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In preparation for the May 4 Democratic primary, which will decide who challenges incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, the Daily Tar Heel will present the following Democratic candidates’ stances on key political issues, as well as Burr’s. Burr was first elected to the office in 2004 and is running for re-election for the first time. The Daily Tar Heel has opted to include only the frontrunners in the Democratic race.
Clarification (March 18 12:38 a.m): This story includes a breakdown of four U.S. Senate candidates’ positions on health care reform. The breakdown does not include the positions for seven other candidates who have filed in the race but are not considered major contenders.
North Carolina’s innovative research campus is back on its feet after months of hiring freezes and budget cuts.The N.C. Research Campus at Kannapolis, a collaboration of private companies and eight N.C. universities to investigate human health and nutrition, has restarted its development after receiving an unexpected grant from the N.C. General Assembly in December.“A year ago at this time, the financial world was collapsing. And in late spring, the governor froze all spending, and that froze us in place,” said Steven Zeisel, director of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Nutrition Research Institute on campus. “In December that lifted — the budget came through, and now everybody’s feeling optimistic.”Dole Foods Inc. Chairman David Murdock founded the 250-acre nutrition research campus as a partnership between universities and private companies. Murdock himself has contributed $1.5 billion to the campus, and the state of North Carolina is expected to contribute $22.5 million to it every year.UNC-CH’s Nutrition Research Institute had its budget cut by $1.1 million last fall, forcing two layoffs. N.C. State’s Plants for Human Health Institute on the campus was similarly hurt by the budget freeze. Construction on its permanent lab facility was delayed, and its budget fell even farther behind.But both campuses saw a change of fortunes in December when they, along with UNC-Charlotte, received the bulk of the $3 million the state legislature allocated to the campus for this fiscal year.“The legislature, in a down economy, recognized how important the campus was,” said Steven Leath, vice president for research for the UNC system.“If we can make a difference in solving problems related to health and nutrition, it’s a huge economic benefit to the state.”Most of the allocation will go toward hiring new faculty and researchers — as many as 100 by the end of the year, Leath said. At full operation, the campus will require about 300 employees. Completing the campus and bringing it to full operation will cost another $7 million next year. “That is probably not going to happen,” Leath said.The allocation has also attracted new private partners to the campus. The holes left by PepsiCo and Wilmington-based research organization PPD, both of which withdrew from the campus last year, have been filled by Dole Foods and Monsanto Co., an agricultural company.“When people see you’re making progress with not much, they’ll make the commitment,” said Mary Ann Lila, director of N.C. State’s Plants for Human Health Institute. “We’ve held our ground, and now we’re starting to be successful.”Contact the State & National Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clarification (Feb. 25 1:57 a.m.): This story identifies former UNC student William Munsee as a seller of imitation marijuana. He is William Munsee Jr.
In the most challenging of times, the voices of everyday North Carolinians have been missing, U.S. Senate hopeful Elaine Marshall said Monday night.In a talk hosted by the UNC Young Democrats, Marshall — who is running for the seat held by Republican Richard Burr — highlighted her experience helping common folks as N.C. Secretary of State. “I want to be the voice of those people, the lives that will be affected by Washington’s laws,” she said.Marshall made her priorities clear — financial reform and unemployment, both of which she said she has experience with as secretary of state.Thomas Mills, a consultant to Marshall’s campaign, said her emphasis on financial regulation makes her campaign the most relevant to North Carolinians.Marshall also said she supports the Senate’s plan for health care reform to bring costs down and get more people insured.“The rest of the world looks at us and says, ‘Why haven’t you got this figured out?’” she said. “But the health insurance industry, who basically owns Burr, is saying ‘No.’”Current polls show that the Democratic ticket for the Senate seat is wide open. Filing for candidacy opened last week.Other potential Democratic candidates include former state senator Cal Cunningham and Durham attorney Kenneth Lewis.Many of the 20 or 30 students who attended the talk said they weren’t aware of Marshall’s campaign in particular but were impressed by her appearance Monday night.“I don’t really have a knowledge of any of the candidates,” said Travis Hairfield, a freshman chemistry major. “But I was really pleased with her knowledge of financial reform.”Kate Taylor, a UNC alumna who graduated in December, said that she started working for Marshall’s campaign because of its message.“I like Elaine a lot; she really has the experience and the personality for the job,” she said.“Her stances on financial reform are hugely important but don’t resonate as much with young people.”Marshall fielded questions on issues ranging from health care reform to the war in Afghanistan to education policy.“We are today in the worst recession you or your parents has ever seen,” she said. “I’m going to get up every day and say, ‘What can I do to make it better for these folks?”Contact the State & National Editor at email@example.com.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning restrictions on corporations’ political spending is expected to shake up the upcoming 2010 U.S. Senate race in North Carolina.Candidates with less money could have a better chance at winning, or corporations could unfairly influence the elections, political experts said.The ruling, handed down in January, comes at the outset of an election season with 34 Senate seats up for grabs across the country, including that of U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., first elected in 2004.Burr is seeking his second term in office. Durham attorney Kenneth Lewis, N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and former N.C. Sen. Cal Cunningham have all announced their intentions to run as Burr’s Democratic challenger.“It basically changes how the election laws have been administered for well over 20 years,” said Gary Bartlett, executive director of the N.C. Board of Elections.If corporations use their money to influence public opinion on specific issues, rather than for individual candidates, some say it could even the playing field.With candidates spending less from their campaign’s pockets, Burr’s huge campaign treasury will be less of an issue for his Democratic challengers, said Thomas Mills, Marshall’s political consultant. “General Electric may go out and decide they want a particular issue or a candidate to win and can buy ads and spend money to make that happen,” he said. Leroy Towns, a UNC journalism professor, believes unrestricted corporate spending will make the race fairer.“It’s usually thought that if corporations spend more money it will benefit Republicans, but it’s been shown that when corporations spend money on campaigns in the past it’s been split pretty evenly,” he said. “If it appears Burr is vulnerable, then (corporate donors) will be willing to put the money in to beat him.”But Bob Hall, executive director of the voter advocacy organization Democracy North Carolina, said the changes caused by the ruling will give corporations the power to unfairly influence elections.“I think the ruling will poison the election process and create a ‘pay-to- play’ kind of politics where everybody is seeking the blessing or worried about the threat of wealthy donors,” he said. “The whole decision makes you think this Supreme Court lives in a fantasy world.”It’s clear Burr would benefit most if that materializes, Hall said. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Burr has raised $6.7 million this campaign season. None of his unofficial challengers — Marshall, Cunningham and Lewis — have topped $400,000. Duke Energy and Progress Energy, two of the state’s largest political contributors, said that the ruling will have little effect on their political donations.Both corporations rank among the five largest contributors to Burr’s campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. “The speculation that this means companies spending millions and millions to invest in the political process is ludicrous,” said Mike Hughes, spokesman for Progress Energy. Contact the State & National Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two UNC fraternities were forced to stop recruiting new members after a year scarred by hazing allegations at other chapters within their national organizations.The national organizations — Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. — have ordered all chapters to stop new member recruitment following hazing scandals that resulted in the death of a student and serious injuries to another in Texas and Georgia, respectively. “Up until recently, national has been pretty tight-lipped,” said Justin Clayton, president of the 11-member Mu Zeta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha at UNC. “At this point, all we know is that it is suspended until further notice.”UNC’s nine-member Xi Gamma chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity has also been required to end new member induction indefinitely. Its president Lorenzo Hopper said it can be difficult to ensure the pledging processes are safe and disciplined at the same time.“It’s a thin line for a lot of people,” he said. “They get confused along the line — in their efforts of making sure the members of the fraternity really are dedicated.”Both Alpha Phi Alpha and Phi Beta Sigma are members of the “Divine Nine,” historically black fraternity and sorority organizations.Most Greek organizations begin the process of adding new members at the beginning of the fall and the spring semesters.These processes, which were once conducted “underground,” or without set guidelines, are now overseen by university officials and the chapters’ national organizations.Jenny Levering, UNC assistant dean of students for fraternity and sorority life, said the National Pan-Hellenic Council, which governs the Divine Nine, more frequently institutes such nationwide pledging freezes than similar organizations that govern all fraternities and sororities at UNC.“Because of the history of their organizations and how they used to have an underground pledging process, it’s been hard for them to adapt to new processes,” she said.Clayton said many chapters fail to realize that times have changed.“It’s very difficult to take what’s been done by tradition and apply that to current rules,” Clayton said. “What was done to enter my chapter 20 years ago legally is now very illegal.”Despite this history and indiscretions nationwide, the UNC chapters of Alpha Phi Alpha and Phi Beta Sigma have clean hazing records as of recently, Levering said.“Hazing reputations can vary campuswide, regionwide, and nationwide,” Clayton said. “You can drive three hours south and a fraternity’s reputation is completely opposite from another.”Contact the State & National Editor at email@example.com.
Two N.C. university marching bands have been invited to the 2011 Rose Parade, one of the most prestigious parades a college marching band can participate in.The parade, which takes place before the Rose Bowl game each year in Pasadena, Calif., is watched by about 40 million people on TV and another million in person. N.C. Central University’s “Marching Sound Machine” and Western Carolina University’s “Pride of the Mountains” were two of the sixteen bands nationwide chosen to march in the parade, which will take place Jan. 1, 2011.“I was very, very excited when I heard we got a bid,” said Bob Buckner, director of athletic bands at WCU. “This puts us in the national spotlight.”But the costs of the trip have both band directors worried.“It’s going to take a lot of money and effort from the university and the community,” said Jorim Reid, the director of bands at NCCU. “We’re doing everything we can to fundraise.”Reid said the cost of the trip should total about $1.7 million for his school, which includes transportation and accommodations for more than 300 people and their equipment.Bands are selected at least 14 months in advance to allow schools time to raise the money needed for the trip to Pasadena. The NCCU band is depending mostly on donations from alumni and partners of the university because budget cuts have hit music and art departments especially hard, Reid said. The burden will not fall on the students, he said.“Those band students have worked very hard and they do not get the same treatment as student athletes when they work just as hard or harder,” Reid said. “These students will not pay anything out of their pockets.”WCU is also struggling to find the money for trip. Buckner expects to bring about 360 band members at about $1,600 each. They will be expected to cover some of the costs of the trip.“There has been talk of doing events like golf tournaments and other fundraisers,” said Matt Henley, spokesperson for Partners for Pride, the band’s booster club. “Some of it will fall on the students themselves. That will definitely be a part of it.”Both Buckner and Reid said they would cut down on their program’s normal operating costs to save money for the trip.If the bands raise enough money to go, it’s likely their schools will reap the benefits. “The band has given the university more exposure than anything,” Reid said. “And it takes events like this to allow for the community and the world to know that the university and this program exist.”Contact the State & National Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Butler University is disciplining a student who criticized administrators on the Internet after the university dropped the first-ever lawsuit against a student for online libel.Instead of the lawsuit, Butler will pursue internal disciplinary actions against junior Jess Zimmerman, who criticized university administrators anonymously on his blog, “TrueBU.” “There have been threats against individuals before,” said Mike Hiestand, legal consultant to the Student Press Law Center. “But I’m not aware of a single reported court decision where a school has gone after a student for libel, especially not over the Internet.”The lawsuit, Butler University v. John Doe, claimed the blog “harmed the honesty, integrity and professional reputation of Butler University and two of its high-level administrators.”It remained under wraps until early October, when Butler University professor Bill Watts made the case public with a letter of protest to the student newspaper and with an e-mail to members of the faculty senate.“I felt very strongly that it was inappropriate for the university to sue a student,” Watts said. “The attack on Jess and the blog does threaten free speech.”In his letter, Watts said the university “should stand for freedom of speech” rather than “slapping libel suits on … those who make statements with which they disagree.”Zimmerman created the blog in October 2008 and wrote under the pen name “Soodo Nym.”In early December, Zimmerman wrote that the firing of Andrea Gullickson, chairwoman of the School of Music and Zimmerman’s stepmother, was abrupt. In a series of posts made Dec. 16, he wrote that Peter Alexander, dean of the College of Fine Arts, “acted inappropriately and inexcusably,” and called him “power-hungry and afraid of his own shadow.” His comments also were intended for Provost Jamie Comstock. Earlier, Zimmerman wrote that Comstock “doesn’t seem to care much for student opinion” and was “unwilling to work with students unless she can see how the relationship will directly benefit her.”At the end of December, the university’s lawyer contacted Zimmerman via the e-mail address listed on the blog to inform him that Butler was pressing charges.Zimmerman immediately took down the blog. The suit was filed in January against John Doe because all administrators knew about the identity of the blog author was his pen name, “Soodo Nym.”Zimmerman said he first became aware of legal action against him in early summer when the university lawyer approached his father, Michael Zimmerman.Michael Zimmerman was dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, but his contract was not renewed at the beginning of summer 2008. The university offered Michael and Jess Zimmerman a settlement: It would drop the charges against Jess if Jess would agree to campus disciplinary procedures and confidentiality and waive the right to appeal the decision.The settlement was turned down.Contact the State & National Editor at email@example.com.
Research campuses across the state have kept tabs on the progress of N.C. State University’s Centennial Campus, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.Centennial’s successes have made it easier for newer campuses, such as UNC-Chapel Hill’s Carolina North, to establish themselves, and UNC-CH leaders are evaluating Centennial’s progress as they move forward with their own development plans.Having an existing model for partnerships between universities and private enterprises made it easier to overcome obstacles, such as attracting private investors and gaining community support, said Amy Lubas, director of partnership development at NCSU.“By all accounts, Centennial Campus is a smashing success,” Lubas said. “We have maintained an occupancy of about 95 percent, and we currently have 55 businesses on campus.”Founded in 1984 under N.C. Gov. Jim Hunt, Centennial Campus is a 1,120-acre research park located less than a mile from NCSU’s main campus in Raleigh.Its aim is to promote research partnerships among the university, government, and private companies. It houses leading companies such as Red Hat, WebAssign and GlaxoSmithKline, Lubas said. More than 75 NCSU institutes and centers also have space on the campus.Lubas said Centennial’s progress should help Carolina North attract private investors, which Centennial struggled with its first 10 years.“It’s helpful to Carolina North because you’re no longer having to sell the vision of what a research park is,” Lubas said.Carolina North is in the beginning stages of its development process — a process guided by the model Centennial created 25 years ago.“I think there is a precedent set here that Carolina North could learn from,” said Chris Brown, associate vice chancellor for research development at NCSU.“I see an opportunity for increasing partnerships across universities.”UNC-CH and Chapel Hill officials approved the development agreement for Carolina North in June. Executive Director of Carolina North Jack Evans said he learned the importance of such an agreement from Centennial. “We needed to concentrate on the development agreement because if we didn’t, we knew no private investors would sign on,” he said.Evans said he hopes Carolina North will be as well established as Centennial in 25 years.Both campuses follow in the footsteps of Research Triangle Park, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It is the oldest continuously operating science park in the country.“How do these campuses benefit North Carolina?” Brown asked. “Well, we already have some recognition as far as the RTP, but these campuses can increase that and make North Carolina a place worldwide that companies look to in order to get things done.”Contact the State & National Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Carolina’s community colleges are struggling to keep up as enrollment numbers climb and budgets continue to shrink. The system is funded according to enrollment numbers, and this year, the system has 20,000 more students than last year. To make things worse, the system’s budget was cut this year as a result of the statewide budget crunch.“The problem is having the resources to offer the classes that people want,” said Stephen Scott, president of Wake Technical Community College.“This year we had 10,000 students who were accepted but never registered,” Scott said. “We don’t have the resources to ask them why, but we think it’s because they couldn’t get the classes at the times and places they wanted.”Scott said Wake Tech’s enrollment grew by more than 10 percent this year while its budget decreased by about 8 percent.Community colleges statewide are facing similar difficulties. Of the state’s 58 colleges, 57 have seen enrollment increases, said Megen George, director of marketing and external affairs for N.C. Community Colleges.“The recession is definitely driving those numbers,” she said. “When the economy has a downturn our enrollment numbers go up.”George said that when economic conditions take a turn for the worse, people go back to community college to gain skills to find a new job or to keep an existing one. But that leaves colleges with less money to educate more students.To manage, many colleges are increasing class sizes, offering more online classes, hiring fewer faculty and decreasing work hours for full-time faculty. “Our full-time enrollment has increased from 28 to 33 percent,” said Teri Kaasa, a spokeswoman for Durham Technical Community College.Kaasa said the school has used larger classes — the average class size has increased 13.1 percent — and offered more online classes to handle the extra students. The system’s challenges come after the UNC-system Board of Governors cited community colleges as a possible solution to the state’s financial problems.The board said earlier this year that students who enroll in community college for two years before transferring to UNC-system schools save the state and the students money. The state pays about $12,000 per year for each student in a university. Because some drop out, community college transfers are more efficient because for at least a year, they cost the state only about $3,000, said the board’s Chairwoman Hannah Gage in an interview in September. She also said that attending community colleges could make students better prepared for the university curriculum, increasing graduation and retention rates for UNC-system schools. But N.C. community colleges are not sure they have enough resources to accommodate an even higher increase in enrollment. “Our colleges work hard to provide that open door to any student,” Scott said.“But there’s a finite limit to the number of classes we can teach with the dollars we have.”Contact the State & National Editor at email@example.com.
UNC is not alone in its passion for collegiate sports. Campuses across the country find their own ways to rejoice or agonize over big sports events.Most of these traditions come from combining thousands of frenzied fans, big sports games and a little alcohol consumption. The results often get out of hand, ranging from police using tear gas for suppressing enthused mobs to students destroying university property.Michigan State UniversityLocation: East Lansing, Mich.Tradition: RiotsSport: Men’s BasketballWin or lose, thousands of students congregate at an apartment complex off campus, known as Cedar Village. After men’s basketball losses, the crowd becomes violent when students throw bottles and taunt city and university police at the scene, said Ginny Haas, the school’s director of community relations.“Essentially the riots are a combination of a lot of alcohol, some arrests and police using tear gas,” she said. “We had some very serious issues in the late 1990s and some problems in 2003 and 2005.”The school has a celebrations committee made up of students, university officials, police and town representatives to campaign for safer crowds.Texas A&MLocation: College Station, TexasTradition: Bonfires, “Yell leaders” Sport: FootballA&M has no cheerleaders and holds no pep rallies — instead it has “yell leaders” and “yell practice,” said Lane Stephenson, the director of news and information services at Texas A&M.The midnight “yell practices,” sponsored by the university, happen before football games against rival University of Texas-Austin and can attract as many as 30,000 fans, Stephenson said.“It’s a big doing, but police are on hand. With that many people, something’s bound to happen, so they keep it under control,” he said.A&M used to be known for their university-sanctioned “Aggie Bonfire” — a massive bonfire held the night before the annual game against UT-Austin.The bonfires were stopped in 1999 when the bonfire structure collapsed and about a dozen were killed, Stephenson said.Appalachian State Location: Boone, N.C.Tradition: Taking down goalpostsSport: FootballIn 2007, ASU’s football team upset No. 5 ranked Michigan at the Big House, Michigan’s stadium. Students back at ASU responded by rushing the empty football stadium and tearing down the goalposts.“The campus went nuts. We carried the goalpost all the way to the chancellor’s house,” said Andrew Edmonds, a junior political science major at the school. “It was just a wild experience. People just flooded the streets and went into a frenzy. A girl I was with rode goalposts the whole way,” he said.The students repeated the antic when the team won in the playoffs the next year. They also tore down the goalposts again after President Barack Obama won the 2008 election.“Even though it’s hazardous, it’s an atmosphere you don’t get anywhere else,” Edmonds said.Contact the State & National Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UNC system’s innovative solution to solving the world’s health problems is holding on by a single thread – a billionaire donor.After three years of construction and planning, the N.C. Research Campus, a collaborative research facility located in Kannapolis, is still struggling to get off the ground.The campus, which combines the efforts of eight N.C. universities as well as private investors, has been forced to deal with budget cuts, loss of investors and a backed-up construction log.Major companies have pulled out and universities have cut back, calling the campus’s viability into question.The one bright spot: David Murdock, owner of Dole Foods Inc., has donated about $1.5 billion of his personal funds to finance the project. Murdock’s funding has played a crucial role in keeping the research campus financially afloat.Murdock’s private investment removes much of the risk that has undermined similar projects elsewhere and provides enough reassurance for the state to continue investing in the campus, said Steven Leath, vice president of research for the UNC system.The N.C. General Assembly appropriated $3 million to the campus. The universities’ individual facilities are funded primarily by state appropriations.UNC-system President Erskine Bowles and the system’s General Administration are expected to divide that money up among the campus’s constituent universities in the next few weeks.The additional funds will be central to the campus’s mission of using university resources to help solve worldwide problems of health care, hunger and curing diseases.“The university budgets being frozen was a restraint for everyone,” said Phyllis Beaver, the director of marketing at the campus. “We are moving forward, though. We’re still focused on our mission.”The campus as a whole is funded by state funds, private grants and investors such as Murdock. UNC- Chapel Hill is projected to have the largest presence on campus, where its Nutrition Research Institute uses 125,000 square feet of space.But the project is dealing with the consequences of a $1.1 million budget cut, which leaves it with only $900,000 to work with, said Beverly Jordan, the director of community outreach at the institute.“People have been given notice that their jobs may be terminated as a result of the cut,” Jordan said.Other universities on the campus are facing similar funding difficulties. N.C. State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute has had to delay the construction of its permanent facility.“A permanent facility is still part of the plan, but we need to see what our funding allows and are in the process of working up some numbers to see what we can afford,” stated Tara Vogelien, director for business and research administration, in an e-mail. Private companies, which are collaborating with researchers on campus, are also feeling the effects of the budget shortfalls.PPD, a contract research organization based in Wilmington, announced in June that it would withdraw its plans to participate in the Kannapolis campus.“Progress in developing, constructing and recruiting tenants to the North Carolina Research Campus has been much slower than we expected,” PPD said in a statement. “As a result, we elected to terminate our lease.”In June, following the groundbreaking for Rowan Cabarrus Community College’s building on campus, Murdock described PepsiCo’s plans for participating in the campus as being “in flux.” PepsiCo had announced in October 2008 its plans to participate in the campus.Contact the State & National Editor at email@example.com.
Winston Salem State University has decided to give up its aspirations of competing in Division I athletics because of the high costs of the transition.The expenses of competing in Division I caused the school’s athletic department to fall into almost a $2 million budget deficit, forcing WSSU’s Chancellor Donald Reaves to abort the school’s transition.The Board of Trustees approved the decision unanimously in September to end the process.“In the final analysis the resources to complete the reclassification simply were not available,” Reaves said in a written statement.“If there were any reasonable way to complete this transition without diverting resources from competing academic priorities, I would have recommended that we stay the course,” he said in the statement.Although revenues from ticket sales and fundraising have increased since the transition began, they did not keep pace with the costs of athletic scholarships, advertising and coach salaries associated with moving to Division I.“We only have 300-plus athletes here,” said Chris Zona, the assistant director of athletics for media relations. “The fact is we are an academic institution, and funds should go there.”For a school to move from Division II to Division I, it must go through a five-year transition process overseen by the NCAA and is required to have 14 varsity teams. WSSU began transitioning from Division II’s Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association to Division I’s Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in 2004. From 2005 to 2009, WSSU’s athletic spending almost doubled, from $2.88 million to $5.58 million.Over the same time span, revenue grew from $2.07 million to $3.77 million. The result was a $1.8 million budget deficit and the decision to remain in Division II athletics.N.C. Central University is attempting to make the same transition to Division I athletics. Like WSSU, N.C. Central has had to weigh the financial risk of the transition.“Finances are a huge part of the transition,” said Kyle Serba, NCCU’s associate athletics director for media relations.“We had to more than double our operations budget for the move and will have to continue to grow in order to compete in the MEAC,” he said.NCCU expects to complete the five-year transition to Division I by fall 2011.Contact the State & National Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amid the search for a new chancellor, students and faculty at N.C. State University say they want someone who is accessible and emphasizes integrity.The school has been searching for a new leader after former chancellor James Oblinger’s resignation in June.The search is drawing scrutiny because of the nature of Oblinger’s resignation — he left amid questions about his involvement in the controversial hiring of former N.C. first lady Mary Easley. The scandal over Easley’s hiring came after criticism of her high salary and also implicated former Provost Larry Nielsen and Board of Trustees Chairman McQueen Campbell.Jim Woodward, a former chancellor of UNC-Charlotte, stepped in as interim chancellor after Oblinger’s resignation. The scandal has shaped what students, staff and faculty want in a new chancellor and prompted great interest in the search process.Student Body President Jim Ceresnak, the undergraduates’ representative on the committee, said students are determined to move past the university’s scandals.“We want someone who is going to bring us to the next level with that certain level of integrity.”At an open forum on Aug. 26 to discuss students’ and employees’ priorities, undergraduates emphasized their desire for greater accessibility, integrity and visibility, Ceresnak said.“The student turnout was tremendous,” Ceresnak said. “I think if nothing else the whole situation has generated a new enthusiasm on campus — to bring a terrific candidate to a new light to the university.”Graduate students also stressed visibility and accessibility, along with an emphasis on research opportunities, said Ali Kefeli, the graduate student representative on the search committee. “In a nutshell, we want someone who is with us, understands our future and is accessible,” he said.Staff said integrity, honesty and transparency were also essential to them, said Steve Carlton, staff senate chairman and the staff representative on the committee.Woodward, hired only as interim chancellor, will not be considered for the position, Kefeli said. The search committee is made up of 19 members who were approved by NCSU’s Board of Trustees, which is working with Baker and Associates LLC., a search firm based in Atlanta. The committee also includes faculty and board of trustees representatives. The discussions will remain confidential, similar to UNC-Chapel Hill’s search for a chancellor in 2008.Contact the State & National Editor at email@example.com.
Clarification: The graphic accompanying this article excludes several schools that do not have any reported cases of H1N1: UNC-Asheville, Fayetteville State University, Winston-Salem State University, N.C. School of Science and Math, N.C. School of the Arts and N.C. Central University. Officials at the other UNC-system school, Elizabeth City State University, could not be reached.
As chairwoman of the UNC-system Board of Governors, Hannah Gage said she believes she has a responsibility to North Carolina’s universities and families.
In light of the severely limited UNC-system budget, the system’s policymaking body will emphasize long-term efficiency this year.
Fewer people died last year in traffic accidents both in North Carolina and across the country according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.The number of traffic-related deaths in North Carolina decreased to its lowest yearly total in more than a decade in 2008 the N.C. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.Traffic-related deaths which result from vehicle crashes that don't involve pedestrians fell more than 17 percent last year.This decrease in deaths coincided with a similar trend nationwide as traffic-related deaths fell by 10 percent.But the number of traffic-related deaths in Orange County increased to 19 in 2008" up from 11 the previous year.Wake and Durham counties also experienced increases in the number of traffic-related deaths.""It's not uncommon to have discrepancies in death and crash rates between rural and urban areas"" said Beth Horner, spokeswoman for the Governor's Highway Safety Program.Because drivers in rural areas often have longer trips and travel at faster speeds on state highways, crashes are more likely to cause fatalities, she said.Johnston County and Chatham County, both of which are more rural, experienced increases in traffic-related fatalities.Darrell Jernigan, director of the Governor's Highway Safety program, said traffic-related deaths are closely associated with two factors: seat belt usage and drinking while driving rates. An increase in seat belt usage and fewer drunk-driving accidents contributed to the lower death rates statewide.The combination of getting our seat belt messages and our impaired driving messages across is a large reason for the decrease"" Jernigan said. You just can't ignore those correlations.""North Carolina's seat belt usage rate increased to about 90 percent in 2008" its highest level ever. The number of alcohol-related traffic deaths decreased by about 20 percent in the state from 2007 to 2008 according to the Department of Transportation.The number of miles driven by North Carolinians also decreased falling by 3 percent in 2008 most likely because of increased gas prices last year Jernigan said.Traffic-related deaths statewide are down 12 percent this year compared to this time in 2008 according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.Contact the State & National Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite a bill in the N.C. General Assembly that would give the UNC system more money for repairs schools are unlikely to actually be able to make needed renovations.The bill introduced last week by Sen. David Hoyle D-Gaston would change the existing formula by increasing funding for the upkeep of the UNC system's buildings which make up a large part of the total number of state-owned buildings.The N.C. General Assembly currently allocates around 46 percent of its total Repair and Renovations fund to the UNC system. The bill proposed by Hoyle would increase the UNC system's slice to 50 percent of the General Assembly's total allotment.When the formula was created the UNC system accounted for 46 percent of the state's buildings. But in the past few years a statewide construction boom has caused that number to increase while funding has remained the same.But UNC might not actually see any benefit from that increase anytime soon. Last year" the UNC system received $6.5 million for repairs and renovations. It received $13.6 million in 2006 and $21.8 million in 2007. But last year's funds were returned to the General Assembly because of the state's deficit. Runberg said he had low expectations for being able to spend this year's allotment despite Hoyle's proposal.""When you have as critically adverse a financial situation as we have today" it makes it very difficult to justify big allocations for construction projects" said Bruce Runberg, UNC-Chapel Hill vice chancellor of facilities planning and construction.Despite the lack of funding, the University must continue to keep up its facilities, increasing an already huge maintenance backlog of about $500 million.We have to maintain our university and campus buildings so it doesn't impact the people who use them"" he said.UNC-CH often receives a substantial portion of the system's allocation of the money because it has many old buildings that need repair, said Abbas Piran of Engineering and Information Services. The state legislature allocates the repairs and renovations money to the UNC system, where it is then distributed to its 17 campuses based on the size of the campus, the number of students and the importance of the projects requiring funding. Projects for repair and renovations funding at UNC would include bringing buildings such as Wilson Library and Davis Library up to current building code requirements, repairing old roofs and updating electrical infrastructure.Not receiving the funding can cause problems down the road" and could cause us to use emergency funding to make up for it Piran said. When you have a roof that can cause additional damage to the building" that needs to be addressed.""Contact the State & National Editor at email@example.com.