In his Feb. 28 statement, UNC Board of Governors chair John Fennebresque wanted us to believe that the BOG considered impact, educational mission, working across disciplines and lack of adequate financial support as the basis for canceling three centers.
As for the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, it is ridiculous to expect any academic center to single-handedly alleviate poverty. The impact of the center was educational, both to the public and within academia.
The center has addressed data gaps and narrative-based research to better characterize the status of poverty, including economic hardship, foreclosure, low-wage workers and community empowerment. The issues involved cross disciplinary boundaries of economics, public health, social work, medicine and, yes, politics.
The irony of closing a center on “poverty” because of “lack” of financial support is almost too funny. If the BOG really thought the center should increase its funding, it could have outlined a process for obtaining such funding rather than shut it down.
The BOG needs to get out of micromanaging the UNC system universities and their centers. The political apparatus has tried to stomp out a voice that does not adhere to party ideology.
One thing is clear: If the BOG doesn’t want us to know more about poverty, this is exactly what we need to know more about.