In your Sept. 8 editorial “Checkup for UNC system,” you noted that former state budget director Art Pope “and his family have given millions of dollars to (UNC) over a number of years.” In context, this parenthetical note seems to imply that his philanthropies might somehow qualify Pope to become UNC president. A bad joke, surely.
The idea that a multi-millionaire, without visible qualifications other than “attitude,” might buy the presidency of a major educational institution is repulsive. Not even the late Sen. Jesse Helms, like Pope a compulsive critic of the university, reached so far above his competence.
So far as I am aware, the current administrators of UNC are qualified and conscientious. Of course they should hear and respond to constructive criticism. But so far as I know, they do not aspire to run Pope’s businesses.
I recall an old story: One day when he was president of Columbia University, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who liked to be liked (and was), stopped an ancient and distinguished professor on the university campus. “What do you think of me as president of Columbia?” he asked. The old professor’s reply was succinct: “General, what would you think of me as chief of staff of the U.S. Army?”
Edwin M. Yoder Jr.