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Closure Recommended For Poverty Center

Erich Fabricius/Wikimedia Commons

A UNC Board of Governors’ panel has recommended the closure of three university policy centers including the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at UNC Chapel Hill. 

Last year, the legislature directed the Board of Governors to consider funding reductions to the UNC system’s 237 centers and institutions. A review of the centers began in September with the recommendations released on Feb. 18.

The poverty center’s director Gene Nichol said Republican leaders are retaliating against him for his published criticism of the governor and other Republican state leaders' social policies. Nichol released a statement that accuses the board of conducting a "dishonest and demeaning" review process of the poverty center.

James Holmes is chairman of the committee that made the recommendation. Last week, he said the review had nothing to do with politics.

“This conversation has been going on for years around centers and institutes,” Holmes said. “It isn’t a Democratic or Republican issue. I can’t comment on why people think what they think. I can only comment on what we’re doing.”

The poverty center has a budget of $120,000. Nichol said none of it comes from the state although it is housed in a state building at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Law.  

In addition to the poverty center, the review panel also recommended closing Eastern Carolina’s Center for Biodiversity and NC Central’s Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change.

According to Board of Governors’ officials, the state spends about $70 million to support centers and institutes at universities, which focus on research, community outreach and/or instruction. The full board of governors will vote on the recommendations next week.