Jan 312013
 

reflector

By Katherine Ayers

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Funding for East Carolina and other North Carolina universities could be in for a shake-up if Gov. Pat McCrory gets his way.

In a radio interview with “Morning in America” host Bill Bennett on Tuesday, McCrory said he would rather focus funding on majors that resulted in jobs for graduates than on more traditional liberal arts degrees.

“If you want to take gender studies that’s fine, go to a private school and take it,” he said, referring to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill women’s and gender studies department. “But I don’t want to subsidize that if it’s not going to get someone a job.”

On the program, McCrory said he asked his staff on Monday to draft legislation that would alter the way funds are distributed to colleges and universities. Rather than money being given based on how many students attend — the number of “butts in seats” — it would be based on “how many of those butts can get jobs,” he said.

ECU officials declined to comment about McCrory’s statements Tuesday saying there were no concrete plans on which to base their comments, but by the end of the day UNC system President Tom Ross had weighed in.

“The university’s value to North Carolina should not be measured by jobs filled alone,” he said in a prepared statement. “Our three-part mission of teaching, research and public service requires that we prepare students with talent and abilities to succeed in the workforce because talent will be the key to economic growth.”

Ross said the UNC system understands that “state resources are limited and agree that there must be pathways to jobs in the modern economy,” and the system is working with business leaders from across the state, the president of the state’s community college system and state legislators to set degree goals that are “responsive to the talent needs of the future economy.”

“Higher education plays a key role in ensuring a higher quality of life for all North Carolinians,” he said. “North Carolina’s economy is in transition, and we must position the state to compete nationally and internationally in the years ahead.”

John Collins, an associate professor of philosophy at ECU who signed an online petition denouncing McCrory’s comments, said McCrory’s view of a university education as job training was “short-sighted.”

“People sometimes don’t wind up in the profession they had planned to, and nowadays people often have multiple careers,” he said in an emailed statement. “Another (reason) is that the skills for a job may become obsolete.”

Collins said universities should aim to teach skills that never expire.

“These include skills such as the ability to think critically, argue for a position, comprehend difficult texts and uncover their implications and the ability to articulate nuanced views in speech and writing,” he said. “These are precisely the skills that are emphasized in the humanities.”

The professor also said that by mid-career many people in his field have salaries competitive with those in other majors.

Contact Katherine Ayers at kayers@reflector.com and 252-329-9567. Follow her on Twitter @KatieAyersGDR.

Popular MajorsMost popular ECU undergraduate majors for Fall 2011 based on number of students enrolled:

  • Business Administration – 1,444
  • Elementary Education – 1,172
  • Communication Studies, Broadcast Journalism – 841
  • Marketing – 527
  • Fine Arts – 505
  • Biology – 460
  • Criminal Justice – 454
  • Industrial Technology – 424
  • Psychology – 421
  • Management Accounting – 394

via The Daily Reflector.

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