NCCU settles race discrimination lawsuit for $175K | The News & Observer

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Nov 192015


By Tom Gasparoli
November 18, 2015


N.C. Central University Chancellor Debra Saunders-White, the university, and the UNC system Board of Governors have settled a race discrimination lawsuit and related claims with the chancellor’s former chief of staff for $175,000, according to state records.

The claims filed by Kimberly Luse, who was terminated by NCCU in early 2014, were made in one of three lawsuits that allege university employees unlawfully lost their jobs at NCCU because they were not African-American.

Luse’s state court case is the only case among the three that named Saunders-White individually as a defendant. Luse also had a claim before the N.C. Industrial Commission.

A copy of the September 2015 settlement agreement with Luse, obtained through a public records request by the News & Observer, shows she agreed to voluntarily dismiss and thus resolve “any and all claims,” and waived any future claims against the three parties, in exchange for the $175,000 and her compliance with other terms of the agreement.

The terms include mutual confidentiality, a non-disparagement clause, and a neutral employment reference from NCCU. In the settlement, Luse agreed to have no future employment with any university in UNC’s system or with any associated entities.

The agreement also says that Luse and the three defendants – the chancellor, the university and the Board of Governors – all deny any wrongdoing. It says each party understands the settlement is “a compromise of doubtful and disputed claims.”

Luse’s state case in the Durham County courts alleged that the chancellor misused university funds for personal benefit and violated employment laws “based upon her own personal animus towards non-African American individuals.”

Luse’s lawsuit had also alleged false accusations against her, and denigrating and “outrageous language” about her by Saunders-White.

Luse’s attorney, Nicholas Sanservino, Jr. of The Noble Law Firm, said “the matters are resolved” and that his client is “moving on.” Sanservino and attorney Laura Noble declined to make Luse available for an interview.

According to the agreement, one portion of the payout, for $50,000, was paid by NCCU as wages, and a second portion paid by NCCU, $59,967, went to Luse’s attorneys.

The document states that a third amount, $65,033 for “any alleged compensatory and other damages,” would be paid by “NCCU, the Board of Governors, and/or Saunders White.”

The agreement does not say whether Saunders-White may have paid part or all of the $65,033.

The N.C. Office of the Attorney General has been representing the defendants in these cases. Spokeswoman Noelle Talley said the office had no comment on the settlement.

An effort to reach Saunders-White for comment was unsuccessful.

On the website, Luse lists her former position at NCCU and shows she is now the principal and founder of a company called Strategic Ethical Solutions.

Luse’s company website says leaders must “lead from a moral compass that is centered and focused on the well being of the people who are in their employ.”

Two other ex-employees, former business professor Marianne C. Murphy and former program director Francis M. Smith, have claims still pending in federal court and at the Industrial Commission.

There has been a development in the Industrial Commission case filed by Smith, a former director of graduate, professional and executive programs at NCCU’s business school.

Commission files show that the AG’s office attorneys for Saunders-White have resisted lawyer Sanservino’s request to question the chancellor under oath.

On Nov. 17, the commission ordered that Saunders-White and Wanda Lester (interim dean of the business school) must “be available for a deposition” within 14 days.


UNC board questioned on approval of chancellor raises in closed meeting | The News & Observer

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Nov 192015


By Jane Stancill
November 18, 2015


UNC Board of Governors Vice Chairman Lou Bissette told lawmakers Wednesday that it would have been better if the board had voted publicly on chancellors’ raises last month.

The board’s Oct. 30 closed-door vote has damaged the university and the board, Bissette said, after being questioned at the powerful Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations.

“It’s just not worth all this hassle,” Bissette said in an interview after his appearance before the commission. “We’re in a new age. Transparency is a theme.”

Board representatives were summoned to the legislative commission because of concern that the university system’s governing board had run afoul of the state’s Open Meetings Law on Oct. 30, when it approved substantial raises for 12 of 17 UNC system chancellors. Information about the raises was withheld from the public for three days after the meeting.

“I think we made an error there,” Bissette said of the failure to provide the information immediately.

The raises were sizable, ranging from 8 percent to 19 percent. The board’s debate, which occurred in a closed session that ran about two and a half hours, was contentious. This week, a one-paragraph summary of the meeting said the vote was 16-13 in favor of the raises. No roll call was taken, so there is no record of how individual members voted.

Bissette said the board had acted in April to raise the salary ranges for chancellors after a consultant concluded they were too low. The raises were a “one-time attempt” to bring salaries in line with peer institutions around the country.

The board delayed releasing the information on Oct. 30 so that UNC President Tom Ross could notify chancellors of their raises.

“Given the interest of the state,” Bissette said Wednesday, “I think probably the best thing to do is to have that vote in open session and release those salaries.”

The commission asked the board for a report after its December meeting, where board members will receive a tutorial on open meetings requirements under the law.

“I think there’s been some lessons learned,” said Rep. John Torbett, a Republican from Stanley.

Torbett said there can be confusion when people move from private sector boards to public bodies.

“You tend to come in with more of a private mentality and then you come into a government operation and they often conflict, which is good,” Torbett said.

Last week, the board released records from the Oct. 30 meeting to House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger, who had demanded “any and all” records, including a tape of the discussion.

Media representatives have objected to the closed-door vote and the delay before the chancellors’ salary figures were disclosed.

Legislature hands-on

The Open Meetings Law generally allows public bodies to discuss personnel matters behind closed doors but requires votes in open session. UNC’s attorney, Tom Shanahan, has explained the secret vote by saying the board was only authorizing raises that had not yet been implemented. Lawyers for media organizations have disagreed with Shanahan’s justification.

Lawmakers’ questioning of the UNC board Wednesday highlighted recent tension between the legislature and the university system governing board, whose 32 members are appointed by the legislature.

Last week, one board member, Joe Knott, said the demand for closed-session records was an unwarranted intrusion by politicians that threatened the university’s independence. Knott also charged that an unidentified lawmaker had pushed an unnamed candidate for the presidency of the university. That pressure, Knott said, was rebuffed by former UNC board Chairman John Fennebresque, who recently resigned from the board.

The legislature took steps to intervene in the process for the recent presidential search, which ended with the hiring last month of Margaret Spellings, former U.S. secretary of education.

A bill that imposed term limits on UNC board members also required that the presidential search committee put forth three finalists’ names to the full board for consideration. Supporters of the bipartisan bill had complained about the board’s lack of transparency.

Bissette said Wednesday that the UNC attorney had advised him that “there’s no provision in the Open Meetings Law that states that all votes of a public body must take place in open session.”
Being ‘more open’

But, he pledged, the board will lean toward openness in the future.

“I believe that the current Board of Governors, and our new president, recognize the importance of focusing our attention on the major policy and strategic issues facing the university and public higher education in general,” he said. “In that light, we are interested in looking carefully at our effectiveness as a working board, which includes encouraging more open discussion and voting wherever possible.”

The chancellors’ raises have drawn scrutiny and objection by faculty and others.

Three chancellors in the Triangle ended up with higher compensation. UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt received a raise of 9.6 percent – or $50,000 – bringing her base pay to $570,000. N.C. Central University Chancellor Debra Saunders-White got a $45,000 boost – almost 16 percent – bringing her annual pay to $330,000. Randy Woodson, chancellor of N.C. State University, received a 13 percent salary increase – or $70,000 – which will bring his base pay to $590,000. Woodson is the only chancellor with a contract. His four-year deal includes an annual stipend of $200,000 paid by private funds at NCSU, plus the possibility of performance bonuses.

Spellings will have a base salary of $775,000, which is $175,000 more than Ross’ salary. She will also be able to earn more money with deferred compensation and with annual bonuses.


Yale’s president responds to protesters’ demands, announces new initiatives to ease racial tension | The Washington Post

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Nov 192015


By Isaac Stanley-Becker
November 18 at 2:43 PM

NEW HAVEN, CONN. — The president of Yale University has unveiled a far-reaching plan to enhance the academic study of race and ethnicity and to improve the experiences of people of color, following days of protests and demonstrations on the Ivy League campus.

Peter Salovey told the university community in an e-mail that he hoped to “build a more inclusive Yale,” one without isolation and hostility.

“It is clear that we need to make significant changes so that all members of our community truly feel welcome and can participate equally in the activities of the university, and to reaffirm and reinforce our commitment to a campus where hatred and discrimination have no place,” Salovey wrote.

Yale’s plans include the creation of an academic center focused on race, ethnicity and social identity, in addition to new faculty appointments in those fields. Salovey also pledged to double resources for existing centers serving students of color and said he and other top administrators will undergo “training on recognizing and combating racism and other forms of discrimination in the academy.”

The announcement comes in response to claims, aired in public confrontations between students and administrators, that the university is inhospitable to students of color, and to minority women in particular. These claims have stirred debates about race and sensitivity on campus, which have drawn on movements for racial equality at colleges and universities around the country, including at the University of Missouri, where protests this month unseated Tim Wolfe, the president of the school in Columbia, Mo.

Protests at Yale began earlier this month after allegations surfaced that a fraternity had barred black women from a party the night before Halloween and following an e-mail from a Yale administrator, on the subject of Halloween costumes, that cast acts of cultural appropriation as expressions of free speech warranting debate and discussion. Student dissent — which hundreds of faculty members endorsed in an open letter — ultimately went deeper, charging that the university had failed to fully include minority students even as minority enrollment has increased.

“In my thirty-five years on this campus, I have never been as simultaneously moved, challenged, and encouraged by our community — and all the promise it embodies — as in the past two weeks,” Salovey wrote in an e-mail on Tuesday.

In addition to the formation of an academic center on race and ethnicity, Salovey said the school will create four new positions for scholars working on “the histories, lives, and cultures of unrepresented and under-represented communities.” Salovey already had announced a $50 million, five-year initiative to enhance faculty diversity.

The make-up of Yale’s faculty has come under heightened scrutiny as a string of minority scholars have announced plans to leave for other universities. They include Elizabeth Alexander, a prominent black poet and essayist, who will join the faculty at Columbia, and Karen Nakamura, a scholar of anthropology and East Asian studies, who plans to leave Yale for the University of California, Berkeley. Between the 2011-2012 and 2014-2015 academic years, the percentage of black tenure and tenure-track faculty fell from 4.5 percent to 3.6 percent, according to data compiled by Yale’s Office of Institutional Research.

“There’s a sense that this recent wave of campus protest is part of a larger history of repeated institutional failures and neglect,” said Vesla Weaver, an assistant professor of political science and African-American studies.

Seyla Benhabib, a professor of political science and philosophy, said Yale has failed to recruit and retain enough minority faculty members, one of the factors she believes has led to the distress of minority students, who miss the opportunity to “see a person like them in a position of authority.”

Weaver called Salovey’s response to recent campus events a “victory” for faculty who have been urging administrative action on these issues for many years. Inderpal Grewal, a professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies, called this “an exciting and promising moment for Yale.”

The initiatives Salovey announced are the result, in part, of consultation with approximately 30 faculty members who have been discussing these issues for years. But one faculty member involved in the conversations said the efforts gained momentum amid recent campus unrest, distilled in a set of student demands announced last week. Students had asked Salovey for a response by Wednesday.

Jonathan Holloway — a scholar of African-American history and now the first black dean of Yale College — years ago counted himself a member of the faculty group that was urging the administration to grow the ranks of minority faculty members and to promote the study of ethnicity and race. The faculty group had advocated for a center that would demonstrate the university’s commitment to these disciplines, but the economic recession made its cost prohibitive, Holloway said in an interview.

Now a member of the administration, Holloway said these new initiatives respond to longstanding problems laid bare in a “moment of eruption,” one that found him outside the university’s main library two weeks ago, face-to-face with students of color who said he had failed to be their advocate. Holloway said the initiatives unveiled this week closely mirror the faculty’s requests.

Students embraced the spirit of Salovey’s announcement but said his proposed solutions still fall short.

“He made no effort to reach out to us to have a meeting,” said Eshe Sherley, a senior who last week joined several hundred students in delivering a set of demands to Salovey’s home. She called Tuesday’s announcement “woefully inadequate” and said it represents “lukewarm policy” and an attempt to “throw a little bit more money at the issue.”

Among the demands of the student group “Next Yale” was renaming Calhoun College, the undergraduate residential community named for John C. Calhoun, a prominent exponent of slavery and an 1804 graduate of Yale College. In his e-mail, Salovey said the Yale Corporation, the university’s board of trustees, plans to gather student input on the Calhoun label, as well as the names for the two new residential colleges currently under construction.

Adriana Miele, a senior, said she was heartened by Salovey’s acknowledgement of the problem. Still, she was dismayed that he did not act on students’ request that he remove the master and associate master of Silliman College over their handling of a controversial e-mail telling students not to be offended if they see insensitive Halloween costumes.

The Silliman master, Nicholas Christakis, told Silliman students in a meeting Sunday that it was Salovey’s decision whether he would continue to lead the college, according to a student who was present. In a Tuesday e-mail to Silliman students, Salovey and Holloway said they have asked Christakis to stay on as master.

“Both Nicholas and Erika Christakis remain committed to serving the college, and we fully support them in these efforts,” the administrators wrote.

In a victory for low-income students, Salovey said there will be a reduction in the amount of money students must contribute to their own financial aid packages, on top of what their parents may already pay in tuition. The specific amount was not specified.

“I’m excited by the general spirit of the announcement, but there are a lot of places where it could fall apart in the details and the implementation,” Sherley said. “This is a university, and we get to critique each other’s work.”

Here is his letter in full:

Dear Members of the Yale Community,

In my thirty-five years on this campus, I have never been as simultaneously moved, challenged, and encouraged by our community—and all the promise it embodies—as in the past two weeks. You have given strong voice to the need for us to work toward a better, more diverse, and more inclusive Yale. You have offered me the opportunity to listen to and learn from you—students, faculty, staff, and alumni, from every part of the university.

I have heard the expressions of those who do not feel fully included at Yale, many of whom have described experiences of isolation, and even of hostility, during their time here. It is clear that we need to make significant changes so that all members of our community truly feel welcome and can participate equally in the activities of the university, and to reaffirm and reinforce our commitment to a campus where hatred and discrimination have no place.

We begin this work by laying to rest the claim that it conflicts with our commitment to free speech, which is unshakeable. The very purpose of our gathering together into a university community is to engage in teaching, learning, and research—to study and think together, sometimes to argue with and challenge one another, even at the risk of discord, but always to take care to preserve our ability to learn from one another.

Yale’s long history, even in these past two weeks, has shown a steadfast devotion to full freedom of expression. No one has been silenced or punished for speaking their minds, nor will they be. This freedom, which is the bedrock of education, equips us with the fullness of mind to pursue our shared goal of creating a more inclusive community.

Four key areas, outlined below, will give structure to our efforts to build a more inclusive Yale, and the deans of all of Yale’s schools will provide leadership across the university. I look forward to working with everyone in the days and months ahead to refine and expand on these themes. In a time when universities and communities around the country are coming together to address longstanding inequalities, I believe that Yale can and should lead the way. Many of you have proposed ideas for constructive steps forward, and my hope is that our collective endeavors can become a model for others to emulate.

The conversations we are having today, about freedom of expression and the need for inclusivity and respect—principles that are not mutually exclusive—resonate deeply with the issue Dean Holloway and I addressed at the beginning of the semester, about the name of Calhoun College. At that time, I quoted President Lincoln and said that Yale, like our nation, has “unfinished work.” This is just as true with the work that stands before us now. I am eager to embark on it with you.

Strengthening the Academic Enterprise

Race, ethnicity, and other aspects of social identity are central issues of our era, issues that should be a focus of particularly intense study at a great university. For some time, Yale has been exploring the possibility of creating a prominent university center supporting the exciting scholarship represented by these and related areas. Recent events across the country have made clear that now is the time to develop such a transformative, multidisciplinary center drawing on expertise from across Yale’s schools; it will be launched this year and will have significant resources for both programming and staff. Over time, this center will position Yale to stand at the forefront of research and teaching in these intellectually ambitious and important fields.

Yale already has outstanding faculty members who are doing cutting-edge scholarship on the histories, lives, and cultures of unrepresented and under-represented communities. To build on this strong foundation, I will ask the committee that oversees the allocation of resources in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to devote four additional faculty positions to these areas, housing them in relevant FAS departments and programs. We will hire the very best scholars to bring their knowledge and insight to our students and the broader community.

In the meantime, in expectation of increased student interest, we are adding additional teaching staff and courses in Yale College starting in spring 2016 that address these topics. To continue the conversation outside the classroom, throughout the university, Yale will launch a five-year series of conferences on issues of race, gender, inequality, and inclusion.

Earlier this month Provost Ben Polak and I announced a $50 million, five-year, university-wide initiative[] that will enable all of our schools to enhance faculty diversity. This is a campus-wide priority. Within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which includes the faculty who teach in Yale College, we will invite one of our senior faculty members to take on the responsibility of helping to guide the FAS in its diversity efforts and its implementation of the initiative. This new leadership position will be located in the office of the dean of the FAS, and will hold the title of deputy dean for diversity in the FAS and special advisor to the provost and president. The deputy dean will also coordinate support and mentoring for our untenured faculty. Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler and the FAS deputy dean will convene a new committee to advise them about faculty diversity issues and strategies for inclusion.

Expanding Programs, Services, and Support for Students

Starting in 2016-17, the program budgets for the four cultural centers will double, augmenting the increases made this year and the ongoing facilities upgrades resulting from last year’s external review. The expanded funding will enable the centers to strengthen support for undergraduate students and extend support to the graduate and professional student communities. Staffing will be adjusted, and facilities for each center will continue to be assessed with an eye toward identifying additional enhancements. In addition, I will ask the deans of our schools to explore ways in which our community, including our extraordinary alumni, can increase the support and mentorship they provide to our students.

Financial aid policies for low-income students in Yale College, the subject of a spring 2015 report by the Yale College Council, will also see improvements beginning in the next academic year. Details will soon be announced, and will include a reduction in the student effort expectation for current students. In the meantime, funds for emergencies and special circumstances already available through the residential colleges and the financial aid offices are also being reviewed and increased. We will follow up with the graduate and professional schools to ensure that they also have the capacity to support students in times of emergency.

Professional counselors from YaleHealth will work with the directors of the four cultural centers to schedule specified hours at each center, building on the existing mental health fellows program in the residential colleges. Additional multicultural training will be provided to all of the staff in the Department of Mental Health and Counseling at YaleHealth, and renewed efforts will be made to increase the diversity of its professional staff. These changes are in addition to the improvements that we are already making in our mental health services for students across the university.

Improving Institutional Structures and Practices

Educating our community about race, ethnicity, diversity, and inclusion begins with the university’s leadership. I, along with the vice presidents, deans, provosts, and other members of the administration, will receive training on recognizing and combating racism and other forms of discrimination in the academy. Similar programs will be provided to department chairs, directors of graduate and undergraduate studies, masters and deans, student affairs staff, and others across the university.

We are also making funds available to improve existing programs and develop new ones—both during orientation periods and beyond—that explore diversity and inclusion and provide tools for open conversations in all parts of the university about these issues. Programs may take the form of trainings, speaker series, or other ongoing activities. We will appoint a committee of students, faculty, and staff to help us develop and implement these efforts, so that we can learn to work together better to create an inclusive community, a community in which all feel they belong.

The work of creating robust and clear mechanisms for reporting, tracking, and addressing actions that may violate the university’s clear nondiscrimination policies will be rolled out in two phases: in the first, which will take place immediately, we will work with students to communicate more clearly the available pathways and resources for reporting and/or resolution. Then, in the spring, we will review and adopt, with input from students, measures to strengthen mechanisms that address discrimination. I have asked Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kim Goff-Crews to lead this work.

Representations of Diversity on Campus

To broaden the visible representations of our community on campus, I am asking the Committee on Public Art to hold an open session at which members of the campus can present ideas for how we might better convey and celebrate our diversity and its history. Just as Yale in recent years has heralded the role and contributions of women by increasing the number of portraits of women across campus and by commissioning the Women’s Table in front of Sterling Memorial Library, we can more accurately reflect the vibrancy of our university community.

Finally, many of you have asked with renewed interest about the names of the new residential colleges as well as the name of Calhoun College. In the next year, the Yale Corporation will be deciding the names of the two new colleges that will open in August 2017. I have asked the Corporation’s senior fellow to organize meetings with several other fellows at which community members can express their views both about names for the new colleges and about Calhoun. Corporation fellows value, and will continue to hold, in-person and other discussions as they move toward making decisions.

We take these important steps in the full knowledge that our community will have to do much more to create a fully inclusive campus. To lead the way forward, I am creating a presidential task force representing all constituencies to consider other projects and policies. The efforts that we launch today, and the commitment to the core values they represent, must be continuous, ongoing, and shared by all of us. I thank all of you for the perspectives you have offered already and for all that you will contribute to the work that lies ahead.


Peter Salovey
President and Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology


Washington College will be closed through Thanksgiving break as hunt for armed student continues | The Washington Post

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Nov 192015


By Susan Svrluga and T. Rees Shapiro
November 18, 2015

Washington College will remain closed through the Thanksgiving break, the college president announced Wednesday afternoon, as FBI and police continued an intense search for a student who is believed to be armed.

It was a third day of uncertainty for the small liberal arts college on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Washington College was evacuated Tuesday after a lock-down had students and staff sheltering in place all day and overnight Monday. The alarm came early Monday morning when the parents of sophomore Jacob Marberger called college officials.

They said their son had “sort of stormed in” to the house in the middle of the night, having driven to Pennsylvania from the college campus, according to Chestertown, Md., Police Chief G. Adrian Baker. They said he was despondent about things going on at school, left quickly and took a rifle case from their home. The parents said they were unable to reach their son afterward.

Marberger had been a leader in student government and a fraternity member; a professor described him as articulate, highly intellectual and extremely well-versed in military history.

But school officials said a prank in early October upset Marberger; someone apparently put a trash can full of water against the door to his dorm room so that it poured in when he opened the door. The school’s public safety director, Jerry Roderick, said that Marberger felt like he was being ridiculed or persecuted by a couple of students.

Two nights later, Marberger allegedly brandished a pistol at his fraternity house; he may have been drunk, according to school officials. After an investigation, Marberger was expelled from the fraternity, resigned his role as speaker of the senate, was suspended by the college and faced expulsion.

On Tuesday, a warrant was issued for his arrest on four charges: dangerous weapon on school property, handgun on a person, possession of a firearm by a minor and illegal possession of ammunition.

On Wednesday afternoon, college president Sheila Bair posted an update on the school’s Web site:

“Following the difficult events of the past few days, Washington College will be canceling classes this week and the week of Thanksgiving Break. Based on our continuing consultations with law enforcement, we anticipate that classes will resume on Monday, November 30th. The college campus will re-open on Sunday, November 29th. Students should plan on returning to campus on that day.”

While classes are canceled until November 30th, students should be alert to email communications from their professors with instructions pertaining to continued progress in their courses.

All residential students have either returned home or been taken in by members of the campus and Chestertown community. We are deeply grateful to the faculty, staff, and residents of Chestertown for opening their homes and their hearts to dozens of our students.

According to police, Marberger was last seen at the Hamburg, Pa., Walmart Supercenter on Monday morning, in a town north of his hometown of Cheltenham, Pa.

Asked whether there was video from the store of Marberger buying ammunition, Baker noted that it’s not illegal to buy ammunition. He said that the student’s last whereabouts are part of the investigation so he couldn’t comment on that.

Lt. John Frye of the Cheltenham Township Police Department said Marberger’s cell phone was last on on Monday morning in Hamburg. There’s no new information about his location, Baker said, and added that he’s pretty confident that every method possible to track the student is being employed.

Many people in the area are asking questions, and some are reporting possible sightings of Marberger or his vehicle to the police, Baker said, none of which has been confirmed. “I think people are just alarmed,” he said. “I’m told there is some poor guy who has a similar vehicle” to the dark green 1997 Land Rover that Marberger was last seen driving.

Baker said authorities have checked social media and friends and have found no evidence of threats. “It really comes back to just a proactive, precautionary measure on the part of the college,” the Chestertown police chief said.

Bair said Tuesday that there had been no direct threat against the campus but that without knowledge of the student’s whereabouts or his intentions, the school would remain closed until the situation is resolved.

Ian Briggs, the president of Phi Delta Theta chapter on campus that expelled Marberger after the Oct. 9 gun incident, wrote in an email, “We hope that Jacob is apprehended as soon as possible allowing life to return to normal for Washington College and all of the members of its community.”

Washington College is not the only school to completely shut down over safety concerns this fall. Last month, Eastern Kentucky University sent students and employees home after graffiti was found that threatened to “KILL ALL.” It wasn’t long after a student at an Oregon community college walked into class and gunned down nine people, and many campuses across the country were on edge.

Freshman, Ari DeArriz, 18, said that he felt unsettled by the news that the school would be closed through Thanksgiving.

“It makes me kind of worried to know that the school can’t even continue until he’s found,” said DeArriz, of Church Hill, Md., “Like, we can’t even go to school? It’s for our safety but it’s just worrisome because nobody’s really sure where he is at the moment.”

DeArriz said that now he wonders what will become of Marberger. “I also worry about him too.”


Moody’s: Colleges have entered the new normal of flat tuition revenue | The Washington Post

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Nov 192015


By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel
November 19, 2015

It’s going to be another year of lackluster tuition revenue growth for universities, as the pipeline of students heading to college slows and families remain sensitive to prices, Moody’s Investors Service said in a report Thursday.

In its annual survey of colleges and universities, the credit rating agency said private and public schools estimate net tuition revenue — the money earned from students after schools provide financial aid — will grow approximately 2 percent to 3 percent for fiscal year 2016. That level of growth is close to the historic rate of inflation, reversing a years-long trend of college tuition rising faster than that rate.

“Overall demographics for college-going students has been flat or declining. Families are becoming more sophisticated consumers of the higher education sector, shopping by price, considering the cost of a full freight of four or five years in college,” said Erin Ortiz, assistant vice president at Moody’s and co-author of the report. “That puts more pressure on these colleges to be able to increase tuition at prices above inflation.”

Years of breakneck increases in college pricing has raised concerns about affordability, leading some state lawmakers to impose tuition limits and freezes at public universities. As a result, nearly two thirds of those schools expect less than 3 percent growth in tuition revenue, a significant departure from the more than 5 percent annual growth they recorded between the fiscal years of 2005 to 2013. Still, a bump in state funding will cushion the blow for many schools, though it is not a dollar-for-dollar exchange, according to the report.

Small regional or rural public colleges will face the most pressure because they rely heavily on the enrollment of local students subject to state limits on tuition, whereas flagship universities benefit from a diverse population of higher-paying out-of-state and graduate students.

Moody’s has similar high hopes for large private universities with brand recognition to draw international students, who can offset declines in domestic enrollment. Private schools project a median increase in net tuition revenue of about 2 percent, in line with recent years, yet nearly a quarter of them are anticipating a decline in tuition revenue of up to 5 percent. Schools with niche markets, particularly law schools and those with geographic concentration, are the most exposed to revenue volatility as they have limited ability to adapt to shifting demand, the report said.

“There is a material portion of this sector that is experiencing a lot of pressure. We expect to see more college closures and consolidations, so that bifurcation of the industry is continuing,” said Susan I. Fitzgerald, associate managing director at Moody’s and co-author of the report.

Nearly half of the nation’s private universities are setting published prices artificially high and then offering deep discounts, a practice known as tuition discounting. Schools with stellar bond ratings can finance discounts through philanthropic gifts and endowment income while maintaining strong net tuition revenue growth. But for small private schools with lower ratings, discounting has a much more significant budget impact as they have limited resources, Moody’s said.

Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, argues that the credit rating agency underestimates the ability of small private schools to adapt to the changing landscape in higher education. Many small schools, he said, rely on strong alumni giving to fund institutional grants and scholarships.

While Ekman agrees that the shrinking population of college-age students will hurt the bottom line of some small private schools, along with the broader universe of colleges, he said schools have been reducing staff and programs to adjust.

“A number of colleges have not given raises to faculty for a few years, reduced staff,” he said. “Colleges are always looking for ways they can collaborate to save money. There are purchasing agreements among groups of colleges for supplies … so colleges are doing all that you would expect them to do to economize.”

College enrollment across the board has trailed off since reaching peaks before and during the recession, Moody’s said. Roughly 40 percent of universities estimate lower total enrollment this fall compared to the fall of 2010. Most of the pressure has been felt in the Midwest and Northeast, regions that are facing below-average or weak population growth.

Moody’s findings dovetail with a recent report from the College Board that showed the rate of price increases moderating in recent years. But that report pointed out that students who enrolled in four-year state schools this year still paid three times more than they would have in 1985. And with incomes declining during the past decade for all but the highest-earning families, even modest tuition increases can feel like tremendous burdens.

Median family income declined at an average rate of 0.2 percent a year after inflation between 2005 and 2014, while incomes rose 0.8 percent between 1995 and 2005, according to the College Board. So while tuition caps are putting pressure on colleges’ net revenue and might give families some breathing room, many will still feel stress paying for college.


ECU, Brody School of Medicine display HIV memorial quilt | WNCT

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Nov 182015


By Kelly Byrne
November 17, 2015

To view the news video on WNCT, click here.

GREENVILLE, NC (WNCT) – ECU is gearing up for World AIDS Day with several events on campus. Most recently, the university is displaying a memorial quilt.

The NAMES Project Foundation AIDS Memorial Quilt is on campus through December 2nd. The quilt offers awareness for HIV/AIDS. but the diagnosis has changed due to effective medications..

Dr. Nada Fadul, Director of the Ryan White program and part of the Brody School of Medicine, says the diagnosis of HIV has changed, but the awareness of the disease is still very important.

“While HIV has come a long way and it’s now a chronic disease, it still has a big impact in terms of its stigma, in terms of the change of the person’s life that happens because of HIV.”

The quilt consists of eight 12-by-12 panels, displayed at various locations on at ECU and Brody.

More than half of the quilt panels have connections to ECU and the East, while the rest symbolize other North Carolinians.


Local Doctors: Blood Pressure Study Big, Not Universal | Public Radio East

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Nov 182015


By Chris Thomas
November 18, 2015

Is 120 the new 140? According to initial results from a nationwide blood pressure study, conducted in part by East Carolina University, it may be for some.

One third of all Americans are hypertensive, but that rate is higher here in eastern North Carolina. Division Chief of General Internal Medicine at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, Dr. James Powell,

“Despite a lot of effort to try help a lot of folks, and we’ve helped a lot of folks through the years, Eastern North Carolina still has a very high penetration of people with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, strokes.”

According to a 2013 study by the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics across North Carolina, 38.9 percent of adults in Eastern North Carolina have been told they have hypertension. High blood pressure increases your risk for stroke, heart attacks, heart failure and sudden cardiac death. For this reason, a national study was recently undertaken with major help from East Carolina University in Greenville.

The Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, or SPRINT, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, began in 2009, lasting more than 60 months, and included more than 9,000 participants over the age of 50 with increased risk of heart or kidney disease. The takeaway supports more aggressive treatment of high blood pressure to achieve a systolic rate of 120 or less to decrease the risk of heart attacks, strokes and heart failure.

The systolic rate is the top number of a blood pressure reading and measures the pressure in arteries when your heart beats. That number helps determine one’s risk for cardiovascular disease.

Powell says lowering blood pressure for many eastern North Carolinians is a tough fight, but it’s one worth fighting.

“You know, you try to get everybody to goal, and you see people every day that aren’t at goal or where you want them to be. But at the same time, you do have patients who are trying hard…it’s a slow battle, but it’s a battle we’re trying to win.”

East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine played a major role in the study monitoring the second largest cohort within the trial. 250 participants were randomly divided into two groups. One group aimed for a systolic blood pressure of 140 with the help of two medications. The other group averaged three medications to lower their blood pressure to 120. Researchers say this intensive treatment reduced the rate of heart attack, stokes and heart failure by a third, and the risk of death by almost 25%.

Federal health officials say the SPRINT study “was halted early when an analysis indicated the benefits were clear.” The study officially ended in September, though it wasn’t scheduled to end until 2016.

This isn’t the first time health officials have taken a look at the systolic rate’s effect on at-risk patients. A similar study was done for diabetics in the last decade and one of the prerequisites for acceptance in the trial was not being diagnosed with diabetes, though Dr. Powell said some participants were diagnosed during the course of the study.

“We needed to find out for nondiabetics, for folks who had heart disease…we needed to answer that question or other folks…if your diabetic or if you’re non-diabetic, are your actually goals the same, because some people believe they’re not, and so this is another study that’s well done, with over 9,000 patients, that will provide us with more evidence so we can answer the questions we need to answer.”

Though researchers say this could change the way physicians treat their patients’ hearts, it may not be a silver bullet for those living in areas that struggle with widespread and severe high blood pressure – areas like Eastern North Carolina

Dr. Powell says a number of factors contribute to Eastern North Carolinian’s struggle to keep blood pressure low, including poor diet, lack of exercise, infrequent checkups, and a prominent, rural way of life that is, often, stressful – something with which Dr. Powell sympathizes being the son of a farmer.

“You see that over time, for some people, certainly the stress of every year needing to make a crop to pay your bill, that’s hard. But then, also, as some of farming has changed from when daddy was growing up and he had to go out there and chop peanuts every day to now having a machine do that, it’s different because some people ride on a tractor all day aren’t as physically active as they used to be, and so you see some of that, but you can see just the stress and strain of the long hours, especially this time of year, it rains so much for a couple weeks and everybody got behind, and now they’re trying to make it up and trying to save what they got out there they’re going to work. I’m used to hearing the peanut pickers run all night long, they’re trying to save their crop and trying to paid their bills the year.”

But while the trial’s findings have found its way to major news outlets around the world, it more than likely won’t affect large chunks of the population.

Internal medicine physician and Vice President of Coastal Carolina Health Care, PA, Ronald A. Preston says the study’s findings, while interesting, come at odds with a report from the Joint National Committee of The Journal of American Medicine Association, or JNC8. Released in 2014, it states a systolic rate of 150 for adults age 60 and over is still acceptable for the general population.

The “aggressive treatment” called for by the recent SPRINT study focuses primarily on those at risk with heart and kidney failure. Preston wants to remind those who saw banner headlines about the SPRINT findings that the research doesn’t apply to everyone and could have adverse repercussions for some.

“In JNC8 they changed it to 150 mmHg for people 60 and older would be allowable with the reasoning being that if you push blood pressure too low in people as they get older, then you cause some people to faint and do bad things when they faint like break hips and things like that sort of thing.”

Preston believes no matter your target systolic rate, the best course of action to take with your physician is transparency about the medications you’re taking, or aren’t taking. Preston says sometimes patients don’t take their prescriptions because of side effects.

“What often happens is people have a side effect from medication and they just secretly don’t take it, and then the doctor’s scratching his head, wondering why the blood pressure won’t come down. And the patient doesn’t want to own up to not taking it. So, I think, just be honest with your doctor and express your concerns.

Though the trial’s finished, some physicians say there’s still work to be done and more factors to test.

Dr. Powell said despite his role as lead investigator, he’s not prepared to tell his patients, across the board, that their new systolic rate target is 120. He wants to examine how lower blood pressure will affect cognitive function over time. He also believes it’s important to remember not all hearts are the same and a healthy rate for one may not be a healthy rate for another.

I want to see all the data, even though I’m involved in it. I still want to see all the data for myself, and I think, ultimately, what we’re going to find is while some people we may try to drive lower, I don’t know if we’re going to try to drive everybody lower because some people can’t tolerate it. And that’s one of the things I think we’re going to see in this is that people who have a lot of chronic illness, as you try to drop their blood pressure lower and lower they may not feel very good, and we want people to have fewer heart attacks and strokes, but we’d like for them to feel good, too. And so we’re going to have to find that balance with some people about where’s their blood pressure and how they’re feeling.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and the American Heart Association, a normal blood pressure systolic number is 120 or less. A systolic reading of 140 or more is indicative of hypertension.


UNC student studying in Paris reflects on night of horror | The News & Observer

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Nov 182015


By Anne Blythe
November 17, 2015


Kathi Eason was working in her Durham home office when she heard about the bombings in Paris on Friday – news that struck a personal note.
UNC-CH junior, Elizabeth Eason, a Durham Academy graduate whose parents live in Durham, who was in Stade de France when the bombs went off Friday. She and her friends did not realize what the bangs were until they got phone calls from outside the stadium. Even after that, they stayed for most of the game.

Elizabeth Eason, her 21-year-old daughter, had been excited about attending that night’s soccer match between France and Germany in the Stade de France stadium. Elizabeth, in Paris since Aug. 30, had posted to Facebook that she planned to see the game with friends from her study-abroad program.

Between 9:20 and 9:30 p.m. Paris time, there were two explosions outside the stadium. French President Francoise Hollande, like Eason and her friends, was in the crowd. By 9:40 p.m., seven coordinated attacks had occurred across the city. The reports of dead and injured got higher and higher. One hundred and twenty-nine dead. Dozens more injured.

Back in Durham, Kathi Eason sent an urgent message to her daughter through WhatsApp Messenger.

“Where are you?” the worried mother wanted to know. “Are you safe?”

Elizabeth Eason, a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill, is spending this semester as part of a Middlebury College program in Paris. She takes language and history classes at Middlebury’s campus, and music history, analysis and violin at Schola Cantorum, a private music school in the city. An accomplished violinist, she also takes more lessons with a professor at Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris, a conservatory there.

On Friday, Eason got out of class at 8:30 p.m. She was in a rush to get to the stadium to meet up with her friends, and was lucky enough to catch an express train right at the platform. Because of that, she arrived at Gate D at 9:07 p.m., just a bit earlier than planned. Thirteen minutes later, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt right there, killing himself and the first victim of what would become a bloody night.

Eason, already settled into seats with two fellow students from the Middlebury program and the “host brother” from one of the families housing them in Paris, heard the explosion but had no idea what it was.

We heard the first bomb and looked around to see everyone else’s reactions. No one seemed disturbed.

Elizabeth Eason, UNC student studying in Paris this semester

“We heard the first bomb and looked around to see everyone else’s reactions,” Eason said through a series of emails this week. “No one seemed disturbed.”

She thought the noise might have been how Germany fans cheered their team. She wondered whether it signaled the end of a quarter. “French fans were clearly surprised,” she said.

Then, five minutes later, a suicide bomber at Gate H detonated an explosive vest augmented with a special detonator packed with nails. The noise echoed, but “still no reaction from the crowd,” Eason said.

Unaware of what was happening in the city around them, Eason and her friends soaked in the magic of the sporting event, taking selfies and videos at halftime. But the news came soon.

Though cell service was spotty for Eason and one of her friends inside the stadium, a Middlebury director had been able to get through to one of the students.

“The director explained there had been bombs outside the stadium and a shooting in the 10th arrondissement,” Eason recalled. “She advised us to find an Uber and leave immediately.”

They turned to others in the crowd in disbelief, but did not immediately abandon their seats.

“The match continued and coaches made the decision not to tell their players during halftime,” Eason said. “The ‘lockdown’ that my family told me had happened took place during the match – but because everyone was entranced by the game, few realized that the 65,000 people in attendance were being kept inside the stadium.”

With about five minutes left in the game, the four set out for the exits, hoping to avoid the stadium crowd. “Once we exited the stadium, it was clear we wouldn’t be able to avoid the chaos,” she said.

Outside, their phones were getting signals again. “We started to receive messages from friends and family asking if we were OK,” Eason said.

Kathi Eason got quick confirmation from her daughter that she was OK. There also were assurances that they would be in touch again later. “She was able to say she was safe and leaving the stadium,” her mother recalled this week.

But that exit took a few detours and longer than expected.

“It seemed that no one really knew the extent of the situation, but only the urgency to return home,” Eason said in her series of email messages. “We began walking toward one of the directed pathways, when all of a sudden people started running the other direction. It turned out to be a false alarm, one that caused panic via the domino effect.”

Eason and her friends decided to go back inside the stadium and joined others on the field. With lots of security guards around, many were taking selfies in the goal.

The crowd thinned and the four set out again for home, deciding to avoid public transit and the Metro, hoping to flag a cab. Uber messages said its drivers only were picking up people in need of emergency service. The four walked and walked toward the city center.

Residents were outside, watching ambulances speed by. Eason and her friends counted 11 of them. Though there was steady foot traffic from the stadium, an eerie quiet settled over the area.

Though one random car stopped with a ride offer to Gare du Nord, a major train station, the group pushed on, intent on flagging a taxi. “We walked for 45 minutes to an hour before we found one available,” she said. “The neighborhood was Saint-Denis, not the safest suburb of Paris, but my friends and I agree now that we had never felt safer in a dangerous neighborhood.”

Afterward, Eason decided to spend the night with her friend, whose host family lives in the Paris district where the Eiffel Tower rises above the city. As the other two left in the taxi for their home, the group knew they had been through an unforgettable night together.

“It wasn’t the farewell that I will remember, but the overwhelming sense of safety we felt once we were inside the apartment,” Eason said.

Eason is a 2013 graduate of Durham Academy and the daughter of Kathi and Steve Eason, a senior executive vice president at Smith Breeden investment firm. She has traveled abroad before – on two other times to Paris and through Europe quite a bit.

She focused on remaining calm the night of the attacks because the friend who received the call from the Middlebury director was panicking. “Reality didn’t settle in until I tried going to sleep Friday night/morning at 6:30 a.m.,” she said.

This past weekend was difficult in that I felt nauseous the more I learned about the attacks,

Elizabeth Eason, who attended high school in Durham

By then, she had sorted through an influx of messages and media accounts. The more she learned, the more unsettled she became. What if she had not caught a train so quickly after her class, she wondered. Would she have been at the gate at 9:20 p.m., as she first estimated, right as the first bomb was detonated.

“The kamikazes had tickets to the game,” she noted. If President Hollande had not been at the game, she wondered, would security have been as tight? What if the bombers had gotten inside the stadium?

“This past weekend was difficult in that I felt nauseous the more I learned about the attacks,” she said.

Amid that sick feeling, though, Eason has been heartened by Middlebury’s outreach efforts to the students and their family back home. Counseling sessions have been available, and school officials have urged the students to avoid the cinema, museums and restaurants for at least a week.

“Everyone is continuing their days like normal,” Eason said. “There’s definitely a blanket of sadness over the city but they are trying not to let the attacks instill fear. And to do that requires doing ordinary things like grocery shopping, taking the Metro, and meeting friends for drinks.”

Eason wants friends and family in the Triangle that she is appreciative of their support.

“It is hard to relate to tragic events written about in the newspaper until you experience them, and I hope the city can recover by the time I leave next month,” Eason said.


UNC applicants’ information to be part of admissions lawsuit | The News and Observer

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Nov 182015



About 63,000 students who applied to UNC-Chapel Hill in the past two years were notified this week that information from their applications will be handed over to a federal court as part of a lawsuit about the use of race in admissions.

The information will be disclosed under a court order in a suit filed last year against UNC by a group called Students for Fair Admission. The group, which also sued Harvard University, contends that UNC uses race as “a dominant factor” in admissions decisions that are unfair to white and Asian-American applicants.

The court-ordered disclosure pertains to students who applied as entering first-year undergraduates in the fall of 2014 and fall of 2015.

Information to be sent to the court generally will include a student’s high school, standardized test scores, grade point average, class rank and intended major, but not essays and letters of recommendation. However, the university must provide entire application files for a random sample of previous applicants, and those students have been told whether their file is part of the sample.

Personally identifiable information, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, birthdates and Social Security numbers, won’t be disclosed, according to a Nov. 13 letter to a former applicant from Stephen Farmer, UNC’s vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions.

“While the University is legally obligated to produce information in this lawsuit, we remain committed to protecting and respecting your privacy and confidentiality,” Farmer wrote in part.

The court order provides that the information be used only for purposes of the lawsuit. The court also stipulated that the plaintiffs can’t try to learn the identity of applicants, share information about them or try to contact them without the court’s permission.

Letters pointed students and families to a website,, about the lawsuit and court order.

The suit is pending in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, though it has stalled while the U.S. Supreme Court considers Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a case that could clarify the use of race in admissions. That decision is likely sometime next year.

The university’s website argues that UNC complies fully with the Supreme Court’s previous ruling that colleges can consider an applicant’s race and ethnicity among a range of factors.

About the pending lawsuit, UNC said: “The University has taken great care to comply with the Supreme Court’s guidance, believes the allegations are without merit, and intends to vigorously defend its admissions practices.”


ECU vigil honors terror victims | The Daily Reflector

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Nov 172015


By Holly West
Monday, November 16, 2015

As French citizens continued to mourn Monday, students 9,000 miles away at East Carolina University held a vigil in solidarity.

The vigil, held at the cupola in the center of ECU’s campus, honored the 129 people killed Friday night in shootings and bombings in Paris. The terrorist group Islamic State in Syria, known as ISIS, claimed responsibility for the acts.

“It’s so sad because the French people are such gentle and kind people,” said ECU senior Emma Hurlbert, who is studying French and visited the country over the summer. “You wouldn’t expect them to be the victims of so much hate.”

The sites of the attacks included a soccer stadium, a concert venue and several bars and cafes.

Hurlbert said she has many friends in Paris, one of whom had a very close call.

“I had one friend who had planned on going to that concert,” she said. “Him and his sister were trying to get tickets, but they ended up falling through.”

Assistant professor Marylaura Papalas, one of the vigil’s organizers, said she and her colleagues in the French department planned the event after seeing overwhelming support among students.

“Our students immediately Saturday were posting things on our Facebook page, so we knew that they felt what had happened,” she said. “We wanted a space for people to come together and kind of show how they felt and show their support for the victims.”

The attacks will be further discussed at a panel scheduled for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Rivers Building. The event is being co-hosted by the French, political science, religious studies and history departments.

Of the dozens of students who attended the vigil Monday night, many did not know someone personally affected by the attacks, but felt compelled to light a candle of remembrance anyway.

“It was a tragedy, what happened, and it’s just nice to take time to reflect on the people that lost their lives and the people who lost someone they loved,” sophomore mechanical engineering major Brett Marriner said. “It’s all the world that we live in. The people over there are just like the people over here.”


Editorial: More proactive traffic safety | The Daily Reflector

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Nov 172015


Monday, November 16, 2015

A meeting last week between college students and law enforcement heads highlighted safety concerns for pedestrians and motorists along 10th Street. The goal of city officials, law enforcement and the North Carolina Department of Transportation should be to address those concerns sooner rather than later.

The issue of pedestrian safety along the densely populated section of 10th Street east of Greenville Boulevard was pushed to the forefront a month ago when an East Carolina University student was struck and killed in that area. Samuel Matthew Mayo, 19, was killed crossing 10th Street at Copper Beach Way.

Mayo’s death was on the minds of about 70 ECU students who attended a Nov. 10 “Chat with the Chiefs” meeting on campus. While the meeting was held to address student safety concerns in all areas, on and off of campus, the concerns related to 10th Street topped the agenda.

Specifically, students expressed concern about safety for both pedestrians and motorists crossing 10th Street from Copper Beech Way, the entrance to Copper Beech Townhomes. Copper Beach is among several large student-housing developments that have added significantly to pedestrian and vehicle traffic on that section of 10th Street during the last decade.

An accurate feel for the sheer volume of traffic added to 10th Street during that period can be gained by going online and viewing these large developments in satellite imagery. The vast parking spaces around the clusters of residential buildings would indicate that vehicle traffic into and out of the complexes is substantial.

Students attending last week’s meeting expressed a need for traffic signals at Copper Beech Way. Jenny Betz, vice president of the ECU Student Government Association, said she and others had discussed that possibility with Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas. She said that if a signal were approved at that location, it likely would take years and that crosswalk signals and lower speed limits are more likely in the short term.

It is possible that city and state traffic engineers are working hard to address these and other traffic safety concerns, but that work is difficult to see from the perspective of someone attempting a left turn onto 10th Street — or, heaven forbid, trying to cross from one side to the other on foot.

As safety concerns increase along 10th Street and other fast-growing city corridors, the push for city and state officials must be toward more proactive steps for safer and better pedestrian and automobile traffic.


UNC board’s vote on chancellors’ pay raises was close | The News and Observer

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Nov 172015


By Jane Stancill
November 16, 2015


The UNC Board of Governors’ closed-session approval of chancellors’ pay raises on Oct. 30 was tight – with members voting 16-13 in favor of the increases.

Despite the split among members, there was no roll call of the vote, according to a brief summary of the closed-door meeting released by the UNC system on Monday. That means there is no record of how individual members voted on controversial pay increases for a dozen chancellors, ranging from 8 percent to 19 percent.

The one-paragraph statement was released by the university system on behalf of Lou Bissette, vice chairman of the board. It offers scant details of the nearly three-hour meeting.

The summary stated that the vote on a recommendation from the board’s personnel and tenure committee followed “a comprehensive review of senior leadership compensation” in late 2014 and early 2015. In April, the board approved higher salary ranges, “consistent with the Board’s philosophy of recruiting and retaining excellent leaders and identifying the relevant market ranges for these leaders,” the statement said.

The closed session has raised the ire of legislative leaders, who have summoned UNC to the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations on Wednesday. There, UNC representatives are expected to take questions about the board’s compliance with state law on open meetings.

On Friday, the board voted to release information from the private session to House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger, who demanded any and all records from the Oct. 30 meeting. The records apparently included a tape of the session.

Media representatives also have objected to the closed-door vote and failure of the board to immediately release the salary figures. Information on the taxpayer-funded salaries was provided to the public three days after the vote.


UNC board releases summary of controversial closed-door meeting | WRAL

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Nov 172015


November 16, 2015
By Mark Binker

Chapel Hill, N.C. — The University of North Carolina Board of Governors on Monday ​released a short summary of a controversial closed-door meeting during which the panel awarded raises to a dozen of the system’s chancellors.

While the short narrative, authored by the board’s acting chairman, Louis Bissette, adds a few details to what is already known about the meeting, it falls short of a full accounting of the session. A spokeswoman for the UNC system emailed the document at 4:59 p.m.

The board met on Oct. 30 to handle several pieces of routine business, including a report from its Personnel and Tenure Committee. That committee had recommended that the UNC system recommended changing the salaries of a number of chancellors.

Making those changes evidentially proved contentious and provoked an hours-long closed session during which several different proposed changes to compensation were debated and rejected.

Summary of Oct. 30 UNC Board of Governors closed-door meeting by Vice Chairman Louis Bissette

During its meeting on October 30, 2015, the UNC Board of Governors considered in closed session recommendations from the Personnel and Tenure Committee for individual chancellor salary actions.

The recommendations followed the Board’s completion of a comprehensive review of senior leadership compensation that the Board had discussed in several public meetings from late 2014 through early 2015, and that resulted in the Board’s adoption in April 2015 of revised salary ranges for chancellors. These salary ranges were adopted consistent with the Board’s philosophy of recruiting and retaining excellent leaders and identifying the relevant market ranges for these leaders.

Following extensive discussion and modifications to the recommendations, the Board voted to approve and authorize the President to finalize and implement the salary adjustments reflected on the attached chart, after notifying the affected chancellors. The vote was 16 in favor; 13 opposed. There was no motion for a roll call vote, and therefore a roll call vote was not taken. The attached chart of salary adjustments was made public the next business day (November 2) as soon as all impacted chancellors had been notified.

“Following extensive discussion and modifications to the recommendations, the Board voted to approve and authorize the president to finalize and implement the salary adjustments reflected on the attached chart, after notifying the affected chancellors,” Bissette wrote in the summary.

The vote was 16-13, evidently taken by a show of hands rather than a roll-call vote, which would have recorded the position of each member present and voting.

The statement also attached a chart of the salary changes made at the time of the meeting and released to the public three days later. Once they became public, the raises sparked discontent from members of the system’s faculty, many of who have not seen a substantial raise in years. UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt and North Carolina State University Chancellor Rand Woodson received two of the biggest bumps.

Although public bodies in North Carolina are allowed to discuss compensation for employees behind closed doors, they are supposed to take final action on such raises in public. Also, public bodies are required by the state’s public records law to make changes to salaries and compensation available immediately.

The Board of Governors last week voted to turn over recordings of that closed-door meeting to lawmakers. Those recordings are being reviewed by legislative attorneys to see if open meetings or records laws were violated.

A legislative oversight committee is scheduled to question Board of Governors memebers on Wednesday.

Bissette and other members of the Board of Governors said last week that they delayed the release of information to ensure chancellors heard about the salary changes from UNC President Tom Ross rather than through media sources.

The board should eventually release minutes of its closed-door session once the purpose of sealing the meeting is no longer relevant. However, spokeswoman Joni Worthington said those minutes have not yet been drafted.


Former ECU pharmacy administrator pleads guilty to fraud | Triad Business Journal

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Nov 172015


Nov 17, 2015, 7:16am EST

A former East Carolina University pharmacy administrator has pleaded guilty to filing fraudulent documents to a stock pharmacy inventory.

Leigh Langley Cobb, 43, of Winterville, pleaded guilty to “making materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and entries concerning health care matters,” according to U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker.
U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker’s office recently bought up charges against an ECU pharmacy administrator.

From 2000 to 2012, Cobb worked at clinics and pharmacies operated by the ECU Brody School of Medicine. According to the investigation, Cobb falsified Patient Assistance Programs applications to apply to receive medicine at a reduced rate from drug companies participating in payment assistance programs.

While many patients at ECU’s clinics genuinely sought medicine from the drug companies pursuant to the PAP programs, Cobb added additional drugs to the applications for which the patient did not have a prescription, and which were not medically necessary for the patient, according to the investigation. Cobb would then receive the additional drugs for later dissemination and sale to other patients, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The total losses from the offense are unknown, though are estimated at between $550,000 and $1.5 million.


Yale College Dean Torn by Racial Protests | The New York Times

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Nov 172015


November 15, 2015

NEW HAVEN — His cellphone started humming at 11:20 p.m. on Thursday. An urgent voice jolted Jonathan Holloway from his slumber. Students protesting racism on campus were streaming toward the home of the university’s president, the caller said.
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Dr. Holloway is the first black dean of Yale College, a scholar of African-American history, and an administrator who prides himself on his close ties to his students. But the late-night march took him by surprise.

Within minutes, he was dialing Yale’s president: “You might want to get dressed.”

Over the last two weeks, Dr. Holloway has emerged as a pivotal figure here as campus demonstrations against racial discrimination have flared at Yale and around the country. The dean has embraced student demands for a more diverse faculty, a cause he has long championed, and striven to bridge the gap between the protesters and the administration.
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But he has also been sharply criticized by some students who say he has failed to do enough to change the racially charged climate on campus. He and other Yale administrators have struggled to keep abreast of the fluid, fast-moving protests on campus and the heated debate on social media.

The unexpected intensity of the emotional demonstrations on far-flung campuses, from Claremont McKenna College in California to the University of Missouri to Ithaca College in upstate New York, has left college administrators scrambling to respond at a time when concerns about the nation’s racial fault lines have gripped many cities across the country.

Few would seem to be better prepared to handle such a moment than Dr. Holloway. Yet even he has found himself confounded at times by the unpredictability of the swelling movement.

At a recent impromptu protest, nearly 200 black students encircled the 48-year-old dean, with some accusing him of being disengaged and unresponsive. For more than two hours, he listened. At times, he got choked up.

“Students who are dear to me said: ‘You know, I always knew that when times were tough here that you would always have our back. That helped me get through. And now I don’t know if you do,’” Dr. Holloway said in an interview on Friday. “It broke my heart.”

The bespectacled dean has lost five pounds since the campus erupted in a series of rallies and demonstrations this month, and the student activism shows few signs of waning. On Friday, Dr. Holloway was preparing his anxious staff for the possibility of a student sit-in. He was texting the campus police about rumored threats against his office and debating whether to lock down the building. (He kept the doors open.)

And he was shuttling from one meeting to the next, as Yale’s administrators weighed the latest demands from protesters, including requiring that all undergraduates take an ethnic studies class, the hiring of mental health service providers for the cultural centers geared to minority students, and the renaming of Calhoun College, which honors John C. Calhoun, the 19th-century American statesman, who was an ardent defender of slavery and a white supremacist.

All the while, the dean was reflecting on the challenges of reconciling his sometimes dueling roles, as an administrator, a professor and a popular sounding board for students.

Dr. Holloway, who earned his doctorate in history from Yale in 1995, has spent 16 years on the faculty and wears a navy blue Yale tie to the office most days. (He keeps six Yale ties in his closet on regular rotation.) He is, in many respects, a quintessential Ivy League insider. “A team player,” he said, describing himself.

But as an African-American and a scholar of black protest movements, he is also intimately familiar with the sense of marginalization experienced by some students, who have described being subjected to racial slurs, casual insults and tone-deaf comments from classmates and faculty members.

“Their pain was pain I recognize; I didn’t need to have a translator to understand that,” Dr. Holloway said. “Not only do I live life on this planet as a black man, I teach the civil rights era. It’s what I do.”

Even so, some students complained that the dean had become disconnected from their problems.

When black students initially invited Dr. Holloway to meetings about their concerns, he sent representatives from his staff. (He said he had longstanding commitments, including giving a talk at the New Haven Public Library on a new edition of W.E.B. DuBois’s classic, “The Souls of Black Folk.”)

“They didn’t respond as quickly as they should have,” said Jay Gitlin, a lecturer at Yale who teaches courses on American Indian history and the American West.

Dr. Gitlin and other faculty members noted, however, that a recent restructuring of the senior administration had left Dr. Holloway with less authority than his predecessors, even as the demands on him and on other deans around the country had increased.

Dr. Holloway, who became dean last year, does not have decision-making authority over faculty hiring, retention and diversity goals as previous deans of Yale College once did. So he has influence, but little power, to make the substantive changes that students are demanding.

“I think he’s in a hard place,” Dr. Gitlin said.

The simmering racial tensions at Yale came to a boil last month when Erika Christakis, a faculty member and an administrator at a student residence, challenged an email sent by the university’s Intercultural Affairs Committee. The committee had urged students to avoid wearing “culturally unaware and insensitive” Halloween costumes that might offend minority students, such as blackface, turbans or feathered headdresses.

Saying that universities were increasingly becoming “places of censure and prohibition,” Ms. Christakis said that students should be allowed to wear some costumes that others might find inappropriate or offensive. Her remarks touched off a firestorm. Hundreds of students signed an open letter, accusing her of insensitivity to minorities.

Then, about two weeks ago, a black undergraduate accused a fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, of denying her entrance to a “white girls only” party on the basis of her race, an allegation the fraternity denies.

The two incidents ignited a broader discussion and protests from students who pointed to the shortage of minority faculty members and what many described as an inhospitable, unwelcoming campus climate.

African-Americans account for 11 percent of the roughly 5,400 undergraduates at Yale, statistics show. Less than 3 percent of the members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences are black.

Yet some students complained that there was only silence at first from Dr. Holloway and from Peter Salovey, the university president, about the Halloween-related incidents and the broader issues.

By contrast, some students noted, the dean had moved swiftly last year to condemn the appearance of swastikas on campus, sending an email to the student body that said, “There is no room for hate in this house.”

So when black students encircled Dr. Holloway this month, some chanted, “Where’s our email?” Others asked: “Where are you? We need you.”

Brea Baker, a 21-year-old black senior from Freeport, on Long Island, said undergraduates had expected the dean “to be a much larger presence and to understand the pain of students of color.”

She said she had faced racist attitudes from campus security guards who questioned whether she belonged at Yale and from people who suggested that “we’re only here for affirmative action.”

She said she was shocked at how unaware Dr. Holloway seemed to be of students’ situations before the meeting where scores of black students confronted him.

“If he did understand it before, he didn’t understand it well enough because he didn’t act on it,” Ms. Baker said. “Silence speaks volumes.”

Dr. Holloway, who issued an email in response the next day, acknowledged last week that he had not grasped the depth of the students’ concerns. “I wish I had understood better,” he said.

He says he believes that this is a critical moment for many young African-Americans.

“This is a generation that has grown up with Trayvon Martin, Ferguson, Staten Island,” Dr. Holloway said, referring to the recent killings of unarmed black men in Florida, Missouri and New York City. “They have seen the state killing their demographic, like literally.”

As Dean, Dr. Holloway has redirected money from his own budget to refurbish the college’s cultural houses, teaches a class on African-American history and hosts weekly lunches with students, but says much more is needed. So he has spent the past week attending student gatherings and strategizing with his colleagues about what can be done.

Taylor Eldridge, a black senior who has written online about her feelings of alienation at Yale, said Dr. Holloway looked weary last week when she saw him walking across campus.

“I said: ‘Can I walk with you? I just want to recognize you’re a person,’” she said. “‘This is hard, and you’re the face of it right now.’”


ECU students studying abroad in France secure after attacks | WNCT

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Nov 162015


By Katie Harden
November 15, 2015, 12:44 am

East Carolina University reports three students studying abroad in France for the Fall 2015 semester. All three students are located in cities or towns outside of Paris.

The university says as of Saturday evening, all students in France are reported unharmed after the attacked on the country’s capital city. ECU says it is unaware of any French students studying in Greenville at this time.


ECU’s helping hands | The Daily Reflector

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Nov 162015


Monday, November 16, 2015

Just a few days after Veterans’ Day, East Carolina baseball players and coaches were at the U.S. Army Reserve building in Winterville on Saturday morning for one of the team’s off-season service projects.

The Pirates put together care packages for service men and women to send overseas.

On Wednesday, the Pirates are set to visit the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital.


Geology researcher calls for money, efforts to use renewable energy sources | Sun Journal

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Nov 162015


By Charlie Hall

Nov 13, 2015 at 9:21 PM

A retired East Carolina University geologist and research professor told a local environmental group Thursday night that the idea of drilling for gas and oil off the North Carolina coast was riddled with unknowns – including how much potential fuel and where the deposits are located.

Stanley R. Riggs, an economic geologist since 1959, said that the state should instead be directing its focus and money toward research on renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and even water.

Riggs spoke to an audience of about 40 people who attended the monthly meeting of the Carolina Nature Coalition at the New Bern-Craven County Public Library.

“We should be putting as much money and effort into that (renewable energy) because that is the long-term,” he told the Sun Journal after the lecture. “The oil is a potential short-term, but we have a serious long-term need.”

He said that while oil and gas are limited, the largest untapped potential source of natural gas is beneath the deep ocean floors in the form of methane hydrate deposits, believed to be a larger hydrocarbon resource than all of oil, natural gas and coal resources combined.

“Methane hydrates are in the deep sea,” he said. “It is a carbon form that sits out there on bottom of the ocean. It is frozen carbon.”

He said only research would answer the question of how to extract the methane hydrates.

During his talk, he discounted a 2013 report by a Texas company, Quest Offshore Resources, that projected potential for 55,000 new jobs and $4 billion in tax revenues by 2035 for the state by tapping oil and natural gas resources.

“This report bothered me and where did the numbers come from?” he said. “We need to know how much is out there.”

“The governor (Pat McCrory) is trying to sell this as a reality and we need a reality check. This is not reality. There are too many unknowns to even think about.”

During the program, he talked about exploratory drilling which occurred off the coast prior to mid-1970s. He said that despite wells drilled 10,000 feet, the efforts never produced any fuel.

“Everything we know about it came out of the ‘70s, but no oil,” he said. “There probably is, and based on what we know about other places, that we can say there should be.”

During his talk, he also discussed North Carolina’s lucrative coastal tourist industry, which he said would be in dire peril in the event of an offshore drilling accident and spill.

Riggs offered an extensive slide show and talk for more than an hour on the history of the formation of the Atlantic Ocean and the coast, which he said dated 200 million years ago. It traced the use of fossil fuels – coal beginning with the invention of the steam engine and the Industrial Revolution of the 1770s; and petroleum dating to the 1800s with the invention of the internal combustion engine.

He offered numbers from a 2007 government U.S. Energy Consumption report which showed the use of petroleum at 39 percent and natural gas and coal each at 23 percent. It listed nuclear energy at 8 percent and renewable energy at 7 percent.

“Those figures won’t change much for today,” he said.

Riggs is the author of “The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast: Evolutionary History, Present Crisis & Vision for the Future,” published by The University of North Carolina Press.

Riggs said before the talk that the oceans, which cover 71 percent of the earth, hold “Society’s future energy potential.” He called the oceans “incredible stores” of bio-energy, including renewable energy through oceanic currents, thermal energy conversion, tides and waves..

The Carolina Nature Coalition is a community based grpup, whose mission “is to raise public awareness of environmental issues and engage citizens in meaningful community action,” and presents films and other events on the first Thursday of each month except for special presentations.


ECU students stand with Mizzou | WITN

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Nov 162015


November 15, 2015

To view the news vidoe on WITN, click here.

Some students on college campuses across the nation have voiced their support of recent protests over racially charged incidents at the University of Missouri, and Saturday students at East Carolina University did the same.

About 70 students gathered on the steps of the Flanagan building with one simple message: ECU stands with Mizzou.

Student Amber Ramseur told WITN, “You don’t even have to be the change. You can spark the change. It only takes one match to light an entire fire and look where we are today.”

Ramseur says this gathering began with one simple tweet last week. She asked her fellow students if they would show their support for what’s going on at another university hundreds of miles away. University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe resigned November 9 after Mizzou students protested his handling of different racial incidents for months.

“Whether it be injustice, hate speech, shooting or whatever..we are here with you. We have your back. We’re scared with you. We love with you. We’re praying for you,” Ramseur said.

Another student, TJ Blackmon, talked about the importance of being united, “With this country, we have a lot of different races, cultures, again, we’re a blended population here so it’s very important that, again, we stick together.”

Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Involvement and Leadership, Erik Kneubuehl, attended the gathering. He said he’s encouraging his students to be engaged in the issues facing society. “Dialogue leads to solutions, leads to sharing, leads to understanding. So we encourage that, not only in the classroom, but out of the classroom,” Kneubuehl said.


UNC board gives lawmakers information from closed meeting | The News & Observer

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Nov 162015


By Jane Stancill
November 14, 2015

A member of the UNC Board of Governors said Friday that lawmakers’ demands for board records represented a dangerous intrusion into the university after an attempt by one legislator to influence the choice of the UNC system president.

The board voted unanimously to send legislative leaders all records from a closed session on Oct. 30, when the board privately approved raises for 12 of 17 university chancellors. The raises were controversial and sizable, ranging from 8 percent to 19 percent.

Despite Friday’s unanimous vote to hand over the records, there was wide disagreement among board members as to whether such legislative involvement is proper.

“One of the legislators gave our chairman instructions as to who the next president should be,” said Joe Knott of Raleigh, the board member, referring to former Board of Governors Chairman John Fennebresque. “This, of course, is extremely beyond the pale. The legislature should not be involved directly in the running of the university.”

After the meeting, Knott refused to identify the legislator or the preferred candidate. But he did say that Fennebresque refused to grant special favor to that candidate. Last month, the board elected Margaret Spellings, former U.S. education secretary, as the next UNC system president.

Knott said the records request was a similar example of legislative meddling. “I’m just trying to state a warning that the Board of Governors be very careful to preserve our governance of the university and not to allow the legislature or any other political group to usurp our role as protectors of this great institution,” Knott said.

Other members disagreed sharply, saying it was entirely appropriate for the legislature to seek information about the board’s actions.

Marty Kotis, a member from Greensboro, called Knott’s comment “rumor-mongering.”

Thom Goolsby, a Wilmington board member and former legislator, said he had experienced “zero direction” from lawmakers since he’d been on the board.

“Nobody told me who to vote for, who I should vote for,” Goolsby said. “I got no direction whatsoever or commands from anyone.”

Then, he added, “I applaud and appreciate legislative involvement and concern about what we do.”

Board member David Powers of Winston-Salem said neither the legislature nor the board should micromanage the university system. But he pointed out: “We have no authority as a board, except that which is granted to us by the legislature and by the people through their elected officials.”

The records, including a tape of the closed-door discussions, were to be sent to lawmakers but not released to the public Friday. Some members worried that the board’s confidential personnel discussions would be jeopardized with transmission to the legislature.

Media representatives have objected to the Oct. 30 closed-session vote and the three-day delay before the chancellors’ salary figures were disclosed. Lawyers for media organizations have said the private vote ran afoul of the state’s Open Meetings Law. The law generally allows public bodies to discuss personnel matters behind closed doors but requires votes in open session.

The board agreed Friday to provide the public a summary of how board members voted on the raises. That should be released Monday, said Lou Bissette, vice chairman.

In hindsight, Bissette said, he would have preferred to hold the final vote in public. He said the board would have a presentation on the Open Meetings Law at its December meeting.

The issue will also be on the agenda next week at a Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations. Legislative leaders summoned the board to answer questions about its compliance with state law on open meetings.

Votes should be in public, Knott said, but releasing information about the board’s deliberations could chill free and open discussion in the future. “From now on, we have to be worried about that, I’m afraid,” he said.

The board need not be concerned about lawmakers hearing the debate, board member Powers said. “I thought it was extremely robust, civil, well-reasoned, a well-thought-out debate on both sides – as a very close vote that came through showed. I think it’s a great example of this board doing what it’s supposed to do.”

Kotis said he didn’t see the legislature’s demand as an overreach.

“Frankly, the public and everyone else should have access to our decisions,” Kotis said. “This is the people’s university. The people of the state own this university, not the Board of Governors. If we’re making decisions and spending their money, it’s their right to see what we’re doing. Legislators are just responding to the public’s concerns out there that we’re taking actions and doling out a lot of raises without a lot of discussion and transparency.”


Demands at Missouri similar to 1969’s, but this time, action | Associated Press

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Nov 162015


November 14, 2015

The criticism was blunt: Blacks at the University of Missouri are harassed and threatened, the university has too few African-American faculty members, the administration doesn’t seem to care, and all of that needs to change.

A list of grievances issued this month by a student group is strikingly similar to those from 1969. This time, though, it appears the university is listening.

Recent racist incidents, and the perceived lack of response by administrators, led to protests, a student hunger strike and a threatened boycott by the football team. It culminated Monday in the resignations of University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe and Columbia campus Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.

The interim president appointed Thursday, Michael Middleton, made it clear that he hears the concerns. Unsurprising, since Middleton, 68, was a founder of Missouri’s Legion of Black Collegians who issued that set of demands 46 years ago.

“It is clear to me the first step is to devote attention to addressing those demands,” Middleton said at his introductory news conference. “It is imperative to hear from all students and do everything we can to make them comfortable and safe in our community.”

In fact, the university has already addressed several of the eight points on the list. Chief among them was the removal of Wolfe, but other moves have followed.

One day after the resignations, a veteran associate law school dean, Chuck Henson, who is black, was named to the new position of interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity. The university’s governing board also pledged more support for those who experience discrimination and said diversity and inclusion training will become mandatory for faculty, staff and students. On Friday, Gov. Jay Nixon named Yvonne Sparks to the Board of Curators, the second black member of the nine-person panel.

The university also hired the lobbying firm of Andy Blunt, who is Sen. Roy Blunt’s son and campaign manager, to represent it in Jefferson City, agreeing to pay $10,000 per month in a contract signed Monday.

Many students are hopeful, but want to see more action.

“Really it just comes down to holding these people accountable,” said Shelbey Parnell, an organizer of Concerned Student 1950, the group that issued the demands. “They’re saying a lot of these things in the moment.”

A graduate student organization at the university said while it is interested in working with Middleton and Interim Columbia campus Chancellor Hank Foley, the group’s requests have not yet been fulfilled.

“None of these demands have yet to be assured or secured, and they will not disappear or fade away simply because new men hold the key positions of trust within our University,” the Steering Committee of the Forum on Graduate Rights said in a statement Friday.

Many of the issues cited nearly five decades ago persist. The 1969 document cited physical threats by whites against blacks, with frequent threats made to what was then known as the Black Culture House. This week, the university’s black culture center reported a threat, and its sign was spray-painted by vandals.

The 1969 list expressed concern about the “nonchalant attitude on the part of the university,” saying it made it “a haven for comprehensive institutionalized racist and political repression.” Those feelings were echoed by many protesters this week.

Meanwhile, the university’s low percentage of black faculty and staff remains a point of contention.

The 1969 document noted that just 19 of Missouri’s 1,600 faculty members (1.8 percent) were black. The percentage today is just 3.25 percent of full-time faculty. About 7 percent of staff members are black.

The 2015 demands call for increasing the percentage of black faculty and staff to 10 percent by the 2017-18 school year.

Getting there will be tough, but not impossible, said Leslie Fenwick, dean of the education school at historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C. — though she noted that few traditionally white colleges and universities have reached that level.

“I think it requires, more than anything, a will and a compulsion, an acknowledgement that something is deeply wrong in 2015,” Fenwick said. “We’re almost two decades into a new millennium, and the concerns these young people have harken all of us back 40 to 50 years.”

The University of Missouri’s student population is 7 percent black in a state that is about 12 percent African-American. Data provided by the Missouri Department of Higher Education shows that four public universities in the state have higher percentages of black students. Two of those are part of the four-campus University of Missouri System — Missouri-St. Louis (14 percent black) and Missouri-Kansas City (12 percent black). The other two are historically black universities — Harris Stowe State University in St. Louis (83 percent), and Lincoln University in Jefferson City (35 percent).

About 71 percent of white students at Missouri’s Columbia campus graduate within six years, compared to about 55 percent of black students.

Fenwick said it is “very disturbing” that the Columbia campus is so lacking in diversity.

“Why do we have the circumstances where black people are paying tax dollars without sufficient access to state institutions?” she asked.


Former ECU administrator filed false drug documents up to $1.5 million |WCTI

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Nov 162015


By Jaime McCutcheon
November 13, 2015

A former East Carolina University pharmacy administrator, who worked for one of several clinics and pharmacies operated by the Brody School of Medicine, pleaded guilty to filing fraudulent drug documents totaling up to $1.5 million.

Leigh Langley Cobb, 43, of Winterville, pleaded guilty to making materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and entries concerning health care matters. Authorities said between 2000 and 2012, Cobb worked for ECU and had responsibilities pertaining to the receipt and dissemination of drugs to ECU patients. Cobb also assisted patients at one of the Brody School of Medicine’s various clinics to apply to participating drug companies to receive medicine at a reduced rate, through what are known as Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs).

Between January of 2010 and October of 2012, Cobb falsified numerous PAP applications and transmitted them to various victim drug companies. The applications were false because many of the prescriptions contained within them were fraudulent and forged. While in many instances patients at ECU’s clinics genuinely sought medicine from the drug companies pursuant to the PAP programs, Cobb added numerous additional drugs to the applications for which the patient did not have a prescription, and which were not medically necessary for the patient. To get the drug companies to supply these drugs, investigators said Cobb forged signatures of both physicians and patients.

Investigators said Cobb received the unauthorized drugs and placed them into The Bernstein Center Pharmacy’s drug inventory for later dissemination and sale to other patients. The total losses from the offense are unknown, but the parties are in agreement that the losses are between $550,000 and $1.5 Million.

At sentencing, Cobb faces up to five years in prison and three years of supervise release. The defendant also faces a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution if ordered by the court.


Raise details coming to Legislature | The Daily Reflector

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Nov 162015


Saturday, November 14, 2015

The UNC Board of Governors gave in Friday to legislative demands for details of a closed-door meeting that resulted in big pay raises for a dozen top campus executives, including ECU’s outgoing chancellor.

The board voted to release meeting records to General Assembly leadership only and not the general public. That is because the records contain confidential personnel details, governing board vice chairman Louis Bissette said.

The meeting held two weeks ago approved pay raises of up to 20 percent for chancellors at 12 of the state’s 17 campuses.

East Carolina University Chancellor Steve Ballard, who is vacating his position in July 2016, received a $63,000 increase from the governing board. He will earn up to $385,000 annually, retroactive through July 1 of this year.

The increase has prompted protests from faculty and staff who complain they have received no significant raises in years.

The East Carolina faculty senate passed a resolution opposing the raises, which were granted after a study commissioned by the governing board found that their salaries were well below market rates. Faculty members asked delegates to the UNC Faculty Assembly to request a similar study on their salaries.

Prior to Friday’s vote, the Board of Governors debated whether their job was to insulate the university system from politicians.

The decision to turn over details of the private meeting, which some board members called contentious, was opposed by Raleigh lawyer Joe Knott. He said he and fellow board members should insulate the universities from politicians who might want to install supporters and donors in decision-making roles. Putting people in those positions that are not qualified could hurt the universities’ excellent reputations, he said.

“I view this request as a continuation of unusual interruption in our business by the political arm of our state government,” Knott said.

Knott said a powerful politician demanded that their candidate become the next president of the 17-campus system. “A person with power” in the Legislature directed former university board chairman John Fennebresque to select that lawmaker’s choice as the next university system president, Knott said. He refused to offer details to back up his allegation.

Former U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings got the job last month. Fennebresque resigned days later.

A spokeswoman for Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, declined comment. A spokeswoman for House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, also declined comment.

“We shouldn’t deal in rumor-mongering,” board member Marty Kotis said, urging Knott to produce some evidence of the arm-twisting.

The big pay raises approved in secret comes during a rocky year for university governors that started with their sudden decision to force out current president Tom Ross, followed by a presidential search largely done in private to keep the candidates confidential, and legislative criticism of that closed-door process.

The legislative demand comes ahead of a meeting Wednesday where lawmakers will review the board’s recent actions.


Missouri unrest echoes at UNC | Associated Press

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Nov 162015


Daniel Brenner AP
November 14, 2015

The racial incidents that led to upheaval at the University of Missouri should strike a familiar note at the University of North Carolina. And how Missouri responded with the resignation of the system president and the chancellor of its flagship campus in Columbia should serve as a cautionary tale for Chapel Hill.

The Missouri resignations came as racial tensions on campus intensified and President Tim Wolfe seemed indifferent. When black student protesters blocked the university homecoming parade in Columbia, Wolfe simply sat in his parade convertible and waited for it to be over.

R. Bowen Loftin, who resigned as chancellor to take another university post, reportedly had lost faculty support after caving in to a conservative legislator who demanded that the school end agreements that allowed non-medical students to do rotations at a Planned Parenthood clinic.

The resignations came after black football players, supported by their coach, said they would not play Saturday unless Wolfe resigned.

In the aftermath, opinion divided. Some saw the resignations as appropriate. Wolfe was a former software company executive who had no experience as a university administrator, and it showed during the protest and in his misguided attempt to save money by shutting down the University of Missouri Press. Loftin appeared too accommodating to the legislature and out of touch with his faculty and students.

Others saw the resignations as a capitulation to students and a failure of university leaders to assert their authority. Critics further objected that the incidents were more about intolerance on the students’ part than racism in the campus culture.

There is truth on both sides in this matter. But what is significant for North Carolina is how many of the same elements are now in play in Chapel Hill, East Carolina University and other UNC campuses. There have been protests over campus buildings named for people connected to white supremacy, and vandalism against Silent Sam, the iconic Chapel Hill statue of a Confederate soldier.

Meanwhile, the UNC Board of Governors has hired a new system president, Margaret Spellings, with no experience as a university administrator or professor. Spellings has already raised skepticism among gay students by referring to their sexuality as a “lifestyle.” The board handed out big raises to chancellors while faculty have gone wanting. And the GOP-controlled legislature is meddling in the university.

It wouldn’t take much – a racial incident, more intrusion by conservative legislators, a stand by black athletes – to bring Missouri’s turmoil here.

It’s time for leaders to address the tensions with black students and faculty who feel mistreated and unheard. Ignoring them, as the University of Missouri’s president and chancellor discovered, will not make them go away.


ECU students organize event to support Mizzou | WNCT

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Nov 132015


By Zora Stephenson

November 12, 2015

Over the last fiscal year the U.S. Department of Education reported nearly 150 cases of racial harassment on college campuses.

ECU students say it’s time to do something, and make change, rather than resorting to conversations and social media.

“I’m pretty much fed up because it’s becoming too often that it happens,” ECU junior Amber Ramseur said.

“It just makes you wonder, what is this world coming to, people are splitting apart as a whole,” ECU senior Devin Butler said.

Racism is found on college campuses across the country. ECU senior Devin Butler says its nothing new.

“We do live with this daily and it has not gone away wether it’s the 1960s or 2010 it’s still here,” Butler said.

Students say while they feel safe on campus, there is always room for improvement.

“The university isn’t as immediate with change with subject as they were with raising tuition, as they were with changing and building on campus,” Butler said. “They built change and made change physically on campus, but are they wililng to mentally and emotionally impact students.”

“We can come together more,” Ramseur said. “There can be more involvement among not only the black community but anybody, it doesn’t have to be just black people helping black people.”

Ramseur says she doesn’t want to be a part of the generation that just talks about change, she wants to do something.

Ramseur said, “I don’t have to be the change, but I can spark it, and just do something about it instead of sitting around and watching it happen constantly.”

To try and spark change, Ramseur and other ECU students are hosting a gathering to stand in support of students at the University of Missouri.

Ramseur said, “I want to do something about it now before something does happen at ECU, to let it be known that it won’t be tolerated. We are going to fight for what we belive in, and we’re going to stand for you also.”

The event will be in front of the Flanagan building on ECU’s campus at noon on Sunday. Ramseur says the purpose is to show love for the students affected and raise awareness for what’s happening in Missouri. She says all are welcome to join.


Arrests made in graffiti case | The Daily Reflector

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Nov 132015


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Two teenagers have been arrested in connection to the racist graffiti found on a stairwell wall in Jones Residence Hall on Nov. 1.

Jack William Ramsey, 18, and Anthony David Madonio, 18, both of Waxhaw, were arrested on Nov. 4 by the Union County Sheriffs Department on warrants issued as a result of an ECU police investigation. Both have been charged with damage to personal property, which is a misdemeanor. Neither suspect is a current or former ECU student.

Using security camera video, ECU police identified two suspects and worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine the appropriate charges. Officers from both agencies interviewed Jones Hall residents.

The FBI assisted in investigating whether the incident was a hate crime but concluded that the graffiti did not target a specific individual and thus found no basis for that charge, according to ECU Police Chief Gerald Lewis.

About 4 a.m. on Nov. 1, ECU police officers found the graffiti, which targeted blacks, written with a permanent marker in the stairwell and on a wall on the second floor of the residence hall. No graffiti was found on an individual resident’s door.

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard said the arrests reflect the university’s resolve to confront instances of hate-filled speech or possible bias crimes against groups.

“Those are not East Carolina values and the university will not tolerate hate-filled acts that target groups or individuals and seek to intimidate them,” he said. “We will work toward a community that honors diversity as a basic value.”