Art Pope Responds to False Indy Week Piece

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In a December 17, 2014, Indy Week news article, author Sam DeGrave published several false facts, generating inaccurate assumptions about Art Pope and the John William Pope Foundation’s involvement with the University of North Carolina Board of Governors in North Carolina.  To read the original Indy Week article, “Is the long reach of Art Pope driving the UNC Board of Governors’ Review,” visit their website.

On December 23, 2014, the Indy Week published Pope’s letter to the editor that corrected the false facts.  The letter in its entirety can be read below and on their website.

Pope responds 

If the INDY is going to pass off a college student’s opinion piece as a news feature, (“Politics of Scrutiny” Dec. 17), one would think that getting basic facts correct would still be a requirement.

Contrary to Mr. DeGrave’s reporting, I have never been chairman of the Civitas Institute or directed its day-to-day operations—though I have previously served on its board of directors.

The article is also wrong when it stated that the Pope Foundation, of which I am the Chairman, has a “long history of animosity toward the UNC System,” and called for a review of UNC centers “as a cost cutting measure.” To the contrary, as a grant-making foundation, the Pope Foundation has given over $5 Million to support UNC, with a grant payment this month for $400,000 to support the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

If the INDY had bothered to ask me about the article’s main point, I would have answered that rather than “driving” the UNC Board of Governors review, I did not even know about the BOG’s interviews of the selected UNC centers until after they happened, and I read about it in a real newspaper.

Interestingly, Mr. DeGrave himself reported, “half of these centers could be viewed as counter to the agenda of the Republican-controlled state legislature.” Instead of trusting Mr. DeGrave’s reporting (given his failure to share the facts), I personally would rely on the UNC Board of Governors’ review to determine if these centers have productive academic missions, rather than a partisan agenda in support of or in opposition to either the Democratic or Republican Party’s legislative agendas.

But since I was not asked for an interview, even though the INDY prominently featured my name in the headline and story, the real question to ask the Indy is if this story was simply sloppy journalism by a student intern or deliberate propaganda?

Art Pope




Categories: Higher Education, Philanthropy