Peacock: ‘Tsunami of change’ coming to UNC campuses
by Anna Oakes
Students and faculty across the
University of North Carolina system have called for greater input in developing
the public university system’s five-year strategic plan — an initiative that
could bring a “tsunami of change” to UNC campuses, Appalachian State University
Chancellor Ken Peacock said Monday.
UNC system President Tom Ross
and UNC Board of Governors Chairman Peter Hans announced the creation of the
UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions Sept. 13.
A group called the North Carolina
Student Power Union has called for greater diversity of representation on the
committee, organizing a petition, day of action and letter campaign.
Specifically, the group has noted that the 32-member committee includes only
one faculty member, one staff employee and one student.
“This committee will be making decisions about the public
higher education system in our state that will directly impact everyone in the
UNC system and the people of North Carolina,” said Lydia Bravo-Taylor, a
student at N.C. State, in a statement Monday.
“Yet, students, faculty and workers … are dramatically
outnumbered by businesspeople with no experience whatsoever in public education,”
Bravo-Taylor said. “We make the UNC system what it is, and we should be the
ones deciding its future.”
The Advisory Committee is tasked
with recommending whether and to what extent
the state should embrace higher education degree attainment goals, along with
strategies accompanied by reasonable objectives, timelines and metrics,
according to committee meeting materials. The committee first met Sept. 26.
Advisory Committee may also consider recommendations related to higher academic
standards and competencies required for a globally competitive workforce. To
help inform its recommendations, the Advisory Committee’s work will include a
high‐level analysis of the
Additional meetings are scheduled
for Oct. 24, Nov. 7, Dec. 12 and Jan. 9.
The Student Power Union has decried a committee membership
it says is “dominated
by corporate and right-wing forces with a clearly documented agenda to
dismantle public education” and “overwhelmingly wealthy white men.”
union is particularly critical of the appointment of Art Pope, CEO of Variety
Wholesalers. Pope is a former state legislator, director of conservative
political group Americans for Prosperity and board member for the conservative
John Locke Foundation.
union’s statement Monday demanded that Pope be removed from the committee.
The UNC Faculty Assembly on Sept. 21 passed a
resolution calling for a mechanism to solicit faculty input from each campus
throughout the strategic planning process and a faculty group be formed “to
interact and collaborate with the business/political community advisory
committee for the university’s strategic planning.
The ASU Faculty Senate voted to endorse the
resolution on Monday.
Peacock, who is among five
chancellors appointed to serve on the advisory committee, spoke about the
strategic planning process at Monday’s ASU Faculty Senate meeting.
“Change is coming. I don’t know
what that change is going to be,” Peacock said, metaphorically stating he felt
he was standing at the shore and watching a tsunami approach. “I just sense
this change is coming.”
Peacock told the Senate that the
“political landscape” and membership among the Board of Governors have
influenced that feeling.
Faculty Senate Chairman Andy Koch asked how the current
process compares with UNC Tomorrow, the Erskine Bowles-led strategic plan
adopted in 2008.
“The process is totally different,” Peacock said, noting
that UNC Tomorrow conducted forums across the state to gather input.
Peacock is also a member of the UNC Strategic Directions
Committee, a separate committee that is guiding and directing the larger strategic planning
process. This committee is chaired by BOG member Fred Eshelman and
includes selected UNC General Administration staff and chancellors.
For more information about the strategic planning process, including meeting materials, visit http://www.northcarolina.edu/strategic_direction/meetings/committee/index.php.