CHAPEL HILL – There’s plenty of hand-wringing these days over North Carolina’s rural-urban divide. But the chairman of the UNC System’s governing board sees a solution in the state’s colleges and universities.
“If you take a look at the rural West and the rural East, I mean we’ve got a challenge there due to urbanization,” Harry Smith, Chairman of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, says in the accompanying video. “Everybody’s moving to the center.”
But Smith, who hails from Washington, NC, and graduated from East Carolina University, sees the outlying schools in the UNC System – ECU, Elizabeth City State, UNC Pembroke, Western Carolina and Appalachian State – as economic engines for rural North Carolina.
They produce graduates who fill critical local jobs. “Teachers, nurses, educators,” he says.
“So … the healthier those outlying schools are, the better chance we have to battle urbanization.”