Well it happened. Despite the disruptions of two dozen protestors, today the UNC Board of Governors (BOG) voted to accept the recommendation of a BOG working group and close three university- based centers, including the UNC Center on Poverty Work and Opportunity, headed by the controversial law school professor Gene Nichol.
As expected, much of the University community viewed the decision to close the center as an attack on academic freedom. It wasn’t. If the BOG’s actions were an assualt on academic freedom, why didn’t anyone protest the closures of the two other centers? The criteria the BOG used in making their recommendations is clearly laid out in Draft Report Board of Governors Working Group on Centers and Institutes.
The UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity was supposed to be an academic center that conducted research and developed scholarship on the subject of poverty. If you look at the Center’s web site, it looks like those activities were in short supply. Many of the publications listed on the web site are dated. As is a listing of Policy Briefs. Events held by the Center encourage advocacy more than scholarship. The right side of the Center’s web site are links to causes that have little to do with poverty like immigration, health care and corporate speech.
It is interesting that the left says they decry the BOG’s action as an attack on academic freedom. At the same time they say the Poverty Center was not receiving any public money. If that’s the case, why the outcry? Practically speaking the Poverty Center will continue to make the case for private funding, just like everyone else. Of course, you do wonder why if the Poverty Center is a privately-funded organization, why is the Center’s address a PO Box in the UNC law school?