The Decline of the English Department
Authored by director of policy analysis Jay Schalin, the report investigates current trends in English departments, including why student enrollment has declined in English departments at American universities and how both internal and external pressures have led to widespread changes in the discipline's curriculum.... More »
September 08, 2015
Renewal in the University
A major change is occurring on university campuses: the creation of privately funded centers and institutes that preserve the traditional knowledge and perspectives that were once at the heart of the university. This paper by Jay Schalin discusses the surge of such programs across the country.... More »
January 07, 2015
Faculty Teaching Loads in the UNC System
This paper by Jay Schalin, the Pope Center's director of policy analysis, explores the teaching loads of faculty in the University of North Carolina system. It finds that the university overstates the actual teaching duties of professors and recommends that the UNC Board of Governors conduct a comprehensive study of faculty workloads. ... More »
August 01, 2014
General Education at NC State
In the Pope Center's latest report, Jay Schalin, director of policy analysis, says that North Carolina State University's general education program is "deeply flawed" because students can select from courses that are "too narrow," "trivial," and often "inspired by political correctness." ... More »
May 12, 2014
General Education at UNC-Chapel Hill
This report evaluates Chapel Hill's general education program--the school's requirements for graduation outside the major subject--in light of the traditional goals of general education.... More »
October 25, 2013
Additional Details for the State of the State University Report
Supportive details, including statistics for specific campuses, can be found below.... More »
August 21, 2013
The State of the State University
"The State of the State University" by Jenna Ashley Robinson compiles publicly available data about the University of North Carolina system.... More »
August 01, 2013
Pell Grants: Where Does All the Money Go?
Jenna Ashley Robinson and Duke Cheston examine how well Pell grants serve students and taxpayers.... More »
June 11, 2012
Games Universities Play: And How Donors Can Avoid Them
Martin Morse Wooster shows in this report that universities often neglect the wishes of contributors.... More »
September 12, 2011
A Common-Sense Look at UNC Faculty Workloads
This paper measures the teaching loads of faculty in the University of North Carolina (UNC) system.... More »
June 02, 2011
A Proposal for Cutting the 2011 UNC Budget
This report provides the Pope Center's criteria for cutting university budgets, along with specific cuts to the 2011-13 UNC budget. ... More »
February 22, 2011
State Investment in Universities: Rethinking the Impact on Economic Growth
Policymakers today commonly assume that investing taxpayers' funds into higher education leads to major payoffs in economic growth. This report looks at broader economic studies that attempts to correlate expenditures with results.... More »
May 01, 2010
Accommodating College Students with Learning Disabilities: ADD, ADHD, and Dyslexia
Universities are providing extra time on tests, quiet exam rooms, in-class note-takers, and other assistance to college students with modest learning disabilities. But these policies are shrouded in secrecy. This paper, “Accommodating College Students with Learning Disabilities: ADD, ADHD, and Dyslexia,” by Melana Zyla Vickers, examines the nature of this assistance and discusses the policy questions it raises.... More »
March 25, 2010
Do North Carolina Students Have Freedom of Speech?
The report examines the speech, assembly and religious protections for students and faculty at North Carolina’s universities--both public and private. Using the speech code rating system from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the Pope Center found that none of North Carolina’s universities received a "green light."... More »
February 17, 2010
The UNC School of the Arts: Should It Be Self-Supporting?
This paper addresses the question of whether taxpayer funding is appropriate for a school that focuses on professional arts training, attracts nearly half its college students from outside the state, and appears to send most of its graduates elsewhere. It is, on a per capita basis, the most costly school in the University of North Carolina system.... More »
December 01, 2009
College Bound? Make the Right Choices
College Bound? Make the Right Choices is the Pope Center’s latest tool for improving colleges and universities “from the bottom up” through better choices. Its purpose is to help high school students and their parents become smarter purchasers of higher education. This booklet by Jenna Ashley Robinson helps young people think through what they want from college—and choose their colleges accordingly.... More »
September 15, 2009
The Revenue-to-Cost Spiral in Higher Education
The cost of higher education has been rising rapidly. This paper by Robert E. Martin explains why. The cause is the incentives inherent in the nature of higher education. Higher education is a nonprofit sector; profit and even clear ownership are missing. Martin compares higher education with the broader profit-seeking economy, where costs must be controlled if firms are to survive. He finds that higher education, due to its nonprofit nature and its focus on creating reputation, spends just about all the money it gets, avoiding cost control.
... More »
June 30, 2009
Today's university is rife with competing claims about academic freedom. Although it is similar to the freedom of speech that all Americans enjoy, academic freedom has developed into a more specific guarantee for scholars and teachers. This new paper by Donald Downs, professor of political science, law, and journalism at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, explains what is meant by the term and to whom it applies. ... More »
April 27, 2009
Griggs v. Duke Power
This paper by Bryan O’Keefe and Richard Vedder raises a provocative question. Does the increase in college enrollment over the past 30 years partly reflect the changing pressures on employers based on a 1971 Supreme Court decision? And if so, could these pressures also explain the much-touted increase in earnings that comes from a college education?
O’Keefe and Vedder explore the impact of the Griggs v. Duke Power decision on today’s college enrollment. In Griggs, the plaintiffs argued that Duke Power’s reliance on two aptitude tests discriminated against minority groups. Subsequent cases and statutory law have changed the environment for employer testing. This may have changed the pressure to attend college.
The paper is jointly published by the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.
... More »
October 31, 2008
Opening Up the Classroom
A new report from the Pope Center proposes a way to improve the transparency and accountability of colleges and universities. “Opening Up the Classroom: Greater Transparency through Better, More Accessible Course Information,“ by Jay Schalin, recommends that faculty be required to post their course syllabi—the descriptions that go beyond the sketchy catalog summaries—on the Internet, with access open to the public.
There are four reasons for posting such documents on the Web. These are: to aid students as they register for courses, to expose a professor’s deviation from normal expectations or acceptable academic standards, to aid in pedagogical research and information sharing, and to make comparisons between classes at different universities easier for the determination of transfer credits.
... More »
July 29, 2008
Legal Education in North Carolina
A new report from the Pope Center recommends ways to increase the availability of low-cost legal education in North Carolina. It discusses the state’s law schools in detail, using available data about student outcomes such as student debt load and salaries upon graduation.
“Legal Education in North Carolina,” by Andrew P. Morriss and William D. Henderson, reveals that North Carolina has a “substantial unmet demand for legal education.” Signs of this unmet demand are the fact that its law schools are more selective than most law schools in other states and the state has fewer private-sector lawyers per capita than any other state (758/1).
... More »
February 25, 2008
UNC Education Schools: Helping or Hindering Potential Teachers?
This paper from the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy takes a critical look at what is being taught at University of North Carolina teacher education schools. It reveals the overemphasis on so-called “student-centered learning,” also known as “progressivism” and “constructivism.”
“UNC Education Schools: Helping or Hindering Potential Teachers?” by George K. Cunningham, a former professor in educational and counseling psychology at the University of Louisville, concludes that UNC's education schools have major weaknesses when it comes to teaching teachers.
... More »
January 08, 2008
Student Activity Fees: Who Gets What and Who Decides?
Only a small percentage of student activity fees at University of North Carolina campuses are distributed by students to campus organizations, says a new study. The majority of student activity fees are allocated by university administrators for purposes ranging from repairs to a student center to an undergraduate teaching award.
At N.C. State, only $8.85 out of the $363.50 collected per student for activities is distributed by students. At UNC-Chapel Hill, $39 of the $291.30 students must pay each year is given to student government to disburse to student organizations. “Contrary to the general impression, students are almost entirely excluded from the process of disbursing the student activity fee,” says Jenna Ashley Robinson, author of the study, “Student Activity Fees: Who Gets What and Who Decides?”
... More »
November 15, 2007
To Be or Not To Be: Shakespeare in the English Department
Nearly 50 percent of North Carolina colleges and universities no longer require their English majors to take a course in the work of William Shakespeare, says a report from the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. Shakespeare is widely considered the most important author in the English language.
The Pope Center’s report, “To Be or Not to Be: Shakespeare in the English Department,” is based on information from the Web sites of 49 four-year universities in North Carolina; when clarification was needed, university personnel were contacted. The report indicates, by specific school, which require Shakespeare for their English majors and which do not.
Editor’s note: We learned after publication that we made an error. Mount Olive College, a private school, was listed as not requiring Shakespeare for its English majors. That is wrong; it does require its English majors to take a course in Shakespeare.
With this correction, 18 of the 34 private colleges surveyed still require Shakespeare, and 16 do not. Thus, 47 percent of the private schools do not require Shakespeare for English majors.
As indicated in the report, seven of the 15 public four-year campuses (North Carolina School of the Arts was excluded), also 47 percent, do not require Shakespeare. Taken together, approximately 47 percent of all surveyed schools do not require Shakespeare.
... More »
September 27, 2007
From Christian Gentleman to Bewildered Seeker
Russell K. Nieli's new essay tells the story of the increasing loss of purpose and focus suffered by American universities over the ages.
Nieli, a lecturer in Princeton University’s politics department, has authored an important study of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, written numerous articles on public policy topics and edited an anthology of writings on affirmative action. Nieli graduated summa cum laude from Duke University and received his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1970. He previously authored a Pope Center research paper in March 2007, “The Decline and Revival of Liberal Learning at Duke: The Focus and Gerst Programs.”... More »
August 15, 2007
Faculty Compensation in the University of North Carolina System: How UNC schools compare with their national peers
The study is published by the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and written by Jon Sanders, a policy analyst and research editor with the John Locke Foundation.
The North Carolina General Assembly allocates funds for faculty compensation. For the 2007-2009 biennium, Erskine Bowles, UNC president, is seeking $87.8 million to boost faculty salaries. This paper will cast doubt on the need for this increase. It will provide empirical information useful for legislators, administrators, taxpayers, and others.
... More »
May 09, 2007
The Decline and Revival of Liberal Learning at Duke: The Focus and Gerst Programs
Two academic programs at Duke University are helping undergraduates experience a well-rounded education, and these programs could be copied by other universities. This is the message of a new report from the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, “The Decline and Revival of Liberal Learning at Duke: The Focus and Gerst Programs,” by Russell K. Nieli.
Duke is responding to a problem that afflicts many universities: There is no longer a “core curriculum. “ Students round out their education by selecting courses that meet loose “distribution requirements,” but the resulting education can be fragmented, limited, and incoherent.
Duke has countered this fragmentation by forming the Focus and Gerst programs.
To view the executive summary of the report, click here.... More »
March 12, 2007
Inquiry Paper No. 25: The Overselling of Higher Education
A paper published by the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy argues that higher education has been oversold to the public. Many students who are not really interested in academic pursuits are spending a lot of time and money to get a credential that is much less valuable than they suppose.
The paper was written by George Leef, vice president for research, and focuses on many of the common themes that dominate higher education policy today.... More »
September 05, 2006
Inquiry Paper No. 24: English 101: Prologue to Literacy or Postmodern Moonshine?
Since freshman composition became a required course at Harvard in 1872, it has seen many changes, but none so radical as the changes brought about in the 1970s, when composition theory became a specialty. Postmodern theories about teaching composition have transformed writing programs nationwide, and this paper examines what has become of freshman writing courses at the two flagship branches of the University of North Carolina, N.C. State and UNC-Chapel Hill.... More »
June 19, 2006
Inquiry Paper No. 23 The State of the First Amendment in the UNC system
FIRE's Report on the State of the First Amendment in the University of North Carolina System serves to educate the public about the rampant abuse of First Amendment rights within the UNC System, and to put North Carolina's public colleges and universities on notice that it is unlikely—if not impossible—that most of the policies discussed in the report could survive a constitutional challenge.... More »
January 10, 2006
Inquiry Paper No. 22 Governance in the Public Interest
The Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina has a fiduciary obligation to ensure the academic and financial health of the University of North Carolina (UNC) while serving the best interests of the state. In fulfilling its fiduciary obligation, there are a series of basic principles that the Board must apply. They include representing the entire university system, not a single constituency; understanding their role as Board members; setting the agenda; keeping informed; understanding the budget and ensuring the efficient use of resources; insisting on high academic standards, defending academic freedom and focusing on student learning.... More »
June 06, 2005
Inquiry Paper No. 21: An Empty Room of One's Own
For several decades, women's studies programs have found comfortable sinecures at publicly funded universities of North Carolina including UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Greensboro, NC State and East Carolina University. Heralded by feminists as the symbols of women's equality in academe, the programs were set up to offer majors and minors in women's studies, advance scholarship in the field, host their own special events, and design and teach their own classes. Women's studies programs also had their own administrators, faculty, and office space. In their way of thinking, feminists had secured in the ivory tower, what Virginia Woolf described as "A Room of One's Own."... More »
March 30, 2005
Inquiry Paper No. 20: On the Investment Payoff of Higher Education
A recent paper entitled "The Investment Payoff" purports to identify a number of significant benefits from higher education - increased personal income, lower unemployment, improved health, reduced reliance on public assistance, more volunteerism, and increased electoral participation. Readers are subtly led to conclude that increased spending on higher education would mean more of those desirable benefits. The weakness of the paper, however, is that it merely shows correlations between the group of college degree holders and the favorable outcomes. Policy makers should not be swayed by "The Investment Payoff" into putting additional resources into higher education.... More »
March 09, 2005
Inquiry #19: Tuition Waivers at the N.C. School of Science and Math
Since the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) opened in 1980, the school has attracted some of the state’s top high school students to come to Durham study at the residential high school. At the school, students take college-level courses, and they have performed well on SAT tests and in national competitions and been admitted to some of the nation’s most prestigious universities. In recognition of the school’s generally high level of academic achievement, in 2003 the General Assembly instituted a policy of waiving tuition charges for NCSSM graduates who enroll in any University of North Carolina institution. That policy, however, cannot be justified by any of the arguments advanced in its favor. It produces no public benefit, costs the state money, and unfairly discriminates in favor of NCSSM graduates.... More »
January 26, 2005
Inquiry #18: How Solid is the Core?
The study, by the National Association of Scholars for the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, examines the general education requirement and two bellwether majors, English and history, at 11 North Carolina universities, based on information provided by the institutions in their university catalogs for the years 2002 or 2003. We have taken into account the various ways in which individual universities design and publish their catalogs, and have effectively compared all the institutions for the same time frame. ... More »
September 20, 2004
Inquiry #17: Do College Rankings Mean Anything?
The annual college rankings published by U.S. News & World Report are widely read and regarded as an authoritative assessment of the nation’s colleges and universities. If the U.S. News rankings place one school higher than another, many people take that as proof that the higher-ranked school is academically better. Unfortunately, the U.S. News ranking system is deeply flawed.... More »
August 23, 2004
Inquiry #16: General Education Requirements at NC Public Universities: What Do Students Get in the Core Curriculum?
Colleges and universities ought to provide their students with a well-rounded education that will equip them for good citizenship and a productive life. Historically, many schools have done that by establishing a core curriculum of courses covering the fields of knowledge that an educated person should be familiar with: American history, the classics of our literature, natural science and mathematics, logic, fine arts, and the social sciences. Throughout the UNC system, few schools insist that their students take courses that would be regarded as crucial components of a sound education.... More »
September 15, 2003
Inquiry #15: Diversity and Racial Preferences: Implications of the Michigan Case for the UNC System
Race preferential admissions tend to depress the grade, the graduation rates, and advancement to graduate school for those favored in the admissions process. The Supreme Court will soon rule on the legality of such preferences in university admissions. What might this ruling mean for North Carolina?... More »
May 14, 2003
Inquiry #14: Providing Access: Who Pays What for Higher Education in N.C.
A fiscal crisis is forcing North Carolina to raise college tuition and scale back university budgets. The education community worries that N.C. students are losing “access” to higher education. A look at the most recent data suggests that N.C.’s high standing among the 50 states in those measures means it can weather the current fiscal problems and still provide better access than most other states. ... More »
October 25, 2002
Inquiry #13: The Higher Education Bonds: Hindsight and Foresight
The campaign for the higher education bonds in 2000 told North Carolina voters that the bonds were the best way to handle the University of North Carolina system’s deteriorating facilities and its pressing needs for new buildings to accommodate an expected surge in enrollment. Bond supporters were adamant and explicit in promising voters that the bonds wouldn’t raise their taxes. Now two years after passage, taxes have already risen and the deepening state budget crisis threatens to see them increase again, UNC is favoring new construction over supposedly critical repairs, there has been no sign of a massive surge in enrollment, and UNC is unnecessarily and openly pursuing contracting procedures that are possibly illegal and likely more costly. A moratorium on the bond sales, allowed by the legislation approving the bonds, appears to be the most responsible way to navigate the state’s fiscal crisis and UNC’s crisis of credibility with N.C. voters.... More »
July 18, 2002
Inquiry #12: Faculty Compensation in N.C.: How Our Research Universities Compare with Peer Institutions
Every year the American Association of University Professors publishes a detailed look at faculty compensation titled, “The Annual Report of the Economic Status of the Profession.” This paper standardizes measures of compensation for cost of living and quality of life and examines recent compensation increases in public universities. ... More »
September 01, 2001
Inquiry #5: A New Model for the Financing of Higher Education in North Carolina
North Carolina has a long history of support for higher education. The state's financial commitment to higher education is among the strongest in the United States. The high degree of subsidization of higher education in North Carolina has some very important effects. First, it transfers wealth from taxpayers in general to those families who take advantage of the low-cost UNC system. Second, it stimulates the demand for entrance into the system. Third, it works to the detriment of the private colleges and universities in the state. This paper will analyze each effect of North Carolina’s high subsidization of the University system.... More »
March 01, 2001
Inquiry #3: The Professors Are Not Underpaid
Whether professors at UNC-CH (and other UNC campuses) are sufficiently well compen-sated to ensure the university is competitive with other universities around the nation has become a highly contentious issue. In this study, we argue that: 1) using an accurate and thorough cost-of-living index, compensation for professors at UNC-CH is significantly above average for Research I universi-ties and above most other public universities; 2) using a broad “quality of living” index to adjust faculty salaries, compensation for professors at UNC-CH and NC State is even more competitive; and 3) speculation about a “brain drain” is not only unsupported by evidence, but contradicted by it.... More »
November 19, 1999