Like his peers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hassan Melehy is quite incensed at the efforts of the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. “Given the widespread tendency to direct budget cuts in higher education toward areas perceived as less essential to economic productivity, there isn’t a single college or university humanities program in the United States that wouldn’t benefit from philanthropy,” Melehy writes in Academe, a journal published by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). “However, because some moneyed interests use the current crisis as a pretext to further diminish publicly sponsored opportunities for the less well-off, there is good reason to be wary of some donors’ motives.”
“Many of us teaching in North Carolina’s public universities know that a philanthropist to whom this principle strongly applies is Art Pope, a conservative multimillionaire.” Mellehy teaches French at UNC-Chapel Hill.
“For many years, among his other political activities, Pope has waged a wrestling match with the faculty in the University of North Carolina system, especially at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I teach,” Melehy claims. “He has directed his struggle generally against public higher education and specifically against the supposed anti-Western bias of teaching and research in the humanities.”
“His strategy—carried out mainly through think tanks he funds, the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, the John W. Pope Foundation, and the John Locke Foundation—combines a public image of concerned generosity about the university system with open attacks on the faculty and curriculum at UNC–Chapel Hill.” Melehy’s own poetic attempts, which are available online, could hardly be considered rarefied by almost anyone’s standards, Western or not.
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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