Opinion: Clarion Call

Call. 30: Centennial Campus Grows With or Without State Help / Bizzare Courses Found at Nation’s Most Prestigious Schools

The General Assembly’s failure to approve the University of North Carolina’s multi-billion-dollar capital-spending proposal has led many people to believe that N.C. State’s Centennial Campus won’t be able to rapidly expand. But evidence suggests that the steady growth of the campus will likely continue.
Centennial campus, which is located on land donated to North Carolina State University by the state in the mid-1980s, has sought to be an area where academics and business people could share ideas. This idea, however, has led to a blurring of the lines between higher-education funding and corporate welfare. Private interests are erasing much of the confusion through the weight of their own demand for space on campus. Much of the new growth, for example, is being bankrolled by private investors, including projects by Craig Davis Properties, Academic Privatization LLC, Benchmark Hospitality and, most notably, Lucent Technologies. In contrast, much of the early growth of the campus was state-funded. About $175 million in state funds went into building most of the campus’s existing buildings.
In 1996, the campus encompassed 200 corporate and government employees, 400 university faculty, staff and post-doctoral students, and 1,100 students. Presently, the campus has 691 corporate and government employees, 715 university faculty, staff and post-doctoral students, and 1200 students. Centennial campus officials project, based on current growth patterns, that by 2001 the campus will have 2,600 corporate and government employees, 1,030 university faculty, staff and post-doctoral students, and 1,400 students. By then officials project the campus will encompass 400 housing residents and 600 middle-school students.
George Leef, director of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, said the current growth patterns are likely to continue if businesses and private investors are allowed to finance future growth.
“If and when new projects on the campus appear beneficial, private investors will step in,” Leef said. “They would rather see the state pick up part of the cost, but if they can’t, then they’ll bear the costs themselves.”

Bizzare Courses Found at Nation’s Most Prestigious Schools

Courses on bizarre themes are being offered at some of America’s most prestigious schools and North Carolina institutions are not immune, according to a recent report by U.S. News and World Report.
The University of Wisconsin has a course devoted to the study of soap operas. Columbia University offers a course on “Issues in Rock Music and Rock Culture.” Students at Duke can take a course in “Juggling.” The University of Pennsylvania offers “Vampires: The Undead,” while the University of Chicago offers “The Slavic Vampire.” Bizarre courses at other campuses include “Horror and the Historicity of Monstrosity,” “The Look of the Perverse”and “The Literature of Sports.”
Other hot topics at top colleges and universities range food and cooking, to witchcraft, magic, extraterrestrial life, pornography and how disability illuminates society and culture.
According to the National Association of Scholars, only about one-quarter of the University of Chicago’s English Department’s offerings consist of traditional literature courses.