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Funds May Go to First-Year Seminars

Chancellor James Moeser said last week that the $800,000, which will be paid in 8 yearly installments of $100,000, will be used to benefit undergraduate education. UNC entered into an 8-year contract with Nike last week. The contract -- valued at $28.34 million -- the largest collegiate deal of its kind.

Risa Palm, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the money will be used to fund additional first-year seminars and research opportunities for undergraduate students.

Palm said she and other faculty members are thrilled with this influx of money and that first-year seminars serve as a valuable resource for first-year students who often take large, impersonal lecture courses.

"The reason for first-year seminars is to give as many first-year students as possible a chance to be in a class of 20 or less with a senior faculty member," Palm said.

Sarah Shields, director of first-year seminars, said the seminars, which have been offered for three years, are unable to meet student demand because many departments are understaffed. She said the new funds will help solve this problem.

Palm also said the money will help fill this void. "By putting money into the first-year seminars we are able to get more faculty and free up faculty to teach these seminars," she said.

Shields said the seminars are beneficial for both the students and professors.

"Faculty love it because students are engaged in the topic," she said. "Students get a chance to take part in what we call active learning."

Shields said she would like to see the money used to fund seminars that are related to the source of the money.

"This provides a tremendous opportunity for students to study conditions in and issues affiliated with Nike and other corporations," Shields said.

Shields said another possible seminar related to the Nike contract would be about labor in developing countries and that the seminar could be followed by a semester abroad in China or another similar country.

Labor issues were a major point of contention in the development of the Nike contract, and standards governing labor conditions in factories manufacturing UNC apparel were incorporated into the contract.

Shields said this seminar would allow students to study third-world working conditions first hand.

Apart from the seminars, Palm said funding undergraduate research with the Nike money is equally important.

"Students at the undergraduate level should have the opportunity to work with research to see that the disciplines are not fixed and are still evolving," she said.

Palm said some of the money also will go to fund travel for undergraduate students who are presenting and defending academic papers at conferences.

"This kind of infusion of money will be really helpful. We are really grateful," Palm said. "Life for undergraduates will be much more enriched."

The University Editor can be reached


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