In the accompanying video, UNC Greensboro Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. says North Carolina has a history of doing just that.
“We’re at a watershed in American public higher education,” Gilliam says. “For so long, the states subsidized state universities at high levels – at 75, 85 percent. And the argument was that it was a public good – that it benefited everyone.
“What’s happened, of course, is the states have decided to disinvest … and the costs have really been passed on to the students and their families,” Gilliam says, adding that it’s difficult for many public universities to fill gaps in state support.
“This is the real challenge … and it’s a challenge to the people of North Carolina,” he says. “Do you want to invest in higher public education because it is an engine of workforce development, it is an engine of revenue generation, it is an engine of innovation? Or do you want to leave it to chance that somehow, magically, we will be able to subsidize ourselves? These are tough tradeoffs.
“Fundamentally, you have to ask yourself what’s your return on your investment? And the history of North Carolina proves that there’s been a high ROI on public education, higher public education in particular. It’s been one of the great university systems in the world. To see the potential for it to be corroded is a shame, in my opinion.”