Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Latest Assault on the Liberal Arts

It comes from Patrick McCrory, the Republic governor of North Carolina.  Inside Higher Ed gives us a taste of what he is up to:

The Republican governor also called into question [on the Bill Bennett radio program] the value of publicly supporting liberal arts majors after the host made a joke about gender studies courses at UNC-Chapel Hill. "If you want to take gender studies that's fine, go to a private school and take it,” McCrory told the radio host. “But I don't want to subsidize that if that's not going to get someone a job."

The two criticized philosophy Ph.D.s in a similar manner later in the program. "How many Ph.D.s in philosophy do I need to subsidize?" Bennett asked, to which McCrory replied, "You and I agree." (Bennett earned a Ph.D., from a public flagship university, the University of Texas at Austin, in philosophy.)

McCrory’s comments on higher education echo statements made by a number of Republican governors – including those in Texas, Florida and Wisconsin – who have questioned the value of liberal arts instruction and humanities degrees at public colleges and universities. Those criticisms have started to coalesce into a potential Republican agenda on higher education, emphasizing reduced state funding, low tuition prices, vocational training, performance funding for faculty members, state funding tied to job placement in “high demand” fields and taking on flagship institutions.

McCrory graduated from Catawba College, a liberal arts college in Salisbury, NC.

Ferrel Guillory of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill responded to McCrory's statements:

"The shift is from seeing a robust public university as an economic and civic catalyst to wondering whether the university is so big that a lot of its inefficiencies need to be wrung out of it,” said Ferrel Guillory, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and expert on southern politics.

That belief tends to ignore the argument that a college education serves purposes other than preparing students for employment, including economic and civic returns that benefit individuals and society as a whole.