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UNC-system happenings for Feb. 1, 2016

New chancellor announced at Elizabeth City State University

Elizabeth City State University welcomed a new chancellor on Tuesday.

Thomas E. H. Conway Jr. was elected to permanently serve as chancellor by the Board of Governors at their rescheduled Tuesday meeting. He has served as interim chancellor since Stacey Franklin Jones stepped down Dec. 31. Conway previously served as Vice Chancellor at Fayetteville State University and as Dean of Undergraduate Academic Programs at N.C. State University. 

UNC-system Interim President Junius Gonzales nominated Conway for the vacant chancellor’s position.

“Thomas Conway is a proud product of the University of North Carolina system, and he has devoted his life’s work to it,” he said in a press release. “Over the past four decades, he has distinguished himself as senior administrator on two other UNC campuses, and he brings to ECSU a deep understanding of the mission, purpose and promise of UNC’s historically minority institutions.”

Conway joins ECSU at a critical time. Enrollment at the university has declined by over 50 percent in the past five years, and tuition revenue has dropped by 21 percent.

This can be partially attributed to tougher UNC minimum admissions standards, budget cuts over the past few years and operational troubles that have led to reputational challenges.

“Dr. Conway’s knowledge of the region, extensive administrative experience and sound judgment will be critical assets as we work together to ensure ECSU’s long-term success,” Gonzales said.

Roger Aiken to be vice chairperson for the Board of Governors

Roger Aiken was unanimously elected as vice chairperson of the Board of Governors at its last meeting. 

Aiken has previously served as chairperson of the Board of Governor’s Audit Committee, sat on the Budget and Finance Committee and worked with various other policy-making groups in western North Carolina.

Joni Worthington, spokesperson for the UNC system, said Aiken will be completing the unexpired term of Louis Bissette, now chairperson of the board. 

“There has been considerable amount of turnover on the Board of Governors in recent years, and the vast majority of members of the board are either in their first term or their second term,” she said.

Both will serve in their new positions until their terms end June 30.

“The election of (Aiken) to serve as vice-chair reflects the confidence they have in his ability,” Worthington said.

Colleges partner to fight cancer in humans and their dogs

Duke University and N.C. State University are collaborating to take the next step in cancer research. 

Dr. Michael Kastan, executive director of the Duke Cancer Institute, said the purpose of the partnership with N.C. State’s College of Veterinary Medicine is to work together to help make greater strides in fighting cancer in their respective patient populations.

Cancer is a common disease for dogs, as more than 50 percent of all dogs over the age of 10 die of cancer, Kastan said. The types of cancer tumors found in dogs are also very similar to those found in humans.

“Dogs live in our environment, so since most cancers are a combination of your own genetics and environmental exposures, the causes of canine cancer is very similar to the causes of human cancer — except they don’t smoke so they don’t get the smoking related cancers,” he said.

The dogs being used are not research dogs, Kastan. They are people’s pets who are brought in to receive treatment for their cancer — but the knowledge obtained by treating these dogs can end up benefiting both species.

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"(The partnership) is addressing cancer in general and taking advantage of natural tumors that occur in both dogs and humans,” Kastan said. “So that the study of them and the testing and development of new drugs in them can benefit each other.”

Researchers' final goal is to develop a more effective and efficient way to study and develop new treatments for cancer in both canines and humans.