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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC-system happenings for Jan. 21, 2015

Light rail coming to UNC-Charlotte

Construction is underway on a 9.3-mile light rail system linking UNC-Charlotte to uptown, to be completed in 2017.

Caroline Fourrier, a UNC-C junior, said she goes uptown about once a month but might go more if there were a light rail system.

“It’s a neat idea to connect it all the way to campus,” she said. “I’m sure it will make things safer for all of the people who decide to go clubbing on the weekends.”

The $1.16 billion project, named the Blue Line Extension, is being paid for by a grant from the Federal Transit Authority, state funding and the Charlotte Area Transit System.

The project is the most expensive Charlotte light rail section to date because of its length and the bridges and roads it will traverse.

Even so, developers hope the light rail system will facilitate economic growth and decrease traffic in the area.

UNC-Pembroke studies school’s impact

Bishwa Koirala, a UNC-Pembroke economics professor, published a study Jan. 7 revealing the economic impact UNC-P has on nearby Robeson, Cumberland, Scotland, Bladen, Columbus and Moore counties.

The impact was immense — his model revealed the university was responsible for 2,477 jobs and an annual payroll of $70 million. The results come as state lawmakers continue to demand that universities demonstrate a return on investment and get students jobs.

Ken Kitts, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, commissioned the study and said it was more affirming than surprising.

“We have a good idea of the difference UNC-P makes in the lives of the people of southeastern North Carolina,” he said. “With a total economic impact of over $130 million, it is clear that we are an economic driver for this entire region.”

UNCW touts marine diversity

Now is the best time of year for UNC-Wilmington students to spot whales swimming past their campus.

Research indicates that the coast of North Carolina has more marine mammal biodiversity than other regions along the Atlantic seaboard. North Carolina researchers, including several professors from UNC-W, attribute the biodiversity to the state’s varied marine ecosystems and proximity to the Gulf Stream.

According to the N.C. Aquarium, eight of the world’s 10 “great” species of whales — whales that reach 30 feet in length or more — have been spotted off the state’s coast.

“Humpback whales tend to be in our North Carolina waters from late fall through winter and head out by early spring. Generally, the largest number of sightings is in the winter,” said Ann Pabst, a UNC-W marine biology professor.

ECU rewards class inovation

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For more than 30 years, an East Carolina University grant program has awarded money to professors with creative ideas for teaching courses.

The program, which is managed by the ECU Faculty Senate, began in 1983 and is chaired by nursing professor Donna Roberson.

“Many courses have benefited from new technologies, creative teaching strategies, or application of new ideas from industry or the professions to the classroom setting,” she said.

Last year, 10 grants totaling $114,565 were given for proposals on topics ranging from 19th century photography techniques to the lineage of jazz dance.

“There has been (a) great impact on teaching,” Roberson said. “Most of the projects I have reviewed in my time on the committee have been sustainable over time and impacted students over the course of many semesters.”