ECU football ‘Air Raid’ searching for best commander — The News & Observer

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Jul 062015
 

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Published: July 4, 2015

UNC-ECU43-092014-EDH

East Carolina senior linebacker Zeek Bigger led the American Conference last year with 140 tackles. Here he celebrates after a key stop against North Carolina in last September’s memorable 70-41 Pirates victory. Photo by Ethan Hyman, The News & Observer

ECU football ‘Air Raid’ searching for best commander

If Ruffin McNeill learned anything in 10 seasons at Texas Tech, it’s that quarterbacks, even ones as good as Shane Carden, can be replaced.

That doesn’t diminish what Carden did for East Carolina, essentially setting every school passing record in his three seasons, or McNeill’s appreciation for Carden’s leadership; it’s just a reality of the “Air Raid” offense.

“This offense attracts good quarterbacks,” McNeill said in an interview this week.

It certainly did at Texas Tech, where McNeill worked under spread-offense guru Mike Leach from 2000 until 2009, and the pattern has continued at ECU, where McNeill enters his sixth season at his alma mater.

Texas Tech produced seven different 3,000-yard passers – and three different 5,000-yard passers – from 2000 to 2012. ECU, using the same offense, has had a 3,000-yard passer in each of McNeill’s first five seasons. Carden topped his own school record with 4,736 passing yards last season in leading the Pirates to an 8-5 record.

Before Carden, Dominique Davis set and broke the school passing record in his two seasons at quarterback in 2010 and ’11. To put that production in perspective, ECU had one 3,000-yard passer in school history before McNeill was hired (Jeff Blake, 3,073 yards in 1991).

That’s one reason McNeill, who is 37-27 at ECU, is not fretting a transition to new quarterback, even with a new offensive coordinator, in 2015. (Another reason is the defense returns its quarterback in senior linebacker Zeek Bigger, who led the conference with 140 tackles last season. Senior corner Josh Hawkins, who led the team with five interceptions, will also help an improving group that ranked in the top 40 in total defense of the second straight year.)

The Pirates, entering their second season in an expanded American Athletic Conference, will place their trust in the offensive system, one that placed them third in the country in passing yards (371.9 per game) in 2014 and 23rd in scoring (35.8 points per game).

“We’re going to run the same offense as long as I’m here,” McNeill said. “Each coordinator adds his own flavor, but the basics don’t change.”

McNeill said he needed “5 seconds, if that long,” to promote assistant Dave Nichol to offensive coordinator to replace Lincoln Riley, who left for the same job at Oklahoma.

Nichol, like Riley, worked as a graduate assistant at Texas Tech with McNeill and has coached the receivers the past three years at ECU. To fill Nichol’s spot on the staff, McNeill promoted another Riley, Garrett, who is Lincoln’s younger brother.

Nichol’s first task will be to find a new quarterback. Sophomore Kurt Benkert, junior Blake Kemp and junior Cody Keith will be given the chance to compete in August to replace Carden, McNeill said. Benkert took the majority of the reps with the first-team offense in the spring, but McNeill’s not ready to name a starter.

“We want to make sure everyone gets an equal chance,” McNeill said. “Whoever produces the most in practice, will earn it.”

One thing, McNeill said, he won’t do is shuffle quarterbacks.

“I’m going to pick one and let him get settled in and give that guy a chance to lead,” McNeill said.

Benkert and Keith learned from Carden the past two years and absorbed the offense. Kemp is a junior college transfer who put up big numbers at Mesa Community College.

Whoever wins the job will have a veteran offensive line, with four returning starters, in front of them and a deep backfield led by senior running back Chris Hairston (6.7 yards per carry).

Receiver Justin Hardy, a fourth-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons, readies for an NFL career with the Football Bowl Subdivision record for career receptions (387). Hardy caught an incredible 121 passes last season, for 1,494 yards, but junior receiver Isaiah Jones (81 catches, 830 yards) will likely be the starting quarterback’s top target.

More concerning to McNeill than replacing the production of Carden and Hardy is the way ECU finished the 2014 season. The Pirates started 6-1 and were in the College Football Playoff rankings with an inside track at a major bowl bid but lost four of their last six games.

“You alway learn from your wins and your setbacks,” McNeill said.

ECU might have been caught off-guard by the strength of the AAC, which was formerly known as the Big East. The Pirates smashed UNC 70-41 and knocked off Virginia Tech 28-21 on the road before conference play began.

In the conference, the Pirates went a disappointing 5-3 with losses at Temple (20-10), at Cincinnati (54-46) and at home to Central Florida (32-30) on a last-minute Hail Mary. They also struggled in wins over South Florida and Connecticut, a pair of teams that went a combined 6-18 last season.

“The competitive nature of the league was obvious,” McNeill said. “We can’t go into any game thinking we’ve got it. We have to play our best each game.”

Giglio: 919-829-8938

ECU AT A GLANCE

2014: 8-5 (5-3 AAC)

Coach: Ruffin McNeill (37-27, sixth year at ECU)

Returning starters: Offense (6), Defense (5), Special teams (1)

Plus

▪  Football teams, on any level, are only as good as their offensive line and the Pirates have a strong group, led by senior left tackle Ike Harris (25 starts the previous two seasons).

ECU’s top three running backs averaged 6.4 yards per carry last season. Even without Breon Allen (869 yards, 6.5 per carry), the Pirates running game should be in good enough shape to help the new starting quarterback.

▪  Senior linebacker Zeek Bigger has a great football name (a tradition for the same school that produced Dustin Lineback). He can also play a little bit. You have to be able to tackle in space and Bigger, who led the team with 140 tackles, can do that in spades.

Minus

▪  The Pirates’ turnover margin (minus-4) was one of the worst in the country (92nd in FBS) and that was with a three-year starter at quarterback only throwing 10 interceptions (in 617 attempts).

▪  As a program in general, ECU needs to find a way to be more consistent. The team that crushed UNC 70-41 in September looked nothing like the one that lost to Temple 20-10.

Best-case scenario: The offense keeps on keeping on with new names and the Pirates get through a difficult first half of the season to play their best ball in the conference and go on to win the East Division.

Worst-case scenario: The offense takes a half-step back, the kicking game struggles and the defense does the best it can do against a difficult schedule. With three losses out of the league, a .500 conference record equals no bowl trip.

Bottom line: Opening with four of the first six games on the road is a tall task for any team, let alone one with a new quarterback, but in Year 6, Ruffin McNeill has a good foundation of talent and the Pirates will find their way to seven regular-season wins.

Newcomer to watch

Deondre Farrier, WR

The Pirates have to replace both Justin Hardy and Cam Worthy at receiver. There’s plenty of returning options but Farrier, a 6-1, 195-pound freshman, has the potential to be a future star. He caught 118 passes for his high school team in Orlando, Fla., last season.

Schedule

Sept. 5 Towson

Sept. 12 at Florida

Sept. 19 at Navy

Sept. 26 Virginia Tech

Oct. 3 at SMU

Oct. 10 at Brigham Young

Oct. 17 Tulsa

Oct. 22 Temple

Oct. 30 at Connecticut

Nov. 7 South Florida

Nov. 14 OPEN

Nov. 19 at Central Florida

Nov. 28 Cincinnati

Schedule analysis

ECU doesn’t play at least one in-state opponent for the first time since 1998. There are plenty of other challenges, including trips to Florida and BYU out of the conference and a home date with Virginia Tech.

Inside the American, the addition of Navy gives the conference 12 teams and ECU will be in the East division with three of the teams (Temple, UCF and Cincinnati) it lost to last year.

This is a tough schedule, made more difficult by how many consecutive weeks (10) the Pirates will play without an open date.

The only break is there are no games scheduled in a NFL stadium after playing in three last year in front of sparse (at best) crowds.

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ECU Notes: Physicians recognized | Daily Reflector

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Jul 062015
 

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Sunday, July 5, 2015

The clinical practice of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University has been recognized for significantly improving patient care through the use of its electronic medical record system.

ECU Physicians recently was awarded nearly $2.2 million by the federal government for demonstrating “meaningful use” of its EMR system during 2014. This designation means that every eligible ECU health care provider exceeded dozens of specific quality measures set forth by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the agency that governs the use of digital health records in the United States.

“This demonstrates that we’re using our EMR to its fullest potential to achieve greater transparency with the patient,” Dr. Tommy Ellis, chief medical informatics officer for ECU Physicians, said. “It means we’re communicating better, which leads to better data collection, which ultimately leads to better health outcomes. The only way we’re going to improve the health status of the citizens of eastern North Carolina is to improve how we collect health data from individual patients.”

Ellis said the $2.2 million award will be used to offset the cost of EMR implementation throughout ECU Physicians. This payment brings the total amount of federal stimulus payments earned by ECU Physicians to a little more than $8.6 million since the Electronic Health Records Incentive Programs were launched in 2011.

The goal of these programs is to encourage medical practices and hospitals serving Medicare and Medicaid patients to convert from paper charts to digital records.

“What we’re hearing from our colleagues elsewhere is that we’re the only organization in North Carolina to achieve this level of success with our electronic medical records system,” Ellis said. “Despite the initial headaches involved with implementing an EMR, our people stepped up to the task and have made it second-nature.”

He said the effective use of electronic medical records immediately improves the quality and safety of patient care. It empowers patients and their family members to take an active role in managing their health because they have easy access to real-time information including lab results and treatment plans.

It also increases efficiency, Ellis said. When a patient’s data can be shared accurately and quickly between doctors and hospitals, it eliminates duplication of tests and procedures, helps providers diagnose problems earlier and improves the coordination of care.

The ultimate goal of electronic medical records is better clinical outcomes and improved population health, Ellis said.

“This ‘meaningful use’ achievement represents a lot of hard work by many people,” Dr. Nicholas Benson, medical director of ECU Physicians, said. “It validates that ECU Physicians is making the most out of our investment in EMR.”

Ellis said ECU Physicians is on track to earn the maximum incentive for 2015, and that the free online patient portal, MyChart, will play an increasingly important role.

“It’s another way to improve the patients’ access to their health care provider, which strengthens the patient-provider relationship,” Ellis said. “Engaged, informed people take better care of themselves, which lowers health care costs.”

MyChart allows patients to send and receive secure messages to their health care team from their computers, tablets or smartphones, to view their test results and medication lists, to request appointments and refill prescriptions, and to receive reminders about preventive and health maintenance issues like flu shots and mammograms.

More than 26,000 ECU Physicians patients are using MyChart, with an average of about 50 new users signing up daily.

About three-fourths of the country’s medical practices and hospitals use electronic records, motivated in part by the federal health law tying Medicare reimbursements to how successful providers are at getting and keeping patients healthy. At the end of 2014, all ECU clinics were using the practice’s EMR, created by the software company Epic.

Although it is difficult to quantify the dollar amount saved by “going paperless,” Ellis said, “theoretically, the quicker you can get your hands on more information, the better decisions you can make, and in a more timely manner ­— which is cost-saving for patients and for health systems.”
Scholarship honors black undergraduate

Joseph Bryant, a junior from Greensboro, is the initial recipient of the Laura Marie Leary Elliott Memorial Scholarship, which was created in memory of the first black to earn an undergraduate degree from ECU.

The scholarship was created to assist students pursuing careers in fields that are historically underrepresented by minority populations. These fields include science, mathematics, engineering and technology.

Bryant, who is majoring in chemistry, is active in the Pre-Pharm Club, ECU Ambassadors and the Chemistry Club. He is the son of Gralin and Annette Bryant, who are members of the ECU Parents Association. Gralin Bryant graduated from ECU in 1983.

According to Zack Hawkins, director of Student Affairs Development, more than $32,000 has been raised for the scholarship, a sum that allows it to become endowed.

Bryant will be recognized during the Black Alumni Chapter Scholarship and Awards Banquet on Oct. 17 as part of Homecoming activities.

The $2,000 scholarship will increase in value in subsequent years and will be awarded annually to one female and one male student.

Leary graduated in 1966. She taught school in Windsor for two years, then relocated to Washington, D.C. She worked for many years at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, retiring as a senior accountant in 2006. She died in 2013.

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3 factors are brewing the perfect storm for shark attacks | Business Insider

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Jul 062015
 

businessinsider
Tanya Lewis

Jul. 2, 2015

More than half a dozen shark attacks have happened in North Carolina in the last three weeks — nearly as many as happened all of last year.

Experts say this season has brewed up something of a perfect storm for the attacks.

Here’s what’s happening:
1. Warmer water

purplearrowAccording to Chuck Bangley, a shark researcher at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, sharks typically migrate north along the East Coast from Florida during the summer, when the water gradually warms up to about 75 or 80 degrees Fahrenheit. (Most of the sharks are blacktip sharks, but there are bull sharks and tiger sharks too.)

A massive heatwave in mid-June this year happened just before many of the recent shark attacks off the Carolinas. The warmer temperatures may have attracted a lot more sharks to the area. Also, the hotter weather probably drew a lot of people to the beach.

Together, it may have been the perfect recipe for the attacks.

The timing of the bites supports this explanation. With the exception yesterday’s, all of the attacks seem to be moving northward. That’s because the sharks (and their prey) have probably been following the warm water, Bangley said.

2. People swimming near tasty fish bait

The victims of two attacks that occurred off Oak Island within 90 minutes of each other on June 14 were both swimming within 100 yards of fishing piers, news outlets reported. Fisherman often clean their fish at these piers and throw bait into the water, and the smell may have attracted sharks, Bangley said.

3. Dry weather and salty water

In addition, parts of North Carolina have experienced drought conditions for several weeks, so there’s been less freshwater runoff. That means the ocean water near the shore may have been higher than normal, and most sharks prefer saltier water, George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida’s Florida Museum of Natural History, told Live Science.
How to avoid a shark attack

The good news is that shark attacks are still extremely rare — the odds are about 1 in 11.5 million, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History — and the chances of dying from one are even more slim.

You’re far more likely to be killed by car accidents, dogs, or bees, as the Washington Post reported recently. The last shark attack death in North Carolina happened in 2001, according to the ISAF.

When sharks do attack, it’s typically a case of mistaken identity. Sharks definitely aren’t trying to kill people. “If sharks actually wanted to target people, you’d probably never be able to swim off the coast of North Carolina,” he said. “We’re not that hard to catch!”

Nevertheless, there are some things you can do to avoid becoming an unwitting shark’s lunch. Bangley recommends avoiding swimming in areas where people fish and clean their catch, because sharks are attracted by the smell of bait and fish guts.

You should also avoid places sharks feed, like large schools of fish, which may appear as dark blobs in the water or ripples on the surface. Birds can often be found diving into these areas as well. You don’t want to find out the hard way that there’s a shark there, Bangley said.

Even though sharks get a bad rap, they may actually be good for an ecosystem. They sometimes guard fish nurseries by scaring off dolphins and big fish that prey on them.

“Sharks are a really important cog in the food web,” Bangley said.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/north-carolina-shark-attacks-three-reasons-why-2015-7#ixzz3f7Hj2IcS

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To drill or not to drill off NC’s coast | WITN-TV

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Jul 062015
 
By: Dave Jordan

Offshore drilling is an issue that has the potential to have a major impact on North Carolina. Some say that impact will benefit the state and move it forward, others argue it could have disastrous results and jeopardize our very way of life.

The beaches are one of our state’s greatest treasures. The coast attracts millions of tourists and billions of dollars a year. The ocean produces a bountiful harvest for fishermen.

And some believe there’s another untapped potential. Oil and natural gas just waiting to be drilled.

The federal government’s Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management will release its proposed program next year to sell leases for offshore drilling.

David McGowan, the Executive Director for the North Carolina Petroleum Council, is pushing for one of those leases to be along our coast.

McGowan says, “With the impact that this industry has you see significant amounts of jobs created. In fact, a study that we’ve done shows that by 2035, this offshore industry could create a total of about 55,000 jobs in the state between now and the year 2035, and about 4-billion dollars in annual economic impact.”

Beyond that, he says it’s about energy security. “Being able to produce more energy here at home leads to lower energy costs for consumers, both at the gas pumps as we’ve seen in the past 6 to 9 months, as well as in the form of their electricity bills and consumer goods that they buy.”

If offshore drilling ever does become a reality, you likely wouldn’t see the platforms from the beach. It’s expected they would be fifty-miles offshore.

But there are still plenty of other concerns when it comes to offshore drilling.

purplearrowDr. Stanley Riggs is a renowned researcher and geology professor at ECU, who’s been studying our coast and waters for decades.

Riggs says, “The biggest risk is always that there’s spillage. There’s spillage that happens in just any kind of natural drilling the minute you start moving these resources there’s risk and spillages.”

Riggs says he’s not pro or con when it comes to the issue of drilling, but is speaking from a scientific standpoint. He says the area under greatest consideration for drilling off the continental shelf from Cape Hatteras, could be troubled waters.

Riggs says, “It’s where two major oceanographic currents come together. It’s where a lot of our storm systems make up. The main part is sitting off the continental shelf way down in 8, 10, 12-thousand feet of water. And there’s only a few places in the world where people are working in that kind of depth.”

But just what exactly is there is unclear.

McGowan says 30-year-old estimates show from four to six billion barrels of oil and 19 trillion cubic feet of natural gas off the Mid-Atlantic coast, which extends from Delaware to North Carolina.

Getting an updated number is why there’s now a push for seismic testing.

But even if the resources are there, Riggs says our inlets and ports, currently, are inadequate to bring oil and gas to shore. He says, “The idea that this industry is going to come into North Carolina, It’s going to go to Norfolk where there’s a real harbor, or Charleston, or up the coast somewhere. Not in North Carolina. So those 55,000 jobs, we’re just going to be the neighbor.”

McGowan says the types of jobs they’re talking about are more of a supply and support opportunity, and indirect impacts.

Riggs also says any oil and gas out there is a federal resource, and he says North Carolina currently doesn’t have rights to the royalties.

Riggs says, “We take all of the risk and get very few benefits out of it. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. Let’s work with the government and make sure we do it right and that North Carolina is a partner in the decisions that are made.”

McGowan says, “It’s important that we understand what the risks are, that we mitigate those risks through industry best practices, technology and regulations and that we go forth and operate in a safe and responsible manner.”

McGowan says their last poll done in January shows 71-percent support for offshore drilling along our coast.

That includes from Governor Pat McCrory and both U.S. Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr.

But there also seems to be plenty of opposition.

At least 20 towns along the coast have gone on record opposed to drilling, as have many groups and organizations, and there’s a Facebook page that’s popped up called “No To Off Shore Oil Drilling In NC Waters.”

We’re expecting a draft recommendation from BOEM on whether to move forward, sometime next year.

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NCCU ready to move on new student union — The Durham Herald-Sun

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Jul 062015
 

durham

Published: July 3, 2015

NCCU ready to move on new student union

By Ray Gronberg

Campus leaders hope to have the new building ready by the fall of 2018, as the first component of a three-phase project that will include the renovation of the existing Alfonso Elder Student Union, plus the construction of a parking deck and other facilities.

“The timeline is very aggressive,” said Miron Billingsley, NCCU’s vice chancellor for student affairs.

The sticking point could be a Board of Governors that in the last year or two has been taking a harder look at proposals for new student unions. The scrutiny follows the approval in 2014 of a two-building, $156.3 million project for East Carolina University.

ECU’s project drew questions because it, like most of its type, relies heavily on a student-fee increase to finance construction.

Earlier this year, officials at N.C. A&T State University acknowledged that they were downsizing a new union for their campus to stay within a $90 million budget. They signaled they would eliminate about a sixth of the square footage they’d planned.

At NCCU, the plan is that the first-phase new union would include about 98,000 square feet of floor space. Officials are sizing it on the assumption that the university will grow to serve about 10,000 students, and that the system will allow to build a union that includes 10 square feet per student.

A $300-per-student annual fee would finance construction.

As of the fall of 2013, Central was serving just under 8,100 students.

But the full project includes elements that don’t fit under the 10-square-a-student guideline.

Campus leaders want a 1,750-seat auditorium, banquet space and other features that they believe can pass muster because they’re potentially “revenue-generating,” to use the words of Chancellor Debra Saunders-White.

The Alfonso Elder union dates from the 1960s and was built to accommodate 2,500 students. That makes it “totally inadequate” for the university’s present needs, Billingsley said.

The plan is to renovate the existing structure and use it to house student health services, he said.

The project’s third phase would include a 300-space parking deck. Officials figure that they’re looking at about a $42.5 million price tag for the entire project.

The new building would go up at the corner of Fayetteville and Cecil Streets, south of the Elder union.

Much of the site is now surface parking, but there are eight houses on the southern edge that officials would like to roll into the plan.

They include two that already belong to NCCU, among them the campus Alumni House, home to the N.C. Alumni Association.

Campus officials have encouraged the group to consider moving into the new union, but association leaders so far have “elected not to have space” in it because “they did not have the dollars to support it,” Saunders-White told Central’s trustees last month.

“It’s an open issue for us, one we need to be concerned about,” the chancellor said of the prospective displacement of the alumni group. “It is not resolved, other than that the siting of the center would include [removing] the Alumni House.”

The other six houses are in private hands. Saunders-White told trustees the administration wants to buy them and is negotiating with their owners. But the purchases aren’t strictly needed for the project.

“We can build this building and it will sit in their backyards,” the chancellor said. “So we would want to acquire those properties.”

Student unions at NCCU and other UNC campuses typically provide office and meeting space for student groups, dining rooms and other facilities.

Follow Ray Gronberg on Twitter @rcgronberg

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Vandals deface UNC’s ‘Silent Sam’ Confederate memorial — The News & Observer

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Jul 062015
 

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Published: July 6, 2015

Silent Sam

 

Visitors look up after vandals defaced Silent Sam on UNC’s McCorkle Place over the July Fourth holiday. The statue, wrapped in white to hide the spray paint damage, on Sunday, July 5, 2015, was erected in 1913 as a monument to the 321 alumni of the university who died in the Civil War and all the students who joined the Confederate Army. Photo by Mark Schultz, The News & Observer. 

Vandals deface UNC’s ‘Silent Sam’ Confederate memorial

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Renewed calls to rename Clemson’s Tillman Hall — The Greenville (S.C.) News

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Jul 062015
 

GreenvilleOnline

Published: July 2, 2015

Renewed calls to rename Clemson’s Tillman Hall

By Nathaniel Cary, ncary@greenvillenews.com 

In light of the deadly shooting of nine worshippers at a historic black Charleston church by a self-described white supremacist two weeks ago, Clemson University faculty have renewed calls for the university to rename its most iconic building, Tillman Hall, which bears the name of a white supremacist governor who was one of the university’s founders.

In two open letters posted on Clemson’s website, 10 past presidents of the university’s Faculty Senate said that renaming Tillman Hall would provide “strong and undeniably symbolic repudiation” of the actions of Charleston shooting suspect Dylann Roof “and the hatred engendered by individuals such as Mr. Tillman — and their checkered legacy.”

The faculty members said it is past time to rename Tillman Hall and urged the Clemson community to show that it does have an appetite to strip Tillman’s name from the building.

“The recent killings in Charleston dictate that we must make a clear statement that Clemson University is not the place for actions, or symbols, that support, even passively, bigotry and hatred,” they wrote.

This week, David Wilkins, Clemson’s Board of Trustees chairman, said trustees have no plans to rename the building. It was dealt with it several months ago when he polled members individually and decided not to debate the issue, he said.

Still, the issue could be brought up by any of the 13 trustees at any time, Wilkins said.

On Friday, Wilkins declined to offer an immediate response when reached by a reporter of The Greenville News.

Monday, the board voted unanimously to support Gov. Nikki Haley’s call to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds.

That sparked questions from alumni and some on campus why trustees would support that action while not addressing Tillman Hall.

Clemson’s most famous building, a red-brick structure with a clock tower that rises front and center at the main campus, is named after Benjamin Tillman, who advocated lynch law as an outspoken white supremacist, enacted Jim Crow laws in the state and was indicted, but never tried, for his role the murder of six black men by a white mob in the 1876 Hamburg Massacre.

Tillman was also one of the original founders of Clemson. He was named as a lifetime trustee in Thomas Green Clemson’s will and was an agricultural advocate as governor when Clemson was founded as a land grant institution.

The faculty members say Tillman’s legacy would be better represented by a plaque or a wall or room in the building that could acknowledge his complete history.

A bronze statue of Tillman that stands on the Statehouse grounds was splattered in red paint by a vandal this week. Tillman’s name appears on memorials and buildings throughout the state, including a main building at Winthrop University.

In their letter, the past senate presidents extended an invitation, and offered assistance, to trustees to hold an open campus forum to allow the board to better gauge the campus views on whether Tillman Hall should be renamed.

No members of the Board of Trustees or any campus administrators attended a previous open forum about Tillman Hall hosted by The Greenville News in April, though they were sent invitations.

The faculty letter says changing the name of Tillman Hall would do more to build the foundation of Clemson’s future than any of the buildings being constructed in the university’s latest building campaign.

The letter says that Clemson’s board has a policy in place to rename buildings. The policy states: “Under extraordinary circumstances when the continued use of the name would compromise the public trust and reflect adversely upon the University, Clemson University reserves the right to rename the building or facility.”

“We believe retaining the name Tillman Hall in honor of an individual whose hatred and fear were expressed in the murder of citizens of South Carolina absolutely reflects adversely upon Clemson University and the Board should exercise its right to rename the building,” they wrote.

The process is complicated by the compromise that legislators — including Wilkins, then the House speaker — passed in 2000 to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse dome.

It requires a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate to change the names of historic buildings on public property in the state.

That act could change as soon as next week as legislators vote whether to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds.

The Citadel’s Board of Visitors already has voted to remove the Confederate flag from a prominent display inside its chapel, an action similar to the one Clemson’s trustees would need to take if they chose to address Tillman Hall.

Nine past Faculty Senate presidents co-signed one letter. They are Charlie Gooding, Beth Kunkel, Francis McGuire, Kelly Smith, Kinly Sturkie, Bill Surver, Fred Switzer, Holley Ulbrich and Dan Warner.

In a separate letter, past president Jeremy King said he agreed with the other faculty presidents but offered separate arguments to study the issue and called for Clemson’s administration to establish a commission to research Clemson’s civil rights history as an educational effort that could be made available to the community.

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The right college major can make you $3.4 million more in a lifetime | Atlanta Journal Constitution

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Jul 062015
 

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Wes Moss
July 6, 2015

The other day I was playing The Game of Life with my kids again, and I realized exactly how inspiring this game is for kids.

While we were playing my youngest son turned to me and said, “I want to be a doctor when I grow up.” When I asked why he told me it’s because they have the highest salary in the game.

I’m sure once my son gets older he’ll decide on a career based on more than just a Game of Life salary card, but I do hope he decides to take into consideration the financial repercussions of his career path.

I’ve written before about how I believe a college education is typically a solid investment, and even how to leverage FAFSA to lower your college costs. However, I recently read an article from Fox News focused on a study about how certain college majors have a much higher return on investment than other degrees. While this isn’t overly surprising, the difference in lifetime wages for different majors is enormous.

According to the study, over their lifetime those who hold a college degree earn an estimated $1 million more than someone with only a high school diploma (something that we’ve seen for years now). Now I’ve learned, though, that the difference in lifetime wages of the highest and lowest paying majors is $3.4 million!

Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce released the above-mentioned study on the value of college majors. Their website even has tools that allow you to see the average income in various fields based on the degree obtained. It also breaks the average income level down for different fields at the state level, so you can see how the Georgia workforce compares to the national averages.

The top paying majors unsurprisingly include STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), health and business. The majors with the lowest median earnings are in education, arts, and social work. In fact, early childhood education majors earn just $39,000 annually mid-career, the lowest among college graduates.

While clearly there is a large wage gap between majors, the Georgetown study does give readers interested in fields outside of STEM, health and business hope. They point out that people in generally low-paying majors who are in the top 25 percent of their field may earn an equal amount or more than those in the top-paying majors who are in the bottom 25 percent of their field (Figure 4).

Ultimately, our economy needs both teachers and engineers. We need social workers just as we need accountants. It’s easy to obsess over what major could make you the most money, but it’s more important to find something that you enjoy and where you could excel in the field.

In the research for my book, You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think, I found my happy retirees had an average household income of about $98,000 in their peak earning years. While it might be nice to go after the highest salary possible, remember that according to my research, if your household had two excellent teachers bringing in $49,000 a year, then you’d both be able to retire happy as long as you’d laid the necessary financial foundation.

A wise person once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” While I think this is important advice, I would suggest that you understanding the financial repercussions of your chosen career as well.

Certified financial planner Wes Moss offers financial and accessible investment advice to Atlanta Bargain Hunter readers.

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Chinese university sells graduates online| CNBC

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Jul 062015
 

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Nyshka Chandran | @NyshkaC
Friday, 3 Jul 2015 |

A mainland university has launched an e-commerce platform to sell new graduates to prospective employers, reflecting the worrisome downturn in the country’s job market.

The ‘Kunming University Talent Shop’ was launched on Alibaba’s retail platform Taobao on Thursday by He Hua, president of Kunming University, according to the People’s Daily Online.

People's Daily Online

People’s Daily Online

The site profiles 65 of the university’s top graduates with a photograph and a brief summary of their career ambitions and preferred salaries.

The students are divided into four categories, the news report said: ‘One Belt One Road style,’ ‘Made in China 2025 style,’ ‘internet style’ and ‘elite style,’ a reference to Beijing’s flagship economic growth policies to promote Chinese infrastructure investment and manufacturing power.

Prospective employers can then bid for the right to offer each student a job contract. Bidding fees start from 1,000 yuan ($160), payable to the site and the money is returned a week later regardless of a job offer, the People’s Daily added.

Mr. He unveiled his venture at Kunming’s graduation ceremony on Thursday with a life-size board of the student profiles.

The talent shop, reportedly the first of its kind on Taobao, is designed to help students “deal with the harsh employment conditions this year,” the university president said.

“I want to use Taobao to build a bridge between companies and students,” he continued, adding that the site was just one of many new ideas he has for the university.

Government officials have publicly voiced their concern about high university enrollment rates. Around 7.5 million graduates are expected to hit the job market this year, higher from 7 million in 2014.

Overall job creation in the world’s second largest economy has been slowing in recent months, with 3.24 million new jobs created in the first quarter, down from 3.44 million during the same period last year, according to the Labor Ministry.

Beijing is aiming to add 10 million new jobs this year and keep the urban jobless rate below its current 4.5 percent rate.

“I’m confident that we can maintain stable employment as long as the economic performance is kept within a reasonable range. But we cannot be not blindly optimistic,” Xin Changxing, vice minister of human resource and social security, said at an April news conference.

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ECU’s Ballard to step down | The Daily Reflector

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Jul 022015
 

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By Holly West
July 2, 2015

East Carolina University Chancellor Steve Ballard announced Wednesday that he will step down in July 2016 after 12 years at the university’s helm.

Ballard cited family reasons, including the illness of his son, as the motivation behind the decision.

He plans to take a year off, under the UNC system’s policy of “retreating” after stepping down from a senior administrative position, before returning to ECU’s faculty.

“My passion is leadership and leadership development, especially for undergraduates, so I want to put together some proposals for how we can do more of that,” he said. “I want to make sure every student leaves here with a leadership opportunity.”

Ballard said he is proud of how the staff of the university has grown under his leadership.

“I think showing everybody, especially everybody in the state, that ECU not only can bring those people here, but they can make a huge difference,” he said.

He said ECU has made great strides in academics, especially in the Division of Health Sciences, the School of Engineering and Technology and the Honors College.

“We saw we had an opportunity in academic quality, which is the reason students are successful in all these programs,” he said. “It could be nursing, it could be construction management, it could be teaching. It is that quality that will get them jobs and get more students here.”

Ballard’s dedication to quality is apparent, Steve Jones, acting chairman of the ECU Board of Trustees, said.

“It’s just his passion and desire in academics and athletics,” he said. “That kind of filters down into all the different areas. He has got a relentless passion.”

Even though Ballard is preparing to leave his position, he still has big plans for the upcoming year.

“Every one of my vice chancellors this morning was told that they had to submit their goals for the year, and we want to be serious about them,” Ballard said. “We want to finish strong.”

Meanwhile, ECU’s Board of Trustees and the University of North Carolina president’s office will be searching for a new chancellor. The board is in a transition period, with its newly appointed members not having met for the first time, Jones said. Once the group meets in mid-July to choose a chairman, the process for finding Ballard’s replacement will take shape.

“We’re still trying to put together what that will look like,” he said. “But we have a year, we’ve got a little bit of time to get all of our ducks in a row.”

UNC Board of Governors member Henry Hinton said the trustees need to find someone who can balance all the different responsibilities that come with being a chancellor.

“We need a person who sees himself as much of an external person as an internal person,” he said. “The higher education system these days requires that chancellors really become engaged at the highest level of fundraising. And then, of course, you need someone who can earn the respect of the faculty, which is always a challenge, and someone who can kind of grasp the vision for East Carolina University as a regional economic development power.”

Hinton said the person also needs to understand the mission of academia.

As for Ballard, he hopes his successor can appreciate ECU’s impact not only on eastern North Carolina, but the entire state and country.

“I hope the next person has an appreciation and love and understanding of what kind of university we have here,” he said. “So many universities want to follow somebody else’s model. ECU never has to do that. ECU needs to continue to be authentic to its own model, its own mission.”

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Young bull sharks find NC sounds inviting | WRAL

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Jul 022015
 

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Posted 7:34 p.m. yesterday

Greenville, N.C. — While seven people have been bitten by sharks off the North Carolina coast in the past month, an expert says people are increasingly likely to encounter a shark in the state’s sounds.

Between 1969 and 2011, only nine juvenile bull sharks were found in Pamlico Sound, but researchers have documented 50 young bull sharks in the sound in the last four years alone.

“The main thing that’s changed is the temperatures gotten hotter,” said Chuck Bangley, a researcher at East Carolina University.

In the last decade, Bangley said, water temperatures in Pamlico Sound have increased about 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Researchers don’t have an explanation for the temperature increase, but they’re seeing the effects.

“If the water gets in the 75-degree or higher range for a lot of May, you’ll begin to see a lot of juvenile bull sharks show up in the area,” he said.

The young sharks will leave in the fall for warmer waters then return again next year, he said.

While people enjoy the sound for the relatively calm waters, young sharks use it as shelter from larger predators, Bangley said.

“Large sharks will come into the sound, but for the most part, what you’re looking at are 5, 4 feet or less,” he said. “They’re also not species that typically eat large prey.”

Bull sharks are blamed for biting more people than any other species of shark. Known for their aggressive nature, their bite is particularly strong.

“Even those accidental bites, because we’re talking about a big, powerful animal, can do a lot of damage,” he said.

Researchers are still collecting data on the number of bull sharks in Pamlico Sound, but Bangley said their presence indicates the shark population, which had been on the decline, is reversing course. It also is a sign of a healthy ecosystem in the sound, he said.

“The fact that bull sharks are pupping in North Carolina suggests the waters are clean, there’s an abundant food source for them and there’s plenty of habitat,” he said.

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East Carolina University chancellor to step down in 2016 | The News & Observer

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Jul 022015
 

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GREENVILLE, N.C.

East Carolina University Chancellor Steve Ballard says he will step down from his post in 2016.

Ballard announced Wednesday that he will serve as chancellor until July 1, 2016. He said that will allow for a search for the next leader to take place with minimal disruption.

Ballard has been chancellor since 2004. He said there is much to accomplish in the next year as the school builds academic excellence and leads regional transformation in eastern North Carolina. He also said the school hopes to make more progress as a member of the American Athletic Conference.

UNC President Tom Ross said Ballard will leave ECU better and stronger than he found it.

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County jobless rate ticks up | The Daily Reflector

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Jul 022015
 

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By Michael Abramowitz
July 2, 2015

Pitt County’s unemployment rate increased seven-tenths of a percent in May from the previous month and lagged eight-tenths of a percent behind the state average.

The county’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May was 6.5 percent, compared to 5.8 percent in April and 6.6 percent during the same month in 2014, according to data released Tuesday from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Business Research at East Carolina University.

Pitt County dropped in the statewide rankings from 51 in April to 56 among the state’s 100 counties. The statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in May was 5.7 percent, up from 5.5 percent in April, but lower than the 6.3 percent rate in May 2014, the data indicated.

“The strength still remains in the central part of the state,” ECU economist Jim Kleckley said. “When you start looking at the rural parts of North Carolina, including the Pitt County area, you see a more accentuated slowdown. The rate of improvement has flattened out somewhat locally. That is strongly indicated by the claims data.”

Increases in the number of people looking for jobs contributes to higher unemployment numbers, but also indicates more faith among job seekers in the prospect of finding work, Kleckley said.

“When the signs indicate the unemployment rate dropping over time, you’ll see more people enter the labor force that haven’t been there for a while,” he said. “In many ways, that’s a good thing, but only if we can start putting those people into jobs as well.”

In May, 81,732 people were employed in Pitt County, an increase of 705 over the same month last year, the data showed. There were 5,643 unemployed people in the county in May, 590 more than the previous month but 113 less than last May.

N.C. Commerce Department officials note that employment estimates are subject to large seasonal patterns, making it advisable to focus on over-the-year changes in the not seasonally adjusted estimates. When compared to the same month last year, not seasonally adjusted unemployment rates decreased in 87 counties, increased in six, and remained unchanged in seven. Fourteen metro areas experienced rate decreases, and one remained unchanged.

The number of workers employed statewide (not seasonally adjusted) increased in May by 20,877 to 4,514,502; those unemployed increased 36,071 to 281,591. Since May 2014, the number of workers employed statewide increased 115,233, and those unemployed decreased 15,159.

North Carolina’s wage gap remains wider than the national average. The hourly average wage was $22.10 in May, $2.86 below the national average.

“If wages aren’t rising, it indicates the labor market is not tight, meaning that employers tend to take the position that they will find someone to take the job if you won’t,” Kleckley said. “When the unemployment rate is lower, employers will find it more difficult to find workers who accept low wages and will tend to pay more.”

A continued flattening of the employment rate during the next several months would be cause for concern, he said.

“We’re still growing here, but not as quickly as last year,” he said. “I think the Medicaid expansion dollars we turned down would have made a big difference in eastern North Carolina. Vidant is a major employer, and hospitals tend to be important job sources throughout the region. If the industry was better financed, there would be both more jobs and better health. That would be a win-win.”

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for May in selected regional counties include: Beaufort at 6.9 percent, up from 6.4 in April; Craven at 6.5, up from 6.0; Duplin at 6.2, up from 5.6; Edgecombe at 10.3, up from 9.7; Greene at 5.9, up from 5.4; Lenoir at 6.9, up from 6.5; Martin at 7.9, up from 7.6; Nash at 7.8, up from 7.4; Wayne at 6.4, up from 5.9; and Wilson at 9.6 percent, up from 9.4 in April.

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Student loan interest rates set to drop | WNCT

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Jul 022015
 

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By Josh Birch Published: July 1, 2015

To view news video at WNCT, click here.

GREENVILLE N.C. (WNCT) – Student loan interest rates for the upcoming year will drop from 4.66 to 4.29.

The changes will only apply to loans taken out this year, not previous loans. ECU Financial Aid Director Julie Poorman said students shouldn’t expect to see a big difference in the short term, but the change could help them save more than $400 over the span of a 10 year loan repayment.

She said having student debt isn’t a bad debt to have.

“It’s an investment in the student’s future so we believe that student loans are not dangerous if you don’t have too many,” Poorman said.

She said students should always keep in mind how many loans they are taking, and the interest rates on those loans.

Sen. Richard Burr (NC) released a statement following the announcement.

“I’m thrilled that students across the country have seen the interest rates on their student loans drop for the next year, in addition to over $8 billion in savings from the past year. When I introduced the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act, I knew this law would benefit 100% of students in the US, and with today’s news, our students and parents continue to reap the benefits. The facts now show that more controversial legislation would not have served students’ best interests. My bill was the right solution at the right time,” Burr said.

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