Scholarship fund for undocumented students launches fundraising drive | The Washington Post

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May 282015
 

washingtonpost

By Emma Brown May 27 at 2:42 PM

TheDream.US, the nation’s largest scholarship fund for immigrant youths who entered the country illegally as children, is embarking on a campaign to raise at least $30 million to help undocumented students pay for college.

Donald E. Graham, a former owner of The Washington Post who co-founded TheDream.US last year, has pledged $15 million to kick off the fundraising drive, as has hedge fund manager Bill Ackman. Their gifts were in addition to previous donations of $10 million each and were meant in part to spur other philanthropists to donate.

The money will go toward providing $25,000 scholarships to undocumented students who have filed for temporary legal status. They may use the money to attend preapproved U.S. schools for higher education that otherwise would have been out of reach.

Each year, an estimated 65,000 undocumented students, often called “dreamers,” graduate from U.S. high schools. But they are not eligible for federal Pell grants and other types of federal financial aid that make college more affordable.

“How can we change the world? I will be betting on dreamers,” Graham said this month at the City University of New York, where more than 300 students have been awarded TheDream.US scholarships.

Graham previously founded the District of Columbia College Access Program, which has helped thousands of D.C. students get into and pay for college. He co-founded TheDream.US in early 2014, after his company sold The Post to Amazon.com founder Jeffrey P. Bezos.

TheDream.US officials said the organization has raised $81 million since its inception and has awarded scholarships to about 1,000 students.

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The road to a ‘genius grant’ often starts at lesser-known colleges | The Washington Post

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May 282015
 

washingtonpost

By Nick Anderson
May 28 at 12:01 AM

You can find genius almost anywhere.

That might seem obvious. But the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, known for bestowing six-figure grants on exceptionally creative people, provided evidence Thursday that standout talent is nurtured at a stunning variety of colleges and universities.

Since 1981, the foundation has chosen 918 people to receive fellowships in recognition of their creative capacity in artistic, intellectual and professional endeavors. They attended 315 colleges and universities for their undergraduate education, the foundation said in its first comprehensive analysis of the educational backgrounds of MacArthur fellows. Some attended no college at all, or dropped out without earning a degree.

Cecilia A. Conrad, a vice president of the foundation who oversees the fellowship program, said the list of schools reflects “a huge variety of educational backgrounds.” Many students and families are obsessed with gaining admission to elite colleges, but Conrad said is it more important what the students do when they get to college: “That’s just a really important point that sometimes gets lost.”

The MacArthur fellowship — often called a “genius grant,” a term the foundation itself avoids — is valuable and prestigious. Recipients are awarded $625,000, delivered in quarterly installments over five years, with no strings attached. The next round of fellows is expected to be named in September.

Predictably, the 10 schools that have produced the most MacArthur fellows are global elites: Harvard University (72), Princeton University (28), University of California at Berkeley (20), Yale University (19), Cornell University (18), Stanford University (17), Columbia University (15), Brown University (14), University of Chicago (14) and University of Michigan (14). (Radcliffe College, a women’s school that merged with Harvard in 1999, produced 7 fellows.)

But also prominent on the list are such schools as the public City University of New York. In all, 15 recipients were undergraduates at five CUNY colleges. Thirteen recipients were undergraduates at various campuses in the State University of New York system.

Six attended community college, including Phil S. Baran, an organic chemist awarded a fellowship in 2013. He earned an associate’s degree from what was then known as Lake-Sumter Community College in Florida before earning a bachelor’s degree from New York University.

Forty-four fellows graduated from women’s colleges and universities, and 15 graduated from historically black or tribal colleges and universities. Among these fellows was Marian Wright Edelman, an alumna of Spelman College, the historically black liberal arts school for women in Atlanta. Historically black Talladega College in Alabama and Xavier University of Louisiana each produced two MacArthur fellows, matching Georgia Tech and Rice University.

Twenty-three percent of fellows earned undergraduate degrees from public colleges or universities, including seven from the University of Maryland and one from the University of Virginia. Twenty percent graduated from private Ivy League schools.

Those percentages do not reflect the college-going patterns of the nation. Most post-secondary students attend public colleges and universities, and a tiny fraction are admitted to the Ivy League. That raises the question of whether the MacArthur fellowship selection process favors the elite schools.

The foundation relies on invited experts in various fields to nominate candidates for fellowships, and it uses an independent selection committee to evaluate the candidates. About 20 to 30 fellows are chosen each year. Is the selection system biased?

“There’s certainly an issue I think with any process that is going out and asking influentials to identify what they believe are the most promising, creative, emerging talents out there,” Conrad said. She said the foundation tries to cast a broad net. “I actually was surprised a bit when I looked at the data that there was less evidence of a bias [against public universities] than I expected,” she said. “I expected perhaps a higher percentage from the Ivy League institutions than we actually ended up with.”

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Public weighs in on search for new UNC system president | The Citizen-Times

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May 272015
 

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Julie Ball
May 26, 2015

ASHEVILLE – A university system president who understands the importance of academic freedom.

Someone with strong ties to the state. And someone who can work with a diverse group of constituents.

Those are some of the qualifications speakers at a Tuesday night meeting said they would like to see in a new UNC system president.

Faculty members, former students and others weighed in on what they’d like to see in a new president as the UNC Board of Governors begins the search for a replacement for outgoing president Tom Ross.

UNC Asheville Professor Lothar Dohse urged board members to keep politics out of the decision.

“I think even the perception that there’s politics involved is bad, and they should be honest about their search and really look for the most qualified person,” Dohse said following the Tuesday night meeting.

Tuesday’s meeting in Asheville is the first of four regional meetings aimed at letting the public provide feedback.

Ross had served as UNC president since 2011, but was reportedly forced to submit his resignation by the Board of Governors earlier this year. Ross will step down from the position in January.

The Board of Governors is looking to hire a new president in the fall to take over in January when Ross leaves.

“That is the goalpost, but we will take as long as we need to get the right person,” said Joan MacNeill, a member of the Board of Governors who is chairing the search committee.

Board members are developing a “leadership statement,” essentially a job description for the new president who will head the 17-campus UNC system made up of North Carolina’s public universities.

UNCA Professor Dwight Mullen stressed the importance of hiring someone who understands the value of academic freedom.

“If that’s not respected, we will not have a university,” Mullen said.

Recent UNCA graduate Juliana Grassia asked that the board try to include students in the process as much as possible and remember that students are “the ones that are the most important part of this search.”

MacNeill said the system received “tremendous response” to an online survey seeking feedback. The committee will use the survey results and feedback from the regional input sessions to develop the job description.

Other regional input sessions will take place Wednesday at East Carolina University, Thursday at NC Central University and June 1 at UNC Charlotte.

Offer feedback

Those who can’t attend the regional meetings, can email feedback on the search for a new UNC president to the Leadership Statement Committee at uncsearch@northcarolina.edu or write to UNC Presidential Search, P.O. Box 2688, Chapel Hill, NC, 27515

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Letter: Education cuts hurt everyone | The Daily Reflector

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May 272015
 

reflector1

May 27, 2015

On Friday, the House voted on North Carolina’s state budget plan, a budget that leaves public education — all over North Carolina — on the back burner. As someone who has gone through North Carolina’s public education system, and seen first hand how bad off we are, I can say less funding is not what we need. As it is right now, there are few available textbooks for each classroom, and what is available is out of date.

Lawmakers are essentially telling our teachers “make due with what’s given.” This means teachers have to use their already scarce pay to contribute to classroom supplies, or they just won’t have any. This is outrageous, when you take into consideration that North Carolina’s teachers make $10,000 less than the national average.

As a student at East Carolina University, I can tell you the decisions of our representatives — Brian Brown and Susan Martin — are not only detrimental to the North Carolina public education system but also to the University of North Carolina system. Higher education is supposed to provide young people the opportunity to succeed and broaden their horizons, but the recent budget cuts make that a difficult feat.

ECU has been hit particularly hard with a 3 percent across-the-board cut. Chancellor Steve Ballard has said the Brody School of Medicine’s existence is threatened if these cuts continue.

If you’ve lived in Greenville long, you know we would be nothing if it weren’t for ECU and it’s huge medical program. So, this isn’t just a matter of protecting our schools and our state education budget, this is a matter of protecting our home.

I urge anyone reading this to contact your representatives, contact Gov. Pat McCrory, and tell them we here in Greenville need better funding now.

ARIANNA BLAKESLEE

Greenville

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With Class of 2015, NC Teaching Fellows program folds | WRAL

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May 272015
 

wral

May 26, 2015

By Reema Khrais / WUNC

This month, thousands of college students are walking across graduation stages and receiving their diplomas. Among them is a small group of 500 students across several campuses called North Carolina Teaching Fellows.

They’re the last of their kind to graduate – the state began dismantling the scholarship program in 2011. While the program has a 30-year-old legacy of recruiting teachers, filling classrooms remains to be a challenge that plagues the state today.

For years, 21-year-old Camirra Williamson had a plan: get into the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, study hard and eventually become a doctor. She accomplished two out of three. In high school, she realized medicine just wasn’t for her.

“And so, honestly, I didn’t know what to do,” she says.

She had helped her mom, who’s an elementary school teacher, with tutoring in the past. Her mom told her she had a natural knack for teaching.

Williamson eventually applied for the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program and was awarded $26,000 to study at N.C. State University. In return, she had to promise to teach in North Carolina for at least four years.

As an undergraduate, she got hands-on experience, including trying to excite seventh-graders on topics like genetics and wind speed.

“Science is in everything that we have, science is in your clothes, it’s in your food,” she enthusiastically says. “Science is in the way you blink.”

Williamson, who graduated from college this month, is in the last Fellows class. The state is no longer paying for the scholarship program.

“It has left a big hole in our teacher pipeline,” says Keith Poston, executive director and president of the Public School Forum of North Carolina, which administered the program.

Poston says N.C. Teaching Fellows recruited top students and helped transform the profession. It’s prepared more than 8,000 teachers since 1986.

“It wasn’t just a scholarship, it wasn’t just, ‘Here’s a check,’” he says. “Right from the very start, their freshmen year, they were put into classrooms.”

Students received training in classrooms and community youth programs. They connected with mentors, had opportunities to travel abroad and strengthened their leadership skills through different activities.

From his desk, Poston pulls out a coffee-stained report entitled “Who Will Teach Our Children”. The document outlines the teacher shortage back in the late 1980s, which cites teacher retirements, a projected rise in student enrollment and a decline in the number of college graduates certified to teach.

Poston says just take out the picture of people in bell-bottoms, and it would still hold true today.

“We have the potential of a real crisis on our hands coming up and the teaching fellows program was just one piece of helping solve the puzzle of how we’re going to fill our classrooms,” Poston says.

Fewer People Seek Teaching Profession

Across the nation, fewer people want to be teachers. In the last few years, teaching programs in North Carolina have seen at least a 20 percent drop in enrollment.

“And, now, because of the environment we’ve created in North Carolina, we can’t attract from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan,” says Greg Little, former Teaching Fellow and the superintendent of Mt. Airy City Schools.

Drops in enrollment at teaching training programs can be attributed to several reasons. Despite recent boosts, teacher pay in North Carolina is still among the lowest in the country. The teaching profession has also seen a lot of changes in the last few years with the introduction of Common Core, budget slashes and erosion of tenure, or career status, protections.

Little says his district, like many others, struggles with filling certain positions, like those in math and science.

“It’s not like we’ve put a job out on a website, and we have 10 or 15 applications,” he says.

Other Solutions to Shortage

One of the weaknesses of the Teaching Fellows programs is that it didn’t require students to pursue hard-to-staff fields or to work in struggling schools. That’s why House lawmakers are pushing new teacher scholarship programs that would do just that. One bill would create a similar program that would recruit high school and college students, as well as mid-career professionals.

“There are other ways we can get highly-qualified folks in the classroom, and I think teaching fellows was not performing as well as it should have,” says Republican Senate leader Phil Berger, who helped cut the program in 2011.

Berger is a big fan of Teach For America. He likes that TFA recruits students while they’re in college, not high school.

“It’s been a good program for us, I’d like to see us expand it even more,” says Berger. In 2013, he and other Republican lawmakers allocated $6 million in recurring funds.

Even though fewer people are applying for TFA, that hasn’t stopped the organization’s growth in North Carolina, according to Robyn Fehrman, director of the eastern North Carolina chapter.

“We’re working in some of the hardest-to-staff classrooms across the state,” she says. “One of our successes has been delivering really high excellent teachers to kids who need them most.”

In the last couple of years, TFA in North Carolina established another office in the eastern piedmont region and expanded its presence in southeastern North Carolina. The organization has also been working to recruit more teachers who are residents of North Carolina and encouraging them to stay beyond two years.

Some of the biggest critiques of the program are that the teachers don’t receive enough training and leave the classroom soon after their two-year promise.

For Camirra Williamson, a teaching fellow, sticking around is important. She plans on spending on the next year teaching in Ghana, where she studied abroad, before returning home to teach in Wake County or in her hometown, Oxford.

“I feel an obligation to the communities of North Carolina,” she says. “I feel an obligation to that because they have poured a lot into us.”

And if her program’s track record is any indication, she’ll likely stay in the classroom beyond her four-year promise. According to a UNC study, Teaching fellows stay longer than other North Carolina teachers.

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Harnett County senior who drowned mourned by classmates | Fayetteville Observer

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May 272015
 

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Posted: Tuesday, May 26, 2015

By Nancy McCleary Staff writer

LILLINGTON – Justice Clark was set to graduate with honors from Harnett Central High School on June 13 and was to begin classes this fall at East Carolina University.

Those plans came to a tragic end Monday when Clark, 18, drowned while swimming with two friends in an old gravel-pit pond off Flyway Drive near Lillington. Flyway Drive is off U.S. 421.

Grief counselors were available Tuesday at the high school where Clark played football and was a co-captain for the Trojans this year, said Patricia Harmon-Lewis, a spokeswoman for the Harnett County school system.

“It’s a pretty somber day,” she said. “It’s a little more quiet than usual.”

Clark was in the water about 5 p.m. when he went under and failed to resurface, said Sgt. Aaron Meredith of the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office.

Clark’s friends tried to help, but were unsuccessful, Meredith said.

Clark’s body was recovered by the county’s dive team about 5:40, Meredith said.

As students arrived at school Tuesday morning, some made their way to the Media Center, where the crisis team was set up, Harmon-Lewis said.

“First thing, it was super quiet,” she said, “but as the day has progressed, more people have come in to talk with them. Justice was a senior and was well-known. A lot of people knew him and had classes with him.”

Many of the students, alerted by social media, wore an item of red clothing to honor Clark, Harmon-Lewis said.

Not only was Clark a football player and honor student, he was a member of the Foreign Language League, a mentor for freshmen students and involved in the culinary arts program, she said.

His mother, Karen Clark, teaches sixth grade at Harnett Central Middle School, next door to the high school. Counselors were available to her co-workers, if needed, Harmon-Lewis said.

“A lot of people have worked with Mrs. Clark for years. I think as a mom, losing a child can be the most devastating thing in life.”

School officials had not made a decision whether Clark would be remembered during graduation ceremonies, but Harmon-Lewis said that has been the practice in past years.

Several people have reportedly drowned while swimming in the pond, authorities said.

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Dozens of degree programs phased out in UNC System | The News & Observer

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May 272015
 

newsobserver

May 27, 2015
By Jane Stancill

CHAPEL HILL

Fifty-six academic degree programs across the UNC system were dropped or consolidated last week in a vote by the UNC Board of Governors.

Such program “discontinuations” have occurred every two years since 1995, but this year the action caused a flurry of criticism and anger on social media. Among the degree programs disappearing: the theater and jazz programs at N.C. Central University, and Africana studies and women’s and gender studies at N.C. State University. Also eliminated at various campuses were degrees in French and German, as well as education degrees, including mathematics education, special education and art education.

The UNC system periodically reviews programs that have “low productivity,” defined as those that awarded fewer than 20 degrees in the past two years at the undergraduate level, or fewer than 11 degrees in the most recent year.

This year, 221 degree programs were reviewed systemwide — about 12 percent of the total 1,889 degree programs across the state. In the final vote last week, 46 were discontinued and 10 were merged with other programs.

Critics honed in on a frequent debate about the future of the liberal arts in an era when job preparation is gaining more attention in higher education. A story in the Daily Tar Heel student newspaper quoted UNC board member Steven Long as saying: “We’re capitalists, and we have to look at what the demand is, and we have to respond to the demand.”

The comment set off faculty and others in North Carolina and beyond, who chimed in on social media with disagreement and dismay.

By late Tuesday, the UNC system’s General Administration sent out a news release to explain the process of degree discontinuation. The regular reviews are undertaken, the release said, to ensure effective use of state resources, to reduce program duplication and to redirect scarce resources to higher-priority programs, based on student and market demands.

Forty-six programs under scrutiny this time were in teacher education, at a time when the state needs to hire 10,000 new teachers each year. The UNC system has not been able to keep up with that demand. At the same time, enrollment in UNC schools of education has declined dramatically — by 27 percent in the past five years, as fewer young people choose teaching as their career.

At NCCU, there is sadness among some that the jazz studies degree will go away, said Robert Trowers, who teaches brass and jazz history there. Jazz had previously been identified by the NCCU administration as one of several areas of distinction for the university.

“It’s gotten quite a bit of recognition and a few accolades,” Trowers said.

Now jazz will become a concentration within the music major, though Trowers said he knew of no plans to decrease the number of jazz faculty.

“I guess some people are [unhappy] — the folks who are really looking for that specific jazz training,” Trowers said. “Once they see how it’s structured, they probably won’t be terribly disappointed.”

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Opinion: In defense of the liberal arts | The News & Observer

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May 272015
 

newsobserver

Op-Ed MAY 25, 2015
BY ROBERT MERRIAM

Questioning the value of a liberal arts degree is not uncommon these days when good jobs are scarce and a liberal arts degree does not provide much training for a job. From a raw, statistical viewpoint, however, its value in the workplace is clear enough.

Recent figures from the Department of Labor gave the median annual salary for full-time employees in 2012: with no high school diploma $22,900; with a high school diploma, $30,000; and with a bachelor’s degree, $46,900. In that year, 73 percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 with a liberal arts degree had full-time employment while only 60 percent of those with a high school diploma worked full time.

With the need for jobs a high priority, we hear more about requirements for advanced job training. These requirements are shaped by the fact that higher degrees of training and technical capability are needed now for better-paid employment. In the current atmosphere of restricting government funding as much as possible, we hear arguments for introducing more practical job training into college education. An ignorance of, and disdain for, a liberal education was recently expressed publicly: “Liberal arts in college is what you pick when you don’t know what to do with yourself.”

We do in fact need more and better training in today’s work force, but it would be a serious mistake to offer that training at the expense of a liberal education. The basis of the modern liberal arts was first codified in the Roman trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music) more than 2,000 years ago. Note the breadth of this early learning, which included all elements of literature, arts and science. The teaching of the liberal arts has been conspicuously present and intimately involved during the emergence of ever higher forms of human culture and society, especially during the cultural reawakening of the Renaissance. Why is this so?

A major reason stands out. Useful human inventions for successful communal living need to be stored in the greater social “mind” to be built upon by future generations. Early on, this heritage was passed on by music, art, dance and telling of stories. Communicating these traditions required language, art and, later, writing skills. When the contributions of science entered the picture, new forms of quantitative reasoning, measurement and communication were introduced. A liberal education today embodies what is known about the many aspects of human communal endeavors. It does this by exposure to the main areas of human knowledge and culture with a historical perspective. That is why a bachelor’s degree requires students to take courses widely in the humanities, social sciences and sciences with only a preliminary concentration in an area of personal interest, a major, in the junior and senior years.

A liberal arts education is about our cultural inheritance and uses of the intellect to understand and advance it. For young people, this is mostly just studying and memorizing for exams. But, stored away in their minds, this accumulation of knowledge has done a most remarkable thing: It has opened the long-term window of their consciousness to a much wider awareness of the intricacies, issues and beauties that will be encountered ahead. That knowledge, securely stored in young minds, will grow throughout their lives, providing a framework of reference that encourages a much wider range of interests as the events and relationships of their lives unfold.

Aroused interests will often lead to curiosity and further exploration. And those explorations will profit from the intellectual skills and respect for learning practiced during the liberal arts years. Liberal arts education thus provides a factual foundation and better interpretive skills for continuously expanding the knowledge that facilitates further accomplishment. Unlike the process of training for a particular work skill, exposure to those liberal arts provides basic mental skills for almost any job. These very practical differences between the broadening effects of a liberal education and the technical focusing required for job training should never be confused.

Robert W. Merriam, Ph.D., of Chapel Hill is a retired science professor from SUNY Stony Brook.

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Editorial: Openness is key to UNC-CH’s response to NCAA findings | The News & Observer

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May 272015
 

newsobserver

May 27, 2015

Considering the dreadful way the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has handled a wide-ranging athletics-academic scandal of four years running, expectations for how the university would respond to the NCAA’s findings in its own investigation were low. This is a public institution that in the course of this humiliating scandal has obfuscated, rationalized and acted with arrogance in terms of its obligations to the public.

So here it is, then, for Chancellor Carol Folt, who holds all the responsibility for what happens now in response to the NCAA’s findings, which the university now has. Folt was not the chancellor when the scandal broke, essentially driving a chancellor, Holden Thorp, from the campus and an athletics director, Dick Baddour, into retirement.

But now Folt must open all the doors and windows and put her responsibility to the public first. If, instead, the university’s administration delays public release of the NCAA findings to remove information from the report in the name of “privacy rights” (the phrase the university has already used after receiving the NCAA’s report) and otherwise tries to soften the blow of these findings, it will be Folt who is responsible for the failure of a public university to act like one.

A report from Washington attorney Kenneth Wainstein, which cost $3 million, found appalling instances of phony classes with many athletes in them, an advising system steering athletes to those classes and a miserable failure in oversight. Now comes the NCAA, college athletics’ weak governing body and protector of a multibillion-dollar industry, with its own findings. Considering the penalties it has levied on other schools with much less serious accusations against them, the NCAA is going to be feeling the heat from its members to punish Chapel Hill for one of the worst athletic-academic scandals in the history of the organization.

Folt likely will have to go against the advice of some on her staff and in the corps of athletics boosters, who’ll be encouraging her to delay and release as little information as possible. But in 2011, the university was forthcoming quickly with an NCAA notice about football players who had gotten improper benefits from agents and help from a tutor.

UNC-Chapel Hill comes to this point with its reputation wounded and its credibility low. As this four-year saga unfolded, various university officials kept trying to explain and rationalize claims by people such as former academic counselor Mary Willingham, who told of athletes unqualified to do course work at a college level. She was blasted for her truth, and then Wainstein’s report confirmed much of what she said. In the end, the university reached a settlement with her, but one that did not include, as it should have, restoration of her job.

If the university delays a competent release of the NCAA findings, meaning one that is not “redacted” to death, then its credibility is going to suffer even more. The public simply isn’t going to buy a claim that half a report is enough. Doing that kind of thing will not put an end to this disgraceful episode in the university’s history. It will only prolong it.

Federal law protects the confidentiality of student academic records, but not the records of university employees. The privacy of university employee records can be waived under the state personnel law if disclosure is essential to maintaining the integrity of a department. Certainly it is essential now.

What is needed now is a chancellor, a leader, who will not be led by misguided advisers who want to keep the lid on the NCAA’s findings. Rather, Folt must respond in a way that shows she understands that this is the people’s university and that there is an overriding obligation to report to the people, even when much of that report is liable to be unpleasant and embarrassing.

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Former lawmaker John Kerr dies | The News & Observer

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May 272015
 

newsobserver

May 26, 2015
By Craig Jarvis

Former longtime state legislator John Hosea Kerr III died Sunday, the Goldsboro Daily News reported Tuesday.

Kerr, 79, died in a Goldsboro hospice after a period of declining health, according to an obituary posted online at Seymour Funeral Home in Goldsboro.
John Kerr, a Democrat who served three terms in the NC House and another eight in the state Senate, died Sunday, May 24, 2015, at age 79.

John Kerr, a Democrat who served three terms in the NC House and another eight in the state Senate, died Sunday, May 24, 2015, at age 79. | KAREN TAM AP

Kerr, who worked as a lawyer, served three terms in the state House and then another eight terms in the state Senate. He helped create the Global TransPark, the East Carolina University dental school, the UNC Cancer Center, and fought to bring better roads and schools to his part of the state, according to the obituary.

He decided not to run for re-election in 2008. He was succeeded by Sen. Donald Davis, a Democrat who represents the 5th district, which includes Greene, Pitt and Lenoir counties.

His father, John Kerr Jr., was also in the General Assembly, where he was speaker of the House. His grandfather, John Kerr Sr., was in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Kerr Lake is named after John Kerr Sr., the newspaper reported.

State Democratic Party Chairwoman Patsy Keever issued a statement Kerr’s passing:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of former-Senator John Kerr. Senator Kerr came from a long line of North Carolina leaders and certainly made his family proud through his own dedicated service. In his two decades in office, Senator Kerr had a tremendous impact on his community and our state. He will be greatly missed.”

A memorial service will be held at Madison Avenue Baptist Church on June 1, 2015 at 2 p.m.

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Elon grad beats odds, creates scholarships for children of prisoners | The Washington Post

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May 272015
 

washingtonpost

May 27, 2015
By Petula Dvorak

ELON, N.C.

Under the oaks, in the sea of caps and gowns and navy blazers and sundresses, Tony Ray Arrington felt totally out of place. And he was the happiest he’d ever been.

“I can’t keep this Kool-Aid smile off my face,” the 45-year-old ex-convict said, as he raised his 6-foot-4 frame on tiptoes to look for his daughter.

Two weeks ago, he didn’t think he’d be here.

And when she heard why, Yasmine Arrington – who grew up in the District of Columbia, made it to college against the odds and launched her own nonprofit to give scholarships to children whose parents are incarcerated – sighed.

Her father had been in and out of prison for much of her life. I wrote about their reunion three years ago, when Yasmine was a freshman at Elon University and her father, who’d been convicted of burglary and other crimes, was just out of prison and working as a cook not far from her school.

Yasmine, now 22, roared through college – awards, a sorority, a plus-size modeling career, honors from Teen Vogue and BET, all while holding fundraisers for ScholarCHIPS, the nonprofit that has handed out $40,000 in college money to 17 kids just like her. The nonprofit will give out more money next month.

More than 2.7 million American children have a parent who is incarcerated. And studies show that can be more devastating to children than divorce or even death.

For years, Yasmine didn’t talk about her dad. Compounding the deck stacked against Yasmine, her mother died in 2007. Her maternal grandmother, a force of nature named Veronica Wright, stepped in to help raise Yasmine and her little brothers.

She hadn’t seen her father for 16 years when they reconnected in 2012. They began talking two or three times a week, slowly developing a bond that both of them treasured.

Then, in December, just as Yasmine was looking forward to her last semester at Elon and graduation, Tony landed back behind bars.

His temper. A “borrowed” car, which the court called “vehicle larceny.” A parole violation. After four years of freedom, he was living that eternal loop of the ex-offender.

A heartbroken Yasmine, who plans to attend Howard University School of Divinity in the fall, with a focus on prison ministry, wrote on her Facebook page:

“Unfortunately, my father has gotten in trouble with the law again. This would mean he won’t be at my graduation in May.”

But two weeks ago, Tony got out. And he made sure he could get to Elon on May 23. “The probation officer let him stay out until 10 tonight,” said Yasmine’s grandfather George Hardy, 65. “ ‘Elon!’ they said. ‘You stay out until 10 p.m. for this one, Tony.’ ”

On campus, Tony began to realize the huge impact his daughter has had. Everyone knows Yasmine. One of her mentors from D.C. got into a car at 4:30 a.m. to drive down and see her graduate. Another one flew in just for those two hours. The golf-cart driver fist-bumped her, the professors, the deans, the counselors. Hugs, tears. “Go Yazzie!” everywhere they went. She was draped in sashes and medals.

“What does all that she’s wearing mean?” Tony asked.

One professor asked Yasmine to bring the entire family into her office so she could meet them. As the whole procession walked across verdant quads, Tony marveled at it all.

“Look at all these people who stepped in to support her,” he said. “Look at everything she did.”

He wore a white canvas fedora, with a pastel, tropical-print band, to cover the skull tattoo on the back of his head; a teal polo shirt; and long pants, to cover the monitoring band on his ankle.

Under the oaks, in a storybook setting on the gorgeous campus, he sat in the long row of Yasmine’s fans and family – two grandmas, a grandpa, two brothers, a stepdad who was in her life briefly, two mentors, plus me and a photographer – trying to blend in.

He didn’t take one of the stickers everyone stuck to their chests as they walked in: “I’m a proud Elon parent.” But one grandma went back to the smiling women, got one and slapped it on his shirt.

“She inspires me,” Tony said. “She inspired me every day I didn’t see her. And she’s inspiring me to do better now.”

Just before the ceremony, he sneaked away to smoke a cigarette.

“I’m so nervous,” he said as he returned and the processional music began. “And I’m so happy. So proud. She did it. Yazzie did it all.”

The Washington Post

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Bruni: Platinum pay in ivory towers | The New York Times

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on Bruni: Platinum pay in ivory towers | The New York Times
May 272015
 

newyorktimes

BY FRANK BRUNI

And he rejected it – as too much.

“With many issues and concerns about administrative costs, affordability and tuition, such a salary will affect the ability of the president to work with the Texas Legislature,” Fenves wrote to a university official, in an email obtained by The Austin American-Statesman.

He suggested, and agreed to, $750,000.

That’s hardly chump change. But in the context of the shockingly lucrative deals that have become almost commonplace among college presidents, the sum – or, more precisely, the sentiment behind it – is worthy of note and praise.

Too few presidents give adequate thought to the symbolism and dissonance of extraordinarily generous compensation packages, which are in sync with this era of lavish executive pay and glaring income inequality but out of line with the ostensible mission of academia.

Ideally, higher education is dedicated to values different from those that govern Wall Street and corporate America. It supposedly calls students to more soulful concerns, even to sacrifice.

But that message is muddled when some of the people who run colleges wallow in payments and perks that would once have been considered vulgar.

For E. Gordon Gee’s final year as the president of Ohio State University, which he left in 2013, he got a package of more than $6 million, as was widely reported. It was a one-time bonanza, including deferred payments and severance, but he’d earned roughly $2 million annually over the previous years.

The Chronicle of Higher Education analyzed salary information for private colleges from 2012, the most recent year available, and found that Shirley Ann Jackson, the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, received a package worth over $7 million.

John L. Lahey of Quinnipiac University: about $3.75 million. Lee Bollinger of Columbia University: almost $3.4 million.

Fenves’ salary as the president of the University of Texas puts him well behind that of his counterpart at Texas A&M University, who has an annual base of $1 million plus $400,000 in additional compensation, according to The American-Statesman.

Each profligate compensation package breeds more like it, as schools’ trustees convince themselves that they must keep pace in order to recruit, retain and receive the precious fairy dust of the heaviest hitters.

They reason that “this is a winner-take-all society and that people with extremely high levels of talent are richly rewarded,” said Richard Vedder, the director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

“But I think that things are getting out of hand, especially given the tax-exempt nature of universities,” he told me. “They’re in privileged positions, and they were given these privileged positions not to enrich themselves but to serve society. These presidents are expected to live quite nicely but not exorbitantly and not extravagantly.”

Their extravagance strikes an especially discordant note in light of the challenges confronting higher education today, and it undercuts their moral authority.

How do you defend the transfer of teaching responsibilities to low-paid, part-time adjuncts when the president is sitting so pretty? How do you cut administrative costs, which indeed need cutting? How do you explain steep tuition increases, mammoth student debt and the failure to admit more children from poor families?

How do you summon students back to the liberal arts and away from mercenary priorities?

The high salaries are frequently defended on the grounds that a university president’s job is all consuming. But if it is, how do so many of them find time to serve, for hundreds of thousands of extra dollars, on corporate boards? Rensselaer’s Jackson was at one point on five boards simultaneously.

The high salaries are also defended in terms of the fundraising that certain presidents reputedly excel at, covering their compensation many times over. But do they deserve sole credit for those donations? And at nonprofit institutions, should money be the main yardstick and currency? Shouldn’t ethics compete with economics, as they sometimes do when a school invests its endowment?

The lofty pay of college presidents is part of higher education’s increasingly corporate bent, of the blurred lines between the campus and the marketplace.

And like the private enrichment of many political candidates who speak of “public service,” it’s not just a mirror of our pervasive money culture. It’s a green light for it, from precincts of principle where a flashing yellow would be more appropriate.

The New York Times

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Penn State Penalizes Fraternity Chapter After Misconduct Inquiry | The New York Times

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on Penn State Penalizes Fraternity Chapter After Misconduct Inquiry | The New York Times
May 272015
 

newyorktimes

By ASHLEY SOUTHALL
MAY 27, 2015

Pennsylvania State University has withdrawn recognition of a fraternity chapter whose members used a secret Facebook page to post images of drugs, underage drinking, hazing and nude, unconscious women.

The punishment of the Kappa Delta Rho chapter on the University Park campus, where more than half of the school’s undergraduates take courses, will last for three years until May 2018.

Damon Sims, vice president for student affairs at Penn State, said late Tuesday that officials decided on the punishment after an investigation by the university found “a persistent series of deeply troubling activities within the fraternity,” including sexual harassment of several women, hazing that included boxing matches, and the sale and use of drugs.

Not all of the chapter’s members were equally culpable, Mr. Sims said, and many were only passive observers. “Even so,” he said, “the sum of the organizational misbehaviors is far more than the university can tolerate from a student organization that seeks its imprimatur.”

Officials learned of the Facebook page in January when a former fraternity member went to the police to report possible misconduct. Penn State said its investigation had found that members hazed pledges, forcing them to run errands and clean the fraternity house. Pledges were also forced to hold their bodies in a rigid horizontal position using only their arms in a move called planking, but with a painful twist — bottle caps were placed underneath their elbows.

In addition, pledges were required to make stories with pornographic images and “a sex position of the day.” Members regularly posted embarrassing photographs of women in “extremely compromising” positions and used demeaning language to describe them, the university said.

Two women, both students, were subjected to persistent harassment. Officials said they were degraded through multiple postings on the organization’s private website over an extended period. “The investigative report makes clear that some members of the K.D.R. chapter promoted a culture of harassing behavior and degradation of women,” Mr. Sims said.

Mr. Sims announced the university’s decision in a letter to the vice presidents of the Interfraternity Council, a body that governs Greek-letter organizations at Penn State but is separate from the university.

The council recommended that Kappa Delta Rho be allowed to keep its designation as a campus organization, so long as it agreed to measures to “change the culture” of the fraternity. Those measures included a comprehensive education program for new members, and participation in sensitivity training on sexual assaults and bystander intervention training.

University officials typically defer to the council on matters related to recognition, but felt compelled to make a stronger response in this case. “We cannot both sustain recognition for this group, even if various stipulations are imposed in exchange for that allowance, and still make the case that such behaviors fall well short of our community’s expectations,” Mr. Sims said.

The decision was not made lightly, he said. The university’s action in this case “should not be seen as a retreat” from its commitment to student involvement in institutional decisions, he added.

The national executive director of Kappa Delta Rho, Joseph Rosenberg, said that the fraternity had reviewed the report and that any members involved could face expulsion.

He noted that the report did not accuse any fraternity members of sexual assault.

The fraternity has made several changes, including increasing education for members on issues of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and alcohol and drug abuse. Mr. Rosenberg said it had also arranged to join a consortium of organizations that maintain a hotline for reporting hazing.

The fraternity “is an organization characterized by devotion to respect for others,” he said. “As our Penn State chapter proceeds as a part of the university community, we will continue to require that each of our members honors that principle in all respects at all times.”

The fraternity can ask Penn State to recolonize the chapter after three years, a university spokeswoman said, according to The Associated Press. That would prompt a review, and the university could set conditions on restarting it, she said.

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Doctor: Tanning limits ‘will save lives’ | The Daily Reflector

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on Doctor: Tanning limits ‘will save lives’ | The Daily Reflector
May 262015
 

reflector1

By Michael Abramowitz
Sunday, May 24, 2015

A new law signed Thursday by Gov. Pat McCrory to restrict use of tanning facilities to people 18 and older makes sense to state and local physicians as well as many tannings salon operators.

The newest version of the state statute, known as the Jim Fulghum Teen Skin Cancer Prevention Act, now will prohibit persons younger than18 years of age from using tanning equipment and ensure compliance from operators of tanning equipment and owners of tanning facilities with its rules. The previous minimum age was 13.

Fulghum, a retired physician and first-term N.C. House representative from Wake County who died in July, sponsored similar legislation during the previous legislative session.

The N.C. Medical Society followed McCrory’s signing with a statement of support from Dr. Russell Kilpatrick, a Greenville dermatologist and president of the N.C. Dermatology Association.

“This law will save lives and significantly help protect children and young adults from the growing epidemic of skin cancer,” Kilpatrick said.

Dr. Charles Phillips of ECU Dermatology echoed his colleague’s position with information about how use of tanning beds elevates the risk of skin cancer.

“Whether from direct sun exposure or tanning bed use, the main risk for skin cancer comes from the same source: ultraviolet radiation,” Phillips said.

The effects of ultraviolet or UV rays on the human body generally are cumulative, which means that UV radiation from direct sunlight and tanning bed light combines to build up in the skin and increase the risk for skin cancer and other harmful effects over time, Phillips said.

Risk levels for skin cancer differ based of the amount of protective melanin, the body’s natural pigment, a person’s skin contains at birth, the doctor said.

Lighter skin has less melanin and less UV protection, Phillips said. People with fair skin will have to accumulate far greater amounts of UV radiation before achieving a tan, and others simply do not tan.

The use of a tanning bed to reduce the amount of native sunlight needed to achieve a tan only adds to the risk, Phillips said.

“Many people apply false logic and lay down for a ‘base tan’ before heading to the beach, believing that tan will protect them from the effects of direct sun exposure,” Phillips said. “But tanning bed tans do not offer much UV protection; it’s equivalent to a sun protection factor (SPF) of about 4.”

Dermatologists recommend an SPF of 30 for adequate UV protection. Phillips said he has seen an increased number of teens coming to his office before heading to college who get diagnosed with melanoma, a form of skin cancer that can become deadly.

“They’ve already had a history of tanning bed exposure combined with beach and pool sun exposure,” he said. “It’s all cumulative, like a cup into which you keep pouring coffee. It doesn’t matter if it’s natural light or tanning bed light; eventually, it’s going to spill over into a skin cancer.”

The new law becomes effective Oct. 1, but some tanning bed operators in Greenville who understand the risks already have increased their age restrictions.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Erin Windom, manager of Wahoo Tanning on East 10th Street in Greenville, said of the new law. “A lot of our younger clients didn’t want to listen to our strong cautions about UV light, so the extra time they have to wait now will give them more opportunity to learn about the dangers.”

Windom said she has a good alternative to offer teens to the UV tanning bed.

“We’ve already been encouraging people under age 18 to use spray tans because they are safer,” she said. “A lot of the kids are wanting a tan for the proms and a spray tan will last a week or longer.”

Beyond raising the minimum age for use of tanning beds, tanning equipment operators must continue to provide to each consumer a warning statement that defines the potential hazards and consequences of exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Before allowing the consumer’s initial use of the tanning equipment, the operator must obtain the signature of the consumer on the statement acknowledging receipt of the warning.

In addition, neither an operator nor an owner may claim or distribute promotional materials that claim that using tanning equipment is safe or free from risk or that using tanning equipment will result in medical or health benefits.

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10,000 in ECU summer session | The Daily Reflector

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on 10,000 in ECU summer session | The Daily Reflector
May 262015
 

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By Holly West
May 26, 2015

After a short break, almost 10,000 East Carolina University students headed back to class Monday for summer school.

The first summer session will run through June 23. The second session will begin on June 25 and end July 31. Each of the two summer sessions lasts six weeks.

According to a preliminary count by ECU officials, 9,873 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled in summer session one — a five percent increase from last year.

Professors said the abbreviated courses offer a nice change from the pace of the school year.

“The classes are usually much smaller, so I get more one-on-one time with the students,” said Tim Christensen, an associate professor in the biology department who is teaching an introductory biology course this summer.

Christensen said summer students usually fall into two categories — students who are trying to get ahead and those who need to catch up.

He said both groups are highly motivated and fun to work with.

“It’s a really good mix of students,” he said.

Political science professor Alethia Cook said even online classes feel different during the summer months.

“It’s a much faster pace than the regular 15-week semester,” said Cook, who is teaching an online class about weapons of mass destruction.

“It’s pretty intense and certainly challenging.”

Despite the fact that her class doesn’t meet in person, Cook said it is nice to walk around campus during the summer.

“The campus is much quieter, it feels more laid back,” she said.

During the fall semester, 27,511 students were enrolled. Spring enrollment numbers were not available.

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