An N.C. Central University spokeswoman confirmed late Thursday that the director of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law has proposed locating a center at NCCU's law school with money from conservative Raleigh businessman Art Pope.
Faculty at the law school are scheduled to vote on the matter in the next few weeks, said Cindy Fobert, a spokeswoman for the university. (Read a copy of the Aug. 19 proposal, submitted by former N.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice Bob Orr, the Institute's director (PDF).
The website for the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about and litigating constitutional issues.
The proposal calls for a center that would collaborate with the UNC School of Government, and with NCCU's history department to develop scholarly study of constitutional issues, fitting with the law school's concentration in Civil Rights and Constitutional Law. The proposal suggests that Orr be the center's first executive director. It states that the Pope Foundation would provide $600,000 over three years to pay for a staff position, a part-time executive director and initial programming.
As the Indy and Facing South reported in March, the Institute has received large contributions from the Pope Foundation.
Pope is the treasurer of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law and has served as chair and vice chair of its board of directors. The institute, founded in 2003, has received more than $3.2 million from the Pope Foundation, according to the Indy and Facing South reports.
The news was noted earlier today by progressive blogger James Protzman on BlueNC, who received an anonymous e-mail from a member of the NCCU faculty opposed to the proposal.
Pope, controversial for his involvement in the election of the new conservative majority on the Wake County school board, as well as his affiliation to national conservative groups, has contributed money to several universities through his family's foundation, and through other organizations that he leads.
But his largesse hasn't always been well received. In 2004, after proposing contributions for a new "Studies in Western Civilization" curriculum at UNC-Chapel Hill, several university faculty said Pope was trying to use the money to create courses to promote his own right-wing agenda.
Also this week, Orr was appointed by state House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican, to the WUNC-TV Board of Trustees. Orr was one of four new appointees.