Gov. Pat McCrory bristled Thursday when asked about his recent inflammatory comments regarding liberal arts courses in higher education.
"I never mentioned liberal arts in a negative way," McCrory asserted.
But just two days before, the Republican governor told a conservative radio talk show Tuesday that he is drafting legislation to shift education funding toward career-oriented fields and away from academic pursuits “that have no chance of getting people jobs.”
"If you want to take gender studies that’s fine, go to a private school and take it," McCrory told talk show host Bill Bennett. 'But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job."
A cacophony of students and professors reacted strongly, saying they felt insulted by the governor. The president of the UNC system responded, saying the universities should not be measured by jobs alone.
Asked about the reaction, McCrory refused to apologize and he declined to acknowledge his remarks on the radio. "I believe education is for two purposes. One is to help exercise the brain and get good critical thinking and problem solving skills and understand our past and our future. And the second reason is to teach us skills that will also help us get jobs," McCrory told reporters Thursday. "That's clearly what I said and I stick with it."
In the interview with conservative radio host Bill Bennett, McCrory did say he supports liberal arts, noting his political science and education degree from Catawba College. But his comments about gender studies and the "education elite" that had taken over higher education in North Carolina overshadowed that message.
McCrory declined to elaborate on how he would measure job output from the state's universities and community colleges when approached after an event in Raleigh, and his staff prevented reporters from asking other questions.