Former Senior U.S. Department of Education Appointees Defend UNC-Chapel Hill Board, Chastise Accreditors
The Independent Institute’s Williamson Evers and other past top U.S. Education Department officials are chastising an accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), for attempting to block the creation of a new school based on free inquiry within the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
UNC-Chapel Hill’s trustees intend the new school to promote free and open dialogue, not intellectual and ideological conformity. The School of Civic Life and Leadership, as it has been named, will hire professors “from across the ideological spectrum” to teach in such academic fields as history, literature, philosophy, political science and religion. Plans for the new school are a follow-on to recent efforts by the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees to “support free speech and expression on campus.”
However, the SACS, the accrediting body in the Southern States, is attempting to thwart the proposal. Belle Wheelan, president of SACS’s commission on colleges, says that curricular changes should be the exclusive prerogative of the faculty. The trustees have received support from former officials of the Department of Education, who have applauded the efforts of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board in an open letter (which you can read here). The letter rebukes the accreditation body for its criticism and points out its history of arbitrary and ideological intrusions into proper university governance.
Williamson M. Evers is a former Assistant Secretary Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development for the U.S. Department of Education, now Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Educational Excellence at the Independent Institute.
The other former senior appointees who served in the U.S. Department of Education who have signed the letter are Mitchell M. Zais, Nathan Bailey, Jim Blew, Robert S. Eitel, Diane Auer Jones, Adam Kissel, and Reed Rubinstein.