Have you heard of the Washington Monument Strategy? Erskine Bowles may have used it when he said recently that the UNC System may be forced to consider closing a campus if the General Assembly goes forward with large budget cuts. Or perhaps Bowles was simply being forthright with the public.
The Washington Monument Strategy is simple: when budget cuts are on the way, bureaucrats and interest groups decry the cuts and whip up anger by saying that some popular program will be eliminated. The name is derived from the National Park Service threatening to close the Washington Monument, obviously a popular tourist destination, if their budget was cut.
Of course, given the possible size of the budget cut facing the UNC System, Bowles is right to say that closing down a campus should be considered. The alternative is to cut funding for each university in the system – cuts that might compromise the quality of education at universities that rely heavily on state appropriations.
Bowles may also have floated a political “trial balloon” to gauge public reaction to a campus closure for future reference. As a current UNC System student, I have been surprised that the mention of a closure has not been a more toxic issue on campus and in the public at large.
A more in depth discussion of the issue can be read here.
“We want to be a change agent in the state,” Tom Ross told Todd Cohen in an interview for the Business Journal of Charlotte back in 2002.
And so he was.
Flying in the face of all the noise and cries of “besmirching” one of North Carolina’s great leaders coming from NC Policywatch’s Rob Schofield, Civitas recently discovered an article detailing the fundamental changes enacted by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation under Ross’s tenure.
Cohen’s article describes “sweeping changes in grantmaking” of Z. Smith Reynolds, an ideological shift in North Carolina’s largest philanthropic organization that relegated its traditional grant recipients (historical preservation, health care, construction and capital campaigns, etc.) in favor of more “progressive” organizations. These new beneficiaries would hail from the realms of “social, economic, and environmental justice.”
With the then newly selected Tom Ross at the helm, Z. Smith Reynolds took a sharp left turn and became actively engaged in the practice of “backing progressive public policy.” Now he is to be the next UNC System President.
John Hood of the John Locke Foundation summarized the implications of this shift to left-wing activism saying the Z. Smith Reynolds “is going to give less money to charities providing direct services to the public and more money to public policy charities of the left-wing variety.”
Hood added, “I suspect that the previous generations of the Reynolds family who engaged so successfully in our capitalist system would be horrified to find how much their money will be used to subvert that very system.”
So much for being a “mainstream group, funding mainstream causes,” as Mr. Schofield described Z. Smith Reynolds under Ross’s administration. Ross played a lead role in diverting the focus of Z. Smith Reynolds from a well respected philanthropy foundation to a sweetheart of liberal activist groups of all flavors.