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When UNC-Chapel Hill wants to show how it stacks up against other schools in areas such as tuition, student graduation rates or faculty salaries, administrators make oft-repeated comparisons to the University’s peer institutions.But which institutions qualify as peers depends on who you ask.And as the UNC system looks for a new president and sets new goals, the peer lists UNC-CH uses for goals such as recruiting students and researchers could change.For the most part, the schools on the tuition and faculty lists correspond to a set of peers defined by UNC-system General Administration. That list includes the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Florida, Duke University and others.But for other purposes, UNC-CH administrators compare the University to flagship schools in other state systems — the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus, University of California-Berkeley or University of Texas at Austin.There’s also a more elite list maintained by the UNC Global initiative. That list includes Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University and Brown University.“You try to find real similarities in terms of what they have, their stature, and where you are,” said Bruce Carney, executive vice chancellor and provost at UNC-CH.Having more options for comparison can create confusion and tension for UNC-CH and the UNC system, hindering understanding of which institutions are really held up against UNC-CH.Using our peersAdministrators use comparative lists to evaluate its standing on goals ranging from retention and graduation rates to community service, but arguably the most important issue to UNC-CH administrators is faculty salaries.The list of peer institutions with which UNC-CH compares tuition differs from the list used to evaluate yearly increases in faculty salaries.Since tuition makes up much of the funding for faculty salary increases, including the money the school uses to keep faculty members who have been offered other jobs, the choice of peers matters. Tuition increases also fund need-based aid and other programs. Administrators must reconcile a desire to keep faculty salaries high and tuition low.The University shoots for better salaries than 80 percent of its peers and boasts that it keeps tuition in the lowest 20 percent.But the schools UNC-CH uses for tuition comparison are often of lower caliber than those used for faculty salary comparison. UNC-CH tends to compete with different schools in recruiting and retaining faculty.And even other highly ranked public research institutions can be useful when lobbying the state legislature to identify funding needs.UNC-CH lobbyist Dwayne Pinkney said he contrasts the state support UNC-CH receives with struggling budgets at other schools. Michigan and California have drastically cut education programs.“It’s not necessarily a comparison in which we’re leveraging support by comparing to those institutions,” Pinkney said. “But we want to remind our legislators that they’re in the driver’s seat in terms of making this institution and public higher education in North Carolina a leader, because we’re really the last one standing.”The UNC system wrote the most recent UNC-CH peer list in 2006, about the time current President Erskine Bowles took over. He said the list took shape as a result of goals he set for the system.“We have four or five things that we’re really focused on trying to get done,” Bowles said. “I believe by the end of this year, we’ll get there.”His predecessor, Molly Broad, who led from 1997 to 2006, said picking peers involves sorting through a complicated set of characteristics.Considerations include whether universities are public or private, liberal arts or more specialized, graduate-study intensive or comprehensive. Factors such as religious associations, research status and size also play into that process, said Broad, who now heads the American Council on Education.New president, new goalsBroad said most institutions revisit peer lists every five years, which means the next review could coincide neatly with a new UNC-system president. The next leader will be appointed later this year.The goals of the president can affect the criteria for peers.Those goals could be defined by the new president’s background. UNC-system presidents have come from the political and public-policy sphere, as well as business and education backgrounds.But while a new set of peers could bring change for the UNC system, administrators said UNC-CH’s peers wouldn’t change much.“I don’t think it will change for Chapel Hill because Chapel Hill in general has been benchmarking itself against the same group of peers,” Bowles said.‘Tension’ in the UNC systemDifferences between peer lists set by the UNC system and those drafted by the campuses can be problematic for administrators.Some variation is to be expected. Bowles said individual departments often pick their own peers.UNC-CH’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication uses five schools known for journalism programs as benchmarks, most of which aren’t on other UNC-CH peer lists.“It’s good to have one set of peers for most things,” Carney said. “But any time you want to get down into detail, we need internal groups for our own purposes.”Administrators said there were disagreements in past years about which schools should be used for comparisons.“There was enormous tension five years ago,” Bowles said in an interview. “There was no trust, and I think all that’s been broken down.”James Moeser, who was UNC-CH’s chancellor when Bowles took over, said the negotiation to develop a set of peers brought up differences between UNC-CH’s view of itself and the system’s.System leaders were hesitant to include private schools, but UNC-CH administrators insisted that the school competes with those schools for faculty and students.“There was always a certain amount of tension between Chapel Hill and the system over this,” Moeser said. “We didn’t initially agree, but we basically got 95 percent of what we wanted.”The current list has five private institutions, including Duke University, and 10 public schools.The private universities have much higher tuition and can also entice professors with better benefits than UNC-CH can offer.
In the freshly painted Franklin Street offices of Carolina Counts, three consultants are crunching data on UNC’s operations. Their mission: spend January and February there to try and save UNC millions of dollars that can be rerouted to education and research.
Administrators have acknowledged that getting out positive news about UNC’s Greek system has been difficult, so now they’re taking a more direct approach.In response to scrutiny of the Greek system, UNC Trustee Alston Gardner assigned Assistant Dean of Students for Fraternity and Sorority Life Jenny Levering the task of pointing out positive aspects about the Greek community to the UNC Board of Trustees, which she did at a committee meeting Wednesday.In a comment directed at the local media before Levering began, Gardner, who was a fraternity member while at UNC, decried what he saw as efforts to undermine the Greek system, though he acknowledged that some Greek problems were systemic and unlikely to be solved by administrators alone.“There’s actually very little we can do to control the behavior of 3,000 students, many of whom don’t live on campus,” Gardner said.Levering’s presentation detailed ways the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life works to improve skills such as leadership for fraternity and sorority members, in addition to providing demographic and statistical information on members.Levering’s office also made available to the board a semester report on the grade point averages of fraternity and sorority members. The report also included policy violations and each organization’s standing with the University.The current report lists 27 fire code violations and 24 life safety violations for Greek organizations, numbers similar to previous semesters.Greek students’ GPAs tend to be higher than the average GPA of students at UNC, with sorority members outperforming the female average.While 14 Greek organizations were listed as failing to meet UNC’s standards, Levering said at the meeting that all but four chapters had been brought up to recognition standards in the past week.In order to find ways to improve the Greek system, especially with respect to the fraternities, board Chairman Bob Winston recruited alumnus Jordan Whichard in early January to collect information on fraternities and sororities to develop a set of goals and best practices.Whichard met with a group of about 30 fraternity members and alumni earlier this month at a meeting of the alumni advising group to discuss the way fraternities are run and talk about ways to improve the practices and reputation of the fraternities.The alumni group came up with three areas for improvement: new member education and academics, government management and accountability and recruitment and community service. The group’s second meeting is scheduled for tonight.Bob Lewis, a Sigma Nu fraternity alumnus who led the group’s meeting, acknowledged the challenges it faced.“I think there must be a paradigm shift in our organizations in order to survive,” he said. “If there’s no added benefit to the community, there’s no reason for us to exist.”Levering touted that meeting in her presentation as an example of improved communication, a factor that has come up repeatedly as an area for improvement. The problems with communication, as Gardner observed, tend to be most noticeable when something goes wrong.“We tend to pay a lot of attention to the negative aspects associated with Greek life,” said Winston Crisp, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs. “We’ve always maintained that the vast majority of their contribution is positive.”Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the members of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and their families, Sunday was a day to begin rebuilding lives and laying a new foundation for leadership and a needy family.The ceremony brought about 150 fraternity members, family, alumni and members of the UNC community to symbolically break ground on the Courtland Benjamin Smith Memorial House, a Habitat for Humanity house in honor of their late president.“We feel very fortunate to have these young men as our friends,” said Courtland Smith’s emotional father, Pharr Smith, as he spoke to the crowd. “And we know Courtland was — and would be today — very proud to be one of them.”While he spoke to the crowd, most of whom were young men standing solemnly in navy blazers, he recalled meeting members of the fraternity, many for the first time, when they traveled to the Smiths’ home in Houston in the days after his son’s tragic death, full of kind words and heartfelt sincerity.Courtland Smith, who was the president of Delta Kappa Epsilon, was killed by a police officer near Greensboro on the morning of Aug. 23, according to police. Smith had been driving drunk and called 911, asking for help.Fraternity members said they not only lost a friend when Courtland Smith died, but they also lost a leader who was exceptionally well-regarded in the fraternity system and across campus.As a result of an investigation into alcohol violations at the fraternity house the night Smith died, Delta Kappa Epsilon volunteered to spend its yearly social budget on the project.Including the social budget, the fraternity has raised more than $64,000 for the project, which will cost at least $75,000 to complete. A partnership with Bank of America Corp. footed $25,000 of the bill — a donation facilitated by a freshman fraternity member with family ties to Hugh McColl, former chairman and CEO of that bank.Incoming DKE President Davis Willingham said the fraternity likely will exceed its commitment to raise $75,000, and has set a new goal of $100,000, which it plans to meet with philanthropy events.UNC administrators, alumni and the national Delta Kappa Epsilon organization have expressed that the project represents a positive direction for the fraternity, which is working to improve its image.The house — off of Purefoy Drive in the Rogers Road community — will go to Lion and Zar Ree Wei, ages 42 and 39, Burmese immigrants working as UNC housekeepers. Until the house is completed, they will continue to live in a two-bedroom apartment with their six children, ages 15, 14, 11, 8, 6 and 2.“The fact that six children will be able to sleep in a comfortable house instead of an apartment, I’m sure that would have meant a lot to Courtland,” said fraternity member Billy Armfield. “It’s very true to what he would have wanted.”Contact the University Editor at email@example.com.
Though members of the Greek community said they are happy to have the input of a new special adviser on Greek life, they said they expect him to find that fraternities and sororities are already working to improve aspects of the community such as recruiting and self-governance.Several said they were excited to have an outside perspective from Jordan Whichard, a 1979 UNC graduate who was president of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity as a student.But some within the community said they expect Whichard to find them already making strides to improve communication with the University and working to improve their leadership — changes spurred by negative perceptions of fraternity life.“I think the greatest impact he could have is working with administration as well as us to foster a relationship that is more helpful than overbearing,” said Dylan Castellino, president of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. “The IFC needs to be there to help the fraternities and sororities, to show the best way to communicate in a crisis.”Board of Trustees Chairman Bob Winston asked Whichard to conduct a review of UNC’s relationship with the Greek community, including the policies and procedures by which members of fraternities and sororities govern themselves.Whichard will gather information on the Greek community and make recommendations to the Board of Trustees at the end of the semester.“In general, I think he will find that most of what he would recommend, a great deal of it is already being done,” said Winston Crisp, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs.Several of the members of the Greek system echoed the sentiment, saying they expect to hear that many of their own reforms are working well and should be continued.For example, some fraternities are increasing their number of leadership positions and philanthropy projects.But in the insular Greek system, the extensive review could give a dose of perspective, said Shane Capps, co-chairman of the Greek Judicial Board. He said it was good for the system to have someone who had been in a fraternity, especially before dealing with important issues such as recruiting.“We need to have a very thorough conversation before we change anything,” Capps said. “Talking about things is great, but if we’re not set on the right kind of change, we’re going the wrong way.”Crisp said there has been an unusual amount of focus on improving the relationship between administrators and the Greek community, creating potential for change.“You have in a way that is not always the norm, interest from every aspect of Greek life all the way up to the Board of Trustees, and they’re not going to do that to waste time,” Crisp said. “I think those suggestions will be looked at very seriously. Greek members ought to welcome this.”Some oversight is already provided to the Greek system. Winston heads up a fraternity alumni advising group, which performs continual evaluations, working with fraternity alumni and their faculty advisers. Another group of administrators and Greek community members also periodically reviews chapters that fail to meet safety and behavior standards.But what is important to many fraternity members is that their unique character remains intact through the review.“We’re a self-governing body and we really want to hold ourselves accountable,” said recently elected Interfraternity Council President Tucker Piner.“I’m very proud of our system and I just want to make sure that we make the necessary improvements to make sure that people are safe and that they enjoy their college experience.”Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new administrative review of the Greek system will be overseen by Jordan Whichard, a UNC alumnus and fraternity member.
This article was published in the 2009 Year in Review issue of The Daily Tar Heel.
After nearly three months, the State Bureau of Investigation has completed its inquiry into the officer who killed junior Courtland Smith on Aug. 23.The state investigation, completed Nov. 16, was turned over to the Randolph County district attorney, who is responsible for determining if any legal action will be taken against Archdale Police Officer Jeremy Paul Flinchum.The district attorney’s office has not yet acted.The office refused to comment Wednesday on whether charges would be filed or on any other aspect of the investigation.Archdale police will check the information they obtained in their own internal investigation with what the SBI found.“It’ll help us complete our internal investigation, and that’s what we’re waiting on,” said Archdale Police Chief Darrell Gibbs. “There’s a lot we don’t know.”The SBI indicated that its report is not public record and had no further comment other than to say it had finished the investigation.“You do your internal, you confirm with the DA, you confirm with the SBI and you make sure everybody is on the same page,” Gibbs said.Smith, who was the president of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, was driving west on Interstate 85 near Greensboro at about 4:30 a.m. on Aug. 23 when he called 911. While driving drunk and recklessly, Smith said he was carrying a gun and suicidal. He also asked for police assistance.Flinchum, who police said shot Smith during a confrontation after pulling him over, was placed on paid administrative leave while the SBI looked into the shooting. He is still on paid leave.Officer Chris Jones was also present at the scene and placed on administrative leave. He returned to active duty after it was determined that he was not involved in the shooting.Gibbs attributed the long wait for the investigation to other priorities for the SBI, including a shooting in Winston-Salem and an inmate’s death in Guilford County.The Randolph County district attorney would have been obligated to release tapes from police dashboard cameras that recorded part of the incident if the office decided not to pursue criminal prosecution. But Randolph County Superior Court Judge Bradford Long ordered Wednesday that rather than releasing the video immediately, he would permit a hearing on the Smith family’s motion to seal the video permanently.The order says the hearing will take place no later than Dec. 18, and could be sooner if the court calendar permits.Contact the University Editor at email@example.com.
The tuition increase proposal Chancellor Holden Thorp will put before the Board of Trustees’ audit and finance committee today is the least costly of two options — for both the students and the school.It holds increases for in-state students to the state’s prescribed $200 limit and raises out-of-state students’ tuition a corresponding percentage, a total of $1,126.68.Thorp is also expected to recommend increasing graduate student tuition by 3.7 percent, or $731.98.But it will also cost less in the political arena. Thorp said this proposal has more popular and political support and will more easily pass through the layers of oversight after UNC’s trustees.“The Board of Governors is more likely to support the recommendation that I’m going to make, and I think it will have an easier time in Raleigh,” Thorp said Tuesday.The proposal backs off administrators’ earlier zeal for higher hikes and a fight at the legislative level. A campus board that proposes tuition amounts recommended an in-state tuition increase of more than $200 last week, a move that would have required changing state budget law.But that compromise means UNC might not have enough money for administrators’ priorities, which they said in previous talks would not be met by an across-the-board 5.2 percent increase, the amount Thorp is set to recommend. UNC won’t need to make budget decisions until this summer after further state budget talks.The General Assembly could greatly alter what UNC receives from tuition increases. The state will collect $200 from every UNC-system student next school year for its own finances, money that would not go back to the schools. But the state could change its budget and send that money back to the universities if the financial situation improves.In a series of phone calls, Thorp orchestrated the go-ahead for his plan with board chairman Bob Winston, as well as trustees Roger Perry and Sallie Shuping-Russell.“I feel comfortable that the board will settle with the chancellor’s recommendations,” Winston said. “Some may want more, some may think less is better. At the end of the day, this is what we feel we can work through and come up with.”Thorp said the proposal reflects students’ and parents’ concern in a difficult economic time.“We’re trying to strike a balance between what we think we can ask people to do and what we are going to have to give up,” Thorp said. “This year we’re going to have to rummage around to see if we can find enough money to see if we can patch this over.”Thorp credited students on the tuition and fee advisory task force with strategic vision in recommending the lower increase.“If their knee-jerk reaction was to oppose any sort of increase, I think we would have gone with the larger one,” Thorp said. “It was pretty smart that they did that.”Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chancellor Holden Thorp said Thursday he will recommend increasing tuition next year by the smaller of two options he had been considering.That option — a 5.2 percent increase for undergraduate students and 3.7 percent for graduate students — keeps increases for in-state students to the $200 hike set by the N.C. General Assembly, and increases out-of-state students’ tuition accordingly.Out-of-state undergraduates would pay $1,126.68 more for tuition while non-resident graduate students would see their tuition increase $731.98 under the plan.N.C. lawmakers mandated a tuition increase of $200 on all students, then directed that money to the state’s budget. UNC officials are looking to out-of-state students to replace that lost revenue.The tuition and fee advisory task force recommended two proposals to Thorp on Wednesday: the option he selected as well as a plan to increase tuition for all students by 6.5 percent.Members of the task force indicated their preferences for the higher tuition increase after they had recommended both policies to Thorp, claiming campus funding priorities would not be covered.One day later, Thorp said he would support the lesser increase, siding with Student Body President Jasmin Jones and Student Body Vice President David Bevevino, who were on the task force and were the dissenting votes in favor of the smaller increase.“I think that in this case the legislature kind of put the $200 out there and we should follow that,” Thorp said. “I think that’s the consensus and that it’ll go smoothly at the Board of Governors.”The UNC-system General Administra-tion told its Board of Governors and chancellors Thursday they were not to increase in-state tuition by more than $200. The General Administration also described a plan to try to retrieve tuition revenue now lost to the state.Thorp acknowledged that the lesser tuition figure would leave some holes in the University’s funding in the future.“If the demand for need-based aid keeps coming up, at some point, we’re going to have to rely on tuition to make up the difference,” Thorp said.The money going to financial aid will be enough to cover additional students who need more money to cover increased tuition costs, said Shirley Ort, director of scholarships and student aid.UNC will be giving out a smaller proportion of scholarships this year in favor of less expensive loans and other forms of aid. It will probably also face difficulties raising adequate money to retain its faculty, administrators said.“It’s going to make some people’s lives harder no matter how this shakes out,” said Bruce Carney, interim executive vice chancellor and provost. “It won’t be enough to meet our needs.” Administrators say one of their crucial goals now is changing the budget law to retain the $5.3 million that was lost from UNC to the state when the state mandated its tuition increase. Thorp’s tuition proposal will bring about $3.9 million back to campus.Out-of-State Student Association President Ryan Morgan said the lower proposal is a good step, but the best scenario would be all of the increase coming back.“At UNC, we’re united in thinking our money shouldn’t go back to the state,” Morgan said. “Nobody wants to sacrifice the quality of the University for anything.”Contact the University Editor at email@example.com.
The tuition and fee advisory task force favored increasing in-state tuition more than state law currently allows in its meeting Wednesday amid a packed house of student advocates.The task force sent two proposals to Chancellor Holden Thorp that would increase tuition by the same percentage for both in-state and out-of-state students.The task force recommended either a 6.5 percent increase for all students, or 5.2 percent for undergraduate students and 3.7 percent for graduate students.The task force’s focus on parity might be mostly a symbolic gesture, intended to show that administrators have student concerns about fairness in mind. But it also emphasizes UNC administrators’ perceived financial need, an issue the task force must take up with state lawmakers.“This is the first bullet we’ve got to fire at the legislature,” said Bruce Carney, UNC’s interim executive vice chancellor and provost.Administrators must now make their case to a series of higher authorities that UNC’s financial need is enough to justify the fight required to make significant changes in the state’s budget plan.Increasing in-state tuition more than $200 had not been officially discussed before Wednesday. The state budget, passed in August, included a provision that limited in-state tuition increases to $200 — or 5.2 percent above current rates — next year.Task force members had said several times in previous meetings that in-state tuition was not under consideration.Administrators brought this idea forward because they said keeping the increase at 5.2 percent for all students simply wouldn’t bring the University enough in revenue to pay for its priorities.They said only increasing out-of-state students’ tuition 6.5 percent, while keeping the 5.2 percent increase for in-state students, would generate enough revenue but would not be fair.The $200 mandated by the legislature will go back to the state instead of being controlled by the University.To make up for that lost revenue, UNC had been looking to raise out-of-state tuition in order to fund its priorities.The legislature might be willing to change its stance on the cap on in-state students’ tuition increases and could even return the $200 mandated increase to the campus, UNC trustee Roger Perry said at the meeting. The $200 from every student would total about $5.3 million.While task force members supported keeping the same percentage increases regardless of residency status, most task force members indicated preferences for the higher figure.The 6.5 percent increase is the maximum allowable for in-state undergraduate students under UNC-system guidelines.The only dissenting votes on the preference came from Student Body President Jasmin Jones and Student Body Vice President David Bevevino, who preferred the smaller increase.UNC trustee Sallie Shuping-Russell abstained from indicating a preference.Task force members said they thought the talks went well and sent the debate in a positive direction.“I think it gives the chancellor the flexibility he needs, and it sets the parameters for the discussion,” Shuping-Russell said.The discussion about which proposal Thorp will choose will focus on UNC’s needs and on the way to meet them with tuition dollars. Increased tuition will go to fund financial aid, faculty salaries and academic services.The University saw students with financial need increase 23 percent this year, and half the tuition increase is slated to ensure that UNC can meet all of students’ demonstrated need with the same percentage of grants.Campus officials also say the cost of faculty retention is a critical fight.“Our primary obligation and responsibility to you as students is to make sure that the quality of education here at Carolina stays the same or gets better,” Perry said.At next week’s Board of Trustees meeting, Thorp likely will present his preference for approval.Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction (March 28 10:43 p.m.): Due to a reporting error, this story misstates the percentage tuition increase being proposed for nonresident graduate students. It is 3.7 percent. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
Administrators are looking to increase tuition for out-of-state undergraduate students next year by $1,126.68.That number, which interim Provost Bruce Carney referred to as a “working figure,” represents an almost 5.2 percent increase in out-of-state tuition, which would be used primarily to support faculty salaries and to give more financial aid.That number has a long way to go before it is finalized. It must be approved by a committee of students and administrators, the UNC Board of Trustees, the system’s Board of Governors and the N.C. General Assembly.Graduate students’ tuition would go up by $731.98 for out-of-state students and $200 for in-state students, except for departments that already had increases for next year approved by the Board of Governors.In-state student tuition for next year will increase by $200, a number set by state law. If the increases are approved, in-state and out-of-state tuition would rise roughly the same percentage.“Instead of equating dollars, we’re going to equate percentages, and this is what you get,” Carney said at the first meeting of the tuition and fee advisory task force on Monday. The task force is scheduled to meet again Oct. 30.Officials said increasing out-of-state tuition — which would bring UNC about $4.1 million in revenue — is necessary to support faculty salaries and student aid.The number of students who qualify for financial aid this year rose 23 percent. Last year the number only increased 2 percent. “Will it help us keep pace?” Carney said. “The answer, frankly, is no. But it may be all we can do in the coming year.”Student Body President Jasmin Jones asked the question that Carney said will drive the next two task force meetings: Are the increases justified?“We’ll just need to assess it and maybe give our own recommendation,” she said. “I just want to see how this is meeting the needs of the students.”Upping the increaseIn the state budget, the N.C. legislature mandated that tuition for every student increase by $200. It capped resident student increases there, but out-of-state students weren’t afforded that guarantee.The mandated $200 increase goes to the state’s general fund, an effort by politicians to help close North Carolina’s budget hole. But any out-of-state increase above that would go back to the University.University officials previously said they would charge out-of-state students only the mandated $200 increase, but they began eyeing out-of-state students as a source for money that would stay on campus.Student fees also took another step toward approval. The $96.01 increase for campus services was approved unanimously and will next be sent to the chancellor.
On this day 216 years ago, UNC laid the cornerstone for a model of public education.
Rooted in state support, the University was to become a place where students would learn to apply knowledge to the people of North Carolina, paying back dividends on the state’s investment.
The model spread across the country, building up some of the best public university systems in the country — Arizona, California, Georgia, Michigan and Virginia, among others.
But with tighter budgets and dwindling public support, cracks in the model are showing, leading the way for a growing discussion about the role of the state in higher education.
“The public model is increasingly coming under pressure and being questioned,” said Dwayne Pinkney, UNC’s liaison with the state government. “But here in North Carolina, the model still appears to be strong.”
How long that support lasts, and how long UNC can simultaneously maintain its quality and model, is still an open question. And it largely relies on the willingness of politicians and the state to believe that the University can continue to benefit the state.
“We’re going to defend it as long as the legislature and governor hang in there with us,” said Chancellor Holden Thorp.
A model not broken, but abandoned
Universities have begun to move away from UNC’s model in the past decade, a trend that could be accelerating as states face hard economic realities.
The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor began operating with high tuition and almost independently of its state after declining state revenues compromised its funding.
The University of Virginia started pulling away in 2004. The school, faced with a dire state budget situation, was not willing to compromise its quality and sought other means of support.
A law passed in 2005 gave the school almost complete control over its finances and operations.
It now functions with little state control — a trade-off that means less state support and higher tuition.
State funding makes up only 6.9 percent of its budget. Almost a quarter of UNC’s budget is state appropriations.
Now the University of California-Berkeley, the golden child of public higher education that is consistently the highest-ranked public university in the country, is looking to move away from UNC’s model.
The state of California, facing a budget deficit larger than North Carolina’s entire budget, slashed $637 million from the 10-school University of California system.
“The model isn’t broken, but it’s being abandoned,” said Peter King, spokesman for the University of California system.
The California system hasn’t said it’s going the same way as Virginia, but leaders are looking for new ways to fund higher education.
UC-Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau recently proposed the option of federal tax dollars going to core expenses at some of the country’s largest research universities.
UC-system President Mark Yudof echoed the importance of public higher education in a speech to California legislators.
“We need to retain our public character,” he said. “I do not want to be a private university. I do not want to privatize the University. That’s not the University of California.”
N.C. politicians, who in the past have shown strong support for higher education, are only willing to support the UNC system so long as the state’s population does.
The N.C. constitution states that higher education should “as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.”
The public still generally supports the University. The last higher education bond in 2000, which called for $3.1 billion to support growth — the largest education bond in U.S. history at the time — passed in every county.
“Every town and county and hamlet is impacted by the University in some aspect virtually every day,” said N.C. Sen. Richard Stevens, R-Wake, co-chairman of the Senate’s two education committees.
Stevens, previously a member and chairman of the UNC Board of Trustees, said the state legislators generally highly value the University’s contributions and provided accordant support.
But in recent years, the UNC system has seen some bad publicity that could threaten its relationship with the state.
“Some of the things that have happened in the past year make it very obvious that the university system has wasted millions and millions of dollars,” said N.C. Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow.
Administrators at N.C. State University — the largest school in the UNC system — orchestrated a faculty position for former Gov. Mike Easley’s wife at an exorbitant salary.
The report by consulting firm Bain & Company, which found that administrative growth at UNC outpaced growth in academic costs, became a rallying cry for those looking to pull money from the system.
Most recently was the revelation that a UNC-Chapel Hill research program designed to work with soldiers squandered $10 million in federal money.
“We’ve had a hard time getting our good news in the press,” Thorp said.
He said moving away from the original model is something the school doesn’t want to do.
UNC would have a high hill to climb if it did. If the state cut its support of the University, it would have to make up the money through some combination of higher tuition, more federal dollars and even more private giving.
Stevens said the University would need the equivalent of a $11.4 billion endowment to sustain itself. UNC’s endowment is currently about $2.36 billion.
But Thorp said the University must maintain its quality and accessibility, even if state support begins to erode.
“We’re going to determine if the model William R. Davie invented is enough to sustain higher education in the future,” Thorp said.
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Joe Templeton spends a lot of time explaining things these days.The affable and well-respected professor and former chairman of the Faculty Council now has the job of selling faculty and staff on recommendations from Bain & Co.’s study of UNC’s operational efficiency.As UNC reacts to Bain’s study findings, faculty members are worried how the dollars-and-sense recommendations will affect them.Bain’s study, funded by an anonymous donor for an undisclosed amount, was completed in July. Evaluating and executing those suggestions is an administrative priority as the University examines how it can get leaner, with Chancellor Holden Thorp pursuing the goal of being the best-managed university in the country.In his new role as special assistant to the chancellor, Templeton is part of a small group of high-level administrators overseeing its implementation, which was renamed Carolina Counts last week.“I’m supposed to bring something different,” Templeton said. “I bring the culture of faculty excellence, and I’m supposed to cling to that. And I plan to.”Faculty members, though, aren’t thrilled with some parts of the plan.The corporate lingo in which some suggestions are delivered is a barrier to faculty members.At a meeting Monday, faculty balked at the term “process velocity,” saying it raised red flags that were indicative of changes they might not like.The term describes the turnaround speed at which some operations are accomplished, but it marks an uneasiness between the academic culture of the faculty and the businesslike practice of administrators, legislators and trustees.Faculty also worry that the broader mission of the University to create the best possible environment to learn, research and serve could be lost in a rush to cut administrative costs.“They’re always going to intersect, and there are places in which you’re going to make value judgments,” said religious studies professor Laurie Maffly-Kipp. “I just want to know where that fits in.”Mike Patil recently moved from a business management position in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy to be the full-time project director for Carolina Counts.Templeton and Patil said they spend a lot of time beating back rumors.For instance, there is no such thing as a “Bain committee” yet, they say, that is responsible for putting ideas into action. Carolina Counts isn’t directly related to Connect Carolina, UNC’s long-running software and systems revamp. And consultants didn’t deal at all with changes to academic curricula, so most students and faculty should be little-affected.Most importantly, Templeton said, budget cuts are happening for reasons outside of Carolina Counts.In their final report, Bain consultants identified 10 areas in which the University could examine ways to streamline activities in depth.They recommended that UNC cut layers from its hierarchy; look for ways to consolidate efforts in human resources, information technology and finance; and better utilize its purchasing power, facilities, energy and institutes.Once they have built up some consensus and participation, Templeton said he plans to identify leaders known as “champions” on those issues who will be responsible for implementing recommendations.Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The exposure of sensitive information to hackers detected in July could have been prevented if UNC had adopted guidelines developed by Information Technology Services in the past several months.ITS has been issuing guidelines on data security best-practice measures for months, and it posted drafts of them online about a month ago as unofficial recommendations.In the wake of the security breach, ITS is pushing to implement the measures more quickly.The attack allowed outside access to personal information of more than 236,000 women who were participating in UNC’s Carolina Mammography Registry.“If people had been following these policies, I think we could have avoided a lot of this,” said Assistant Vice Chancellor for Information Security William Cameron at Monday’s meeting of the faculty executive committee.The guidelines include dozens of pages of documents that incorporate security measures ranging from requiring contracts before sharing information with outside entities to describing password requirements.ITS doesn’t have the power to set or enforce official security policy, Cameron said, which is something they would like to correct in the wake of the hacker attack. Cameron also discussed Monday how stronger security might affect professors and researchers.Beside obvious questions of personal security, having an insecure network could also hinder the University’s grant proposals, which often require that the University guarantee adequate safeguards. If UNC can’t reassure grant donors, it might see research dollars drop.ITS members said fixing the problem is more complicated than just investing in new software, and new policies would take time and effort to implement. They will discuss their efforts at the next Faculty Council meeting Friday.“You can’t write a check to fix this,” Cameron said. “You’re going to need support from the top down.”He said ITS’s enforcement would take on an assistance role, helping faculty members implement unfamiliar policies.Executing greater security faces significant obstacles. Faculty members admitted to being confused sometimes by technical requirements and said they saw security measures as unnecessarily problematic at times.“Security is a pain,” said Joe Templeton, special assistant to the chancellor and former chair of the faculty. “But I think we all need to step up to the plate and say security breaches are a disaster, and we’re going to have to work to avoid them.”Contact the University Editor at email@example.com.
The history of fraternity and sorority life at UNC is underscored by a discordant relationship between these organizations’ members and the University.When fraternity and sorority members’ actions strain their groups’ relationship with the wider community, the ambiguous role of administrators in the system is highlighted.And in these moments, the University faces a choice between drawing Greeks closer and pushing them away.Fraternities and sororities are fundamentally different from other groups. Many maintain private houses off campus, but all are full of students whom the University has a vested interest in protecting. They have their own rules and cultures. Their right of association is protected by the First Amendment, and UNC administration deals differently with them than they do other student groups.But students, administrators and alumni say maintaining the connection between the Greek community and UNC is key to preventing dangerous behavior from overshadowing aspects of organizations that, in general, provide numerous benefits to members and the campus.“If you don’t have the University working with fraternities and sororities, they’ll start to do things that are just really bad,” said Ron Binder, director of Greek affairs at UNC from 1994 to 2000. “Greeks will self-destruct. They won’t go away, but bad things will start to happen.”And the system’s history has shown that when problems arise, the University has intervened to ensure these students’ safety and well-being.Revising a relationshipIn the wake of recent events that highlighted the system’s negative aspects, problems in the relationship have again come to light.Chancellor Holden Thorp launched an investigation into the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity after the Aug. 23 death of its chapter president, Courtland Smith.Thorp used evidence of a party the night before Smith was killed as a way to explore changing the way UNC deals with Greek students.Thorp’s call for change has drawn student leaders closer to the University’s resources.“The upside of all of this attention is that it has opened up new levels of communication,” Thorp said. “It might have been too much attention right now, but we don’t want to go back to ignoring it.”Thorp said Delta Kappa Epsilon’s talks with the upper administration has helped him get up to speed on Greek protocol.But when it comes to implementing new practices, Thorp’s lieutenants — deans and vice chancellors who oversee campus policies — haven’t found a definite direction.Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp told new fraternity and sorority members Sunday the Greek system was on the ropes and he would no longer tolerate reckless behavior. “In general we think most of our organizations are healthy, and we think most of our organizations are out there doing good stuff,” Crisp said in an interview. “There’s also negatives about the organizations that the University has never wanted to tolerate. I don’t think that’s ever been a change.”And UNC administrators haven’t made it a priority to come up with new ways to deal with the Greeks.While the DKE party received more attention than previous investigations, UNC has dealt with it in the same fashion as other infractions. It passed off the investigation to the student-run Greek Judicial Board, which imposed a year of probation on the chapter. As private organizations, Greeks abide by their own codes of conduct and deal out sanctions based on their own rules. Those involved say they take the responsibility of self-governance seriously.“Chancellor Thorp looked our way and said ‘You guys need to do your job,’ and that’s what Dean Crisp was saying too,” said Interfraternity Council President Charlie Winn of Thorp’s call for an investigation. “Typically he doesn’t tell us to do our job because we know that. He just wanted us to know that he thought it was important for us to do it well now more than ever.”Apart from its investigation, administrators worked with alumni and parents to provide resources to Delta Kappa Epsilon after Smith’s death, but they have only minimally involved the national organization.“I see things on the chancellor’s blog and all that other stuff, but they’ve done nothing to reach out to us,” said Delta Kappa Epsilon Executive Director David Eastlick, who oversees the nationwide organization’s chapters. Crisp said the administration had kept the national organization abreast of the situation and would continue to contact them when the fraternity undergoes a standards review.The way it wasIn the past, the Greek system had been largely cut off from the University, which was attempting to avoid being named in lawsuits. It resulted in unsafe conditions and little oversight. Binder is the reason most fraternities don’t look more like “Animal House.” He became UNC’s enforcer when he took the assistant dean position in 1994, traveling through house parties and keeping a close eye on Greek houses.He introduced the rules that the old-timers love to hate: dry rush, no kegs and tight controls on hazing. He established the Greek Judicial Board and other institutions of self-governance.He said there was resistance at first, but alumni, advisers and student leaders of the Greek system soon realized that he made their lives easier.In May 1996, a fire in Phi Gamma Delta killed five students, raising the profile of fire safety in fraternity houses and causing the Chapel Hill Town Council to pass an ordinance requiring the Greek houses to install sprinklers.Binder created requirements for fire safety and provided the resources for organizations to follow through.Keeping close tiesThe biggest thing that keeps fraternities tied to the University is access to UNC’s resources for student groups, including lists of pledges, not to mention the University’s name and reputation.When that recognition is taken away, fraternities like Pi Kappa Phi, which had its charter revoked in 2005, operate outside IFC guidelines. The fraternity chooses new members last and doesn’t hold formal social events.Crisp said it is important for groups to stay connected to the University to keep national organizations supportive of chapters.“It’s certainly not clear to me that national chapters will allow an organization to continue without its relationship with the University,” Crisp said.While the organizations have their own governance structures, fraternity and sorority members are perceived to be part of the University first and their Greek organization second. They can be brought in front of the Honor Court individually, and are sometimes held collectively accountable for actions.‘Taking responsibility’If the University were adamant about changing the relationship, experience shows it could. In the past, administrators introduced rules and cracked down on infractions. They have also leaned on chapters to self-govern more diligently.Delta Kappa Epsilon has embraced the consequences of its violations, and members say they are working to take a leadership role in improving the relationship.Administrators took note of the effort with which the fraternity is making an attempt to do good.“I always think it’s a good thing when people are taking responsibility for their actions and are trying to find ways to improve the campus and the world around them,” Crisp said.Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity received one year of social probation and a review that could endanger its charter as punishment for violations in late August and mid-September.The fraternity pled guilty to violating alcohol and safety policies at two parties this semester, one the night of former fraternity President Courtland Smith’s death.The Greek Judicial Board issued the stiff penalties partly in response to what it considered the fraternity’s “disrespect for the seriousness of the judicial process.”The chapter failed to comply with sanctions from a fire code violation last year and accrued two more violations less than three weeks after Smith’s death while under investigation for the Aug. 22 party.The judicial board’s decision notes the fraternity’s “extensive” record with the board, including alcohol violations in August 2007 and September 2005.In addition to the punishments set out by the judicial board, Delta Kappa Epsilon also adopted several self-imposed sanctions. These include the donation of the chapter’s yearly social budget and 500 community service hours to complete the Courtland Benjamin Smith Memorial Habitat for Humanity House. They will also sponsor a substance abuse awareness plan.The judicial board noted the thoughtfulness with which the fraternity considered its self-imposed sanctions, saying its suggestions were appropriate to help the chapter learn from its mistakes and help the Greek community move forward.Under social probation, the fraternity will not be allowed to hold formal and informal social gatherings, mixers, cocktails, tailgates or alumni events. The ruling also shortens the organization’s new member pledge period.Fraternity members stressed that while probation isn’t something they’re excited about, they’re eager to take a leadership role on issues in the Greek community.“Our main priority and focus is on improving DKE life, the Courtland Smith memorial house, and the drug awareness program,” said Patrick Fleming, co-president of the fraternity and Daily Tar Heel editorial board member.The ruling, issued Friday, says the Fraternity and Sorority Standards Review Board will do a review of the chapter. It has the authority to remove the organization’s UNC recognition. The standards board will bring together members of the fraternity’s alumni network, national organization, local chapter and University administration to evaluate the “health and well-being” of the chapter’s community service, pledging practices, violations and other aspects.But fraternity leaders said they are working hard to change the character of the organization and the Greek community in general.“We want to be the leaders of positive reform within the UNC Greek system and help to foster a more constructive relationship with the University,” the fraternity said in a written statement.The judicial board began its investigation after administrators visited the fraternity house the morning after Smith’s death. Smith was seen at the party about four hours before he was killed by a police officer near Greensboro early Aug. 23.Administrators said there was evidence of a party involving alcohol the night before and instructed the judicial board to investigate the matter.Contact the University Editor at email@example.com.
UNC administrators say they have left it to the Greeks’ system of self-governance to make an initial determination on whether a party at the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity house violated UNC and Greek policies.While alcohol-related fraternity violations are not uncommon — and the University usually leaves it up to the Greek system to investigate incidents and determine punishment — the Aug. 22 party has received an unusual emphasis because of the circumstances around it.The night of the party was the same night junior Courtland Smith, who was president of Delta Kappa Epsilon, was killed by a police officer at about 5 a.m. near Greensboro. Smith was seen at the party around 12:30 a.m., according to a statement released by members of his fraternity.Administrators have been quick to say that there are no ties between the investigation and Smith’s death, but they observed potential violations when they visited the fraternity to talk to members about it. Administrators have put the first part of the investigation on the Greek Judicial Board, a group of fraternity and sorority members who evaluate potential violations.“They are the ones really moving forward on investigating the allegations around the party,” said Margaret Jablonski, vice chancellor for student affairs. “They should be wrapping that up very soon.”The judicial board is responsible for determining if there is evidence to hold a hearing on whether the fraternity violated Greek rules. Determining that evidence exists will not imply the organization’s guilt. Administrators could use that information to move forward with their own review.The judicial board’s co-chairmen declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.Greek policy stipulates that all chapter activities be without alcohol during recruitment. One of the board’s tasks will be to determine if underage people drank at the party or if it was a recruitment event. Official recruitment for fraternities is taking place this week. Senior Patrick Fleming, the fraternity’s co-president and treasurer and a DTH editorial board member, said he only found out about the investigation Tuesday and hadn’t been asked any questions.“Nothing has been asked of us, but we are willing to fully cooperate with the investigation, and we’re confident that they won’t find anything wrong,” Fleming said.Administrators have used the opportunity to open the door to further review fraternities and sororities.“I think the University might take a look at what our relationship is with the Greek organizations, but it’s a little premature to determine at this point,” Jablonski said.Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Archdale police communications show that officers knew Smith was potentially armed and suicidal when they pulled over his Toyota 4Runner early Sunday morning.