Feb 272015


Posted 4:58 a.m. today

By EMERY P. DALESIO, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s public university board is thinking about eliminating an anti-poverty center headed up by an outspoken critic of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and other Republican lawmakers he accuses of doing too little to help the poor.

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors planned to vote Friday on a special review committee’s recommendation to close the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill law school. The committee also recommended closing two other programs: the Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change at North Carolina Central University and the Center for Biodiversity at East Carolina University.

The poverty center is headed by law professor Gene Nichol, who was the law school’s dean when he helped created the center as a platform for John Edwards ahead of the former Democratic vice presidential candidate’s 2008 campaign. Nichol has acidly criticized the policies advanced by McCrory and Republican lawmakers. In one 2013 opinion essay, he compared McCrory to 1960s-era segregationist Southern governors because of his support for tougher election laws. Subsequent newspaper opinion pieces included the disclaimer that Nichol doesn’t speak for UNC.

None of the programs being looked at receive direct funding from state taxpayers. The centers at ECU and NCCU operate on the equivalent of $5,000 a year or less of shared office space. The poverty center’s $107,000 budget comes from corporate and foundation grants and private gifts, according to the law school.

The review committee said the poverty center should be closed because it “did not provide a wide range of alternatives for addressing poverty,” because other anti-poverty efforts are underway on the Chapel Hill campus, and because it is not clear how the center meets the law school’s educational mission.

Opposing the poverty center’s closing are law school dean Jack Boger, a national professors’ association, and liberal groups in the state.

Three local Democratic legislators who wrote a letter urging the Board of Governors to reconsider the closing said the board’s decision to investigate the value of nearly 250 centers and institutes across the 16-campus university system was sparked by Nichol’s criticism of Republican policy decisions.

“It’s hard not to conclude that closing the center is an intentional signal to other faculty researches to speak publicly only on subjects and positions more comfortable to the current majority,” the letter said.

State lawmakers told the university system’s board to look at ways to divert funding for the centers to other UNC system programs. UNC centers and institutes received $69 million in state appropriations last year.

Nichol was dean of the UNC-CH law school when he recruited Edwards to start the poverty center at his alma mater after his 2004 run as Democrat John Kerry’s vice-presidential candidate. In an email sent two weeks after the election, Nichol told the former North Carolina senator that the law school “would be thrilled to provide any affiliation you might choose — from full time faculty to part-time director of a think tank we’d help raise the money to support.”

Nichol had himself run unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate, losing Colorado’s Democratic primary in 1996. He campaigned after leaving the University of Colorado law school, where he was its dean. Two years later, Nichol ran for the U.S. House in Colorado but again lost the Democratic primary.

The center provided Edwards a platform to travel the country discussing poverty, which he focused on heavily during his own presidential run before joining the Kerry ticket. A multimillionaire trial lawyer, Edwards earned $40,000 a year as the think tank’s director before declaring his candidacy for president in December 2006.

Nichol gets an extra $7,500 as the poverty center’s director on top of his $211,400 salary, law school spokeswoman Allison Reid said. He also is allowed to teach one course instead of two each semester to accommodate his work as the center’s director.

Feb 272015


By Melissa Korn
Feb. 27, 2015

The job market for fresh college graduates is improving—as is the method for measuring the success of graduates.

Just more than half of the nearly 67,000 members of the class of 2014 who responded to a survey had landed full-time jobs within six months of donning their caps and gowns. The figure isn’t exactly comparable to last year’s overall result, which didn’t break out part- and full-time employment. However, individual schools say the numbers reflect an uptick.

Preliminary results from the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ First Destination Survey, being released at the group’s legislative summit on Friday, show that 52.9% of bachelor’s degree graduates were employed on a full-time basis this winter, and 7.3% worked part time.

Another 16.8% were enrolled in graduate programs, while 18.7% were still seeking jobs or graduate-school admission. The results show the job market is bouncing back with the economy.

The new data is significantly more comprehensive and uniform than prior-year reports by the group, which represents career-services officials and corporate recruiters. Until this year, NACE had allowed schools to survey their students anywhere from a week to about a year after graduation. Last year, the average survey time was seven months after graduation.

The new approach to data collection highlights the growing focus on measuring outcomes in a scientifically sound way as the value of a college degree has come increasingly into question amid rising costs and soaring student debt.

This year, respondents came from 98 schools nationwide, ranging from the University of South Carolina to Augsburg College in Minneapolis. They reported an overall response rate of 66.5% for bachelor’s degree graduates, up from 50% last year.

At Denison University in Granville, Ohio, the survey results indicate a continuing rebound in the job market after the recession. Denison, which had information on 95% of its 520 graduates from the class of 2014, reported that about two-thirds of respondents were working full or part time within six months, up from 56% for the class of 2013.

Meanwhile, the share that attended graduate school declined to 15% from 21% the prior year, as more students eyed immediate earnings, said Kirsten Fox, associate director of career exploration and development at Denison.

Some schools question the value in surveying graduates so soon after they leave campus, preferring to wait a year to gather data, when students tend to be more settled.

Students “don’t jump into conventional jobs right from the start” these days, said Lisa Howick, associate director of career and leadership development at Sewanee: The University of the South, a liberal-arts school in Sewanee, Tenn. Instead, they often string together a few internships, take time to travel or work part-time while applying to graduate school.

Sewanee could track 98% of its graduates from the class of 2013 one year after graduation; at the six-month mark for 2014 graduates, they had information on the whereabouts of 57.6% of the 347-student class. Of that group, 44.5% were employed full time, 3% part time and 14% were doing post-baccalaureate programs, internships and fellowships.

Ms. Howick said she prefers the more comprehensive one-year snapshot, and that is what Sewanee will continue to use for marketing purposes.

Feb 272015


By Nick Anderson
February 26 at 3:47 PM

“The Hunting Ground,” a documentary that provides first-hand accounts from numerous women and men about sexual violence on college campuses, opens Friday in selected theaters in New York and California and was previewed this week at the White House.

The film, by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, is likely to make waves in higher education because it puts names and faces onto an issue that has seized attention in Washington and at colleges around the country. In it, Andrea Pino and Annie E. Clark recount their experiences as students who were raped at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as survivors in an activist movement seeking to force universities to do more to acknowledge a systemic problem, punish perpetrators and prevent future sexual violence.

The film is scheduled to open in selected theaters in New York City and Los Angeles on Friday and in Washington, Boston and Berkeley, Calif., on March 13. It features not only Pino and Clark but also many others who give harrowing accounts of sexual attacks they endured at college — and what they describe as the indifference they encountered from school officials after they reported the incidents.

Clark, Pino, Dick and Ziering were in Washington on Thursday for media interviews. They said they had attended a White House screening of the film Wednesday. Neither President Obama nor the first lady, Michelle Obama, was at the screening, they said, but members of Congress, activists and others attended.

Obama and officials in his administration have spoken often in the past two years about the need to stop campus sexual assault. Clark said she wants the film to raise awareness even further.

“We hope it breaks that fourth wall, so it’s not kept within the echo chamber of survivors and higher education and feminist blogs,” she said. “While those are all great, we just hope the public sees this. You know, your average person sitting down to eat dinner at six o’clock in Kansas.”

College officials are awaiting the film’s release with some nervousness. Nearly 100 schools are under federal investigation for their handling of sexual violence reports. Now, the documentary will bring further scrutiny to many big-name colleges and universities.

At the end, the filmmakers note that they sought response from several schools cited prominently in the film. According to advance press notes, the film states that the leaders of Harvard University, the University of Notre Dame, Florida State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of California at Berkeley, Occidental College and Saint Mary’s College in Indiana “declined to be interviewed for this film.”

An Occidental spokesman raised questions about the reporting underlying “The Hunting Ground”.

James Tranquada said that Ziering, the producer, sent an e-mail to the college on Dec. 18 asking Occidental President Jonathan Veitch for an interview. That was, Tranquada said, just before the college closed for winter break. The query, he said, did not detail allegations that would be the subject of an interview or give the college a deadline for response.

“Our film explores in depth the challenges all schools face in dealing with campus assault and examines some of the issues your institution has encountered,” Ziering wrote Veitch, according to a copy of the query that Tranquada forwarded to The Washington Post. “As such, I’m reaching out to see if you might be available to do an on camera interview with us as we would welcome the opportunity to sit down with a respected leader like yourself who could share with us your thoughts and insights on the issue and how your institution is responding to the current crisis.”

Tranquada said the college chose not to respond in part because the query appeared to lack specifics. In January, the documentary was shown at the Sundance Film Festival.

“Sexual assault is clearly an important story deserving of major coverage, but all this doesn’t seem like a real attempt to get the other side of the story,” Tranquada told The Post in an e-mail.

Dick, the writer/director, and Ziering previously collaborated on “The Invisible War,” a film that investigated rape in the U.S. military. Their latest film is presented by RADiUS and CNN Films.

Asked about Tranquada’s comments, Ziering said: “We are very interested in hearing the other side of the story and have been reaching out to various colleges over the past two years.” She said the filmmakers did not decide which colleges to focus on “until extremely late in the game.” She added: “There was definitely sufficient time to have everybody respond. We would have welcomed that.”

Too often, Dick said, college presidents duck difficult questions about sexual assault. “I think that’s unfortunate,” he said. “What’s needed here is leadership. The people at the top should be speaking out.”

Feb 272015


February 27, 2015

Lawmakers in 13 states are considering “campus-carry” bills. Supporters believe armed students could stop violent crimes like sexual assaults, but the controversy is dividing students.

At Florida State University, opponents believe allowing students to be armed is a dangerous idea, while proponents say crime victims have a right to fend off their attackers, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.

“If I was single and dating in college and my boyfriend tried something that I said no to, and started sexually assaulting me, I would use my firearm to defend myself,” Students for Concealed Carry co-president Rebeka Hargrove said.

The graduate student has a concealed weapons permit, but state law prohibits her from entering the Florida State University campus with her firearm.

She said she feels much safer with a gun in her purse.

“I know that if anything were to happen, I would be able to defend myself,” Hargrove said.

Only seven states permit students to bring guns onto public universities. Florida is one of 20 that ban it, but a bill in the state legislature aims to change that.

High-profile sex assault allegations have been flashpoints at colleges across the country. At Florida State, former star quarterback Jameis Winston was accused of raping another student in 2012, but never faced criminal charges.

Hargrove thinks guns will help deter would-be rapists, but also points to mass shootings like an incident in November, when a gunman opened fire in a campus library, injuring three people.

“There were students there that could have stopped the shooter before he hurt and seriously injured more students,” she said.

Florida State University Police Chief David Perry disagreed.

“That would have exacerbated and made our situation even worse,” he said. “To have two or three or more people with weapons yelling commands, people firing rounds that can’t be accounted for, that’s just not a good mix.”

Perry joined top officials from the rest of Florida’s public universities opposing the bill, saying guns would actually make campuses less safe.

“There’s also a culture of drugs, there’s also a culture of underage drinking, there’s also a culture of sometimes poor decision making,” he said.

Yale Law student Alexandra Brodsky helped start “Know Your IX,” a nationwide advocacy group that helps survivors of sexual violence. She believes campus-carry laws won’t work.

“We’re talking about why shouldn’t a woman be able to carry a gun to protect herself. But if you’re going to give her a gun, you’re also going to have to give rapists a gun, and I think we can all realize that’s a really bad idea,” Brodsky said.

The Justice Department says 1 in 10 sex assaults involves a weapon.

“There’s a lot of men who are bigger and stronger than me,” Hargrove said. “I don’t want to have to think back and say, ‘Oh, I could have stopped that if I had an equalizing weapon.'”

The Florida campus-carry bill is currently before the state senate’s higher education committee. Similar measures are also pending in Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Virginia and eight other states.

Feb 262015


February 25, 2015

The first class of the new four-year medical school at East Carolina University enrolled in 1977, and the mission of the school had been clearly stated by lawmakers who approved it: Boost the number of family physicians in the state, improve the health of people in the Eastern North Carolina and provide access to a medical education for minorities and other students who might have found that prohibitive.

It is fair to say this fine school, now called the Brody School of Medicine, has done its part and then some. It has stayed true to its mission and has done what its leaders were promising since ECU officials started campaigning for the school years before it was approved and opened.

Dr. Paul Cunningham, the dean, is a person of compassion and commitment to that mission, a great leader. But now the school is in need of an infusion of state money, $8 million this year and an additional $30 million a year in the future. Those figures come from ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard.

It is a fair request.

Value beyond dollars

Cunningham, who travels the rural areas of Eastern North Carolina that are served by the Brody School, is one who tries to impress on public officials that the value of the medical school isn’t something that can be measured in numbers, in revenues from clinics associated with the school or its associated hospital, Vidant Medical Center, for example.

One of the school’s missions, after all, is to care for poor people, and many of those people, who haven’t had access to preventive medical care, also happen to be very sick. They can’t pay, but their care is expensive.

It’s a formula that doesn’t do much for the bottom line but does quite a bit in terms of helping people in an area of the state with much need.

Something else that doesn’t do much for the bottom line is the state’s failure to expand Medicaid, the federal/state insurance program for the poor and disabled. Though Medicaid fees have been reduced, another problem for Brody and the doctors who are in its clinics, the money at least offsets some costs as opposed to treating people who can pay nothing.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states were allowed to expand Medicaid, with the federal government picking up all the expense for three years, and 90 percent of it thereafter. But North Carolina’s Republican leaders in control of the General Assembly have declined to allow perhaps 500,000 more North Carolinians to be covered with Medicaid. Their excuse seems to be that the state can’t afford the extra expense and the federal government may renege on its promise to pay at least 90 percent of the cost.

Without more help from the state, the Brody School will face an uncertain future.

Broader funding needed

The president of Vidant, the university’s partner, says the hospital bolsters the medical school, but adds that, “only so much of that can go on.” Brian Floyd added, “You can’t run a whole (public) medical school on clinical dollars. You have to have education dollars from the state.”

The News & Observer reported that the school has critics who claim it hasn’t been efficient in terms of operational expenses and has bought private practices it should not have.

But certainly it appears a lot of the troubles are due to inadequate state appropriations and the loss of potential Medicaid funding.

In addition, lawmakers limited the way medical schools could pursue patients who didn’t pay. Taking those limits away presumably could bring in more revenue, but Adam Linker, a health care expert with the N.C. Justice Center, said that would be at the expense of poor people.

Given revenue shortfalls, it’s not a good year for additional appropriations. But the Brody School should not be punished, in effect, for doing everything it can to keep the promises it made upon its creation.

Feb 262015


Wednesday, February 26, 2015

As educational namesakes, Charles Brantley Aycock (1859-1912) and Charles Montgomery Eppes (1857-1942) remain neighbors: Aycock Dorm on College Hill shares a common border with C.M. Eppes Middle School. Despite one-dimensional characterizations of Aycock as a white supremacist, Aycock also had an admirer in Professor Eppes, principal of Greenville’s African-American schools from 1903-1942, and an adjunct instructor at A&T.

Following Aycock’s death, Eppes wrote the News & Observer a public condolence, an excerpt of which appeared on its front page. Eppes stated, “Grief stricken everywhere are thoughtful negroes who knew the Children’s Governor. Place a garland on his grave for us, with another he was the best loved tribune of education in North Carolina.” The letter was signed, “C.M. Eppes, Principal of Colored Graded School, Greenville, N.C.”

In 1902, after a Boston Guardian cartoon wrongly mocked Gov. Aycock as an advocate of lynching, Professor Eppes wrote a letter to The Washington Post (Sept. 1, 1902) denouncing the Guardian. Eppes stated, “The governor of North Carolina (Aycock) has shown a disposition not only to protect negro citizens, but to give them every chance for proper development. Our A. and M. College, seven normal schools for the training of negro teachers, the large number of graded schools, and the thousands of district schools show what is being done. While the cartoonist was making his brutal attack upon the governor’s administration of justice, he (Aycock) was pleading with white men in Central North Carolina to protect the educational facilities of the black children of the State. Our governor is inspiring the negro to seek the highest ideals of character.”

Moving forward with the Board of Trustee’s decision to transition remembrance of Gov. Aycock, we might do well to manifest the generosity of spirit and vision that Professor Eppes offered Gov. Aycock.



Feb 262015


By Jane Dail
February 25, 2015

East Carolina University faculty banded together Wednesday as a part of a national movement to educate students and the community about working conditions of adjunct faculty and how short-term cost savings will have long-term effects on the quality of education.

Tenure-track and adjunct educators met at the cupola on ECU’s campus for National Adjunct Action Day to give support for adjunct faculty, or educators who do not have tenure or are not on a tenure track.
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Amanda Klein, an associate professor of film studies, said adjunct positions initially were intended for people in an area of expertise to share their workplace knowledge in a classroom. She said adjunct positions are replacing tenure-track positions, so more educators are “forced to turn something that was always meant to be a supplement into their full profession.”

Susan Pearce, an associate sociology professor, said adjunct positions also were intended for new doctoral students to gain teaching experience before pursuing a tenure-track position.

“It’s actually become the way campuses are staffing themselves at the very core,” Pearce said. “That’s what we’re really troubled by, and it tends to be a trend that is only increasing.”

Klein said nationally, faculty who are off the tenure track has risen 242 percent since 2003.

She said public universities tend to have higher rates of adjunct faculty because they tend to be more budget-conscious, but research shows having more tenured and tenure-track faculty correlates to higher student retention and graduation rates. Klein said her department has about 50 percent adjunct faculty.

She said colleges and universities use different terms for adjunct faculty, including contingent faculty, instructors or fixed-term faculty.

“That’s all very strategic to keep us all from unifying and working together as a group to try and change the way the structure is moving,” she said.

Klein said one main point of the event was to bring it to the attention of students, because many do not even understand the backgrounds of their instructors.

“They have no idea that a lot of these folks are teaching way too many classes, that they often have no office space to meet with students,” she said.

Brian Glover said adjunct faculty have no job stability or protections, because they usually have yearly contracts and are not entitled to health insurance.

Pearce said the university must offer health care to employees who work 30 or more hours, so ECU is asking adjunct faculty to work fewer hours or pay premiums for health insurance.

Glover, an adjunct faculty member in the English department, said 42.5 percent of faculty at ECU are fixed-term, which has risen from 26 percent in 1989.

Glover started at ECU eight years ago and has seen budget cuts from the General Assembly every year.

“That’s going to come out somewhere,” he said. “For a long time we’ve been trying to keep it from affecting the students, been trying to do more with less, teach more students with fewer people. It’s getting to the point now where it’s starting to affect now what happens in the classroom.”

He encouraged students to tell their legislators to give ECU proper funding for better work conditions and to regain tenured positions.

Pearce said fixed-term faculty at ECU earn between $3,000 and $5,050 per course, meaning someone teaching four courses would earn between $24,000 and $40,400. She said she has heard stories of adjunct faculty having to live on food stamps, wait tables or even sell plasma to pay their student loan debt and make ends meet.

Those who attended the event also collected canned food for a food bank to make a statement about how adjunct faculty can barely feed themselves.

Klein said only 35 percent of revenue at the university is spent on instruction, with the majority going to administrator pay and other projects throughout the university.

She said having tenure in higher education is important because it allows educators to teach without fear of repercussions from outside sources.

“If we become fearful about what we can or cannot teach in the classroom, we’re really hurting our students,” Klein said.

Jason Faulkner, an adjunct faculty member in the English department, said his time in a classroom is ending because he cannot work for a system that undervalues him and students.

“The system is failing its employees, the teachers,” he said. “I hope that we never get to the point where the system is failing or has failed its customers, the students.”

Feb 262015


February 25, 2015

As part of a National Adjunct Day of Action, a group of mostly tenured professors and students gathered on the steps of Wilson Library to raise awareness of how heavily the university depends on low-paid instructors with little or no job security.

“The situation is really changing quickly,” said Altha Cravey, a tenured professor of geography and 20-year UNC employee. “I’m an anachronism in the academic world. These jobs just aren’t out there anymore.”

In 2003, she said, about 12 percent of UNC faculty were in positions that were not on a tenure track – a status that provides certain job guarantees and protects academic freedom in sometimes controversial fields.

Today, 59 percent of the UNC faculty is not on a tenure track, she said.

Anthropology professor Don Nonini described the practice as the “casualization” of faculty as workers.

“Their pay is low, the teaching load is high,” he said of adjunct instructors. “They’re seen as dismissible: just get rid of one and replace with another.”

Holding the “speakout” was considered less risky, said Cravey, than the one-day Day Without Adjuncts walkout proposed by Faculty Forward, a national group seeking better compensation and working conditions for adjunct instructors.

Even so, most of the speakers at Wednesday’s event were tenured professors or students who read anonymous testimonials from non-tenure-track instructors who said they might be jeopardizing their jobs if they went public.

Most full time

According to university data, more than 82 percent of UNC’s nearly 2,500 adjuncts are full time.

The average salary for a full-time lecturer at UNC was $53,172 in 2013-14. The average salary for a tenured professor is $110,000. According to Faculty Forward, more than a third of nontenured faculty nationwide make less than $15 an hour.

Matthew Clark with Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy described the compensation numbers as “dangerously low.”

According to a national salary survey conducted by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, the median salary for teaching faculty was $2,700 per course in fall 2010, Clark said.

“Averages ranged from $2,235 at two-year colleges to $3,400 at research/doctoral universities,” he said. “Given a full-time workload of eight to 10 courses per year, full-time teaching faculty compensated by the course would make between $21,600 and $27,000 per year.”

Demonstrators at the UNC event and those with Faculty Forward said they want part-time faculty to be paid $15,000 per course.

Clark said at UNC, the lowest-paid full-time faculty are in the Romance Languages department – making between $37,000 and $39,000 per year. “This is pretty shocking for a school with the prestige of UNC,” he said.

At the speakout, a UNC senior read a statement from one instructor who said his inability to attend in person reflected his anxiety about his job. He is treated as a “highly disposable asset in a corporate model” the statement said.

UNC Provost Jim Dean attended the event and said he will meet with organizers to educate himself and “see what progress can be made.”

“Clearly the issues are complex, have evolved over a long period of time, and are not unique to UNC,” he said.