Sunday, November 28, 2004

One Tentacle of the Octopus 

Not everybody who wants to give you money is your friend.

(via NC News&Observer)
CHAPEL HILL -- "Canine Cultural Studies" at UNC-Chapel Hill was named Course of the Month, but that was no great honor.

The freshman seminar got the title -- and a public skewering -- this year on the Web site of the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Professor Alice Kuzniar was shocked to be lampooned by the conservative think tank.

"I feel it's such an incredible misrepresentation of what we're doing in the classroom," she said. "We're reading Virginia Woolf. We're reading Franz Kafka."

Emotions are so strong that some want the university to refuse a potential multimillion-dollar grant by the related John William Pope Foundation.

The money would finance a minor in Western culture studies. The plan was developed by a faculty committee after the university approached the Pope family for a large donation. The foundation gave $25,000 to plan the program.

The Popes, of Raleigh, are one of the Triangle's richest families, and they've given generously to conservative causes and universities. Their foundation is named for John Pope, a former UNC-CH trustee. It is run by his son, Art Pope, a UNC-CH alumnus and former Republican state legislator.

Some faculty members and students fear the proposed UNC-CH program could threaten academic freedom and usurp the faculty's authority to set curriculum. A graduate student association has opposed it, professors spoke against it last week, and the undergraduate Student Congress could take up a resolution against it in January.

Art Pope said the foundation would decide on the grant in December or January. The program would cost $600,000 or $700,000 a year for five years, after which the foundation would decide whether to set up a permanent endowment. That would be about $12 million.

"A protest by a few is not going to prevent us from funding programs available to all students at Chapel Hill," he said.

The Pope Foundation has supported a number of schools. This year, it gave N.C. State University $511,500 to develop courses that explore relationships between economics and politics in free societies.

The foundation also supports conservative groups, including giving more than $26,000 to the Committee for a Better Carolina. That UNC-CH student group bought newspaper ads last year criticizing the university's freshman reading assignment, "Nickel and Dimed," as a liberal rant.

The center was founded in 1996 as a branch of the John Locke Foundation, a conservative think tank. Besides the Course of the Month selections on its Web site, the center conducts policy studies on issues such as affirmative action, faculty salaries, tuition and higher education financing.


The foundation is named for John William Pope, a former UNC-Chapel Hill trustee. His son, Art Pope, a former state legislator, is president of the family philanthropic organization. The Popes made a fortune from the family business, Variety Wholesalers Inc. of Raleigh, which operates more than 500 stores in 14 states, including chains such as Roses, Maxway, Super 10 and Bargain Town.

The foundation is the major backer behind the John Locke Foundation, the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law. It also gave the state Republican Party $500,000 for its Raleigh headquarters, which is named for the Popes.


Founded in 1996 as a project of the John Locke Foundation. It is now an independent organization with six employees and offices in Raleigh and Chapel Hill. It is primarily financed by the John William Pope Foundation. Art Pope serves on the board of directors.

The center issues policy reports and hires consultants to conduct studies of curriculum, college rankings, higher education spending, affirmative action and faculty compensation. It is currently looking into women's studies programs at UNC-CH, NCSU, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Charlotte and East Carolina University.
This is how the VRWC works. One "foundation" spins off another "center" and pretty soon you're into "policy" and CNN producers know your people are reliable talking heads available at a moment's notice to analyze things.

I've started keeping a list of these groups. It isn't all funded by Scaife and it goes way beyond AEI. When a university starts talking about turning down a $12 million "donation" you know they know what these guys are really up to: no good.

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