Eric Johnson: Board’s been there

November 11, 2012 

Board’s been there

The winds of change may be sweeping through the halls of the University of North Carolina system, proclaims Jay Schalin in his Nov. 5 Point of View article, crediting the new Republican majority on the Board of Governors for expressing opinions contrary to the system’s longstanding consensus.

These brave and contrarian opinions apparently include a belief that students ought to learn something, as evidenced by discussion at last month’s meeting of the book “Academically Adrift.” You’d never guess from Schalin’s triumphalist tone that the UNC system has been using the Collegiate Learning Assessment – the test cited and recommended in the book – to drive accountability discussions for many years. Campuses have long used the CLA and other tests to assess the effectiveness of degree programs.

Nor would you guess that degree attainment goals, rightly questioned by Board of Governors member Art Pope, have been the subject of robust debate for decades. The mindless lockstep that Schalin imputes to previous boards is nonsense.

Pope, Fred Eshelman and the rest of the board’s Democrats and Republicans deserve praise for their diligent service to the university. But woe to Schalin and his tedious ilk for trying to gin up a partisan rift from good-faith policy.

Eric Johnson

Former writer and editor, The Daily Tar Heel

Chapel Hill

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