This morning's News & Observer featured an article detailing North Carolina's recently-elected GOP Governor Pat McCrory's views on our state's system of higher education. Never mind that his party has done and is doing all that it can to undercut job growth in any meaningful way, never mind that employers almost uniformly profess to wanting students who can think critically, solve problems, and communicate effectively (all skills best instilled at a liberal arts institution), never mind that his comments are short-sighted, misogynistic, and just downright mean...
...to add insult to injury, hours later the President of the UNC system shot back with a halfhearted response that does little to instill confidence in anyone who cares about higher education in this state. His response is itself a paean to high-stakes standardized testing, homogenization of higher ed, and efficiency at the expense of actual erudition. Ross apotheosizes economy and pledges to "work with" McCrory as the latter goes about his task of eviscerating one of the nation's premier university systems.
Angels and ministers of grace, defend us.
Here's Ross's statement, in full:
“The University of North Carolina has partnered with business and government to build the state’s economy. We pledge to continue to work with the Governor and the General Assembly to ensure North Carolina has the strong talent pool needed to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow, some of which haven’t yet been invented. Our campuses are committed to academic quality and to graduating students who are adaptable, creative, innovative, and equipped to succeed in the workforce and to conduct the cutting-edge research that enables North Carolina to develop, attract, and retain industry, businesses, and good-paying jobs.
“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.
“North Carolina’s economy is in transition, and we must position the state to compete nationally and internationally in the years ahead. We look forward to working with Governor McCrory to develop the well educated and skilled talent pool that North Carolina will need to compete and win.”
Buckle up, folks. It's gonna be a rough ride.
CLARIFICATION: additional information for those out-of-the-loop on the Strategic Plan (o, venerable capitals!) Ross mentions: said plan is the one whose draft calls for reliance on a single assessment instrument (the CLA, College Learning Assessment) to determine "value added" over the course of a student's college career, the one whose draft calls for homogenization of campus-level curricula to the point that permission would have to be sought from general administration to modify core courses or propose new ones, the one whose draft has had pretty much the entirety of the UNC system's faculty up in arms over the past few weeks. Yeah, that plan.