Sep 192014
 

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Posted by Renee Schoof on September 19, 2014

Scientists from Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were in Washington on Thursday to lobby on Capitol Hill for more funding for the National Institutes of Health for scientific research.

They’re joining in an effort with about 50 associations nationwide in what’s become an annual rally in recent years. Participants include researchers and people advocating for research leading to cures for particular diseases.

“The big concern we have is the decrease in levels of funding for NIH and the impact not only on research going on now but also impact on next generation of scientists,” said Raphael Valdivia, the vice dean for basic science at Duke.

Too many young scientists can’t get funding awards for their early work, and “they’re really dropping out of the pipeline,” Valdivia said.

Funding levels for NIH have been flat for a decade, and because of inflation, there’s been a drop of purchasing power for biomedical research, he said.

The NIH has an annual budget of about $30 billion. Researchers would like to see an increase to about $32 billion, and also have the money promised over five-year periods instead of annually, so that there’s more time to plan and pace investments, Valdivia said.

Other countries, including Russia, India and China, are increasing their spending on research and development. “We are cutting back,” he said. “It’s very hard to get a scientist out of the laboratory to go to Capitol Hill to make your case, but we’re getting to the point where we have to, because nobody else is,” he said.

Valdivia and his colleagues planned to meet with Republican Sen. Richard Burr of Winston-Salem and Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of Greensboro, as well as some House members.

Valdivia said one argument he hears against government funding for science is that industry should pick up the tab. “But there’s a space there of very basic research that industry will never be able to pick up – that’s seeking knowledge for the sake of knowledge,” he said. “Often we can’t anticipate what the applications will be.”

Private companies need to pay attention to earnings, and they’ve cut back on research and development because it’s very costly, he said.

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Sep 192014
 

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INDIANAPOLIS — The old model that colleges used to recruit, through mass mailings to promising students and selective visits to key high schools, is giving way to sophisticated matchmaking tools of technology.

On Thursday morning, the National Association for College Admission Counseling opened an exhibit hall here at its 70th convention that points the way to the future of recruiting. Vendors offered admission officers and high school counselors a number of tools to help them fill college classes or provide information to help students navigate a bewildering market.

Sure, they were looking to make a splash for their companies. But they were also notable for their youth and enthusiasm for the technological revolution at hand.

Chegg, based in Santa Clara, Calif., owns the Web site Zinch.com, which promises to help “overwhelmed” students “stay on track” in their college search. Gil Rogers, director of marketing and outreach, said Chegg can provide colleges with tens of thousands of names of students who are potentially interested in them and fit their profile.

“We help them save time, save money, recruit smarter,” Rogers said. The 31-year-old salesman also had another key tool at his display: orange boxes for conventioneers to pack and ship their swag.

Niche, based in Pittsburgh, owns a site that used to be called College Prowler. “We survey students at all the colleges,” said Mark Tressler, 28, vice president for business development. “They tell us what it’s like — housing, academics, the meal plans. Basically we’re a Yelp for major life decisions. Customer reviews of colleges.”

Hobsons, based in Cincinnati, owns the college search tool Naviance and the information/gossip clearinghouse College Confidential. Daniel Obregon, 36, vice president for product management and marketing, said Naviance reaches nearly 6 millions students worldwide. He said colleges can buy exposure to targeted groups of prospects through Naviance, enabling schools “to more effectively seek out these students.”

PrepTalk, based in San Clemente, Calif., helps recruiters connect with students through webcasting, in one-on-one sessions or 1-to-1,000. Katie McDonald, 38, the chief operating officer, said some students will stay with the webcasts for 45 minutes at a time. “Which for a 17- or 18-year-old is not bad,” she said. McDonald’s swag? She was giving away bottle openers with laminated business cards attached. At 4:30 p.m., she said, the company planned to have a keg of Budweiser at its booth.

There were numerous other companies, such as Uversity, based in San Francisco, which offers schools an app to connect with admitted students who have not yet made a final decision, and BlueFuego, based in Indianapolis, which helps schools market through interactive Web pages.

Some of these companies, which essentially offer middleman services, might be players for years to come in college admissions. Some might not. But collectively, they show that there is huge change afoot in how students and colleges find each other. It’s no longer just about the power of big brand names and recruiting visits to favored high schools. Technology is driving the upheaval.

“A lot of people are afraid it’s going to take the personalization out of admissions,” said Brad Ward, 30, chief executive of BlueFuego. “I think it’s helping schools be smarter and more strategic.”

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Sep 182014
 

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By Jane Stancill
September 17, 2014

The UNC system aims to invigorate its position in the online education market to attract more adult learners and veterans.

A reconstructed website was launched this month with a streamlined look and better navigation. The goal is to connect more potential students with online courses and degree programs at the state’s public universities.

The system contracted with a Seattle startup, Ranku, to redesign what had been a cluttered and confusing website. The new site, http://online.northcarolina.edu/, has a simple and elegant look, and quickly points users to programs either by academic field or by university. It includes estimated tuition for the programs – something that had been missing from the previous site.

“We’re trying to be a more active matchmaker between candidates and programs,” said Matthew Rascoff, the UNC system’s vice president for technology-based learning and innovation.

UNC isn’t new to the online education game, having marketed degrees under the system banner since 2007. The campuses offer 324 online degree and certificate programs.

Some schools, such as East Carolina University, have been innovators. ECU has 84 online programs; N.C. State University has 73. More than 20,000 students are enrolled in online-only programs across the UNC system.

But UNC Online, as the umbrella brand is known, has increasingly lost students to for-profit schools that advertise heavily to win students. It has also fallen behind other public universities.

A 2012 report by a UNC-hired consultant pointed out that UNC trailed seven other southern states in the percentage of instruction delivered by e-learning (7.9 percent in 2009-10), according to the Southern Regional Education Board.

“In large part, the lack of a focused, broad-based e-learning initiative in North Carolina has throttled its development,” wrote the Georgia-based consultant, Bruce Chaloux.

At the same time, North Carolina’s community colleges have leaped to second in the region, with 21.2 percent of instruction online in 2009-10, Chaloux wrote.

Community College System spokeswoman Megen Hoenk said the state’s community colleges saw 400,000 registrations in online curriculum courses last academic year. An additional 50,000 registrations were logged for noncredit courses at the community colleges.

Online future

UNC leaders want online to be a bigger part of its future, too. A five-year plan adopted by the UNC Board of Governors last year includes an emphasis on e-learning as part of its strategy to increase the percentage of North Carolina adults with a four-year degree, from 26 percent to 32 percent by 2018. The university is urging adults with some college to finish their degrees, and online education may be the best option for them.

That population – 1.2 million North Carolinians with some college plus 500,000 with two-year degrees – represents a huge untapped opportunity for online education, the 2012 consultant’s report said.

Another big market is the state’s large concentration of veterans who want to further their education when they leave the military service. They have been heavily recruited by for-profit universities, according to a July report from the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The report said that military enrollment in for-profit schools had risen rapidly in recent years, with taxpayers spending twice as much on average to send a veteran to a for-profit college as a public university.

“What we do is much higher quality, our graduation rates are higher and our default rates are lower,” Rascoff said of UNC, compared to the for-profits. “We have a better product, but we’ve been outmarketed.”

More visitors

The new website has so far shown better results for UNC. Last September, the site recorded 285 daily visitors to online program listings. This September, the average daily visitors had more than tripled, to 980.

Visitors will be able to login via Facebook or LinkedIn, and get personalized results.

That may turn the browsers into students.

Rascoff said he’s in the hunt for a private employer who wants to partner with UNC to provide online education to employees.

Starbucks recently made news by announcing it would pay for its workers to complete a degree through Arizona State University’s booming online branch. By early this month, more than 4,000 Starbucks employees had applied.

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Sep 182014
 

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By Brian Haines
Posted: Wednesday, Sep. 17, 2014

GREENVILLE To many, Cam Worthy’s six-catch, 224-yard outing during East Carolina’s 28-21 victory over No. 17 Virginia Tech last Saturday was a shocking performance. To Worthy, it was no surprise at all.

“I knew it was coming eventually,” Worthy said. “I’m highly confident. I just knew if I waited my turn it would come to me.”

It’s been quite the journey for the 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior receiver, one with more twists and turns than any double move you’ll see him make on Saturdays.

Worthy grew up in Blair, S.C., and played quarterback for four years at Lower Richland High. Upon graduation in 2010, Worthy expected to spend the next four seasons behind center at Catawba, but things did not go according to the game plan.

“I had a scholarship at a small school in North Carolina to play quarterback,” Worthy said. “I went there for a year and got kicked out.”

Worthy declined to discuss his departure, but it forced him to head to California to play at Yuba Community College. It was there Worthy received an education that stemmed far behind the classrooms.

“I went out to California and it really humbled me, I needed every last bit of it,” Worthy said. “Some nights I went without eating, taking cold showers. I remember the power went out sometimes and I had to sleep on some mattresses. It just really humbled me.”

Worthy said that experience changed his character — and his football position.

“I came in two weeks before the season started and they moved me to receiver and basically told me to run fades and posts,” Worthy said.

In one season with the 49ers, Worthy was named to the All-Bay Valley Conference team. Despite his success, the speedy wideout had his mind set on running back to the east coast.

“I was ready to leave California,” Worthy said. “I took like 32 or 34 units in one semester just to get out of there. … It was just tough. The coaches were great, the football program was great, but it was just too far away from home. There were a lot of nights I went hungry. It was hard on me.”

Worthy sent his highlight film to the University of South Carolina but never heard back from coaches. East Carolina coach Ruffin McNeill and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley saw potential in that film and invited Worthy to walk on.

Riley said Worthy was a work in progress, but was willing to put in the work to get to where he is now.

“He’s made one of the biggest jumps that I’ve personally seen a receiver make,” Riley said. “When he got here you could see some talent, he had a big frame and big hands. But he was so raw, I mean raw doesn’t even begin to describe it.

“The job that he’s done and (outside receivers coach) Dave Nichols has done is unbelievable. … The improvement he’s made is as much or more than anyone I’ve ever seen.”

Worthy redshirted his first year at ECU in 2012. He played in all 13 games last season but caught just 19 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns.

In ECU’s first two games this season Worthy grabbed five passes for 78 yards. Then came Saturday, when he broke the 200-yard receiving mark for only the third time in school history.

More impressive, when the Pirates needed a big play or two during their winning drive, Worthy responded.

On ECU’s three-play, 65-yard game-winning drive, Worthy had receptions of 31 and 28 yards to set up quarterback Shane Carden’s 1-yard touchdown plunge with 16 seconds remaining.

“This week we had some one-on-one opportunities with Cam, and the way he is, if it’s one-on-one with Cam, that’s his element,” Carden said. “It’s his ball every time and I feel confident in that. I trust him. He made some great catches and some crucial catches. He had a huge game.”

With record-breaking receiver Justin Hardy being the Pirates’ clear No. 1 choice, Worthy joins sophomore Isaiah Jones as a viable second option. When mixed in with the rest of ECU’s targets the possibilities on offense are endless.

“I think we have several guys,” Riley said. “Everybody knows about Hardy, but Jimmy (Williams) is playing well, Davon (Grayson) is getting ready to take off. Bryce (Williams) had a nice game for us. We have a lot of weapons, the hard thing is there’s only one ball.”

That’s OK with Worthy. He’s waited his turn before.

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Sep 182014
 

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By Jonathan Weant
POSTED: Sep 17 2014

Dr. Joseph Luczkovich is a biology professor at East Carolina University in Greenville. He, along with three other researchers, are working on a project to better understand the ocean environment and weather patterns off the coast of North Carolina.

“We don’t have any here off North Carolina, there’s some in the Gulf of Mexico and in the open ocean, but we are soon going to have one right here in this region” said Dr. Luczkovich.

It’s called the Acoustic Wave Glider, an ocean going aquatic robot used for coastal and fisheries research.

The submarine like machine weights about 200 pounds and is 10 feet long. It will be able to collect environmental data including wind speeds, wave height, ocean current and water temperatures. All the important things needed when forecasting hurricanes.

According to Professor Luczkovich, a similar wave glider off the New Jersey and Maryland coast was left out in Super Storm Sandy, and gave great observations during the storm. That glider collected useful data that is now being used to improve storm prediction models.

There are already several different gliders in the ocean right now; however, ECU’S glider is going to be specifically made just for the university. One of the unique things about this glider, it’s going to have several different features that other ones don’t have, like having the capability to make passive acoustic recordings, perform automated animal call detection and detect tagged animals.

“Ours is different because it’s going to take sound scape recording so we’ll be able to listen to the ocean” said Dr. Luczkovich

By listening to the ocean, professor Luczkovich said they’ll be able to better understand the shape of the ocean and how and why fish swim in different locations.

The researchers hope to have the glider built and delivered by December or January 2015. They would consider it a “Christmas present,” for the department and university.

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Sep 182014
 

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September 18, 2014

East Carolina University police are investigating an anti-Semitic slur scratched into paint in a residence hall bathroom, the university reported Wednesday.

A residence adviser discovered the vandalism on Sept. 6 in a men’s bathroom stall in Fletcher Residence Hall, according to a new release from the university. The incident is being investigated as a potential crime of bias.
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The words “F___ Jews” were scratched in small letters. The message measured about an inch long. Police do not believe it was directed toward a specific individual.

Police could not determine when the incident occurred, but a recent off-campus incident may have heightened awareness that prompted the report to police.

Chancellor Steve Ballard addressed the issue in an email to faculty and students after the off-campus incident. He said crimes of bias and hate will not be tolerated.

“Behaviors and actions of this kind violate our fundamental values of civility and inclusion, and will be aggressively investigated when they occur,” Ballard said. “We have a long-standing position of zero tolerance.”

Ballard said those responsible will be held accountable.

Police Chief Gerald Lewis asked anyone with information to contact the police department at 328-6787 or leave tips on the department’s web page at www.ecu.edu/police.

The release stated campus police do not believe the incident is related to a Sept. 4 incident at The Landing student apartments.

Greenville police arrested students Timothy Scott Gill Jr., 21, and Brandon Daniel Friedhoff, 20, for allegedly spraying a white swastika on the door of a Jewish student.

They each were charged with ethnic intimidation, injury to real property and first-degree trespass.

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Sep 182014
 

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By Valerie Strauss September 17

It’s hard (if not impossible) to know just how prevalent this practice is, but some college students around the country are uploading their expensive college textbooks onto the Internet so other students can download them for free and avoid the hefty fees that are sometimes more than $200 a book.

Voactiv.com has a story titled “Why College Students are Stealing Their Textbooks,” which notes that some students are even downloading them for ethics classes.

The cost to students of college textbooks skyrocketed 82 percent between 2002 and 2012, according to a 2013 report by the U.S. General Accountability Office, the research arm of Congress. As a result, students have been looking for less expensive options, such as renting books — and, now, finding them on the Internet, uploaded by other students.

In August, an organization called the Book Industry Study Group, which represents publishers, retailers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, librarians and others in the industry, released a survey of some 1,600 students and found, according to a release on the data, that “students continue to become more sophisticated in acquiring their course materials at the lowest cost as illicit and alternative acquisition behaviors, from scanned copies to illegal downloads to the use of pirated websites, continue to increase in frequency.”

A year ago a student wrote on a Tumblr blog called “Children of the Stars” complaining about a professor who insisted that students buy an online version of a specific paperback sociology book for more than $200 — which the professor wrote himself — and would not allow them to purchase “an older, paperback edition of the same book for $5.” The student continued: “This is why we download,” and “Don’t ever, EVER buy the newest edition of a book,” which is followed by a list of Web sites with pirated books. As of 2:20 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, the post had 780,942 views.

Voactiv.com decided to do an experiment to see how easy it would be to find college textbooks for free online. The story says:

We were curious how deep the selection of books is and how easy it is to download them, so we picked five typical freshman core courses, including Culture, Ethics and Economics at Barnard College, Humanities 1217 at the University of Wisconsin and Honors Philosophy 200 at Michigan State University. Working off the syllabi for these classes and others, we tried to download all our textbooks without paying a dime from the sites offered up by the “Children of the Stars” blogger…. We typed in the titles for our books, one by one, and found them all immediately. Within minutes, we had four textbooks on our hard drive: Herodutus’ Histories, Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Physics: The Human Adventure.

The Web site said it found tweets from students across the country — “from New York University and Long Beach State to the University of Michigan and George Mason University touting the joys of shaving several thousand dollars off their college bills.”

Here are some tweets about free textbook downloading that were published on Wednesday at “textbook pdf”:

It isn’t legal to upload or download copyrighted material without permission, but that isn’t stopping students from doing it. The Web site said in its story that schools aren’t doing a lot to proactively stop it.

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Sep 182014
 

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By T. Rees Shapiro and Julie Zauzmer
September 17

Police investigating the disappearance of a University of Virginia student have focused their search in an area of downtown Charlottesville where she was last seen on surveillance video walking alone in the early morning hours Saturday.

Hannah Graham, 18, was reported missing Sunday after friends said that they had not heard from her since after midnight on Saturday.

On Wednesday, more than three days after she disappeared, police shared two surveillance videos that show Graham walking in downtown Charlottesville after drinking and socializing with friends Friday night into Saturday.

The disappearance has perplexed Graham’s friends and family, who know the sophomore as a responsible and organized student. Her former teachers at West Potomac High School in Fairfax County, where she earned a diploma in 2013, said she has a dry wit and showed leadership on the softball diamond and poise as a top saxophonist in the school’s jazz band.

New evidence police released Wednesday shows Graham walking near a busy outdoor seating area at McGrady’s Irish Pub in Charlottesville, east of the main U-Va. campus. A second video shows her near a Shell gas station about four blocks from McGrady’s. She is seen running at the beginning of the video before slowing to a walk.

Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo said that he did not think Graham was being followed when she was seen running in the footage.

At one point, video shows Graham walking near railroad tracks that cut through Charlottesville. Norfolk Southern spokesman Robin Chapman said the rail line owns the tracks and that between 20 and 25 trains, including four Amtrak trains, use the line in a 24-hour period.

After she passed the gas station, Graham went to an outdoor mall downtown, Longo said. He said that an eyewitness, one of more than 100 people who have called a designated tip line about Graham’s disappearance, had spotted her in that area and that police planned to examine additional surveillance camera footage.

Longo said Graham had been drinking alcohol with her friends on Friday night. They ate dinner together and made plans to meet up again later. Graham left, and it was the last time her friends saw her.

Longo said Graham is not thought to have taken any drugs, but he said the alcohol might have impaired her judgment and left her vulnerable.

Graham’s mother, brother and friends realized on Sunday that they had not heard from Graham during the weekend — which was unusual — and they contacted police Sunday evening. Police said that Graham’s last communication with friends was a series of text messages after 1 a.m. Saturday. One text indicated that Graham was lost and in unfamiliar surroundings.

The FBI is assisting in the case and police have used bloodhounds in the search. Longo said police took electronics from Graham’s off-campus apartment, which she shares with three roommates.
Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy became emotional on Wednesday as he reported on the latest developments in their search for missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. (Reuters)

Longo said Graham’s disappearance is reminiscent of the case involving Morgan Harrington, a Virginia Tech student who was found dead months after vanishing from a concert in Charlottesville in 2009. Longo noted that police had already canvassed the area where Harrington’s remains were found. No suspect has been linked to Harrington’s death, and police have released no evidence of suspected foul play in Graham’s case.

“Both of [the disappearances] occurred within the proximity of the University of Virginia,” Longo said. “Both of them are young girls. I mean, it’s just that simple.”

On Tuesday night, Graham’s friends painted a well-known bridge in Charlottesville with the inscription “Bring Hannah Home.” In Fairfax, members of the West Potomac softball team painted a boulder in front of the school with the same message in bold letters.

West Potomac softball coach Craig Maniglia said Graham played all four years at the school and was a captain of the varsity team her senior year. An outfielder and consistent base hitter, Graham was known for her team-first attitude.

“From a coach’s standpoint she was a delight — never late, never missed anything,” Maniglia said. “Your best players sometimes go unnoticed because they don’t make mistakes. That was the kind of player she was.”

West Potomac band director Steve Rice said Graham was an accomplished alto saxophonist when she joined the band as a freshman. He said she was among a handful of young instrumentalists who played in a more advanced section as freshmen. She later served as the lead alto sax player in the jazz band.

“She was able to handle a really rigorous academic load along with being a great band kid,” Rice said. “She was able to handle it with grace.”

Graham’s family members went to Charlottesville this week and were doing whatever they could to help the search.

“I would add that we are trying to remain hopeful,” Graham’s father, John Graham, said in an e-mail to The Washington Post on Wednesday.

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