Mar 272015


Posted: Mar 26, 2015

GREENVILLE, N.C. – All 32 teams were represented at the 2015 East Carolina Pro Day. ECU officials said 15-20 former Pirates worked out in a myriad of drills and practice work-outs. The day was temporarily interrupted at 10:30 a.m. by driving rain, but workouts resumed around midday.

Shane Carden and Justin Hardy headlined the day for the Pirates. Both Hardy and Carden are projected late-round selections in the NFL Draft, which kicks off April 30.

Hardy was clocked at a 4.56 unofficially in the 40-yard dash. Should the time stand, it marks the same time he ran at February’s NFL Combine.

Carden just participated in throwing drills. The former Pirate gunslinger showed impressive accuracy for short and long-range routes. He missed a few targets on the longer routes, which he attributed partially to the long rain delay.

The NFL Draft runs from April 30 to May 2 at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.

Mar 272015


By Abbie Bennett
Friday, March 27, 2015

Recreation and Parks Director Gary Fenton called the name a placeholder.

But the name “Tar River Park” already had caught on when about 50 people began discussing ideas for the future of the roughly 14 acres of land near the Greenville Dog Park off First Street.

Neighborhood residents and students gathered at Jaycee Park on Thursday to discuss the land that has the potential to become the city’s newest recreation area. Those attending had a variety of visions for the acreage.

East Carolina University students made up a majority of the meeting’s attendees — many of whom wanted to see a portion of the park used for a disc golf course.

Fenton said that a park was always a possibility and a hope for the land near the dog park that backs up directly to the Tar River, but it had been “on the back burner” for the city until members of the East Carolina University Student Government Association came forward with a disc golf proposal and offers of funding to make it happen.

“That brought more attention and more focus,” Fenton said.

Fenton and Parks Planner Lamarco Morrison emphasized that nothing was decided — the city merely was gathering public input on what the future of the park could look like and how it could best serve nearby residents.

Besides the disc golf setup, ideas for the park included a skate park, a gazebo, a playground, a walking track, an exercise area, river overlooks, camping, gardens, sand volleyball, an informal open space, a kayak landing, a picnic shelter and public restrooms.

It was standing room only at the meeting, with ECU students and others lining the walls.

With the many possibilities open for the Tar River Park, residents showed enthusiasm for most of the ideas shared. Especially popular were suggestions for disc golf, restrooms, a playground, river overlooks and an informal open space.

The skate park received criticism for its potential abundance of concrete and upkeep needs. The gazebo, walking trails and picnic shelter were notseen as necessities, according to comments left by attendees. Upkeep also was a concern for the sand volleyball court. Comments suggested that a track wasn’t necessary with close proximity to the greenway. The exercise area also was not a popular choice, with comments suggesting that people could go to a gym instead.

Fenton said the land could become a more fully realized park “in the not so distance future” but also warned that “not so distant” didn’t mean next year, but added jokingly, “before I die.”

On the land now is a trailhead and trail access, a Friends of the Greenville Greenways (FROGGS) garden, the two-acre dog park, picnic tables, benches and informal open space.

Planning parks is an important process, Fenton said, not just for all current citizens but “for the next generation and the generation after.”

Mar 272015



Randy Woodson, chancellor of N.C. State University, is a down-to-Earth Arkansas native known for his approachability and friendliness, but in acting quickly to address a crisis in the fraternity system, he’s showing welcome toughness.

Instead of just closing the Tau chapter of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity after a pledge book was found containing racist and sexually offensive comments, Woodson is directing the university to launch a thorough review of the Greek system.

There have been too many examples of racist and sexist and violent behavior nationwide in fraternities to treat them as isolated cases. And fraternities’ claims that they perform “public service” ring hollow in light of revelations of a racist chant on a bus by University of Oklahoma fraternity members, hazing episodes at other schools, alcohol abuse and charges of sexual assaults.

“We know what they say their values are, but we see evidence with a number of fraternities not living up to those values,”Woodson said.

Too often, perhaps because of pressure from fraternity-affiliated alums or to just hope problems will go away, university administrators avoid broader investigations of fraternity related problems. Woodson is right to do the opposite.

Increasingly, it’s hard to defend exclusionary groups within public universities.

Alcohol also is a problem. Fraternities have members under the legal drinking age, and it would be naive to think they’re paying attention to alcohol laws at their parties.

The “Greek system” is at least going to get the scrutiny it deserves at one campus where a chancellor has demonstrated he’s not going to stand for the status quo. If the overview determines that new and much more strict rules are needed, then so be it. And if penalties for violating those rules need to include permanent dissolution of fraternity chapters, then that’s an option the university needs to use more often.

Mar 272015


By Andrew Carter


Dean Smith left each of the varsity letterman he coached at North Carolina $200 for a “dinner out,” according to a letter one of his attorneys sent to his former players that was posted to Twitter on Thursday.

Tim Breedlove, a Charlotte lawyer who is the trustee of the Dean E. Smith Revocable Trust, confirmed the authenticity of the letter during a phone interview on Thursday.

Breedlove said on Monday he’d mailed “about 180” of the letters – with a $200 check enclosed – to Smith’s former players.

Breedlove said he was still tracking down the addresses of a few of Smith’s former players.

Smith died on Feb. 7 at 83. He became UNC’s head coach in 1961 and retired in 1997.

In the letter from Breedlove to Smith’s former players, they are directed to “enjoy a dinner out compliments of coach Dean Smith.”

Mar 272015


By Jane Stancill


Duke University is investigating a report of racist comments on campus, a university spokesman said Thursday.

A student walking across East Campus early Sunday morning reported hearing one person in a group make racist comments, Duke’s chief spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said.

The university started an investigation when the report was received, he said. A “Bias Action Team” made up of student affairs staff has sought out witnesses, Schoenfeld added.

An email to The News & Observer from a group calling itself Duke People of Color Caucus painted a different picture of a campus incident on Sunday. It said a black female student encountered white male students who sang the same racist chant by recited members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma. A video of that fraternity’s chant went viral and prompted the shutdown of the fraternity and the expulsion of two students.

Duke President Richard Brodhead and Provost Sally Kornbluth sent a message to Duke students Thursday saying they were deeply concerned about Sunday’s incident.

“Inclusivity and mutual respect are core values for any civil society, but they have a special meaning in a university,” the message said. “Thinking in stereotypes is a failure of intelligence…Further, a university is based on the premise that we are all here to learn from each other, which requires a broad measure of inclusion and openness to others’ experience and points of view.”

Mar 272015


By Susan Svrluga
March 26

For years, students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have been asking school leaders to change the name of Saunders Hall, named after a former trustee who was a leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

Last month, some stood outside the building with nooses around their necks and signs such as “THIS is what SAUNDERS would do to ME.”

On Wednesday, the public university’s board of trustees responded, with an invitation: It asked to hear from students, faculty, alumni and others. A student leader wrote this:

At many colleges, officials are struggling with how to balance a school’s history with the views of the people who live and work there now.

William Saunders was a colonel in the Confederate army; when he later served as secretary of state he took steps to publish the colonial records of North Carolina. Decades later, UNC officials decided to honor that contribution by naming a new building housing its history department after him. In 1922, perhaps it was his gift to scholars that resonated with people. But for many students today it is jarring, to say the least, to have such a prominent monument to a leader of a violent hate group.

As at every campus where similar issues have been debated, some see a name change as a simple fix that could have a profound effect. Others see empty symbolism, or a whitewashing of history.

But with national events such as the shooting in Ferguson, Mo., setting off strong emotions about race, those campus protests have picked up urgency.

Students recently protested at Clemson University, where its iconic Tillman hall was named for a politician who was a powerful white supremacist.

Last month, Clemson University Board of Trustees Chairman David H. Wilkins announced it would not rename the building, saying there were more concrete ways to ensure that all students feel welcome and included on campus.

“We believe that other, more meaningful, initiatives should be implemented that will have more of an impact on the diversity of our campus than this symbolic gesture,” he said in a statement.

“Every great institution is built by imperfect craftsmen. Stone by stone they add to the foundation so that over many, many generations, we get a variety of stones. And so it is with Clemson. Some of our historical stones are rough and even unpleasant to look at. But they are ours and denying them as part of our history does not make them any less so. For that reason, we will not change the name of our historical buildings. Part of knowledge is to know and understand history so you learn from it.”

The issue isn’t limited to the South, where many schools have tributes to Confederate leaders.

For example, Brown University, founded by a slave owner, recently took on its complicated past with a series of initiatives.

At UNC, student protesters proposed that Saunders Hall be renamed in honor of the writer Zora Neale Hurston, who was the first black student at Carolina before integration.

A UNC student holds a message for board members (Tasia Harris)

For Tasia Harris, a senior from Brooklyn, it’s just one more reminder that black students are not always welcome there. “There is a lot of pushback, on Yik Yak, online; people will say hurtful things about this campaign or about students of color in general.

“That goes to show it’s not about Saunders or some kind of past history,” she said, adding that it shows racism is part of the foundation of the school, something that continues into the present.

“Students have been talking about this issue a long time,” she said, but from school officials “there has been an unwillingness to acknowledge how hateful and violent these sites are.” Because the board has so many older white men on it, she said, it may be difficult for it “to really conceive what it’s like to be a student of color or woman of color on campus and walk past Saunders Hall.”

On Wednesday, UNC leaders made the debate much more public, in the board meeting — where some speakers defended the name and others called for it to be changed — and online:

The board suggested that people share their thoughts here from now until April 25.

Mar 272015


MARCH 25, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY — A former University of Oklahoma student captured on video leading a racist chant apologized Wednesday, saying he was sorry for his role in the incident and ashamed that he participated.

The words in the chant “were mean, hateful and racist,” said the former student, Levi Pettit, who was surrounded by African-American community leaders at the Fairview Missionary Baptist Church here.

“Some have wondered why I hadn’t spoken out publicly,” Mr. Pettit said. “The truth is I have had a mix of pain, shame, sorrow and fear over the consequences of my actions. I did not want to apologize to the press or to the whole country until I first came to apologize to those most directly impacted.”

“The truth is what was said in that chant is disgusting,” Mr. Pettit said, “and after meeting with these people, I’ve learned these words should never be repeated.”

He deflected questions about where he learned the chant and instead spoke about asking for forgiveness and trying to work within the community to help prevent racism.

The videos in March, taken while Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members and their dates rode a bus to a formal event, showed young white people singing a song laden with anti-black slurs and at least one reference to lynching.

Mr. Pettit, who grew up in the Dallas area, and another fraternity member, Parker Rice, were expelled by the university president, David L. Boren. The fraternity was closed by the national chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and Mr. Boren ordered the students to leave the fraternity house. Mr. Pettit’s parents later issued an apology for their son, and Mr. Rice apologized for his actions in a statement to The Associated Press.

On Wednesday, Mr. Pettit also read a letter that he had written to Mr. Boren regarding his actions in leading the chant.

Isaac Hill, president of the university’s black student association, who met with Mr. Pettit before the news conference, said he believed that Mr. Pettit had been changed by the national attention caused by the video. Mr. Hill and other African-American leaders said they had accepted the apology and believed that Mr. Pettit was sincere.

Wednesday’s event was organized after Mr. Pettit contacted State Senator Anastasia Pittman, chairwoman of Oklahoma’s Legislative Black Caucus. An executive assistant for Ms. Pittman, Trena Byas, said the meeting would help the university and the community start healing.

An investigation into other Sigma Alpha Epsilon members is continuing, a university spokesman said.

Mar 272015


MARCH 25, 2015

OXFORD, Miss. — Raising handwritten signs and clutching scripts for protest chants, more than 2,500 people on Wednesday demonstrated at the University of Mississippi to resist last week’s unexpected decision to oust the school’s chancellor, Daniel W. Jones.

In what officials here described as one of the largest protests in the university’s history, students, employees and other supporters of Dr. Jones criticized the plan to change leaders as wrapped in secrecy and threatening to the future of a place that has often been central to the image of this state.

Dr. Jones, who became the school’s chief executive in 2009, had won acclaim for his work to move the university away from the shadow of the racial unrest that tarnished the campus in 1962. The university, on a campus studded with magnolia trees and Georgian buildings known as Ole Miss, posted a record enrollment of nearly 23,100 students last fall, and Dr. Jones has been praised for helping to upgrade its academic and cultural credentials.

But Mississippi’s higher education commissioner, Jim Borsig, announced Friday that the university’s governing board had decided not to renew Dr. Jones’s contract before its September expiration. The panel later said that Dr. Jones, 66, who returned to work at the university’s main campus on March 16 after months of treatment for cancer, had failed to eliminate violations of contracting policies.

Dr. Jones’s removal has since swelled into a storm that has seen students become protest organizers and incited legislative efforts to remake the state’s approach to overseeing its public universities.

“There’s been some basic disagreement for some time between the chancellor and some members of the board, but I’m still just bewildered that the board would take such drastic, radical action without more justification,” said William Winter, a former governor who this week tried unsuccessfully to broker a compromise. “It seemed to be a matter that could have been worked out, that could have been avoided, and the result, I think, is detrimental, not just to the University of Mississippi but to all of higher education in Mississippi.”

The resistance has been wide ranging. The alumni association’s leadership said Dr. Jones’s ouster was “unexpected and distressing,” and the Faculty Senate unanimously declared that it was “shocked and extremely disappointed.” On Monday, the student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian, published a front-page editorial supporting Dr. Jones. The Gertrude C. Ford Foundation, which had agreed to spend $20 million for a new science building, said it would withdraw its contribution unless Dr. Jones remained chancellor, the foundation’s president, Anthony T. Papa, said Wednesday.

But the most comprehensive act of dissent was Wednesday’s rally.

“There has been a stigma attached to Ole Miss with all of our history,” said Elizabeth Romary, a sophomore. “But with Dan Jones, all of the positive things that have happened here completely overshadow it, and I think that stigma is basically gone. I’m so proud to call Ole Miss my school, and he’s been a big part of that.”

Political movements are rare here, and several faculty members said the largest protest they could recall in recent decades was connected to beer sales. The turmoil this week, though, has invited comparisons to the 2012 uproar at the University of Virginia after its board forced the resignation of President Teresa A. Sullivan. (Dr. Sullivan was ultimately reinstated and is scheduled to be the commencement speaker here in May.)

But Alan W. Perry, the vice president of the board that governs Mississippi’s public universities, said trustees had acted in an effort to improve management and follow purchasing rules and bookkeeping standards at the university’s medical center.

“I’m paying attention to what people think,” Mr. Perry said. “I’m trying to do my fiduciary duty as best I can.”

After an executive session on Monday, Mr. Perry had described the trustees’ misgivings with the chancellor.

“Dr. Jones knew of our concerns,” Mr. Perry said during a board meeting on Monday. “And that led to a decision that the most practical way to deal with — and maybe the only practical way — to deal with this was to make a change in the institutional head.”

In an interview on Tuesday, Dr. Jones acknowledged repeated clashes with trustees. But he said the board’s explanation for his departure “seemed an unreasonable cause for not renewing my contract.”

“It leaves me wondering what is in the minds and hearts of board members to lead them to make the decision,” said Dr. Jones, who rejected the trustees’ request that he retire early.

There is widespread speculation here about the board’s reasoning, but very little substantive information to suggest another motive for Dr. Jones’s ouster.

“It has all the trappings of the good old boy, Southern cliché of decision-making,” said John Currence, the Mississippi chef who runs four of Oxford’s best regarded restaurants. “It’s so cloaked in mystery. There’s so little transparency.”

Mr. Perry, who said talk of impropriety by the board was “a distraction and a smoke screen,” did not rule out that the trustees could reverse their decision.

But to many people here, the controversy has already had a negative effect.

“We go from pride and unanimity to a pretty uncertain future and one that may put us back in the same reactionary cycles that have characterized the history of the university and the state,” said Jake McGraw, an alumnus and the editor of the Rethink Mississippi blog. “For people who love Ole Miss, it’s going to be an emotional struggle for them to feel the same amount of pride.”

Mar 262015


By Jane Stancill


Students put forth a forceful argument to UNC-Chapel Hill trustees for changing the name of a building they say perpetuates racism on campus.

At a meeting of the trustees’ academic affairs committee, a crowd of students turned out with signs that said “Black Lives Matter” and “Kick out the KKK.” The black-clad protesters stood at one point and chanted “Can you see us now?” three times.

A group called the Real Silent Sam Coalition has pushed for months to rename UNC’s Saunders Hall. The classroom building is named for William Saunders, the 19th-century UNC graduate and trustee who many historians believe was an organizer of the Ku Klux Klan. He was also known for compiling colonial records, and UNC named its history department building for Saunders in 1922.

If the university fails to strip the Saunders name from the edifice, said student Omolulu Babatunde, “we will find ourselves, ultimately, on the wrong side of history again.”

Dylan Su-Chun Mott, another student, said the campaign is about more than renaming a building. “This movement is about the future of this university,” he said. “It is about facing the violent, racial history of UNC-Chapel Hill, of the state of North Carolina and of the United States. This is about power. This is about a struggle over who belongs at this university and who gets to make decisions about what happens here.”

To bolster their case, the students read anonymous racist comments, presumably by others on campus, from Yik Yak, a mobile application, such as: “I really hate blacks. I’m going home to where there aren’t any.” Such statements, students said, were painful evidence that the building debate had brought out a hateful response.

Putting Silent Sam in context

Student activists want the building named for Zora Neale Hurston, the African-American writer who took classes at UNC as an unofficial student. They have also advocated that a plaque of historic context be added to the Silent Sam statue, a prominent campus memorial to the Confederate soldier.

There was wide agreement among students on the renaming of Saunders. Frank Pray, student president of the UNC College Republicans, said the group supports removal of the Saunders name because the KKK was essentially a terrorist organization.

But the group does not support changes to Silent Sam, Pray said, which would dishonor “brave North Carolinians” who were defending their land from the advancing Union army during the Civil War.

Altering historic landmarks on campus could be met with resistence beyond the UNC campus.

On Wednesday, a bill filed in the state Senate would prevent the relocation or alteration of public monuments, memorials, plaques or artworks commemorating “events, veterans, or persons of North Carolina history” except by approval of the legislature, the N.C. Historical Commission or other body responsible for the care of monuments.

Jim Leloudis, a UNC history professor, suggested that the university take ownership of its history by applying scholarship to curate places that have names rooted in a racist past. Law professor Eric Muller suggested that the university not rename the building but redesign it and turn it into a museum-like provocation to examine uncomfortable questions.

Sanitizing history?

Others say erasing the past would be a mistake for the education of future generations.

“There seems to be a vast effort to sanitize our history, to remove the rough parts and gloss over the low points, because, well, I suspect that it makes us feel better about a history that we seem powerless to change,” said Sam Fulwood, a black UNC alumnus and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, who argued against a name change. He cited the ideological debate over AP U.S. History, which is under attack from some who believe that teachers should focus on only “patriotic” lessons that depict the country in a positive light.

The trustees are scheduled to make a decision on the issue in May. A website will be open for public comments until April 25.

Several trustees have spent hours in the library researching Saunders and interviewing more than 200 people about the issue. There is no primary source material that confirms Saunders’ membership in the KKK, they said, but respected historians and the 1920 Board of Trustees declared that he was. In 1871 he was questioned by members of Congress about whether he was head of the so-called “Invisible Empire” in North Carolina and refused to answer, becoming a pioneer in exercising the Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. “I Decline to Answer” was written on his tombstone, according to the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography.

Trustee Alston Gardner said though the Saunders controversy had swirled for years, it is appropriate to tackle it now. “This is the time to face the issues of race and place,” he said. “We embrace the discussion and we believe the university is a fantastic venue for that – much better than Starbucks and a 45-second conversation with your barista.”

Heated discussions of campus building names have rippled across the country, and across the state.

Last year, Duke University removed from a dormitory the name of former Gov. Charles B. Aycock, who espoused white supremacist views. East Carolina University followed suit last month but will preserve Aycock’s name in another campus building in a space that will be known as “Heritage Hall.” UNC Greensboro is also considering renaming an Aycock building.

Mar 262015


By Charlie Hall, Sun Journal Staff

Published: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 14:07 PM.

Coastal Carolina Regional Airport in New Bern, in conjunction with a seven-year partnership with the sculpture program at East Carolina University, will unveil seven new outdoor sculptures on Friday.

It is part of a national “Art in the Airport” program, designed to enhance the travel experience of flying patrons. Each year in the spring, the ECU students are given the assignment of addressing the theme of “flight” by Professor Hanna Jubran.

The current exhibit is removed and the new one will be put into place Friday morning, with an unveiling ceremony at 1 p.m. in the airport’s Sculpture Park. Jubran and the young sculptors are expected to attend.

Leigh Ann Cook, the airport’s financial manager, said the students are given $285 toward their supplies. At an April meeting of the airport commission, one of the sculptures will be chosen for purchase at $1,250 and will be put on permanent display with the previous six selections.

The 2014 permanent piece was sculptured by Dr. Chris Morgan of New Bern.

She said the student artwork, which is on exhibit outside the main terminal for a year, is also available for sale. Cook said that one student’s work from the current collection was actually purchased twice, including a buyer who sought a copy of the original.

“They have to be creative in their design and come up with a small piece for when we go down each January,” Cook said. “It is a mini-sculpture of what we pick.”

A jury, including airport Director Tom Braaten, Deputy Director Andy Shorter and Mary Harris, chairman of the airport marketing, viewed miniature models from 12 submitted entries, selecting seven for this year’s show.

“The students also write something about their piece,” Cook said. “We are not only literally looking at the sculpture and the title, but they will talk about what inspired them.”

Charlie Hall can be reached at 252-635-5667 or 252-259-7585,, on Twitter @CharlieHallNBSJ

‘Art at the Airport’
1 p.m., Friday, Coastal Carolina Regional Airport
Open to the public
New sculptures and artists include:
■ ‘Wind Tunnel’ – Casey Narron
■ ‘Wave Beyond Convergence of the Twin Rivers’ – Chris Morgan
■ ‘Aerial Experience’ – Dakota Merritt
■ ‘All Around the World’ – Ethan Morrow
■ ‘The Fire Within Two Water Streams’ – Jaesung Lee
■ ‘Turbine’ – Marin Gwyn
■ ‘Dark Atom’ – Sarah Boyd

Mar 262015


Mar 25, 2015
By Brandon Goldner, Digital Journalist

GREENVILLE, N.C. – The Pitt County Health Department and East Carolina University (ECU) are focusing efforts to reduce Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

Health experts from both the county and the university said their biggest concern is chlamydia.

In 2012, there were more than 1,600 new cases of the infection in Pitt County. That number’s since dropped almost 10 percent.

ECU Student Health Services director Jolene Jernigan said her department’s working to limit the spread of STIs, in part, through “fast-track STI screening.” It allows students to take urine and blood tests in about 10 minutes without waiting to see a doctor or nurse practitioner.

“They may be waiting behind somebody that had abdominal pain or some other problem which ended up taking more time than was anticipated so they’re waiting and they say ‘oh I don’t want to mess with this’ kind of thing,” Jernigan said.

The department also offers free HIV screening through the state.

The school even requires students to take a health class which devotes time to sex education.

“It’s going to be a strange topic to talk about,” Sophomore Austin Jordan said. “But just here more so than other places I’ve been to, they seem to really care about their students and the health of their students.”

Mar 262015


Mar. 25, 2015
Ray Gronberg


UNC trustees on Wednesday opened a month-long public comment period on what they should do about Saunders Hall and the “Silent Sam” statue, given their status as relics of North Carolina’s post-Civil War turn toward Jim Crow.

The question posed by the board’s University Affairs Committee is open-ended, but it’s clear that a re-naming of Saunders Hall looms as a possibility.

Williams Saunders, a former Confederate army colonel and UNC trustee who died in 1891, was suspected at the time of being the head of the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina.

While there’s no documented proof of that, the trustee board that voted to name the building for him in 1920 not only thought it was true, they listed the Klan tie as one of the reasons for honoring Saunders, trustee Chuck Duckett said.

And today that’s leading some strange bedfellows to support re-naming the building.

On one side, there’s the “Real Silent Sam Coalition,” a group of clearly liberal students that, as spokeswoman Omolulu Babatunde said, believes the values of “anti-blackness and racism” still pervade the campus.

On the other, there’s Arch Allen, a UNC alumnus and former trustee who now chairs the Pope Center for Higher Education, a group tied to Republicans that’s named for another former trustee who in the early 1990s opposed building the school’s Sonja Haynes Stone Black Cultural Center.

Allen, prefacing his comments by saying he was speaking only for himself, made it clear he agrees Saunders was in fact the leader of the KKK in North Carolina.

And the KKK “was a terrorist organization,” he said, before going on to explain why he thinks a common objection to re-naming buildings should not sway the trustees.

“Murder was a crime in the 19th century,” Allen said. “We do not have to impose 21st century attitudes on race and other matters on the 19th century. The KKK murdered people, white and black.”

Several faculty members and alumni, however, told the panel on Wednesday that the real issue isn’t so much the name of the building that nowadays houses UNC’s geography and religious studies departments.

Along the way, campus leaders have to figure out how to tell the story of the university’s and the state’s record on civil rights and Jim Crow, history professor Jim Leloudis and law professor Eric Muller said.

Leloudis noted that the 1920 nnaming of Saunders Hall honored a man who opposed the state’s Reconstructionist and Fusionist alliance that saw blacks join forces politically with about a third of North Carolina’s whites.

That coalition rewrote the state’s constitution, endorsing ideas like universal public education on the way. And finding they could not defeat it via the ballot box, Saunders “and men of his ilk … turned to violence, to silence their opposition, blacks and whites, whites they charged had acted as race traitors.”

Muller added that there’s need for something at UNC that teaches “the disturbing lesson that Carolina was built not just on the goodness of people like [former UNC system President] William Friday but the ugliness of someone like William Saunders.”

And like Leloudis, Muller had little use for arguments that claim present-day society should judge the past only by the standards of the past.

The 1920 “naming was a retrospective honor conferred by members of the university community two generations removed from Saunders himself,” Muller said. “It was used to celebrate not Saunders’ commitment to white supremacy, but their own. Why should our generation give that generation the last word on the subject?”

The now-open public-comment period runs until April 25. People interested in weighing in can submit their thoughts, in writing, at

Trustee Alston Gardner, the chair of the University Affairs Committee, made it clear the board isn’t interested in anonymous submissions.

“This is not Yik Yak,” Gardner said, alluding to a social-media Web site the Real Silent Sam Coalition uses and claims to have received anonymous, racist counters on from fellow students. “You’ve got to give us your name and your affiliation with the university. We won’t take your comment without it.”

Gardner added that submissions are also covered by North Carolina’s Public Records Law and thus “will be published.”

The same is true of emails direct to trustees, he said, adding that they’ve already started to come in.

“I’ve received a number of them today; they’re mostly very thoughtful,” Gardner quipped.

Gardner in opening Wednesday’s discussion noted that the issue is part of a “national phenomenon” that’s “not just happening at Chapel Hill.”

Trustees and administrators at Duke University, for example, decided last year to remove former Gov. Charles Aycock’s name from a campus dormitory because of his ties to the white supremacist movement.

In the public university arena, trustees at East Carolina University likewise voted in February to take Aycock’s name off a dormitory there. Like their counterparts at Duke, they also said they’d be setting up a display that explains the historical background.

A similar debate is also playing out at UNC-Greensboro, which owns an auditorium named for Aycock.

Mar 262015


John Lott | March 18, 2015

At the lowest ebb of his final collegiate season, Jeff Hoffman began to get a good feeling about the Toronto Blue Jays.

Tommy John surgery had just aborted Hoffman’s 2014 season at East Carolina University. He knew the injury would be costly in another way too. From a projected top-three pick in the June draft, and a signing bonus in the US$6-million to US$8-million range, he knew his stock would fall. He just didn’t know how far.

While he was pitching, scouts flocked to Greenville, N.C., to watch. After his elbow gave out, only one team paid him a personal visit.

“I was sitting there in the East Carolina team room with my brace and my sling still on, and in came Mr. Anthopoulos,” Hoffman recalls. “Based on the relationship we built there, I felt like Toronto was a really good spot for me to land.”

Neither Hoffman nor Mr. Anthopoulos — that would be Alex, the Jays’ general manager — had any idea where the 6-foot-4 right-hander with the mid-90s fastball might land in the draft. Toronto picked ninth; even with his injury, Hoffman might be gone by then.

But when his name was still on the board after the first eight picks, the Jays eagerly snapped him up.

They had combed his medical files. They had discussed his makeup and work ethic, along with area scout Chuck Kline’s rave reviews. Anthopoulos had liked the vibe when he talked to Hoffman in Greenville. And the Jays knew from extensive experience that Tommy John surgery generally means success delayed, not denied.

“The upside,” Anthopoulos says simply, “was worth the risk.”

The Jays also considered the alternatives. In their view, Hoffman — injured or not — was the best player left on the board.

“I guess you can look at it two ways,” the GM says. “Ideally, you don’t take a player that’s just had Tommy John. On the other hand, if he doesn’t have it, we can’t even discuss him as a potential prospect for us.”

They signed Hoffman for just under US$3.1-million, Major League Baseball’s recommended “slot” money for the ninth overall pick. On July 3, he reported to their rehab facility in Dunedin, Fla. Except for a brief time away for Thanksgiving and Christmas, he has been there ever since.

“We wanted to have our trainers and staff around him and we want to monitor the process every step of the way,” Anthopoulos said. “That’s really important to us. And we’re going to take him slow regardless. We don’t let anybody come back [from Tommy John surgery] before 12 months, even if they’re feeling great at 10 or 11.”

Hoffman says he’s feeling great now, roughly 10 months after surgery. He is throwing hard again.

“My effort now is 90-95%,” he says with a smile. “I’m getting really close.”

In a couple of months, barring any setbacks, he may remain in Dunedin to pitch for the Jays’ high-level Class A team. He has not thrown a professional pitch, but already, for what it’s worth, Baseball America ranks him as Toronto’s third-best prospect, behind Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez and ahead of Roberto Osuna and Miguel Castro.

After a glowing review of Hoffman in its 2015 prospect handbook, BA added this coda: “Few starters in the minors can match his upside.”

Asked which current big-leaguer Hoffman brings to mind, several scouts have mentioned the same name: Justin Verlander.


Growing up in Latham, N.Y., just outside of Albany, Hoffman became immersed in sports at an early age — he says the TV was tuned to ESPN 24-7 — and eventually became a good-luck charm of sorts for his father’s favourite team.

“He’s a huge sports fan and a huge Red Sox fan,” Hoffman said of his father, also named Jeff. “He taught me so much about the game. He was my coach until I was 16 years old. He took me to Red Sox games, Yankees games whenever he could. Seeing those big-league stadiums and those packed houses at Fenway, that’s when I knew what I wanted to do for a living.”

The elder Jeff had suffered through a lifetime of Red Sox futility. “Then I came along and they started winning,” the younger Jeff says with a smile.

So did the 2014 draft create an intra-divisional rivalry in the Hoffman household?

“He’s been a diehard Red Sox fan for so long, I can’t expect him to just change,” Jeff says. “Just know that when I’m on the mound against the Red Sox, he’ll be pulling for the Blue Jays.”

Scouts ignored Hoffman in high school, when his fastball was stuck in the mid-80s. But as he grew in stature and strength, his velocity climbed as well.

His stock soared in his third year at ECU. But on April 17, he felt something tug in his elbow as he warmed up for the seventh inning. He finished the eighth with 16 strikeouts. Also finished was his season.

Scouts predicted he would fall to the bottom of the first round, possibly into the second. But with his lithe physique, long arms, smooth delivery, big velocity and four-pitch arsenal, Hoffman remained an elite prospect.

On draft day, he wasn’t particular about who picked him.

“I would’ve been happy with anybody,” he says.


Hoffman’s drop in the draft probably cost him upwards of US$2-million. But after his surgery, he says, that wasn’t what bothered him most.

“I was in such a low spot after I got hurt,” he says. “It was a really tough thing for me to end the season after my 10th start at ECU and have to watch my guys go to war every weekend without me.”

The Anthopoulos visit gave him a boost, and a comfort level when Toronto drafted him. Then it was off to Dunedin for a long, tedious and solitary rehab program.

His spirits rose in February when the Jays’ top prospects arrived for a mini-camp and he was able to join the crowd, doing defensive drills and throwing bullpen sessions with a host of coaches — including, on occasion, big-league pitching coach Pete Walker — watching and offering advice. He says he’s starting to feel like a “normal” baseball player again.

“I couldn’t have landed with a better organization,” he says. “I’m just thankful they took the chance on me — or the so-called chance. I don’t like to call it a chance because they know what kind of pitcher I am when I’m healthy. Obviously, they saw that, and they wanted to get me here.”

Hoffman does not doubt that he will soon be that kind of pitcher again. His surgery, he believes, will be a blip on the radar of a fruitful career.

“I missed about half of a pro season, which I don’t think is that big of a deal,” he says. “I’ve come a long way since surgery. It’s pretty exciting.”

Mar 262015


By Mechelle Hankerson



N.C. State University will begin a thorough review of the school’s Greek system in the wake of recent incidents that led to the closure of one fraternity and the suspension of another, officials said Wednesday.

The university announced Wednesday that it was immediately closing the Tau chapter of Pi Kappa Phi after the discovery of a pledge book that contained racially and sexually offensive comments.

Meanwhile, the NCSU chapter of Alpha Tau Omega was suspended earlier this month after police found drugs at the fraternity house and a woman said she was sexually assaulted there.

“We know what they say their values are, but we see evidence with a number of fraternities not living up to those values,” NCSU Chancellor Randy Woodson said.

He said the contents of the Pi Kappa Phi pledge notebook, which was reportedly found at a restaurant near campus, shed light on an “unacceptable culture” within the fraternity.

The book was reportedly filled with quotations including, “if she’s hot enough, she doesn’t need a pulse” and “that tree is so perfect for lynching.”

In a statement released by the university, Woodson said he hoped the closure of Pi Kappa Phi “makes it clear that there is no place for intolerance, sexism and racism at NC State.”

Members of the fraternity agreed to the disbandment, according to the university. Phi Kappa Phi will vacate its on-campus location, and the university will reassign members to housing as needed.

The group will have the opportunity to return to NCSU as a campus organization in 2018, according to the university.

The Pi Kappa Phi chapter had 66 members during the 2013-14 academic year, according to an annual report from NCSU’s Greek Life department.

Woodson said the university will not punish individual members of the fraternity because the quotations in the book did not include any direct threats. He said the comments fall under the right to free speech and do not violate the code of student conduct.

Even so, Woodson said the comments in the book were out of line.

“I was very concerned members of our community would think and write such derogatory things toward women and minorities,” he said in an interview.

The national headquarters of Pi Kappa Phi, based in Charlotte, also announced the closure Wednesday.
‘Reprehensible’ statements

A statement from the organization said it closed the chapter “for conduct inconsistent with the fraternity’s values and the fundamental principle of human dignity.”

“The quotes in the journal are reprehensible, unacceptable and perpetuate hateful stereotypes,” Pi Kappa Phi Chief Executive Officer Mark E. Timmes said in a statement. “The students recognize they violated our standards and have accepted responsibility.”

Mike Mullen, NCSU’s vice chancellor and dean of academic and student affairs, will lead the review of Greek Life on campus, according to the university. The review will involve the school’s four Greek councils and examine issues such as sexual misconduct, substance abuse and diversity.

“We set high standards for all of our students, including our Greek community, and we fully expect them to embrace this challenge, raise the behavioral bar and work proactively to create the best Greek system possible,” Mullen said in a statement.

The Interfraternity Council, which includes Pi Kappa Phi and Alpha Tau Omega, issued a statement Monday saying all affiliated fraternities would halt social activities to help refocus the Greek community.

“Recent allegations of behavioral issues do not reflect the overwhelming members or the values of our fraternities at NC State,” Interfraternity Council President John Stewart said in the statement.
Fraternities under scrutiny

Woodson said it’s too soon to tell what changes could be made after the review process. It’s unclear when the review will begin or how long it will take.

The fraternity suspensions at NCSU come at a time when fraternities across the country are facing scrutiny for bad behavior.

Members of Kappa Delta Rho at Penn State University are accused of posting pictures of naked, unconscious women on a secret Facebook page.

The national chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon closed the chapter at the University of Oklahoma earlier this month after a video surfaced of fraternity members singing a racist song.

The University of Houston recently suspended the Sigma Chi fraternity chapter while officials investigate allegations of hazing.

At NCSU, several fraternities are currently suspended.

Phi Beta Sigma, which was suspended last year for a hazing incident, can return to campus in 2018.

Phi Gamma Delta is on probation and subject to alcohol restrictions. Theta Chi is suspended pending the investigation into a 2014 allegation of sexual assault.

The university also dissolved four fraternities in recent years: Alpha Sigma Pi for alcohol violations, infliction or threat of bodily harm and failure to comply; Delta Kappa Epsilon for failing to abide by university standards for recognition; Pi Kappa Alpha for alcohol violations and damage to university property, creating a safety hazard and disorderly conduct; and Zeta Psi for hazing, alcohol violations and providing false information to the university.

Woodson said Greek communities must address the culture on college campuses across the country.

“It’s a national challenge,” he said.

Mar 262015


By Jane Stancill



Campbell University announced Wednesday that it will expand its health sciences campus with a new nursing school.

The Catherine W. Wood School of Nursing has 110 students enrolled in pre-nursing seminars. The Board of Trustees’ Executive Committee voted Wednesday to develop a nursing school from its bachelor of science in nursing degree program, which started last fall.

The university in Buies Creek has moved aggressively to establish six new health care degree programs in the past five years, including a school of osteopathic medicine in 2013. Its pharmacy school was founded 30 years ago.

On Wednesday, Campbell broke ground on a new $22 million building that will house the nursing program along with physical therapy, occupational therapy and medical research programs. The health campus has sprung up in the past few years on U.S. 421 in Lillington, less than a mile from the main campus in Harnett County.

Campbell officials say they will spend $20 million on the new nursing school and other health science programs in the next few years. They say they are aiming for an interdisciplinary environment on campus where doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, public health specialists and physician assistants will train alongside each other.

The nursing school is named for Catherine Wood, a former nurse and wife of Campbell trustee Luby Wood. The couple lives in Raleigh. The new building is named the Tracey F. Smith Hall of Nursing & Health Sciences. Smith, a former nurse, is married to Henry Smith, a Campbell trustee. The couple lives in Farmville.

The Woods and Smiths gave lead gifts for the project, according to the university.