McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton Robert George gave a presentation to the UNC Board of Governors last Friday on the James Madison Program on American Ideals and Institutions, of which George is the director.
The program encourages students to “think for themselves” and encourages peaceful discourse in the fields of constitutional studies and political thought.
The program is sometimes accused of being a “conservative safe space,” yet George ensures it isn’t even a conservative organization.
“There is a spectrum of views represented now in the discussion at Princeton which is much broader than what was available on our campus before the Madison program came into being,” says George, “which is not to say that the Madison Program is a conservative program any more than it is to say that the history department is a liberal department.”
Some faculty members feel uneasy about the notion that the board may be looking to a famously conservative Christian professor at a much smaller, private school to model a conservative center in the UNC system.
President of the UNC System Margaret Spellings says they are looking at a variety of similar centers for inspiration, including Arizona State University and Texas A&M.
“There are a number of models that we will look at in the private and public sector,” said Spellings. “I think the thing that intrigued us about Professor George is that they’ve been at it a long time.”
Regardless of the board’s apparent interest in creating a conservative center within the UNC System, board member Steve Long assures that it cannot be done without faculty support.
“You can start a center without their support, but it’ll die very soon,” says Long. “It really has to come down to whether or not the faculty wants to do this.”
There is no imminent movement for a center of this kind being established at this time.
Photo screenshot via UNC-TV