UNCW faculty rep responds to McCrory proposals
January 30, 2013By Jenny Callison
North Carolina’s new governor is taking aim at programs in the University of North Carolina system that don’t produce job-ready graduates.
Gov. Pat McCrory, in a 10-minute interview Tuesday on former U.S. Secretary of Education Bill Bennett’s national syndicated radio show, talked about the need to shift public funding to academic programs that lead directly to jobs. He mentioned gender studies and philosophy as two examples of majors that don’t provide a clear career path.
University of North Carolina Wilmington faculty members aren’t entirely in agreement with the governor’s proposal.
“It would seem that the aim here is not against specific programs but against the entire system of liberal education in the state of North Carolina,” Gabriel Lugo, president of the UNCW Faculty Senate and a member of the university’s mathematics and statistics department, said Wednesday.
“I would say that the system of liberal education is alive and well in the state, and we are producing some very qualified students who are able to get jobs in all fields,” Lugo said, adding that he was speaking for the UNCW faculty in that regard. “We are aware of the dire unemployment rate in the state, and it is easy to find the university as a culprit for the unemployment.”
The real reason students can’t find jobs, Lugo said, was that a significant number of jobs have been outsourced.
“The governor talks about our needing more engineers, but there are engineering graduates who cannot find jobs because there are so few industries left in the state,” Lugo said. “Let’s continue to uphold the practice of shared governance, which says to leave the primary responsibility for the curriculum to the faculty and the management of the institutions to the chancellors and their teams.”
Tom Ross, president of the UNC system, also took issue with McCrory’s remarks.
“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,” Ross said in a statement released Tuesday in response to McCrory’s interview. “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.
Ross said the university system solicited business leaders’ input to a strategic plan that sets degree attainment goals responsive to talent needs of the state. The plan will be unveiled soon.
“The University’s value to North Carolina should not be measured by jobs filled alone,” Ross said in the statement. “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.”
To read the complete text of Ross’s remarks, go to www.northcarolina.edu/news/index.php