Do we need an 18th university, maybe one at, oh I don’t know, the corner of Airport Road and College Drive in the 28731 zip code?
Probably not. In fact, I’d have to say most assuredly not. And Peter Hans is very unlikely to bring us one. But I could not help but recall, on receiving the news that the Hendersonville High graduate had been named chairman of the UNC Board of Governors, the old rumblings from inside the David W. Sink Jr. building that David W. Sink Jr. dreamed of turning his campus into the University of North Carolina at Hendersonville. UNCH would not work so well, easily confused as it would be with UNC-CH, although that might have been fine with President Sink, who was a big Carolina man.
I favor UNC-Blue Ridge. That marries the cache of the top public university system in the nation with the beauty of the mountains. And it does say blue, one more tie to the flagship university. Hans is of the Bearcat nation and the Tar Heel nation. He claims his place proudly as a member of the class of ’88, although he was such a bright student that he got his diploma a year early and headed down the mountain to Chapel Hill.
I don’t think we’ll see the Board of Governors embark on anything as expensive as converting a community college into a four-year university, good as our community college is. For one thing, Tom Apodaca is a Western Carolina graduate, a former WCU trustee and member in good standing of the budget-slashing vanguard that took over the Legislature in 2010. And I don’t think Molly Parkhill wants to be annexed by Chapel Hill. She’s an Ohio State Buckeye, for goodness sakes.
But we can dream, can’t we? We could be one of those second-tier compass direction colleges, Southwest NC, or maybe UNC-Flat Rock or UNC-Tracy Grove. Maybe we could get one of those smart engineers from NC State to fix the road planning that turns the Patton Building into waterfront property several times a year. Alas, I’m dubious. Are there really any good colors left? Maybe green, like the EHHS Eagles? I’m sure one of the 17 campuses has already grabbed green. Besides, don’t college teams in green always look like they’re wearing high school colors, like some tightwad athletic department bought the jerseys from a craigslist discount? What’s our nickname, the Blue Ridgers? Ooh, I’m scared. What’s our mascot? An heirloom apple, a fiberglass bear, a Sandburg goat, a penniless real estate developer? It’s just too much trouble.
You know what, I’m sure Peter Hans, who seems like a nice fella and is a serious policymaker, doesn’t need this headache. He’s got enough on his plate battling budget cuts shooting down N.C. 54 from his Republican friends on Jones Street, trying to restore the steadily descending off-field reputation of Carolina football and helping Roy Williams figure out how to replace Kendall Marshall. I wouldn’t wish Hendersonville politics on a guy like that.