It must be frustrating when you can't even give away $5 million. But that's the showdown that's emerging at UNC Chapel Hill, where faculty members are balking at selling their souls to a new curriculum that might be funded by Art Pope. The shootout will occur on May 10 when the faculty will vote on a resolution that the university stop its pursuit of funding for western civilization courses from the John William Pope Foundation.
According to the Durham Herald
Art Pope, the foundation's leader, said on Wednesday that it is a "double standard" for faculty members to bash the Western studies grant and accept other outside funding. Pope said he will consider the university's proposal for the funding despite faculty opposition and may decide whether to give the money as early as May or June.
That's pretty rich coming from the king of double standards. Yet despite faculty protests, the university administration seems to be holding up it's own end of the sleazy bargain pretty well.
The university wants about $5 million from the Pope Foundation to expand Western studies offerings. The talks between the foundation and Carolina, which have gone on since 2004, have drawn ire from some faculty members who say what they call a politically motivated organization should not intervene in curricular decisions. They also question whether UNC is giving disproportionate attention to studies of the Western world.
Pope said it is not the general faculty's role to decide on what specific professors can teach and what courses are available to students.
"It's very ironic that in the name of academic freedom, they are tying to prevent courses in Western culture that provide the very foundation for academic freedom," Pope said Wednesday.
No, Puppetmaster. What's IRONIC is that neither the Honors Advisory Board nor the Classics Department (both crucial to the proposal) were consulted in any of this. What's more, the UNC Classics, Honors, and English departments have all "formally expressed dismay" with the proposal. Makes you wonder who's going to teach the proposed courses. Maybe Mr. Pope wants a turn in the classroom?
The university's discussions with the Pope Foundation returned to the spotlight at a Faculty Council meeting last Friday, when UNC sociology professor Andrew Perrin introduced the resolution that he had written with some colleagues. Perrin wanted the council to vote on the document then, but the group delayed the vote and discussion of the topic because the resolution's authors did not give the faculty the 24-hour notice that is required to review a proposal.
In addition to asking administrators to withdraw the grant application, the resolution criticizes UNC officials for violating promises to consult faculty about the process. It also asks administrators to implement policies that "faithfully preserve curricular integrity and transparency."
UNC officials say the discussions have been open and that faculty -- and not outside bodies -- are responsible for the content of academic programs. "This administration has not misled anyone," UNC Chancellor James Moeser told the Faculty Council last Friday.
It's hard to see how the discussions have been "open" with the University still pursuing the grant and the Classics, Honors and English Departments on the record as objecting.
The Pope foundation also provided seed money for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, a watchdog group that frequently has criticized Carolina and its faculty members. (Faculty Chair) Judith Wegner said some of the faculty's dissent stems from this criticism.
"I think some of this is really their statement of disrespect to the Pope entities because they feel there has not been respect shown to them in turn," she said.