Nov 302012

Barry Popkin, a distinguished professor of nutrition at UNC-Chapel Hill and author of “The World is Fat,” addressed an audience of scientists and students Wednesday at East Carolina Heart Institute about the worldwide pandemic of obesity.

By Michael Abramowitz

Friday, November 30, 2012

People in eastern North Carolina — and nearly everywhere — might only have suspected as much until their observations were confirmed on Wednesday by someone who knows: the world is fat.

The evidence was presented to local scientists, students and the public during a lecture at the East Carolina Heart Institute by Barry Popkin, a UNC-Chapel Hill distinguished professor of nutrition and author of “The World Is Fat: the fads, trends, policies, and products that are fattening the human race.”

Popkin shared the numbers on worldwide obesity at his presentation, sponsored by the departments of nutrition science, biochemistry and molecular biology and the East Carolina Diabetes and Obesity Institute. There are now approximately two billion people across the globe who are overweight or obese, compared with 600-800 million who now are underweight, based on the percentage of body fat (BMI).

“Overweight and obese people now outnumber the undernourished of the world,” Popkin said.

Closer to home, about 65 percent of North Carolina’s adults are overweight, and 28 percent of adults are obese, according to a health profile released in September by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. About a third of children in the state’s eastern region are obese, and as many as 40 percent are in some rural portions. Popkin said those numbers are significant in health terms.

“We can look at a number of diseases related to obesity, such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and 13 of the top 16 types of cancer, of which obesity is the major cause,” Popkin said. “If you think about the fact that our children’s life expectancy will be shorter than ours, the reason is obesity.”

Popkin explained why this preventable disease with such disastrous consequences has become a growing pandemic.

“Biologically, we were created to like sweets and fatty foods, and with a desire to exert ourselves less and less. We developed that genetically to survive for hundreds of thousands of years by storing up fat and calories for the hungry season,” Popkin said. “But in the last 100 years, technology has changed. We have become very sedentary and have switched from water and tea to drinking sweetened beverages, soft drinks and juices. We don’t have any hungry seasons now, but we still love those sweets, salty snacks and fatty foods. We have a mismatch between biology and technology.”

A visible consequence of the development of the global community is the worldwide proliferation of processed foods, he said.

“There isn’t a village in the world where you won’t find sweet, fatty and salty snacks, and not a place where people can’t work less,” Popkin said.

That shift has occurred very rapidly, he said. Countries like China, Mexico, India and others in Africa and South America all have made the shift in diet and movement in the last two decades, and all have become overweight societies.

Recovery from obesity requires a reversal of the process that got us all overweight, Popkin said. We must eliminate from our diets the same foods that made us fat and unhealthy and restore ourselves to the active, physically exerting lifestyles we once practiced, he said.

Popkin said that, ultimately, national regulations and taxation of unhealthy foods and beverages is the only effective course of action, as modeled by the anti-tobacco movement. Popkin said some nations have recently banned sugary beverages and the advertisement of unhealthy foods.

“It can happen in America, and it will happen when we recognize how out of hand the levels of diabetes and other preventable diseases have gotten. It’s making Americans unable to work and giving our children shorter lives. That alone will scare us into action,” he said.

Contact Michael Abramowitz at or 252-329-9571.

via The Daily Reflector.

Nov 302012

Chris Knott, right, and Doug Williams, left, help Julius Budacz look for a jacket at Coffman’s on Thursday afternoon. Knott, an ECU alumni, is the founder and owner of Peter Millar, a men’s fashion company. (Rhett Butler/The Daily Refelctor)

By Michael Abramowitz

Friday, November 30, 2012

An East Carolina University alumnus and successful world-class entrepreneur returned to Greenville on Thursday, clothing trunk in hand, to reunite with his former employers and make sure his local customers are happy with his work.

Chris Knott , 47, spent the day at Coffman’s Men’s Wear on Red Banks Road for a trunk show of his Peter Millar brand of men’s fashions for this season and next spring. Knott travels the world meeting with manufacturers, designers and store owners to market and move his down-to-earth designs onto some of their top shelves.

Knott knew early on, he said, that he would make his living in the clothing business. He started working in clothing stores as a teenager, then graduated from ECU with a major in clothing textiles and a minor in business.

“I had thread in my veins,” Knott said.

After college, John Coffman got Knott a job in New York City. After three years there, he went on the road and started selling clothes to people like the Coffmans.

“I bounce my ideas off these guys and get good honest feedback from them,” Knott said. “John knows the product side and Bill knows the systems.”

The Coffmans were first to feature Knott’s Peter Millar line — named for an old English lawn bowling insignia — in its own section, complete with suits, sport coats, shirts, trousers, ties, active wear, outerwear and accessories. They recognized the traits even while he was at ECU that targeted the fashion marketer for success.

“Chris has always been very talented and has an eye for quality. He was extremely successful right out of the box,” Bill Coffman said. “It’s all about a relationship with consumers, and Chris understands that. He understands the menswear business.”

Knott, a native of Fuquay-Varina, recruited two partners in 2001 to help with his growing Millar line and sales continued to rise during the next few years. In 2006, the Sea Island company of Georgia bought the line from Knott. It then was purchased in 2009 by Winona Capital Management, who worked with Knott and his team to further develop the brand.

In October, Peter Millar was acquired privately from Winona for an undisclosed amount by Richemont, a Swiss investment company that owns jewelers Cartier and Van Cleef and Arpels, several specialty watchmakers and other brands, including Alfred Dunhill and Chloe.

Even though Knott’s business has grown, he still runs it like the small entrepreneur he once was, and does it for the enjoyment he finds in the work, he said.

“I’m in Greenville today because that’s the fun part. If you just sit in an office all day or only go to the big stores, you really miss out, because these guys sell them one at a time and we want their customers to be happy,” Knott said.

Knott’s goal is to provide world-class quality clothing at reasonable prices for men everywhere.

“Our stuff is not inexpensive, but it’s not crazy expensive. We try to over-deliver everything, including service, product and brand,” he said. “We kind of work backwards and try to think like a consumer and then a retailer. If we do that, usually they both will be happy, and so will we.

“We roll our sleeves up and work like everybody else and I think people like that about us,” Knott said.

Contact Michael Abramowitz at or 252-329-9571.

via The Daily Reflector.

Nov 302012


ECU tap dancers practice for their upcoming performance in “Encore” at the Messick Theater studio on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. (Aileen Devlin/The Daily Reflector)


Friday, November 30, 2012

Saturday, Nancy Ormond will be performing for those who make her education possible.

The junior dance major is on scholarship at East Carolina University, and she credits donors like the ones who attend the annual theater and dance fundraising event “Encore! The night of rising stars” with giving her a hand up toward a brighter future.

“If I wouldn’t have gotten that scholarship, it might have made me not be able to attend school and being able to get my dance degree means a lot to me for my future,” she said

The event on Saturday, which includes a silent auction, wine, hors d’oeuvres and an approximately 70-minute revue performance, is hosted by ECU’s Friends of Theatre and Dance. Proceeds generated from ticket sales, the auction and donations will go to the school’s theater and dance scholarship pool.

Parts of the performance have been created specifically for the fundraiser. Others are excerpts of larger ECU theater and dance productions.

Clarine Powell and Tommi Galaska choreographed a tap and jazz performance for the Pirate Club’s 50th anniversary and were asked for an encore.

“We’ve been working on this since the beginning of the semester, so, since August,” Powell said. “We had our performance for the Pirate Club at the end of October and we were so happy, after all this work, that we are able to do it again.”

Ormond, who will be part of the tap dance during the event, is especially grateful to be a part of the event.

“I know how important that scholarship is to me and I know that I’m very thankful for those that give me that money,” said Ormond, who is in her third year performing in the fundraiser. “To be able to perform for them and show them what their money is going toward means a lot to me.”

“I think it’s just a wonderful experience,” said senior Joseph Veale, a theater major and also a scholarship recipient. “We get to show them the type of work that we’re dedicated to producing at ECU and show them why it’s important that we continue this on and why it’s important that students get to keep producing at this level. It’s just a fun event.”

Veale, who played the emcee in ECU’s recent production of “Cabaret,” will be part of a barbershop-style quartet singing a song from “The Music Man” on Saturday. As much as he enjoys performing in the fundraiser, he also relishes the opportunity to interact with those who attend.

“I really enjoy the audience members,” he said. “They’re a different kind of audience than we see on the mainstage shows. It’s more informal.

“We get to talk to them and let them know about our experiences at ECU. I think that’s really important, because if you’re going to give money to an organization, you need to know what’s going to happen to it. What better way can you do that than to talk to the students who are going to receive it?”

An added benefit for student performers is knowing that they’re helping to generate more funds for students just like themselves.

“For me, personally, it means the world, because my scholarship helps me out so much,” Veale said. “I’m able to buy books for my classes. I would love for that opportunity to spread to other students as well. It really helps out a lot. Books are expensive these days; food is expensive. Anything that we get help with helps further our education here.”


Contact Natalie Sayewich at 252-329-9596 or

via The Daily Reflector.

Nov 302012

Friday, November 30, 2012

“Come fly with me, we’ll fly away to the moon.”

I saw the last performance of Cabaret on Nov 20. The music and the story of this musical is a tragedy that should always be presented over and over. New generations should see this bright presentation of a dark period in world history. It is seduction, the musical, at its strongest for the most dangerous purpose.

We saw an incredibly accomplished company: mostly ECU students, every one in great voice; great orchestra; good direction; a very smart set design; and seamless changes on stage told its part of the story with clarity.

The actors were accomplished and professional. They were the characters of the story — convincing, gorgeous, bona fide players in the pre-World War II night life of Berlin.

ECU-age actors, plus a few older actors, presented Cabaret in a non-movie, darker direction. We in the audience provided those who could see the danger, the seduction of the good timers and the mounting denial inherent in both daytime and night life Berliners. That night life was filled with the under-dressed, racy, permissive side of life.

Perhaps Berliners of night life had too much fun to see or feel the mounting danger. We saw World War II Berliners deny the Nazis’ clear intent to kill German citizens, the Germans who were Jewish.

The musical ended with a return to the theme music. The story ended with many characters on stage singing “Come to the Cabaret.”

As they stripped away glittery, decorative garments, they were on stage singing in the coarse, dirty, dark and light gray, vertical stripped uniforms of holocaust victims. The truth of this contrast brought tears to my eyes. No more glitter, only the reality of their horrible judgment and loss.

Please do this performance again. We should not forget. We should not repeat such ever.



via The Daily Reflector.

Nov 302012

Published: November 30, 2012

UNC says resignation of athletic official not related to probe

By Andrew Carter –

CHAPEL HILL — The resignation of the University of North Carolina’s associate athletic director for compliance is not related to ongoing problems that have plagued the athletic department, UNC officials said Thursday.

Amy Herman informed athletic director Bubba Cunningham weeks ago that she would be resigning. Her final day is Friday. Cunningham and Steve Kirschner, an athletic department spokesman, both said Herman is resigning for personal reasons.

Herman’s tenure coincided with an NCAA investigation that found impermissible benefits involving agents and academic fraud within the UNC football program. In March, the NCAA handed out sanctions that included a one-season postseason ban and scholarship cuts, among other penalties.

During the NCAA investigation, Herman, in a September 2011 deposition, said that she had been advised to avoid creating documents that would have been subject to North Carolina’s open records law.

More recently, UNC’s athletic department has come under scrutiny because of the high percentage of athletes – especially football and men’s basketball players – who were enrolled over a period of several years in suspect Afro- and African-American Studies courses. Many of those courses featured little or no instruction.

Former North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin is leading an inquiry into the problematic AFAM courses. Part of his investigation has focused on how so many athletes wound up in so many courses that lacked instruction.

Cunningham in August reorganized the compliance department and hired Vince Ille, formerly of the University of Illinois, to lead it. Since then, Herman has reported to Ille. Herman was not forced out, Cunningham said.

He added that Herman’s resignation shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign that UNC might face further scrutiny from the NCAA or that UNC has discovered additional NCAA violations.

“There’s not a deep, dark secret,” Cunningham said.

Herman’s resignation leaves two vacancies in UNC’s compliance department. The other is for an assistant director of compliance for rules education.

Carter: 919-829-8944 Twitter: @_andrewcarter
Read more here:


Nov 302012

Published: November 30, 2012

Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University in Phoenix plans to join the Western Athletic Conference. The WAC, which has lost members, said it had to change to survive.


For-Profit University’s Transition to Division I Stokes Debate

By Tim Rohan

College sports fans should soon be able to buy stock in a Division I program.

Grand Canyon University, a for-profit institution in Phoenix, announced this week that it would join the Western Athletic Conference, becoming the first school of its kind to compete at the highest level of N.C.A.A. athletics. The news brought chuckles from some amused by Grand Canyon’s name, bemusement from others unsure of its pedigree and a seeming nod of approval from the stock market. Grand Canyon’s stock — for the entire university, not singularly its athletics program — has risen almost $2 on the Nasdaq since the announcement Tuesday.

It also raised concern in some quarters of the academic world.

For-profit institutions have been criticized for spending more money on recruiting students and marketing their schools — particularly to draw online students — than actually educating them. A recent study found that more than half of the students who enroll in for-profit institutions leave without a degree, that those students are often left with hefty loans and that taxpayers, in a recent year, spent $32 billion on companies that operate such schools.

“I find it alarming that an institution with questionable academic practices is sort of ingratiating itself into the mainstream of American athletics,” said Barmak Nassirian, an independent consultant on higher education policy, adding, “That traditional, bona fide institutions find it not at all problematic, to be members of the same club, I think is a fair question to ask.”

Grand Canyon claims to be different from other for-profit universities, pointing to an expanding campus and its ascendant athletic department.

“Once you get past the fact that, yes, it is a different financial model, we look like the other schools in our conference,” said Brian Mueller, the university’s president and chief executive, who described Grand Canyon as one of the “good players” in the for-profit school sector.

Jeff Hurd, the WAC’s interim commissioner, acknowledged that the circumstances surrounding Grand Canyon’s inclusion in the conference were not ideal. But in the past two years, the prominent WAC members Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada have left. The WAC is set to have six members starting in the 2013-14 academic year, when Grand Canyon will join. (The conference has reportedly extended an invitation to at least one other university.) Without adding universities, the conference will not exist.

“In order to survive, in order to move on, we had to change our entire model, from an F.B.S. division league to a nonfootball league,” said Hurd, adding that the exodus of universities “made us move forward.”

Grand Canyon, which is in Division II and does not have a football team, will begin a four-year transition to becoming a full member of Division I. The university’s athletic teams — nicknamed the Antelopes (the school’s ticker symbol is LOPE) — will compete in the WAC during the transition period. Discussions between the WAC and Grand Canyon began more than a year ago, but university presidents in the conference were wary. In July, Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa and the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released a report that condemned for-profit colleges, including Grand Canyon.

“My two-year investigation into the for-profit education sector revealed systemic problems in the industry: high tuition, high dropout rates, lack of support services, deceptive marketing and aggressive student recruiting, and billions of taxpayer dollars squandered on advertising and profits instead of a good education,” Harkin said in a statement Wednesday when asked about Grand Canyon.

He added, “It is important that all stakeholders in higher education, from accreditors to sports-governing bodies, make certain they focus on how these colleges serve their students and protect public investments.”

The WAC needed convincing. “The financial model was a concern,” Hurd said, “but the bigger concern was: they needed to be convinced that the academic model was sufficient and that the academic mission of the school was on par with the missions of the other institutions in the WAC.”

Founded in 1949 and located in Phoenix, Grand Canyon existed as a private Christian university for decades. In 2003, facing a $20 million deficit and the possibility of closing, Mueller said, Grand Canyon was purchased and remade into a for-profit institution with the intention of increasing its online capabilities.

In 2008, Mueller, who had been the president of the Apollo Group — which operated the for-profit University of Phoenix — was hired and made Grand Canyon a publicly traded company. In the past three years, Mueller said, more than $200 million has been spent on new classrooms, dormitories and athletic facilities — including a new basketball arena — and an additional $80 million on online technologies. Since the school’s makeover, Grand Canyon has added 10 sports, for a total of 22. Sixteen of those made the N.C.A.A. postseason last year, and Grand Canyon won the Division II Directors’ Cup, a prestigious award for across-the-board athletic success.

There are about 6,500 students who attend the physical campus, with 45,000 other students taking online classes. Mueller expects the university’s WAC membership will increase those enrollments.

“The sector, it’s like the soda industry,” said Nassirian, a former associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. “It’s all sugar water, but they compete on brand differentiation.”

According to Harkin’s report, 87.1 percent of Grand Canyon’s revenue in 2010 came from federal education funds. In 2009, the university counted 17.8 percent of total revenue as profit and used 32.6 percent of its revenue for marketing and recruiting students, which was among the higher percentages among the 30 for-profit schools Harkin examined.

Per student, Grand Canyon allotted more than twice as much money to marketing and profit than educating, the report found. From the 2008-09 school year to 2010, nearly 60 percent of online bachelor’s students and nearly 38 percent of traditional bachelor’s students withdrew.

After hearing from Mueller and studying Grand Canyon’s business model over the past year, however, the presidents in the WAC voted unanimously to accept the university as the league’s newest member.

“All of their accreditations are in order, and from an athletic standpoint they are at the top of Division II,” said Jeff Konya, Cal State Bakersfield’s athletic director.

“They meet the geographic footprint in a major city, in the traditional Western Athletic Conference footprint,” Konya added. “From that standpoint, it made a lot of sense.”

Nov 302012

Posted at 04:33 PM ET, 11/29/2012

Campus Overload: NYU student replies-all to 40,000 classmates, sparks ‘replyallcalypse’

By Caitlin Dewey

Passing notes is so old school. At New York University, a glitch in the school’s e-mail system allowed students to share their most vacuous thoughts not with a couple classmates, but with the entire student body.

The debacle, which students nicknamed “Replyallcalypse,” broke out Tuesday when the Bursar’s Office sent an e-mail to students with the wrong settings, reports NYU Local. A sophomore mistakenly replied to the message — and 39,979 people got the one-line e-mail (“do you want me to do this?”) actually meant for his mom.

In the more than 24 hours before NYU’s IT department shut down the thread, thousands of messages ricocheted around the listserv. But if you expected students to use their newfound platform toward a higher purpose, you’d be disappointed. Buzzfeed’s screenshots of the more outstanding messages include photos of Nicholas Cage, complaints about tuition and many, many requests for everyone to just shut up. Whether that reflects young people or Internet culture is up for debate.

“We had been given a great and terrible power,” freshman Kelly Weill wrote in NYU Local. “For a moment we contemplated responsibility, then gleefully tossed it aside in favor of posting pictures of cats.”



Nov 292012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The addition of East Carolina University to the Big East Conference for football should be a dream come true, one long overdue, for Pirate fans were it not for some outstanding questions it poses. While the university can be delighted to have a home for its most prominent revenue sport, the health of that conference and the potential disruption caused to the school’s 18 other athletic programs are cause for concern.

That should not act as a wet blanket thrown on a celebratory occasion since this move was long sought after and fans should share the confidence of Chancellor Steve Ballard and Athletic Director Terry Holland that this is the proper course for Pirate sports. But the answers to those outstanding questions will have lasting ramifications for the school and all should be interested in seeing them resolved with due diligence.

When the wheel of realignment spun again this month, fortune favored the gold (and purple) and Tuesday brought the announcement that the Big East Conference would add Tulane University in all sports and the Pirates for football. The move comes a little more than a year after East Carolina officials publicly applied for membership in that conference.

Recognizing the enormous stakes involved and the need to put its football program in an environment to compete and generate greater revenue for the school, Ballard and Holland lobbied relentlessly for admission only to see those efforts fall short in 2011. It is only now, out of necessity to the conference’s survival, that the Pirates were regarded favorably. That should still be cause for delight rather than bitterness.

The financial benefit for East Carolina should be significant. Conference USA teams receive about $1.17 million annually through its television contract, while football members of the Big East average about $3.18 million, though that agreement is set to expire in 2013. East Carolina will join a year later, but the expectation is for a more lucrative windfall. Academic benefit should follow as the additional revenue can be invested throughout the campus and a higher profile has drawn larger applicant pools at peer universities.

Issues remain about the long-term health of the Big East, which saw its membership raided by the Atlantic Coast Conference again this week, and for the future of East Carolina’s 18 other intercollegiate sports. However, finding a way into the big-money club for college football was the school’s primary goal. Achieving it should be cause for celebration.

via The Daily Reflector.