PAC Campaign Aims to Rally Alumni For Three Legislative Proposals

A political action committee, established three years ago to benefit Carolina, has launched a website and letter-writing campaign asking University supporters to push for three state legislative proposals. The move has drawn criticism from officials with the 16-campus UNC System.

Citizens for Higher Education’s effort is calling on “all alumni living in North Carolina to actively support measures now being considered by the N.C. General Assembly that will provide greater flexibility” for Carolina and N.C. State University, according to a news release from the PAC.

The website is intended to provide information to alumni and others about issues related to the University’s needs, according to the PAC’s statement, and “will be used to organize alumni and others around legislative initiatives. In addition, it will be used to build a base of friends of higher education who support the special funding needs of the state’s research universities.”

The initiatives that the PAC has targeted, which are in the state Senate’s budget proposal but are not in the House’s budget plan, would:

  • Require full undergraduate scholarship recipients (such as merit scholars, Morehead Scholars and athletes) be considered as North Carolina residents for all purposes.
  • Allow tuitions to be set at the campus level by the Carolina’s Board of Trustees, within a range.
  • Provide for the closing of Horace Williams Airport once the N.C. Area Health Education Centers program, a primary user of the airport, can be relocated to Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Closing Horace Williams Airport is needed for UNC to proceed with a planned research campus called Carolina North.

The UNC System Board of Governors opposes the first two proposals, and the House and Senate are working on their budget differences now.

“Immediate and effective communication to our members, concerned citizens and Carolina alumni is essential in raising the awareness of the value of our higher education tradition and its critical connection to our economic future in the state,” said Paul Fulton ’57, former dean of Kenan-Flagler Business School and a member of the PAC’s executive committee. “We believe this Web site provides a new interactive forum that will be of great benefit in clarifying and promoting bipartisan support and citizen awareness of our organization’s commitment to strengthening our University.”

Brad Wilson, chairman of the UNC System Board of Governors, said that the BOG remains opposed to such lobbying measures. “That position hasn’t changed, and it’s obviously in conflict with that of the PAC,” he told The News & Observer of Raleigh.

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