Cuts to UNC System Damage Our Competitiveness

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Rob Christensen at the News and Observer talks in a recent column about the cuts to the UNC system over recent years and the effect it's had on our state. In it he says that some conservatives are starting to speak out against the cuts, recognizing the invaluable role the university system played in North Carolina's development. Here's a excerpt, 

North Carolina has one of the oldest university systems in the country. But it did not become one of the nation’s premier systems until the 1920s, when the state’s business community used its political muscle to convince the legislature to pour money into the consolidated university system. These bankers, textile magnates, lawyers, furniture executives and newspaper publishers saw it as a tool to modernize a poor, rural state.

These were men of the world and men of commerce – they were mostly men – who understood the importance of such things. As the years went by, many were products of the UNC system.

Today, the political connections between the UNC system and Raleigh have weakened. Many of the state’s current leaders are not products of the UNC system. And in this age of corporate mergers and consolidations, many business leaders are no longer Tar Heel natives.

Among the state’s top political leadership, the most prominent UNC graduate is Art Pope, the governor’s budget director and a major GOP financier. Pope has pushed the university to cut costs, but there are indications that other Republicans have different ideas.

Fred Eshelman, a Wilmington pharmaceutical executive who like Pope is a major GOP donor, told The N&O’s Jane Stancill that “it’s time to stop the bleeding.”

“You can say whatever you want to about the university system, and there’s waste and you don’t like their politics,” said Eshelman, a member of the UNC Board of Governors who gave $20 million to the UNC pharmacy school. “It doesn’t change the fact that, in my view, it’s the biggest economic engine we have in this state. And our state is known for this system.” 

Investing in the UNC system brings jobs and opportunity to people in our state. We can't abandon the very thing that made North Carolina great. 

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