I wonder who wrote this exception?

The North Carolina congress has endorsed more funding for their university system, which is nice. There’s a catch, though.

The board approved new rules for which subjects can have distinguished professorships. They will now only be given in STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.

Subjects outside of this category will keep the distinguished professorship positions they’ve already established, but are no longer allowed to create new ones.

Wow. I don’t know who decided that this was a good idea, but I’m certain they know absolutely nothing about education. You can’t have a good university if you treat the arts and humanities and social sciences as second-rate afterthoughts.

I hope the STEM professors at UNC are raising a stink right now. Although getting a 7% salary increase is a good strategy for buying silence.


  1. gijoel says

    Six months from now, some business man will be pissing and moaning that STEM graduates can’t write a report worth a damn.

  2. xohjoh2n says

    Your illustration says:

    Science: Can tell you how to clone a Tyrannosaurus Rex
    Humanities: Can tell you why this might be a bad idea

    Here’s your flip side:

    Science: Can tell you the serious risks involved in cloning a Tyrannosaurus Rex
    Humanities: Will tell you how these giant noble beasts speak to the Human imagination, but you’d better not invent that antibiotic because Man Shouldn’t Play God, and dying of curable diseases is an important part of the Human Condition.

    (I don’t disagree with your post, but that whole dichotomy, especially the film tropes of Man Shouldn’t Play God and Scientists Never Stop To Ask If They Should Just Because They Can really really piss be off. It’s just dumb anti-intellectual bullshit.)

  3. wzrd1 says

    gijoel @ 1, well, that’s a bad thing? Let the reports flow plentifully that read as if an AI or village idiot (ah, but I repeat myself) wrote them.
    There are times one should allow idiots to reap that which they sow and a massive loss of competitive advantage teaches far more than fighting tooth and nail, only to lose against Daddy Warbucks.
    And let’s never forget the wonderful architecture that was brought to the world by the Soviets, when they eliminated the humanities from their educational institutions. Buildings that had all of the artistic grace of a wartime bunker and Zil automobiles.

  4. says

    And let’s never forget the wonderful architecture that was brought to the world by the Soviets… Buildings that had all of the artistic grace of a wartime bunker and Zil automobiles.

    But still more pleasant to look at than anything built by Mormons.

  5. numerobis says

    wzrd1: the Soviets funded the arts plenty. How do you think propaganda works?

    As for architecture, brutalism is from the UK post-war rebuilding.

  6. Dax Williams says

    It’s N.C. Be thankful they aren’t handing them out to something like “The advancement of Biblical studies as it pertains to anything

  7. ardipithecus says

    The vast majority of mental health treatment is provided by people with BSW and Psych degrees.

  8. StevoR says

    Science gave us the poet Carl Sagan.

    Humanities gave us the Climate Denier anti-Science douche Michael Crichton?

    Equally trite over-simplification maybe?

    There’s an art to science and science to art?

  9. StevoR says

    Admittedly Michael Crichton ain’t really the fault of Humanities but still..

    Both. Both is good. Which I gather was the point anyhow..

  10. StevoR says

    Also : “Science can tell you hw to clone a T Rex.”

    Can it? Really? Has it done so yet? Or is it telling us that actually from what we know now we cannot do that?

    That Jurassic park is the product of art and NOT real science?

    Meanwhile Humanitiies – if economics and political science count as those and not pseudosciences – tell us growth can be infinite, trickle down Reagunomics / Thatchernomics works and shutting doen big mners and tacing billionaires is unrealistic and toounpopular and can’t be done notr can reforms like giving Indgenous peopekls a Vocie or endin the Electoral College ad nauseam..

    PS. Having issues where w preview errors & Host not repsonding stuff coning up on my desktop screen. Just me? Or more issues?

  11. birgerjohansson says

    Where does medical science fit?
    If psychologists discover a clever way to make addicts quit drugs, I suppose there will be no path for those specialists to get tenure.

  12. Reginald Selkirk says

    James Tabor

    Dr. James Tabor retired (2022) as a full-Professor from the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he taught Christian origins and ancient Judaism, for 33 years, serving as Chair for a decade…

    Bart D. Ehrman

    James A. Gray Distinguished Professor
    My research focuses on the New Testament and the early Christian movement from Jesus to Constantine, from a historical perspective…

  13. StevoR says

    ^ PS. I guess science actually does tell us how to clone a T-Rex after all – just assuming we have a T-Rex handy to use in that cloning already in the first place.. which we (so far as I know) don’t.

    Oh FFS. Clarity fixes :

    ..shutting down big fossil fuel miners and taxing billionaires their fair share is unrealistic and will be too unpopular thus unelectable propositions and can’t be done nor can reforms like giving Indigenous Peoples a Voice or ending the Electoral College, racist voter suppression laws, gerrymandering, enabling a scumbag of a Speaker to stay in power, ad nauseam..

    Science flies us to the Moon.
    Humanities gives us a good choice of moving, symbolic, powerful words to say when we get there? (Or to Mars or wherever..)

    Jurassic Park was (cinematic) art.

    Science now says those dinos had feathers. Velociraptor was really Deinonychus. (chosen for cooler name anyhow)* & the movie was actually ..not that accurate but still inspiring fun that pleased a lot of people and, oh yeah, GCI done by science made the awe-&scientist-inspiring movie possible?

    .* See : Which RAPTOR is Actually in Jurassic Park? (Hint: IT’S NOT VELOCIRAPTOR) by Clint’s Reptiles – 20 mins long. (Sorry if spoilers?) Of course, that before we discovered Utahraptors too..

  14. StevoR says

    Medical science is science.

    Also art too I guess becuase these things aren’t that stricltly separable anyhow?

  15. Reginald Selkirk says

    I believe distinguished professorships frequently come with outside funding. Consider Bart Ehrman (#12). He is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor. That undoubtedly means that James A. Gray picked up the tab. So not allowing such positions in some fields means that they plan to turn down an outside source of funding, which is a strange and unexpected thing for universities to do.

  16. wzrd1 says

    StevoR, I can trivially clone a T. Rex. First, I’ll need a living T. Rex to acquire genetic samples from…
    We have actually recovered some T. Rex DNA fragments, but that’s akin to buying a jigsaw puzzle made of ceramic, putting it through a wood chipper, then trying to assemble it. No matter how much one tries, some significant portion did turn to dust.
    But, the book and films were cute.

    You might want to try going with a tad less caffeine and follow my example of putting my fingers on a diet. ;)
    No delays beyond the usual here, my delays due to “enhanced services” by my hotshit provider. Hotspot, no, hotshit.

    Back to gumming some lentil soup and rye bread. Yum! Healing up quickly enough, as usual.

  17. birgerjohansson says

    In my experience, films based on Chricton novels were better than the books. So when the basic plots were separated from the author the results curiously improved. But I digress.

    Almost every field has enthusiasts who would claim their field is the mostest bestest. But making this the foundation of public policies is weird.
    One might imagine the person who suggested this rule is some ancient academic who thinks the humanities are run by pot-smoking hippies.
    I am tempted to yell “the Reagan years were long ago” at them.

  18. StevoR says

    Surgeons began as barbers so.. therefore hairdressers are barbarians scientists? Artists? Neither? Both? It’s complicated?

    There’s an art to science and a science toart & then there are scientific artists..

    Also I wish I could blame caffine for my insomnia.. No such luck. Half asleep already -maybe eve two-thirds yet can’t sleep. Not properly. Sigh.

  19. StevoR says

    Is economics actually a science or psuedo science? That I think is a significant question.

    Notably because in most sciences theories that are clearly demonstrated to be wrong and false (eg “trickle doewn economics works” austerity works) get rejcted and never taken as being correct or promoted again and predictions tend to be closer to the mark than economics, well..

  20. xohjoh2n says


    First distinguish between academic economists and those paid to tell the powerful the answer they already wanted.

  21. mikeschmitz says

    wzrd1@16, StevoR@13
    To be fair, Several members of T. Rex are still alive. Marc Bolan is long gone, but Bill Legend and others still live…

  22. says

    A college education is not like a narrow trade-tech course; focusing only on a specific scientific area. A college education should provide you with a comprehensive ‘well-rounded’ education. BUT, more important than learning facts, college should provide you with the tools to objectively, factually analyze what is presented to you.
    Since 1998, the motto of one of our organizations explained this clearly as “Toward Enlightenment, through Communication, by Means of the Arts and Sciences”

  23. says

    I spent the better part of my career teaching engineering and science at a local college. In numerous instances I found myself defending the need for our technical students to take humanities. (I was equally strong that humanities students need to take math & science.) Some members of local industry understood this, some did not. I recall one manager who said that the one area he saw a need for improvement in most of their recent hires (regardless of the college they graduated from), was not math or physics or circuit analysis or anything like that. It was communication skills.

    This argument generally played out as “education vs. training”. My point was that training can make someone a more productive worker, but education can make them more knowledgeable and capable individuals, and thus, better citizens.

  24. says

    @18 StevoR wrote: Also I wish I could blame caffine for my insomnia..
    I reply: I sympathize. Many of us wish we could find a safe way to turn our minds off for a while so we can get some sleep. I keep asking my physician for ‘fugitall pills’ to help me get to sleep. Please find a solution (literally or figuratively) to your insomnia, I appreciate your contributions here, but would hate it if your health deteriorated from lack of the needed rejuvenation that sleep provides. (LOL maybe it’s because you are living your life upside down because you are downunder in the land of OZ)

  25. says

    @23 jimf said: My point was that training can make someone a more productive worker, but education can make them more knowledgeable and capable individuals, and thus, better citizens.
    I reply: Yes, Very good way of putting our positing about trade-tech vs. university focus.

  26. seachange says

    It is hilarious to me what #1 gijoel said.

    Gosh golly, humanities departments don’t get tired of telling this lie.

    My university spent a lot of money throwing it at the humanities departments for exactly this reason, and also gave funding for each science department for specialized writing classes for scientific papers. It didn’t work. Because they never actually tried. Why would they? Possibly, because they were in the humanities because they could not.

    I took a lot of humanities. It was a liberal arts (formerly a normal college) so it was required. Each department had their own fascist (Stalin, Marx, etc.) version of communism that they were propagandizing hard. I was repeatedly referred to my science department head because I wasn’t buying their ideology. After explaining to my department head (and it did go up that high) what the issue was, I got a pass.

    When at the end of the academic year there was a test, it was the classic five paragraph essay that you have to know how to do by ninth grade here in California, having nothing at all to do with being able to write a paper in our STEM fields. I had graduated High School, so of course I was able to do this. (We all studied how to do abstracts, cite authors, make conclusions and etc.) The essay subject and the essay didn’t even have anything to do with all of the required humanities general education (just short of a minor) I had taken. So the greedy humanities departments sucked up all that money, and graded us on non-STEM grounds. We STEMers made an effort to meet them half way. They did not.

    The rules for how you were graded did not require the graders to be neutral, so of course on my required not at all a scientific subject essay I got a max score from one grader and a minimum score from the other grader. Once again it was referred to my department head. This was the first time that he or any of the faculty had seen what a betrayal this test was. I got a pass. I became a minor celebrity.

  27. whheydt says

    This is all very reminiscent of C. P. Snow’s The Two Cultures. And that book came out in 1959 (over 60 years ago).

    My own–limited–experience is that the STEM folks are far more willing to agree that the humanities need at least some study. Those in the Humanities are far less inclined to place any value in the STEM subjects.

    When I was in college–1966 to 1970–the science departments generally created non-major courses (the Chem dept. was an exception because the department chair–George Pimentel–believed that anyone taking a chemistry course was a potential chemistry major, and–therefore–should be taught actual chemistry, not watered down). There was even a lecture/demonstration course, Contemporary Natural Science (CNS). Even the College of Engineering got in on the act with the (almost unknown) Contemporary Engineering light weight non-major course. (The powers that be actively discouraged engineering majors from taking it.)

    On the other side… There was no non-major English course. The basic English course was a major course.

  28. wzrd1 says

    I sympathize with the insomnia. Had a bit of that Wednesday night, largely due to pain after three molars were extracted and while cleaning my apartment, I dutifully managed to strike the extraction site with my mop handle.
    Still have a bit of a knot there. :/
    Now, with a fair bit of muscular pain, as after the dental work, went to the store and in Harrisburg, the best stores tend to be uphill in both directions, due to the local geography.*

    *Yeah, I’m serious. Start at the top of one hill, walk into a small valley, then up another to the store at or near the top, then down the valley and back up the hill you started on. Calves are royally pissed off and my chest muscles are angry over lugging heavy bags back.
    Oh well, that which does not kill me only serves to piss me off.

  29. StevoR says

    @ ^ wzrd1 & #24 shermanj : Thanks. Having the Cricket World Cup on and staying up late watching that isn’t helping here – although it ha sbeen great to see Australia winning with some very impressive games. Always been a metaphorical night owl & struggled to sleep and guess I always will. Glad today is a Saturday morning with nothing on so I can sleep in.

  30. StevoR says

    @21. mikeschmitz : “To be fair, Several members of T. Rex are still alive. Marc Bolan is long gone, but Bill Legend and others still live…”

    Good point!

    @20. xohjoh2n : “First distinguish between academic economists and those paid to tell the powerful the answer they already wanted.”

    Hmm.. the former don’t seem tobe doing much about calling out and rejecting the latter do they? Or do Ijkust not hear anything about it?

    Any in that former group whose work you’d recommend & whose names you’d sugegst looking up please?

    I have herad of and respect Dr Susan George who wrote one powerful book I’ve read here – ‘A Fate Worse Than Debt’

  31. S maltophilia says

    “The biggest is a 7% salary increase over two years for all university employees’

    Did they get a raise recently? Otherwise it’s barely keeping up with inflation after being knocked way back last year. Won’t make anyone happy.

  32. says

    This is much more consequential than an argument of stem vs humanities:
    From Palestine to Slavery, Ron DeSantis’ Muzzling of Universities is dooming Florida Higher Education

    @32 S maltophilia said: Did they get a raise recently? Otherwise it’s barely keeping up with inflation after being knocked way back last year.
    I reply: Yes, the raises almost everyone gets NEVER keep up with the ACTUAL inflation people experience. The gov’t inflation rates and Social Security calculations are a FARCE. Just look at the cost of houses, 8% home loan rate, cost of cars. The 1-3% savings interest rate. etc. AND, whenever any talks about 7% over 2 years, that is deceit! To be Honest you must say 3.5% per year for 2 years.

  33. Steve Morrison says


    training can make someone a more productive worker, but education can make them more knowledgeable and capable individuals, and thus, better citizens

    I hope I’m not being too cynical by suggesting that maybe that is why certain politicians want to fund only training and not education?