be just like Pope to say, "This needs to appear to have been your idea, not mine." Anyway, back to the Western Civilization push:

Nonetheless, protest from faculty was strong: many didn’t want the university to have such a close relationship with an ideologically driven organization—a feeling not helped by the frequent attacks the Pope Center made on its website against both the university and individual faculty members and programs. An early response to this objection, from both the Pope Center and some faculty members and administrators eager to get funding, was that the foundation and the center were distinct entities and hence that engagement with one didn’t amount to approval of the other—a spurious claim, since the foundation is the center’s main source of funding. In spring 2005, in the face of faculty opposition, Art Pope withdrew the offer but indicated his openness to a revised proposal. Administrators met his request, issuing a new plan in August, which faculty soon recognized as designed to please him—and as having been written without their consultation. In a memorandum from May 2006 addressed to Chancellor James Moeser, Provost Robert Shelton, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Bernadette Gray-Little, and two others, faculty objected again, citing the traditional principle of transparency and university guidelines that call for instructors’ involvement in any curricular change affecting their areas. The chancellor ceased negotiations with the Pope Foundation on that particular proposal.

Since setting up potential and actual beneficiaries for future attacks is essential to the strategy of Pope and his think tanks, a consequence of our rejection of the Western cultures proposal is that Pope’s groups continue to remind us of our supposed rejection of the West. In a 2009 article, “The Culture Chasm at UNC,” Jane Shaw revisited the Western cultures proposal in order to comment on its last remnant, a Pope-funded series of guest speakers called Renewing the Western Tradition. Noting that the Pope Foundation had no role in the choice of speakers, Shaw criticized the series. She said that those invited, among them prominent scholars such as Kwame Anthony Appiah, Elaine Pagels, and Stephen Greenblatt, didn’t emphasize the true strengths of the West. These include, she explained, “the long process . . . that developed freedom of thought and freedom of scientific inquiry, separated religious conscience from political obeisance, and laid the foundations of economic freedom and democratic governance. These forces led to unprecedented levels of liberty and economic growth in the world.”

Take the time and read the entire article. The author demonstrates a much better understanding of Western influences than Pope or his kennel of attack dogs. It's also critical we understand the difference between an Art Pope who wants to destroy UNC (who doesn't exist), and an Art Pope who wants to subvert the academic structure of UNC (who is alive and well).

He very well may have no desire nor inclination of becoming the President of the UNC System, but you better believe his desire to promote the importance of White European/Anglo-Saxon influences on our culture is still as strong as ever, and a GOP-selected President of UNC might be just the ticket.

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Comments

Chop! Wack! Roll! is Art's Future

He believes that the free market is the key to success*S

Art is no real free market dude. He is simply in the business of Power and a world of unreality where Frosty the Snowman lectures on the reasons that the masses must be control and beated down as corporate Slaves to the King ...The good news is with the coming downfall of the American Dollar Art will simply be another Dude or Duke being haul by the Cart of the masses to the French so-called painless Head cutting machine of the 17 th century

I doubt

Pope would take the job. Hand picking a puppet to oversee the system seems more his style.

On the other hand

Methinks Art might like the idea of having his portrait up in the company of Bill Friday and C.D. Spangler. Yes, it's a nauseating thought but Art's outsized ego must find that thought attractive.

Note that his comment was that he's "not seeking" the job. Which just might mean that he's waiting for it to be offered to him.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Portrait or Porta Potty?

"Note that his comment was that he's "not seeking" the job. Which just might mean that he's waiting for it to be offered to him."

And those that "offer" will in time, show their true usefullness or uselessness in regard to the state of North Carolina. When you have to buy a political appointment as opposed to being appointed based on your non-partisan or at a minimum, moderate intelligence and common sense, your partisan ego is the only thing that matters.

If his concept of 'Western

If his concept of 'Western History' is like that of the Koch Brothers, it involves a whole lot of 'free market' and 'small government' stuff.