Under the Dome

McCrory wants to revamp higher ed funding -- takes aim at UNC-Chapel Hill

UPDATED: Gov. Pat McCrory said he would propose legislation to overhaul the way higher education is funded in North Carolina, putting the emphasis on job creation not liberal arts and taking specific aim at the state's flagship university.

"I think some of the educational elite have taken over our education where we are offering courses that have no chance of getting people jobs," McCrory told conservative talk show host Bill Bennett, the former education secretary for President Ronald Reagan, during an interview Tuesday morning. (Listen to the audio here.

McCrory echoed a crack the radio show host made at gender studies courses at UNC-Chapel Hill, a top tier public university. "That's a subsidized course," McCrory said, picking up the argument. "If you want to take gender studies that's fine, go to a private school and take it. But I don't want to subsidize that if that's not going to get someone a job."

The Republican governor said he instructed his staff Monday to draft legislation that would change how much state money universities and community colleges receive "not based on how many butts in seats but how many of those butts can get jobs."

"Right now we pay based on how many students you have, not how many jobs you are getting people into," he said.

At the same time, McCrory seemed to contradict himself, saying he supported a liberal arts curriculum. "I do believe in liberal arts education," the Catawba College graduate said. "I got one."

Moments later, the radio host said, "How many PhDs in philosophy do I need to subsidize? ...That's my field."

"You and I agree," McCrory added.

On the campaign trail and since taking office, McCrory has made a point to emphasize vocational education that teaches skills rather than thinking. But his comments in the radio interview went beyond his message on the campaign trail, both in substance and tone.

Despite the state's high unemployment, he said some employers need skilled workers for specific jobs. "I'm going to adjust my education curriculum to what business and commerce needs to get our kids jobs as opposed to moving back in with their parents after they graduate with debt," he said.

Just how to measure a university or community college's job output remains unclear. McCrory didn't go into specifics.

Also in the interview, McCrory used the academic scandal at UNC-CH involving athletes to drive the point. "It's even hit our athletic departments. Sad to say, at Carolina, our great basketball program, they took Swahili on a night study course where they didn't have to do any work and got B-pluses," McCrory added. "What are we teaching these courses for if they are not going to help get a job."

UPDATE: McCrory's comments drew immediate fire from faculty across the UNC system, who stressed that higher education is about much more than job training.

A sampling of the reaction:

From Meg Morgan, a UNC Charlotte English professor and 40-year veteran of teaching: "If we want to create a society of non-thinkers, follow McCrory's line. If we want critical thinkers and world changers, we need to make them look at new ideas and change their lives (and others' lives) based on them."

From Lisa Levenstein, a UNC Greensboro associate professor of history: "McCrory’s assumption that a college liberal arts education will not prepare students for employment reflects a profound misunderstanding of the 21st century labor market. Today’s eighteen year olds can no longer predict their long-range career trajectories. Most of them will switch jobs every 4 to 6 years, assuming 5-7 positions over their lifetimes. A liberal arts education with its emphasis on highly-transferable critical thinking skills and effective writing and speaking is ideal preparation for this rapidly-changing workforce."

From Gene Nichol, UNC law professor and former dean: "It is hugely disappointing to see Governor McCrory jump on the 'know nothing' bandwagon to try to please Bill Bennett. He does Glenn Beck proud. McCrory's not the first, nor, sadly, the last politician we'll see demagogue about higher education. All he really proved is that he has no clue what liberal arts education is. It's thrilling to think he's out to set our curriculum."

Editor's note: Post corrected to fix error and updated with additional comments and a link to the audio.


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Gerrymandering has served North Carolina well for decades!

I hope you are not insinuating that the gerrymandering of the past was bad. Please tell me you are talking about the last round of gerrymandering being bad. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Gerrymandering can serve a purpose when the Democrats are in control. It is those non-thinkers who do not know how to use it properly, I think.

I am shocked that no one sees the true agenda.....

McCrory is only trying to increase the ranks of the republican party, a gang of non-thinking followers that have little ability to think for themselves.

Educated thinkers (voters) are the greatest threat to these people.

Gerrymandering at its worst linked two cities with nothing in common (Gastonia and Asheville) but ensured some republican that probably had never been to Asheville would now represent us.

This is merely Gerrymandering through the college system, though it will take longer, will serve the republican agenda well.

NO, I am not a sore head democrat, I am an unaffiliated voter and a free thinker, and his abuse of power makes me want to vomit. I am a life long resident of this state, and completely disgusted by the turn that elected this man. The rural vote put him, hard working people with a lot of common sense, but obviously lacking critical thinking skills to see past their next paycheck or harvest. The type of people McCrory wants.

NC will take decades to recover from the economic damage this man will inflict on our growth and standing in the country.

Critical thinking

A liberal arts education should have an "emphasis on highly-transferable critical thinking skills and effective writing and speaking," however that is not really the case anymore.

My degree was in the liberal arts - I was an English major who ended up as Vice President in an engineering and manufacturing company thanks to those very skills. However, in those days. teachers did encourage critical thinking, debate and opposing viewpoints so long as they were well-supported by logic. I have seen a dramatic difference in my children's education. There is no critical thinking anymore - just lining up on the side of political correctness. The schools and teachers don't even bother to give the illusion of free thought by having students read any opposing opinions anymore.

Since that's what liberal arts education has become, the programs no longer perform the excellent service they once did in training students in critical thinking. Good grief, the very fact that a curriculum is labeled "Women and Gender Studies" suggests a particular predetermined slant.

40 or even 30 years ago I would have stood up for the liberal arts, but no more. Today, they actually put binders on the brains of students through agenda-based curricula.

Four More Years of this Idiot??

And it's just the first week of February. Well, after only 3 short years of retirement here, it's back to Florida for me. This just nails it. if this is the type of dismantlement he plans for this state, we're doomed. Does this idiot not understand that the University System of NC is the envy of most of the other 50 state of the Union and that the people of NC have worked long and hard to make that happen? And I'm not talking about just UNC, I mean the whole integrated system because if you start with one piece, it effects them all.

Having spent 20+ years in the tech industry, I can say that no one can tell what the job market is going to be in 20 years or even 10 years but I can tell you that what one has to have in your career IS flexibility. Flexibility to consistently stay educated in your field and the flexibility to see when that career is coming to an end or when it is going to evolve into another area. And nothing prepares you for that like a Liberal Arts Education.

Why? Two reasons: 1. because it lets you see The Big Picture, rather than a narrow focus and not everyone can see that without being taught how to see it; and 2. Critical Thinking, important because the most critical problem our country has today - is that people mistake opinion for fact.

That's how we end up with idiots in office that do not represent our best interests. Like this Governor.

Meg Morgan's comment

Not everyone is a "thinker" and college material. Some people are doers or followers that do not need to go to college to be part of the work force. They need training and a chance to get a skill and not to be told they should go to college just "because". I get so sick and tired of college professors thinking they are entitled and know what the real world is about.

And then of course, you could spend $250,000 to get a degree in Women's Studies and work part-time in a coffee shop...or maybe, go and get a Master's degree in Folklore. {} What in the world would you do with a waste of time degree like that? Why are our public universities offering degrees like that? Teach students folklore? REALLY?

I have a college education and got a job immediately after college and have never drawn unemployment in the 33 years since I graduated. Am I lucky and fortunate? Yes. I got a degree in nursing and although it is hard to be in health care, I thank God everyday for giving me the right path.

I find it very interesting that the N & O only posted comments from the Liberal side of the fence.

I hope all four of my kids can find the right path; having the freedom to chose is what makes this country so great. Getting a job and being a contributing member of society is important. Getting up in the morning and enjoying what you do is priceless. Why don't people get it?

Exactly what is the state responsible for?

I suspect that most of the people writing on this board have a financial or other career stake in NC's university system, as do I. However, I don't know of a single state that hasn't had to cut back on educational funding, in some cases nearly eliminate it. North Carolina should be no exception. Furthermore, to the extent that the state decides to fund higher education it is not unreasonable that it should seek economic return for its economic outlay. While I don't especially agree that liberal arts education lacks economic value, I agree in general that North Carolina needs to deal with its budget deficit and that requires reduction in funding to higher education.


I'm always amazed at the people who go on and on about "why isn't this or that politician doing something to create jobs," but when one of them talks about funding education and training that actually leads to jobs in a continually downward-spiraling economy, they're trashed for suggesting the funding come from education in more superfluous fields.

I mean, good lord, just look at the condescending elitist tone of the author of this article: "McCrory has made a point to emphasize vocational education that teaches skills rather than thinking." 'Cause, you know, you don't have to think in order to learn useful skills that lead to jobs. You only learn to think if you sit through taxpayer-subsidized "gender studies" courses.

Shockingly, "McCrory's comments drew immediate fire from faculty across the UNC system, who stressed that higher education is about much more than job training." No, really, just shocking that they would say that. This is news, big news.

Forbes disagrees

Heresy. Pure heresy.

No Governor of North Carolina has the right to talk about our "Sacred Cow." UNC is above the Governor and the taxpayers. The actions of UNC are above reproach. Look it up in the Bible if you do not believe. Bring back the 4 corners!!!!

A product of a third-rate education

Universities don't exist to get people JOBS, imbecile.

They exist to get people lives that are worth living and brains that are capable of thought.

Those are what get you jobs. Except in your case, where it must be some other morons' money that did the job.

McCrory: "I think some of

McCrory: "I think some of the educational elite have taken over our education where we are offering courses that have no chance of getting people jobs."

If I were a CEO-style governor like McCrory, I would want to see more empirical data before I openly called for ditching a college curriculum. I hope McCrory and his advisors will soon reveal those statistics and rationale. If he could do so without using loaded comments such as "educational elite," then those of us who believe pubic education should never be abandoned for the corporate private model would have more confidence in this new administration.

Hey North Carolina liberal

Hey North Carolina liberal elite wine white wine drinking effete liberal art volve driving snoots who worked so hard for Obama and didn't do diddly for Dalton.

The dude went to Catawba College!

Their biggest priority are charter schools for people who don't want their kids to go to school with black children.

Go Gamecocks!

privatizing Carolina

I am quite willing to see that happen.

In fact, I'd be thrilled and so would many Carolina alums.

In exchange for no state funding, there'd be no state control.

I'd take that deal in a nanosecond.

well said, richardfoc

thank you

NC governor Pat McCrory

NC governor Pat McCrory spoke about Women and Gender programs in the state, and specifically targeted the department at UNC-CH.

As a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in Women's Studies I would love to share with him that after entering the program, taking the courses, and interning for a local family law attorney in Chapel Hill, that I applied, and was accepted to one of the nation's top law schools. I intend on using my undergraduate foundational knowledge from UNC-CH's WGS department, as well as the legal knowledge I gain to champion policy and legislative changes that address the very issues discussed, debated, researched, and presented in these departments.

McCrory wants someone who is going to get a job from these departments and programs that I took advantage of and prospered in? You're looking at her. I would not be where I am today without the phenomenal courses and professors that make up the Women's Studies department at UNC-CH.

I, for one, think that Mr. McCrory could benefit from our WGS 101 course here at UNC. Better yet, I think everyone could.

Your statement makes no

Your statement makes no sense. You claim critical thinking cannot be measured. Then in the next sentence you reference studies that purport to measure critical thinking.

BS…I like my BA.

This is just foolishness. A liberal arts education, if pursued seriously, equips a person to do a wide range of jobs instead of just the one for which they trained. People who are well-read and well-trained to access and comprehend information and synthesize that into solutions are exactly what we need today.

I was an English major. My English degree, with all the Shakespeare and Milton one would want to encounter, prepared me to teach myself how to become a graphic designer.

Everyone knows you learn to do the job on the job. In our fast-paced market, your training in many technical fields is nearly obsolete the day after graduation.

The faultiness of his basic assumptions about the goals of education are staggering, his understanding of the facts of employment are equally stupefying. There are plenty of people graduating from "training" focused majors that are still unable to find jobs. Add to that the realities of the paltry amount that schools actually spend on their liberal arts programs and you have a premise that is just ridiculous.

Power, authority, and the right to uneducated

I think a vast majority of people who have gone to college will acknowledge that they learned more than a trade. Even engineering students have distribution requirements. Thinking about the big issues, challenging new ideas - these are the role of our great universities. It may surprise our governor and the legislature that there are very few CEOs and senior managers (those job creators) who got their degrees from trade schools. And sadly, because we have no more checks in the NC political system, our know-nothing legislature may make this happen.

And I'll betray my political feelings by saying that the goal is really to make people uneducated enough that they'll believe horse manure like our new governor has served up. In short, they'll be dumb enough to vote Republican.

Maybe how we got here in the first place...

I'd Like To See That

tinytunes690 - could you please post a link or links to the studies you speak of that apparently show people don't learn anything in college? Thanks.

The Republican mantra reminds me of...

Pink Floyd. "We don't need no education..."

Amen ...

.... but be forewarned that the intellectual elitists value their liberal arts education because many of them wind up in jobs that don't require much work ..... in fact it goes back to your remark about the BS'ing skill. They can get B's and even C's and still get paid a handsome wage.

this is what is very ironic

this is what is very ironic to me: people (usually people who have majors in the liberal arts) defend the liberal arts with the statement, "liberal arts schools teach you how to think! critically!" THIS IS NOT A STATEMENT THAT DEMONSTRATES CRITICAL THINKING (or to use a less vague term: EMPIRICAL thinking). How exactly does getting a degree in the liberal arts "teach you how to think?" That is such a vague thing to say! How are you measuring this? What are you even measuring?!?!? I will tell you what, there HAVE been studies that have measured college students' "critical thinking abilities" (whatever "critical thinking" means) and most of them have found no measurable improvement in the scores of college freshmen as compared to college seniors.

To be honest, I think the only "skills" a lot of these majors (philosophy, English, anthropology, etc.) teach you is how to BS (which is a HORRIBLE "skill," in my opinion) and how to get a B+ while barely doing the reading!

I think the idea that degrees in STEM subjects and degrees that give the user an applicable skill (so, vocational training). have more useful value has a lot of merit! Why should the state subsidize what is essentially leisure learning to the extent of thousands of dollars per student???



Not South Carolina

more like Mississippi

There's no need to bash UNC here

please direct your ire to the Art Pope Vichy government and its puppet McCrory. It is embarassing that he doesnt understand the difference between higher education and vocational training.
By the way, I don't have a dog in the UNC NCST bogus fight. Both are first class institutions.

Considering the fact that

Considering the fact that Art Pope owns Roses I expect he'll be the first in line to hire folks.

Rose's cashiers

There's the jobs; who needs college for that?

Vocational vs. liberal arts

We don't do vocational training better than the rest of the world -- but we do higher education better (BA, BS, MA, MS, PhD). I'd be delighted if we tried to make changes to improve our vocational training, but there's no need at all to kill what we do and do so well now.

The job of a university

The job of a university isn't to teach students skills so they can get 'real' jobs. The job of a university is simply to teach students. What the students then do with this knowledge is up to them. Just because there isn't a large job market for 18th Century French Poetry majors doesn't mean the university should stop teaching it. And just because somebody has a degree in 18th Century French Poetry doesn't mean they can't get a job. I work in a bank (not a branch but in operations) and you'd be amazed at the broad range of degrees (most in non-financial fields of study) that are held by my co-workers. And that's okay. College is for is for using that learning.

..oh...I don't

..oh...I don't know....someone on here already pointed out that NCSU was already a vocational might be

Real jobs?

I haven't met too many unemployed UNC graduates. I wonder what kind of vocational courses GovPatz alma mater offers.

Back to the dark ages......

Gov Pat apparently doesn't see the need of people learning to think critically, too bad.

To all the UNC bashers on the forum, your turn is next. I believe Pat is he11 bent on being a one-termer.


McCrory has a good point: if you fund schools based on butts-in-seats, then you get lots of butts in seats. If you fund schools based on whether they prepare students for the world, then you get a lot of students prepared for the world.

The purpose of our higher education system is to prepare students to contribute to the world around them. The State benefits when students are so prepared, so the state government contributes a big chunk of that education. It seems to me that if you want to get a degree which guarantees you a job title of "Barista" on graduation, you should pay for that degree yourself.

So lets see, he wants

So lets see, he wants colleges to offer and teach students skills that can get them real jobs. That's so radical.

You're not too bright are

You're not too bright are you?

And Bill Bennett has a

And Bill Bennett has a philosophy PhD from another of our great public universities, the University of Texas at Austin. What a hypocrite -- a liberal arts higher education was good for him, but now he wants to deny others the chance opportunities!

get over yourself. this is

get over yourself, jbsjsheel. this is like reading the script to "Mean Girls."

I like well-deserved chapel

I like well-deserved chapel hill bashing as much as anyone, but our new governor is making me wonder if he truly is ready for his new job. first he gives his new cabinet (longtime political cronies and contributors to his campaign) big raises to their already 6 figure salaries (while all other state workers haven't gotten a raise in Lord knows how long), explaining that he wants to be sure they can feed their families while working in Raleigh. those rich kids must super size every meal!

meanwhile, his loyal legislature wants to cut employment benefits in half. (so much for THOSE families.)

now he wants to turn our great university system into vocational schools, implying that that's what they used to be before the "educational elite" (who?) took over, despite the fact that he himself earned (we presume) a liberal arts degree.

does this guy think at all before he talks?


Good point.


A lot of the people I graduated with were philosophy majors. They got in top-rated seminaries and all have jobs in the ministry now. Well, except for one. He finished a Ph.D. in philosophy and is now a bioethicist at a major medical center in the Northeast.

past tense

It would be a shame to use UNC in past tense. But it can happen.

Better than the rest of the world?

Do you really believe that? The whole point is that we do not do it better than the rest of the world. We have this daft idea that entry level for any decent job is a four-year degree. That, of course, is utter tosh.

As reported here, the Governor's remarks are a bit over-the-top. However, the business lobby will straighten him out, I'm sure. What we need to do is strike a balance between vocational and academic programs. that means recognizing that vocational is not inferior and academic is not necessarily "elite."

oh the humanity

Ironically, Bill Bennett used to run the National Humanities Center here in the Triangle. I used to love his Sunday evening radio show.


Art Pope, the puppeteer handler of the new Governor probably is a little mad that his hand puppet spoke without permission.

In the future, Art will try to control his lap-dog better!


I have heard businesses say time and time again that they value liberal arts graduates because of their verbal and written communication skills and very importantly because of their flexibility. If the governor really said all this, it is incredibly shortsighted.

Hah, hah, hah, the chickens

Hah, hah, hah, the chickens are coming home to roost!

All you liberal effete snobs who wouldn't help Walter Dalton.

Pat and the "Wizard of Oz" Artie Pope are going to gut higher education - gut our fine public schools with charter schools - drill on our beautiful beaches and frack our state!

South Carolaki here we come - and the great things is he rewards all his big fundraisers with administration positions and creates a super pac to sell sell sell access

GOP will run NC for 25 years

Goodbye great progressive state - South Carolaki here we come!

We already have a vocational

We already have a vocational Raleigh

If it is arrogant to point

If it is arrogant to point out your stupidity, so be it. I guess it is wasted to point out that community colleges are wholly supported by state funds. If the state reduces funding to UNC it becomes less like a community college. UNC- 2006. And yours?


UVA is in no way private -- 2/3 of the students are in-state, and the state controls the entire Board and therefore the University. But it does rely heavily on private money, because the state pays only 1/3 as much per student as the state of NC pays to UNC.

Having a state supported university that is hard to get in to, and that attracts talent from out-of-state, by the way, is a great asset to any state. Who wouldn't want to attract the best and brightest to their state? The Research Triangle exists because of UNC, State and Duke. Without those great universities, the successful transition of the state from a cotton and tobacco backwater to a new economy success story would never have happened.

..spoken like the arrogant

..spoken like the arrogant mean Orange County Community College grad(?)/Wal-Mart fan that you are...

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