James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal
|Named after||Gov. James G. Martin|
|Purpose||Higher education policy|
|Jenna Ashley Robinson|
|Pope Center for Higher Education Policy|
The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal (formerly the Pope Center) is an American conservative nonprofit institute located in Raleigh, North Carolina "dedicated to improving higher education in North Carolina and the nation." It was founded and is funded largely by Art Pope, a North Carolina businessman and philanthropist. The Martin Center is one of several conservative public policy centers underwritten by the Pope family, which has also contributed significantly to UNC-Chapel Hill and, in lesser amounts, to arts and humanitarian causes in North Carolina.
Formerly known as the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, the Martin Center changed its name in January 2017 and is named after former North Carolina Governor James G. Martin (1985-1993). The Martin Center has attained the GuideStar Exchange Gold participation level, a symbol of transparency and accountability.
History and organization
The Martin Center originated in 1996 as a project of the John Locke Foundation (also founded by Art Pope), a nonprofit think tank concerned especially with free markets, limited constitutional government, and personal responsibility. In 2003, the then-Pope Center was incorporated as a separate entity.
The current president of the Martin Center is Jenna Ashley Robinson. The previous president was Jane S. Shaw, who retired in February 2015. The director of research at the Martin Center is George Leef, and its director of policy analysis is Jay Schalin. Schalin studied Computer Science at New Jersey's Richard Stockton College  and Leef is the former Vice-President of the John Locke Foundation.
The Martin Center describes its role as a "watchdog" with respect to higher education in the United States in general and the public system in North Carolina in particular. The UNC Chapel-Hill included among its trustees John W. Pope, father of Art Pope, who saw the university campus as becoming close-minded and politically correct. The Martin Center makes available on its website many of the research and policy papers authored by its staff, including reports on campus speech codes, faculty teaching loads, general education programs, and privately funded university academic centers.
The Martin Center's commentaries and research papers have called for budget cuts to the UNC system and for increasing faculty teaching loads and eliminating teaching reductions for administrators. The Center's Director, George Leef, has argued to eliminate the public subsidies for the state's scholarly press (the University of North Carolina Press) and for cuts in funding for the university system generally, terming it a "boondoggle". In its broadest aim, the Center has argued for "renewal of the university", advocating the creation of privately funded academic centers, which, in their view, would offer balance to academic courses. Their strongest opposition campaign to date, conducted in conjunction with another Pope-funded think tank, the Civitas Institute, was directed against Gene Nichol, former President of the College of William and Mary and former Dean of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law, in his role as the director of UNC Chapel-Hill's Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity. The Pope Center accused Nichol of partisanship and financial opacity. In 2015, under political pressure from the Republican-controlled state legislature and Governor Pat McRory (R), both of which had been sharply criticized by Nichol for what he deemed to be their failure to address poverty and other attendant social ills in NC, the UNC Board of Governors voted to close the Poverty Center.
The work of the Martin Center and its staff has received praise and support from other conservative or libertarian organizations and publications with an interest in educational issues. The Center has also been criticized by faculty in the North Carolina university system and from journalists and commentators outside the sector. Hassan Melehy, a professor of French at UNC-Chapel Hill, writing for the American Association of University Professors, said Pope has combined "a public image of concerned generosity about the university system with open attacks on the faculty and curriculum at UNC–Chapel Hill." Jedediah Purdy, a professor of law at Duke University, wrote a piece in The New Yorker describing the Martin Center as staging "a two-pronged attack on public higher education as currently practised" through its proposals to raise tuition in the UNC system and shift public funding to support students attending private colleges and to return to a great books curriculum.
Board of Directors
As of 2016, the organization's board of directors includes Arch T. Allen, J. Edgar Broyhill, Virginia Foxx, John M. Hood, Joseph P. Lindsley, Sr., Burley Mitchell, Jr., James G. Martin, David Riggs, Jane S. Shaw, Robert L. Shibley, and Garland S. Tucker, III.
- "IRS Form 990 2015". GuideStar. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- "About". James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
- Purdy, Jedidiah (March 19, 2015). "Ayn Rand Comes to U.N.C.". The New Yorker. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- Mayer, Jane (October 10, 2011). "State for Sale". The New Yorker. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- "Philanthropy". ArtPope.com. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- "A New Era: The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal — The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal". The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. 2017-01-03. Retrieved 2017-01-03.
- Shaw, Jane. "The Pope Center defends itself". IndyWeek. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- "Is the John Locke Foundation Conservative?". John Locke Foundation. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- "Pope Center elects Jenna Robinson as president". John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- "Staff". Retrieved 3 January 2017.
- "Jay Schalin, Carolina Journal". Retrieved August 6, 2015.
- "George Leef, Carolina Journal". Retrieved April 8, 2015.
- "Friday Interview: Schools of Education". Carolinajournal.com. March 14, 2008. Retrieved November 10, 2011.
- Meyer, Jane (10 Oct 2011). "State for Sale". The New Yorker. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
- "Research | The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy". Popecenter.org. November 19, 1999. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
- "Curriculum For Sale? Conservative philanthropy in North Carolina comes at a price". May 2012. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
- "Stop the Presses! Or, At Least, Stop Their Subsidies!". November 5, 2015. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
- Carpenter, Zoe. "How A Right-Wing Political Machine Is Dismantling Higher Education in North Carolina". The Nation. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
- Jaschick, Scott. "Who Is Being Political?". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
- Leef, George (April 1, 2016). "Why Many College Grads Can’t Write". National Review. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- Geary, Bob. "N.C. State considers Pope money". IndyWeek. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- Jedediah Purdy (March 19, 2015). "A Political Crackdown at University of North Carolina - The New Yorker". The New Yorker. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
- "Board of Directors - The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal". Retrieved 3 January 2017.
- Official website
- Organizational Profile – National Center for Charitable Statistics (Urban Institute)
- The John Locke Foundation
- The John William Pope Foundation