Gov. Pat McCrory caused a stir Tuesday after making controversial comments about the relevance of a liberal arts education at public universities on a radio talk show.
“If you want to take gender studies, that’s fine, go to a private school and take it,” he said, responding to conservative host Bill Bennett’s quip about UNC-CH’s department of women’s and gender studies.
“But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.”
McCrory said in the interview that his staff is working on legislation to revamp the state’s higher education system and prioritize vocational education. He said his proposal would better prepare students for seeking employment after graduation.
“It’s not based on butts in seats but on how many of those butts can get jobs,” he said.
But UNC-system President Thomas Ross said the university’s value to the state should not be measured by jobs alone.
“Our three-part mission of teaching, research and public service requires that we prepare students with the talent and abilities to succeed in the workforce, because talent will be the key to economic growth … higher education plays a key role in ensuring a higher quality of life for all North Carolinians.”
Jan Boxill, a professor of philosophy and chairwoman of the faculty at UNC, also said people need to consider the benefits of a liberal arts education.
“Education is more than just training people for jobs today,” she said. “We help students become problem solvers and creators for the jobs of the future.”