Statement from Faculty and Staff at the University of North Carolina: Centers housed at UNC Law

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A Statement from Faculty and Staff at the University of North Carolina in response to the recommendation by a working group of the UNC Board of Governors to close the UNC Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity, and narrow the activities of the Center for Civil Rights. *The UNC Board of Governors voted unanimously on February 27, 2015, to close the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at UNC-CH as well as the Institute for Civil Engagement and Social Change at NCCU, and the ECU Center on Biodiversity. For more information on current developments related to the actions and decisions of the Board of Governors, please visit the United for UNC website and Facebook page. Thank you.*


We, the undersigned faculty and staff of the University of North Carolina, write in opposition to the recent recommendation of a working group of the UNC Board of Governors (BOG) to close the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity, and we stand in support of the advocacy work of the Center for Civil Rights in the face of a pending suggestion that it narrow its activities. Both of these centers are housed at the UNC School of Law. The recommendation to close the Poverty Center, if implemented, will deprive North Carolinians of critical research and education on poverty; chill academic freedom and inquiry; and hurt our law students who desperately need and greatly benefit from the real-world experience that interning there provides. Moreover, the proposal by some members of the BOG working group that the Center for Civil Rights be prohibited from suing the state or its political subdivisions – the usual defendants in civil rights suits – would fundamentally curtail its important work on behalf of marginalized groups. We urge the Board of Governors not to accept the working group’s recommendations regarding these Centers.

The Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity meets the pressing need in the state of North Carolina for research and education on the subject of poverty. Over the past decade, our state has experienced the greatest increase in concentrated poverty in the country. The Center has continually sought to call attention to this pressing fact, as well as others that many would prefer to ignore. These include that 25% of all children live in poverty, including 40% of children of color. The Center has for the past decade provided indispensable research and highlighted policies that would benefit the poor. Closing the Poverty Center will deprive North Carolinians of much-needed facts and analysis not available elsewhere.

Similarly, the Center for Civil Rights has long been an important institution at UNC and in the state, training the next generation of lawyers on these important issues, providing advice and representation to the state’s most marginalized communities, fighting to end our state’s legacy of segregated schooling, and working to ensure that low-wealth neighborhoods do not bear the brunt of environmental degradation. Prohibiting the Center for Civil Rights from suing the state or municipalities – typically the central defendants in any civil rights litigation – would eliminate an essential tool to accomplish its mission.

To the extent that the working group’s recommendation regarding the Poverty Center is based on animus for our colleague and former UNC Law School dean, Gene Nichol, the Poverty Center’s director, we decry it. Professor Nichol has been a prominent and thoughtful critic of proposals that exacerbate inequality and drive low-income people into ever deeper destitution. Punishing a professor for expressing his views – views always carefully supported by facts and rigorous analysis – chills the free speech that is central to the University’s mission. Such active suppression of free speech contravenes the very lifeblood of a public university, where dialogue and dissent must be permitted to survive and indeed to flourish if scholars are to fulfill their missions of contributing to the collective knowledge of the commonwealth.

Closing the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, and potentially curtailing the activities of the Center for Civil Rights, will also deprive UNC law students and young lawyers of important opportunities to learn to think critically, write analytically, and hone arguments under the tutelage of experienced litigators and scholars. Legal employers have for years complained that law graduates are ill equipped for the real-world demands of practice. These Centers provide students with crucial experience that makes them better, more ethical and more zealous lawyers. It is wrong to take these opportunities away – particularly when the Poverty Center and the Center for Civil Rights do not receive state tax dollars.

We implore the Board to reject the committee’s recommendations when it votes on these matters on February 27, 2015, and to defend the principles of UNC, articulated by the late Frank Porter Graham, president of UNC-Chapel Hill from 1930 until 1949: “Freedom to think, freedom to speak and freedom to print are the [university standard]. . . . Lux & Libertas is cut with native chisel deep in the stones quarried from local soil.”

  • Neel Ahuja, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, UNC-CH
  • Adrienne E. Allison, Director of Public Interest Advising, UNC School of Law
  • David Ardia, Assistant Professor of Law and Co-Director, UNC Center for Media Law and Policy
  • Chris Bail, Assistant Professor of Sociology, UNC-CH
  • Frank R. Baumgartner, Professor of Political Science, UNC-CH
  • Susan Bickford, Associate Professor of Political Science, UNC-CH
  • Tamar Birckhead, Associate Professor of Law and Director of Clinical Programs
  • Kaci Bishop, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law
  • John Charles Boger, Dean and Wade Edwards Distinguished Professor of Law
  • Cheryl Mason Bolick, Associate Professor, School of Education, UNC-CH
  • Laura Collins Britton, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law
  • Lissa L. Broome, Wells Fargo Professor of Banking Law and Director of the Center for Banking and Finance
  • Alfred Brophy, Judge John J. Parker Distinguished Professor of Law
  • Kenneth S. Broun, Henry Brandis Professor of Law Emeritus
  • Kathleen M. Brown, Professor and Coordinator of Educational Leadership and Policy, School of Education, UNC-CH
  • Patricia Bryan, Martha Brandis Professor of Law
  • Chad Bryant, Associate Professor, Department of History, UNC-CH
  • Katie Bucrek, Program Assistant, UNC School of Law
  • Bernard A. Burk, Assistant Professor of Law
  • Alexa Z. Chew, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law
  • Andrew Chin, Associate Professor of Law
  • John M. Conley, William Rand Kenan Jr. Professor of Law
  • Gail Corrado, Lecturer, UNC-CH
  • Michael Corrado, Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor of Law
  • John F. Coyle, Assistant Professor of Law
  • Altha Cravey, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, UNC-CH
  • Elyse Crystall, Senior Lecturer, English & Comparative Literature, UNC-CH
  • Valeria X. D'Alcantara, Instructional Technology Support Specialist, UNC School of Law
  • Charles E. Daye, Henry Brandis Professor of Law Emeritus
  • Dr. Maria DeGuzman, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, UNC-CH
  • Nicholas Didow, Kenan Institute Faculty Fellow, UNC-CH
  • Dana N. Thompson Dorsey, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy, UNC-CH
  • Eric S. Downing, Hanes Distinguished Term Professor of German, English and Comparative Literature
  • Doug Edmunds, Assistant Dean for IT and Adjunct Instructor, UNC School of Law
  • Maxine Eichner, Reef C. Ivey II Professor of Law
  • Lewis Moore Everett, Clinical Associate Professor of Law
  • Barbara Fedders, Clinical Associate Professor of Law
  • Marcie Cohen Ferris, Associate Professor, Department of American Studies, UNC-CH
  • William Ferris, Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History and Senior Associate Director, Center for the Study of the American South, UNC-CH
  • Emma Flatt, Assistant Professor of History, UNC-CH
  • Victor Flatt, Thomas F. and Elizabeth Taft Distinguished Professor in Environmental Law and Director, Center for Law, Environment, Adaptation, and Resources
  • John Galassi, Professor, School of Education, UNC-CH
  • Laura N. Gasaway, Paul B. Eaton Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus
  • Deborah R. Gerhardt, Assistant Professor of Law
  • Michael J. Gerhardt, Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor in Constitutional Law
  • S. Elizabeth Gibson, Burton Craige Professor of Law
  • Joseph T. Glatthaar, Stephenson Distinguished Professor of History
  • Beth Grabowski, Zachary Taylor Smith Distinguished Term Professor of Art, UNC-CH
  • Jeffrey A. Greene, Associate Professor of Learning Sciences and Educational Psychology
  • Justin H. Gross, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, UNC-CH
  • Lawrence Grossberg, Morris Davis Distinguished Professor of Communication Studies
  • Madeleine R. Grumet, Professor, School of Education, UNC-CH
  • Jacqueline Hagan, Robert G. Parr Distinguished Term Professor of Sociology, UNC-CH
  • Karen Hagemann, James G. Kenan Distinguished Professor of History, UNC-CH
  • Jill V. Hamm, Professor, School of Education, UNC-CH
  • David R. Hansen, Clinical Assistant Professor & Reference Librarian, UNC School of Law
  • Thomas Lee Hazen, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of Law
  • Jonathan M. Hess, Malkin Distinguished Professor, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • Glenn Hinson, Associate Professor of Folklore and Anthropology, UNC-CH
  • Madison Hissom, Administrative Assistant, UNC School of Law
  • Jeffrey M. Hirsch, Geneva Yeargan Rand Distinguished Professor of Law
  • Jennifer Ho, Associate Professor, English & Comparative Literature, UNC-CH
  • Donald T. Hornstein, Aubrey L. Brooks Professor of Law
  • Sherick Hughes, Associate Professor, School of Education, UNC-CH
  • Evelyne Huber, Morehead Alumni Distinguished Professor, Chair, Department of Political Science, UNC-CH
  • Melissa B. Jacoby, Graham Kenan Professor of Law
  • Dr. Kenneth R. Janken, Interim Director, UNC Center for the Study of the American South and Professor of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies, UNC-CH
  • Arne L. Kalleberg, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Editor, Social Forces, UNC-CH
  • Thomas A. Kelley, Paul B. Eaton Distinguished Professor of Law
  • Joseph Kennedy, Professor of Law
  • Catherine Y. Kim, Assistant Professor of Law
  • Julie Kimbrough, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law and Assistant Director for Collections and Access
  • Sherryl Kleinman, Professor of Sociology, UNC-CH
  • Anne Klinefelter, Associate Professor of Law and Director of Law Library
  • Joan Krause, Dan K. Moore Distinguished Professor of Law
  • Konstantine Kyriacopoulos, Assistant Professor, Watson College of Education, UNC-W
  • Holning Lau, Professor of Law
  • James Leloudis, Professor of History
  • Brian D. Lewis, Assistant Dean for Career Development, UNC School of Law
  • Michael Lienesch, Professor of Political Science, UNC-CH
  • Arnold H. Loewy, Graham Kenan Professor of Law Emeritus
  • Jennifer Watson Marsh, Director of Research, Community Services and Student Programs, UNC Center for Civil Rights
  • William P. Marshall, William Rand Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law
  • Nina Martin, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, UNC-CH
  • Steve May, Associate Professor, Communication Studies, UNC-CH
  • Jon McClanahan, Clinical Associate Professor of Law
  • Terence McIntosh, Associate Professor, Department of History, UNC-CH
  • Louise McReynolds, Professor of History, UNC-CH
  • Hassan Melehy, Professor and Graduate Advisor of French, Department of Romance Studies, UNC-CH
  • Ruth Ann McKinney, Clinical Professor of Law Emeritus
  • Steven Melamut, Assistant Director for Administration & Information Technology and Clinical Assistant Professor of Law
  • Hannah Rose Mendoza, Assistant Professor of Interior Architecture, UNC-G
  • Derrick R. Miller, Associate Professor of German, UNC-W
  • Gemma Foust Mojica, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education, School of Education, UNC-CH
  • Aaron Moody, Associate Professor, Department of History, UNC-CH
  • Beth Moracco, Research Associate Professor, Department of Health Behavior, Gillings School of Global Public Health
  • Robert P. Mosteller, J. Dickson Phillips Distinguished Professor of Law
  • Eric Muller, Dan K. Moore Distinguished Professor of Law in Jurisprudence and Ethics
  • Richard E. Myers II, Henry Brandis Distinguished Professor of Law
  • Alan Nelson, Harold J. Glass Professor, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Philosophy, UNC-CH
  • Rebecca S. New, Associate Professor of Education, UNC-CH
  • Jonathan Oberlander, Professor of Social Medicine and Health Policy & Management, UNC-CH
  • Elizabeth Ann Olson, Associate Professor, Department of Geography
  • Eileen R. Carlton Parsons, Associate Professor, School of Education, UNC-CH
  • Andrew J. Perrin, Professor of Sociology and Director of Carolina Seminars, UNC-CH
  • Sharon Palsha, Clinical Associate Professor, School of Education, UNC-CH
  • Susan D. Pennybacker, Professor of European History, Department of History, UNC-CH
  • Louis A. Perez, Jr., J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor, Department of History, UNC-CH
  • Dr. John Pickles, Earl N. Phillips Distinguished Professor of International Studies
  • Beth S. Posner, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law
  • Gerald J. Postema, Cary C. Boshamer Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Law
  • Christopher R. Putney, Associate Professor of Russian and Director of Slavic and East European Languages and Literatures
  • Donald J. Raleigh, Jay Richard Judson Distinguished Professor, Department of History, UNC-CH
  • Alice Ratliff, Clinical Professor of Law
  • Dana Remus, Associate Professor of Law
  • Ronald Rindfuss, Research Professor, Department of Sociology, UNC-CH
  • Graeme Robertson, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, UNC-CH
  • Rachel Rogers, Faculty Administrative Support, UNC School of Law
  • Xue Lan Rong, Professor, School of Education, UNC-CH
  • Richard Rosen, Professor of Law Emeritus
  • Kathryn A. Sabbeth, Assistant Professor of Law
  • Oscar J. Salinas, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law
  • Maria Savasta-Kennedy, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Externship Program
  • Richard S. Saver, Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor of Law
  • Patricia E. Sawin, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies and Coordinator of the Folklore Program, Department of American Studies, UNC-CH
  • Terri O. Saye, Catalog Librarian, UNC School of Law
  • Lars Schoultz, William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor of Political Science, UNC-CH
  • Donald D. Searing, Burton Craige Distinguished Professor of Political Science, UNC-CH
  • Iqbal Sevea, Assistant Professor, Department of History, UNC-CH
  • Theodore M. Shaw, Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Civil Rights
  • Daniel J. Sherman, Lineberger Distinguished Professor, Art History and History Department of Art, UNC-CH
  • Sarah Shields, Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professor, Department of History, UNC-CH
  • Craig T. Smith, Assistant Dean for the Writing and Learning Resources Center and Clinical Professor of Law
  • Jay M. Smith, Professor, Department of History, UNC-CH
  • Benjamin Spain, Admissions Counselor, UNC School of Law
  • Phillip Spangler, Facilities Manager, UNC School of Law
  • John D. Stephens, Lenski Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Director, Center for European Studies, European Union Center of Excellence, Trans-Atlantic Masters Program, UNC-CH
  • Charles Story, Technology Support Analyst, UNC School of Law
  • Leslie Anne Street, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law and Assistant Director for Research and Instruction
  • Patricia Lynne Sullivan, Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Public Policy, UNC-CH
  • Kathleen DeLaney Thomas, Assistant Professor of Law
  • James Trier, Associate Professor, School of Education, UNC-CH
  • William J. Turnier, Willie Person Mangum Professor of Law Emeritus
  • Milada Anna Vachudova, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Chair, Curriculum of Global Studies, UNC-CH
  • Rebecca Walker, Associate Professor, Department of Social Medicine, Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, UNC-CH
  • William B. Ware, Professor of Education, UNC-CH
  • Sara B. Warf, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law
  • Harry L. Watson, Atlanta Distinguished Professor in Southern Culture, Department of History, UNC-CH
  • Judith Welch Wegner, Burton Craige Professor of Law
  • Mark Weidemaier, Ralph M. Stockton, Jr. Distinguished Scholar and Associate Professor of Law
  • A. Mark Weisburd, Reef C. Ivey II Distinguished Professor of Law
  • Deborah M. Weissman, Reef C. Ivey II Distinguished Professor of Law
  • Anne Mitchell Whisnant, Ph.D., Deputy Secretary of the Faculty, Adjunct Associate Professor of History and American Studies, UNC-CH
  • Erika Wilson, Assistant Professor of Law
  • Janine M. Zanin, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law and Faculty Supervisor of the Externship Program

Posted by Tamar R. Birckhead on Fri. February 20, 2015 7:57 PM
Categories: Service
UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106


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