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About the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy

The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy is a nonprofit institute dedicated to improving higher education in North Carolina and the nation. Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, it has been an independent 501(c)(3) organization since 2003. It is named for the late John William Pope, who served on the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees.

The Pope Center is located at 353 E. Six Forks Road, Suite 200, Raleigh 27609. It is different from the John William Pope Foundation, which is located at 4601 Six Forks Road, Suite 300, Raleigh NC 27609.


Pope Center Goals

Our goals are to improve colleges and universities, especially in North Carolina.

We want to:

  • Increase the diversity of ideas taught, debated, and discussed on campus;
  • Encourage respect for the institutions that underlie economic prosperity and freedom of action and conscience;
  • Increase the quality of teaching and students' commitment to learning so that they graduate with strong literacy and fundamental knowledge;
  • Encourage cost-effective administration and governance.

To do this we will:

  • Inform parents, students, trustees, alumni, and administrators about actual learning on campus and how it can be improved;
  • Inform taxpayers about the use and impact of their funds;
  • Find ways to acquaint students with ideas that are dismissed or marginalized on campuses today;
  • Be a watchdog for legislative and administrative governance.


Background

The university system in the United States has accomplished a great deal of good, but we believe that higher education in the United States, including North Carolina, has strayed from its chief goals of scholarly inquiry and responsible teaching.

All too often, universities allow teaching to become shallow and trendy, failing to challenge students intellectually and disparaging traditional principles of justice, ethics, and liberal education. Students know little about the history of their country or the institutions that led to this nation’s prosperity and liberty. Students can get by without taking rigorous courses, and non-academic activities overshadow scholarship. As a result, many college graduates have poor skills in computation, communication, and logical analysis. Faculty are allowed excessive latitude in what they teach and often get away with little teaching at all, because research is emphasized. Taxpayers as well as students and their families pay hefty prices to support a system that often appears to provide little educational value.

To address these and other problems, the Pope Center conducts studies in areas such as governance, curriculum, financing, access, accountability, faculty research, and administrative policies. We explore ways to increase the accountability of trustees, administrators, faculty, and students. And we engage in the broader dialogue about how to improve higher education around the nation.

In these endeavors, we are motivated by the principles that have traditionally guided public policy in the United States: limits on government; freedom to pursue goals through voluntary means, both for-profit and nonprofit; accountability through private property rights; and the belief that competition is an excellent regulating force.


Projects

Pope Center projects include articles, research papers, lectures, conferences, and other projects:

  • An email commentary on higher education, the Clarion Call, and the higher education section of the John Locke publication Carolina Journal.
  • Conferences and lectures. In 2013, the Pope Center sponsored a conference on teacher education and a luncheon honoring Milton Friedman. In 2010, George Leef, director of research, took part in a PBS debate over higher education along with former education secretary Margaret Spellings and others.
  • Research papers. Recent papers include Pell Grants: Where Does All the Money Go? And The State of the State University: Critical Facts about the UNC System.
  • The Spirit of Inquiry Award. The Pope Center honors the state’s best professors.
  • Websites providing information about North Carolina colleges and universities for potential students and for alumni.

Personnel

Jane S. Shaw is president of the Pope Center; George Leef is director of research; Jay Schalin is senior writer; and Jenna Ashley Robinson is campus outreach coordinator.

The chairman of the Pope Center is Arch T. Allen, former vice chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a former member of its Board of Trustees.

Additional information, including staff biographies, is available at About the Staff, Board of Directors, and Academic Advisory Committee.

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