The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday December 2nd

PAC forms to support UNC system, higher education

A few months ahead of the N.C. General Assembly’s short session, a political action committee focused on supporting North Carolina’s public universities has formed.

Higher Education Works aims to preserve UNC-system schools by advocating for their continued maintenance and investment by the state. The legislature will finalize the system’s budget this summer.

The PAC received its first contributions in early February and filed its organizational papers shortly after.

Former UNC-CH Athletic Director Dick Baddour is one of the early donors to the PAC. Only three donors were listed on a disclosure report.

Baddour donated $2,000, according to a disclosure report.

Baddour said because the PAC is focused on serving the entire UNC system, rather than a single institution, he decided to donate to the cause.

“I’m certainly supporting efforts to sustain the quality of education in North Carolina,” he said.

Baddour said he has always been a supporter of higher education in the state, but he chose not to donate while he worked for UNC-CH because he was not sure if it was appropriate.

The other two donors listed, including a Chapel Hill construction executive, also donated $2,000.

Higher Education Works’ predecessor, Citizens For Higher Education, had a more narrow focus and was primarily supported by UNC-CH alumni.

Citizens For Higher Education was geared toward advocacy for UNC-CH. Higher Education Works will expand to the 17 schools of the UNC system.

David Rice, executive director of Higher Education Works and former communication director for Citizens For Higher Education, said the PAC is still in its formative stages.

“We intend to build support for North Carolina’s system for public higher education,” Rice said.

He said Higher Education Works sees North Carolina higher education as a valuable asset to the state and has distinguished the state from others in the region and across the country.

Rice said the PAC is currently in the process of reaching out to representatives at every UNC-system school.

“It is a new organization,” Rice said. “It is system-wide. And it will be bipartisan in its support.”

He said the PAC will try to reach the 765,000 alumni of the system who still live in the state.

Baddour, a UNC-CH alumnus, said he will most likely donate to the PAC again.

“I feel confident that (Higher Education Works) will do a good job of informing the public of the significance and the role of higher education in this state, both in the education of all people as well as serving the economy of North Carolina,” he said.

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