Oct 302014



In an apartment complex just outside the western edge of the University of Colorado’s flagship campus, a 22-year-old psychology major named Zach has just leaned over an expensive oil rig — a twisting glass tube that he will use to smoke shatter, a hash oil concentrate. Once he lights up, his high will be rapid and intense.

Zach spends hundreds of dollars on smoking devices. But he has a side income. This evening’s session was preceded by visits to three medical marijuana dispensaries, where, using his state-issued card, he bought pot products to sell to friends at a markup. “Runners” — campus argot, as in running around buying for others — are an open secret on campus.

Zach takes a seat on his overstuffed sectional and tells how it happened: His first day living on campus, a sophomore had taken him to a dispensary for a pizza with marijuana baked in. He asked how he could get his own card, and friends coached him on telling a doctor about anxiety, nausea or back pain. “I just said I had a bike accident when I was younger, and that caused lower back pain, which caused nausea and that caused anxiety,” he recalls. “I was afraid it wouldn’t happen, so I just got all three knocked out.” He presented a bill mailed to his dorm as proof he was a state resident, which he wasn’t, and received a card allowing him to access medical marijuana immediately, two ounces at a time.

Some of Zach’s clients are under 21 and cannot buy recreational cannabis legally. But others are older students who simply don’t want to pay the hefty tax — three times that levied on medical marijuana. So despite the abundance of recreational cannabis products since the first retail shops opened in January, there is still a vibrant black market for medical marijuana, which has been legal in Colorado since 2001 with a doctor’s recommendation.

“There’s definitely still the demand,” says Zach, who is on track to graduate in December. He makes anywhere from a few dollars to a thousand a month, depending on how much he hustles, but he says that overall sales have declined a bit, what with retail shops, student growers and all the medical cards.

It’s difficult to say if students are smoking more. There is no long-term data by age, but statewide about 16,000 18- to 24-year-olds are on the medical marijuana registry. That’s 14 percent of all cardholders. City of Boulder tax revenue for medical marijuana for the first six months of 2014 was up 30 percent, at $500,000 — about equal to revenue on recreational marijuana.

Nationally, marijuana use among young adults has clearly been trending upward. The percentage of college students who reported smoking within the previous year plummeted from a high of 51 percent in 1981 to a low of 26.5 percent in 1991, and has been zigzagging back up, to some 36 percent in 2013, according to the Monitoring the Future Study at the University of Michigan. Data released in September show that one of 20 college students (one of 11 men) gets high daily or near daily, the highest rate since 1981. To put that in perspective, from 1990 to 1994, fewer than one in 50 students used pot that frequently.

Experts say that the increase is surely a reflection of relaxed laws governing marijuana in some states, a movement gaining momentum. Floridians will face a ballot initiative on Tuesday on whether to legalize medical marijuana, which is allowed in almost half the states. Alaska, Oregon and District of Columbia voters will decide whether to follow Colorado and Washington State, where recreational marijuana has been legal since 2012.

The amendments ban smoking in public — on streets and in parks, shops and restaurants. The same holds for campuses, including university housing.

Dr. Donald A. Misch, associate vice chancellor for health and wellness at the University of Colorado, says that his main concern about the way legalization will affect students is that the industry — and associated advertising and commercialization — promotes the notion that cannabis is harmless. Monitoring the Future asks high school seniors if they see “great harm” in smoking regularly: 60 percent do not. In 2005, 42 percent did not.

Dr. Misch is working with other campus officials to increase awareness about the effects of the substance, including its impact on learning. “It is not going to turn you into an ax murderer,” he says, “but what I tell people is: ‘The good news is that marijuana is in many ways better than alcohol. The bad news is it’s not as benign as many people want you to believe.’ ”

Tucked away in a windowless basement room in the university’s Wardenburg Health Center, three clean-cut undergraduates are examining how marijuana is affecting them. “Breathe,” a sign suggests in the softly lit room. Backpacks slung to the floor, the students form a restless crescent — pencils tapping, legs jiggling — around a new-age rug of concentric circles.

“Did anybody get in more trouble over the weekend?” asks Stephen Bentley, a substance abuse counselor. They hadn’t. The session, designed to help them see the discrepancy between getting high and reaching their goals, is one of three they have been mandated to attend. All are under 21 and were caught smoking.

Marijuana citations by the campus police are, in fact, down — 154 as of Oct. 3, compared with almost 256 in the same period last year. Christina Gonzales, dean of students, says the university is moving from a punitive stance to a more educational approach, easing up on enforcement. But last year, 718 students who had been sent to the health center by the courts or university after a substance-related offense (mostly alcohol) were found to be engaged in pot use that put them at risk.

Michael, a sophomore from Colorado, was caught over the summer in a Boulder park for possession. “A bike cop came up and saw me exhale.” He paid fines and fees of about $150, performed 24 hours of community service and had to complete Mr. Bentley’s three-part class. If he stays out of trouble for several months, the court will wipe his record clean. During the summer, he was smoking about five times a week but has slowed down with the start of classes.

Mr. Bentley asks the group about problems with memory, which seems to resonate with Michael. “If I get high a number of times per week,” he says, “I notice that my memory slumps a little.”

Mr. Bentley empathizes. “You can’t remember your car keys, phone?”

“No, it’s not like that. If a friend tells me an answer to a problem when I’m working on homework and I’m not quite there yet, I can’t remember it.”

“So, you can’t hold it in your mind,” Mr. Bentley affirms. No judgment, no confrontation, no labels. This is the mantra.

Mr. Bentley and counselors at other universities say they are seeing a small but growing number of students who have been smoking since age 14 and are serious users. He mentions dabs, an exponentially powerful form of marijuana. Last year, he got an email from a member of the housing staff. Students were wielding a butane torch in the dorm. “The kids were saying, ‘We’re making crème brûlée on the hot plate.’ ”

Not exactly. The torches heat a nail. A dab of pot concentrate is placed on the head. Vapors are inhaled.

“That’s the way things work in this culture,” says Mr. Bentley, who has more than 20 years in the addiction field, 10 at Boulder. “People on the front lines are playing catch-up a lot of times.” Word spread quickly through the staff of the potential fire hazard.

Universities are searching for ways to respond to marijuana, the most abused substance on campuses after alcohol. But interventions are often adaptations of programs for heavy drinkers that don’t capture the marijuana experience, says Jason R. Kilmer, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington. In a typical program for experienced smokers, students answer questions adapted from a widely used index of alcohol-related problems: Has the student ever passed out after using? Got into a fight? But they aren’t asked about eating too much, coughing and problems with sleep, motivation, memory and attention — top unwanted effects of marijuana named in a recent survey of students by Dr. Kilmer and colleagues. Helping students recognize problems can prompt them to reduce consumption.

Some colleges, including the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Boston College and the University of Southern Indiana, have been adding programs tailored to marijuana users. C.U.-Boulder offers a tier of psychoeducational options — two levels of individual sessions for mild and more serious users, and a group program for moderate and heavier users. For students unable to curb their use, a more extensive program is being planned to help them add structure to their lives and find relaxation alternatives — yoga, maybe.

“It’s a retention strategy as well,” Mr. Bentley says. Users, even infrequent, are more likely to drop out, according to a 2013 report from the University of Maryland.

Alan J. Budney, a researcher and professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, ticks off academic fallout: “Not getting to class, changing majors, the B average becomes a C average — they are small things that aren’t disastrous but they can change the course of where you are heading.”

Research on universities’ efforts is scant. Several studies have shown encouraging, if short-term results. Three months after a brief intervention, students from two campuses in the Northwest reported smoking less and experiencing fewer pot-related consequences; ditto for Wilmington students one month after their program.

At the heart of the sessions is motivational interviewing, which gets students to voice their own ambivalence about their use and eventually consider changing it.

Students first discuss what’s good about getting high, how it lubricates social interactions and dissipates boredom and stress. Michael, a driven computer engineering major, tells Mr. Bentley’s group that pot helps him feel his emotions. “Marijuana changed my point of view on life, not to take things so hard and go easier on myself.” And, of course, there are the perception-altering qualities. Ben, a junior, smiles and says: “When you’re high, watching a movie or going to a concert is freaking awesome.”

They also discuss what’s “not so good” (words like “bad” are taboo). Spending too much: “I don’t want to even think about that,” says Kevin, the third member of the group, who smoked multiple times a day as a freshman but has cut back to three or four times a week. Lack of motivation scores, too. And anxiety. “If you have anxiety in your life regularly, it amplifies it,” Ben offers.

As students reveal their dislikes, counselors listen intently for signs of self-medication for anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. But mostly, they listen for any hook that might motivate a student to cut back.

Relationship troubles caused by a partner’s disapproval of their marijuana use is a “biggie,” says Rebecca Caldwell, director of the substance abuse program in Wilmington. So are slipping grades, a factor motivating the three in Mr. Bentley’s session. For an athlete, it might be diminished lung capacity.

Because marijuana’s effects are subtle, some students don’t connect the dots with, say, feeling tired after a night’s sleep. Some don’t want to see the connection. Pot becomes part of who they are. Oregon State University shut down its group program two years ago and now offers only individual sessions because participants were enabling one another, says Robert C. Reff, director of the substance abuse program.

“I ask: ‘Who are your friends? How many smoke marijuana?’ And they say, ‘All of them.’ ”

Ask students what has changed at the University of Colorado since legalization and most will say: not much.

Boulder has a long history with cannabis. Hippies flocked to this oasis of independent thought, drawn by a bustling music scene and student protests. As the city morphed into a counterculture outpost and activist hotbed — passing strict environmental laws, relaxing drug enforcement and opening one of the state’s first abortion clinics — getting high was not just a way to tune out but also a political statement.

“The only rules here are no rules,” Rob Pudim, a resident, told a Newsweek reporter in a 1980 piece entitled “Where the Hip Meet to Trip.” “The only people in town who aren’t comfortable,” he said, “are straight people who need boundaries.”

The campus still draws from afar. Nearly 40 percent of its 26,000 undergraduates are from out of state — a high percentage for a public university. They are attracted by mountain adventure and a stunning setting. The Flatirons, the steep slabs of rock that dominate the landscape, feel close enough to touch. Many students are here because of the robust science programs; C.U. is a member of the Association of American Universities, an exclusive group of research institutions. And because of its party-school reputation.

On a recent Friday, a clutch of students and friends gather around a table garnished for an evening of casual indulgence: beers, playing cards, tubes of medical marijuana and a bong. All are 21, or almost there, and from other states.

Several voice sentiments that are shared in other corners of campus. They didn’t come here simply because it’s located in a permissive pot town, but cannabis culture certainly played a role. “I could have went to a bunch of sweet public schools,” says Erik Mingo, “and I chose this one because I knew it was pretty accepted here. I knew people had an open mind.”

Mr. Mingo dropped out after the spring semester to work at a start-up. He has largely quit smoking, and isn’t indulging on this night. “I just didn’t really need it anymore,” he explains. “It helped me relax and think about myself and the world, and I just wasn’t getting the same return.” His priority now is excelling at a demanding job, he says. “I was moving on just naturally in my life.”

The campus is not under a cannabis cloud. Sometimes one sees a lit joint in the open or a “vape” pen in class, drawing ire from professors. But students and others talk about a shift in how they view cannabis consumption. Once an act of rebellion, it no longer seems to hold symbolic power. “Now it’s just part of everyday life,” says Joseph Kaley, 27, who graduated in 2009 and manages a Mexican restaurant on the Hill, an off-campus gathering spot. Mr. Kaley attended three of the campus’s famous April 20 smoke-outs, lighting up each time to protest marijuana’s criminal status at the time.

In 2012, the university successfully shut down “4/20,” saying it had grown so large it was disrupting academic life. Many were angered, particularly by the methods used to ward smokers away: Workers spread smelly fish fertilizer on the quad and anyone without a student identification card was turned away.

New students, when asked, see the smoke-out as a piece of quirky campus history. “It’s just kind of fading from people’s memories,” says Wyatt Ryder, 20, the chief of staff of the student government, which last April held a symposium offering “an all-inclusive inside dive into the realm of cannabis culture.”

“The goal was to have a very nuanced discussion about marijuana,” said Caitlin Pratt, 23, Mr. Ryder’s colleague in student government. Panelists discussed making money in the industry, the effects of cannabis on the mind and efforts to legalize the substance in other states. One of the most popular panels was led by Nolan Kane, a C.U. professor attempting to map the cannabis genome to better understand marijuana’s medical, fuel and biotechnology potential.

A few months later, Mr. Ryder attended a national conference for student government representatives. He was accosted with questions — and jokes — about pot culture at his university. Mr. Ryder, who doesn’t even smoke, was shocked to be appointed the conference’s unofficial marijuana expert.

“I just think it’s fascinating,” he said, “because to us in Colorado, it’s not such a big deal. But to other people, it’s a major issue.”

Abigail Sullivan Moore is co-author of “The iConnected Parent: Staying Close to Your Kids in College (and Beyond) While Letting Them Grow Up.” Julie Turkewitz is a reporter for The Times based in Denver.

Education Life is a quarterly section offering news and commentary about higher education. You can reach us by emailing edlife@nytimes.com.

Oct 292014


By Jane Dail

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

With humor and politics going hand in hand for comedians, two East Carolina University political science professors helped publish a book to take a closer look at the laughs just in time for elections.

Jody Baumgartner and Jonathan Morris teamed up with Robert Lichter from George Mason University to write “Politics is a Joke! How TV Comedians are Remaking Political Life,” which was published in July.

The two ECU professors will host a book signing today at Barnes and Noble, 3040 Evans St., at 7 p.m.

“We’re hoping to get some interest,” Morris said. “It is an interesting topic that is timely. We feel we captured the golden age of political humor.”

Morris said the idea for the book started about 11 years ago when he and Baumgartner began talking about Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” and what effect the show might have on the audience.

Baumgartner said he already had published research in that area, and the book is like a capstone for that.

“It started out as just an idea, an assumption on our part that watching shows like ’The Daily Show’ or ‘David Letterman,’ watching them joke about politics might have an effect on the way people think about politics,” he said.

Baumgartner said the writers used a database from the Center for Media Public Affairs that categorized about 100,000 jokes from late-night talk shows.

Morris said the book was reviewed by the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post but with different outcomes.

“(The Wall Street Journal) said it was a very fun and accessible book, and then we were reviewed by the Washington Post; they said we were too dry and academic-y,” he said. “That bothered me a little bit because it was a fun book to write, and everyone said it was a fun book to read, but it does have applications.”

Baumgartner said he has written seven books, that are mostly scholarly, but this one is different.

“This book was really fun to write because most of the jokes that are included in the book, I was the one that found them and selected them,” he said. “It’s hard to go two to three pages without coming across a good half dozen jokes in the book.”

Morris said political figures use late-night talk shows as an avenue to reach people who may not have made up their minds yet or do not know for whom they will vote.

“You can show up on any of these late-night talk shows and put a personal face on it,” he said. “You don’t have to talk policy. You just try to show yourself as a regular, average guy.”

He said research has shown that late-night show appearances can be effective, but some politicians are better at marketing themselves this way than others.

Morris said in 1988, Bill Clinton, who was a relatively unknown state governor, had the duty of introducing a presidential nominee. Clinton extended his speech from what is typically five minutes to 35 minutes, with some delegates booing toward the end. Morris said Johnny Carson from “The Tonight Show” made jokes about it. A few days later, Clinton appeared on the show to poke fun at himself.

“It was clear that he saved his career,” Morris said. “He was able to put a spin nationally and show he was a likeable guy. … He was the windbag governor from a state no one had heard of, and the next week he was a likeable guy.”

Morris said this helped Clinton set the stage for the presidential election in 1992.

He said politicians can also use appearances to bypass journalists who may ask tougher questions but connect more directly with the audience.

Although Morris said he feels the era of late-night talk shows and comedic political talk shows will decline soon, there will be enough content to base jokes.

“(Elections in 2016) will be a comic feast … because both sides are open nomination races, which always brings in fringes that are very easily mocked,” Morris said.

Contact Jane Dail at jdail@reflector.com or 252-329-9585.

Oct 292014


Published: Oct. 29, 2014

Carden, Hardy, N&O

East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden (5) celebrates with Justin Hardy (2) after Carden scored in the second half of East Carolina’s 70-41 victory over UNC at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville. ETHAN HYMAN — ehyman@newsobserver.com

Pirates in the poll

Mississippi State, Florida State top playoff committee’s first list

By Ralph D. Russo

Associated Press

Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Mississippi are the top four teams in the first College Football Playoff rankings.

The first of seven Top 25 rankings compiled by a 12-member selection committee was released Tuesday night. The selection committee will ultimately pick the four teams to play in the national semifinals and set the matchups for the other four marquee New Year’s Day bowls that are part of the playoff rotation.

“It was extremely difficult, more difficult than any of us had expected having gone through our mock selections before,” Arkansas athletics director and committee chairman Jeff Long said.

Oregon was fifth and Alabama was sixth, giving the SEC’s West Division four of the top six teams. There are still four games remaining matching those SEC West rivals, starting with Saturday’s match-up of Auburn and Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.

The final rankings will be released Dec. 7, the day after most of the conference championships are decided.

Texas Christian was seventh, Michigan State was eighth, Kansas State ninth and Notre Dame was 10th.

Aside from the first glimpse of a potential final four, there is another drama worth following, and it involves East Carolina’s bid to clinch the best ranking among non-Power 5 conferences.

The reward for doing so is a spot in the Fiesta, Cotton or Peach Bowl.

The Pirates (6-1) were ranked No. 23 in the playoff committee’s first poll. Marshall (8-0), a former rival when the Pirates were in Conference USA, was ranked No. 23 the AP poll but did not make committee’s first poll. Neither did Colorado State (7-1), which received votes in the AP poll.

The committee has said it will consider strength of schedule as it compares teams. ECU is 1-1 against ranked teams and 2-1 against teams from Power 5 conferences.

Marshall ranks in the top 10 nationally in scoring and scoring defense but will not face a Power 5 opponent during the regular season.

Mississippi State and reigning national champion Florida State are the only undefeated teams left among the Big Five conferences and also hold the top two spots in the AP Top 25 poll. No. 3 was where the differences started between the playoff rankings and the AP media poll.

The AP voters had Alabama at No. 3 and Auburn at No. 4. Oregon was fifth, Notre Dame was sixth and Ole Miss was seventh after losing for the first time this season, at Louisiana State on Saturday. Ole Miss beat Alabama at home earlier this month.

This is the first year for the playoff format in college football, and the list is the first indication of how the committee is evaluating teams’ playoff potential. The committee creates small groups of teams, debates their merits and ranks the teams using as many votes as needed to come up with a consensus.

Members are given reams of data on each FBS team and each member is allowed to judge those numbers however he or she determines is best.

Assistant sports editor Chris Wright contributed to this story.


Oct 292014


Published: Oct. 29, 2014

Christensen: Bill Friday brought reforms after college gambling scandal

By Rob Christensen, rchristensen@newsobserver.com

In May 1961, University of North Carolina President Bill Friday received a telephone call from the Wake County prosecutor with a sobering message. “I need to talk to you. I have got to tell you a very unpleasant thing.”

Gamblers, said Lester Chalmers, the prosecutor, had paid N.C. State University basketball players to shave points at a Dixie Classic game between NCSU and Georgia Tech. The point spread was 5 points, and when State won 82-76, the gamblers met the State players outside Reynolds Coliseum, pressed guns into their stomachs and demanded that they return the money they had been paid.

Nor was that the only game that had been tampered with. The State players were paid $2,500 ($20,000 in today’s dollars) to throw a game against Carolina. Two players were paid $1,250 to shave points against Duke. Two Carolina players were also implicated. In all, as many as 50 players around the country were ensnared in the scandal.

This was the worst scandal involving athletics in the UNC system until the current disgrace involving no-show paper classes for athletes at Chapel Hill.

The Graham Plan

Friday told the UNC trustees that the point-shaving scandal had caused “serious embarrassment” to UNC, according to an account of the scandal written by historian William A. Link in his biography, “William Friday.”

Friday said UNC had two options: It could discontinue intercollegiate athletics for a fixed period of time or reform the abuses. He gave some consideration to a plan that had been put forward by Frank Porter Graham, president of the consolidated UNC system in 1935, that prohibited athletic scholarships or any other form of aid based solely on athletic performance. The Graham Plan called for athletes to sign a pledge stating they were amateurs. It also banned recruiting.

The plan was based on studies by the Carnegie Corp. in 1929 and 1931 that criticized the role of big-time athletics on college campuses. The UNC faculty and the Southern Conference adopted the plan in 1936, but it drew such strong opposition from alumni groups and sports editors that the Southern Conference reversed itself.

Rather than push for Graham’s plan, Friday decided to go the reform route. But he pushed for stricter reforms than many had expected, in part because the N.C. State basketball team had recently received the most severe penalty ever meted out by the NCAA – four years of probation – for recruiting violations.

What Friday did

In an effort to “restore sports to sportsmanship,” Friday decided to de-emphasize athletics. For the next five years, UNC and N.C. State basketball teams could each have only two out-of-state scholarships; their seasons would be limited to 14 games instead of the maximum 25, and players could no longer attend summer basketball camps. Perhaps most controversial, the highly popular Dixie Classic, in which the four major North Carolina college basketball teams played national powers, was discontinued.

In addition, Friday said that coaching jobs were “expressly assured” and not contingent “upon their obligation merely to win games or to achieve national standing for our teams.”

In the wake of the reforms, both N.C. State coach Everett Case and Carolina coach Frank McGuire resigned. Both depended on a steady stream of out-of-state stars. McGuire’s resignation led to the hiring of Dean Smith, who was known as a stickler for running clean programs.

The reforms were not popular in basketball crazy North Carolina.

But as NCSU Chancellor John Caldwell said, the consolidated university’s good name was its “most precious possession.”

Alumni, university officials and trustees, Caldwell said, had to rally around the university and defend its “integrity and moral rectitude and a sound sense of values.”

Christensen: 919-829-4532 or rchristensen@newsobserver.com

Oct 292014

Posted by Dave Southorn on

October 28, 2014

East Carolina, ranked No. 23, is the only team from the so-called “group of five” ranked in the first College Football Playoff rankings, which made their debut Tuesday.

The top-ranked team by the committee from the American Athletic Conference (the Pirates’ home), Mountain West, Sun Belt, MAC and Conference USA will earn a berth in a New Year’s bowl game — the Fiesta, Peach or Cotton. That team also has to win its conference.

Boise State still has a strong chance if East Carolina or undefeated Marshall falters. The Broncos have the inside track on winning their division in the Mountain West, and have the tiebreaker over one-loss Colorado State. East Carolina may be the Broncos’ biggest hurdle — CFP chairman Jeff Long afterward addressed Marshall’s absence, saying “We looked at their schedule against others, did not think it was worthy of being placed in Top 25 at this time.” Ole Miss, which beat Boise State in the season opener, is in line to earn a semifinal berth, ranked fourth. If the playoff started today, the Rebels would face No. 1 Mississippi State.

Here are the initial CFP rankings:

1. Mississippi State

2. Florida State

3. Auburn

4. Ole Miss

5. Oregon

6. Alabama

7. TCU

8. Michigan State

9. Kansas State

10. Notre Dame

11. Georgia

12. Arizona

13. Baylor

14. Arizona State

15. Nebraska

16. Ohio State

17. Utah

18. Oklahoma

19. LSU

20. West Virginia

21. Clemson

22. UCLA

23. East Carolina

24. Duke

25. Louisville

Oct 292014

Robert L. Holt

Dr. Robert L. Holt, 94, passed away Wednesday, October 8, 2014. A memorial service will be held Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 2 pm in Oakmont Baptist Church in Greenville, NC. Dr. Holt, a native of Dixie, Georgia, lived his early life in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

He received an undergraduate degree from Mars Hill College, a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Arts from Wake Forest University, and a Doctorate in Christian Ethics from Duke University. He was an ordained minister for more than 72 years and began his career in education at East Carolina College from 1950-1952.
He served as Vice President of Mars Hill College from 1952-1958. He moved back to Greenville in 1958 to become Registrar and Dean of ECC followed by serving as Vice Chancellor of Administration there. During his tenure at ECU he worked tirelessly beside Dr. Leo Jenkins in getting university status for ECU and getting the medical school established in Greenville.
He retired in 1988 after 30 years of service at ECU. Dr. Holt was a charter member of Oakmont Baptist Church, where he served as deacon, Sunday School teacher, building committee, personnel committee, search committee, and choir member. He and his wife, Claire Hardin Holt, made their home in Darlington, SC for a few years and after her death in 2009 he moved to Fuquay-Varina to be near his daughter.
He is survived by his son, James Holt and wife, Sandra, of Abington, PA; daughters, Rebecca “Becky” Langley and husband, Charles, of Cary, NC and Susan Holt and spouse, Deb Knowles, of Alameda, CA; grandchildren, Michael Holt and wife, Kim, of Horsham, PA, Trevor Holt and wife, Kate, of Abington, PA, Robin Langley Lloyd and husband, Georg Brodzky, of Cary, NC, and Meredith Langley Gilley and husband, Brian, of Wake Forest, NC; seven great-grandchildren; and a sister, Melba Moore, of Clemson, SC.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Oakmont Baptist Church, 1100 Red Banks Road, Greenville, NC 27858, or to Alzheimers Research Fund, ECU Medical Foundation, 525 Moye Blvd., Greenville, NC 27834. Arrangements are by Wilkerson Funeral Home and Crematory, Greenville. Online condolences at www.wilkersonfuneralhome.com

- See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/reflector/obituary.aspx?n=robert-l-holt&pid=172978991&fhid=8067#sthash.L0dh8f0b.dpuf

Oct 292014


By Nick Anderson October 28

U.S. News & World Report put Princeton atop its list of the nation’s best universities last month. On Tuesday, the magazine declared Harvard best in the world — one of nine U.S. and three British universities listed ahead of the Ivy League school in New Jersey.

How can one U.S. university lead the national rankings as another one leads the world?

The answer is that U.S. News is introducing a new way to rank global universities, through analysis of the schools’ research prowess. Critics are likely to call the new global ranking as faulty as its domestic cousin. Both use subjective formulas. Both rely on data, such as reputational surveys, that prompt major debate within academia.

But rankings have become ingrained in recent years in higher education as students and faculty crisscross the country and the world. Before U.S. News jumped into global analysis, similar ranking efforts had arisen in the United Kingdom and Asia.

“When you have a marketplace, you need information in order for markets to function well,” said Ben Wildavsky, a former U.S. News education editor who is now director of higher-education studies at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, a unit of the State University of New York. Rankings, he said, are imperfect but “perform a useful function. They’re not going to go away. The challenge is to make them better.”

For its global analysis, U.S. News drew on data from Thomson Reuters InCites on various aspects of university research. Among them: global and regional reputations, scholarly publications, citations and impact, international collaboration, and awards of doctoral degrees.

Omitted from this formula are factors such as undergraduate admissions selectivity, graduation rates, alumni donations and some other measures typically included in the domestic ranking. That was by design. Uniform data to compare global universities, particularly the undergraduate experience, is scarce.

“This is about faculty productivity and prestige,” U.S. News Editor Brian Kelly said of the global ranking in a telephone interview Monday. “It is meaningful for certain things and not necessarily meaningful for other things. We get that. This is about big muscular research universities doing what research universities claim is their mission.”

U.S. News distributed the rankings to journalists Monday on condition that they not call universities for comment in advance of the release.

The list attempts to define the world’s 500 top schools from 49 countries. The United States dominates, with 134 schools listed, including eight of the top 10. The other two in the top 10 are the venerable British universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Germany has 42 schools on the list, followed by the United Kingdom with 38 and China with 27. (Hong Kong, a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, had an additional five.)

The global rankings offer a counterpoint to the U.S. News domestic list, with a formula that gives far greater recognition to strengths of certain public universities with high research profiles. The University of California at Berkeley, arguably the nation’s most prestigious public institution, ranks 20th on the domestic list but third on the global version. The University of California at Los Angeles ranks 23rd domestically but eighth globally.

The University of Maryland at College Park ranks 51st globally. That is higher than its domestic ranking — 62nd.

The University of Virginia did not place in the global top 100. It was ranked 102nd. Domestically, U-Va. is tied with UCLA at 23rd.

Oct 292014



OCT. 28, 2014

Earlier this month, the Big Ten announced that it would become the first conference to guarantee its athletic scholarships for four years, a change from the widely followed practice of offering a single-year scholarship that can be renewed. Effective immediately, the Big Ten will ensure that none of its recruited athletes — in any sport — can lose their financial aid because of injury, poor play or coaches’ judgment.

Jim Delany, the league’s commissioner, said, “To make a four-year commitment and give student-athletes the security, it’s the right thing to do.”

A handful of universities have announced similar intentions in recent months — Indiana, South Carolina and Southern California among them — and on Monday, the Pacific-12 said that it, too, would guarantee four-year scholarships. The Atlantic Coast Conference has also voiced its support, as has the N.C.A.A. president, Mark Emmert. Although one-year scholarships are generally renewed by universities, the announcements represent a shift in power toward college athletes.

“These scholarship terms are about power and control,” said Allen Sack, a professor of sports management at the University of New Haven and a longtime N.C.A.A. critic, “and what schools are willing to give up.”

As the N.C.A.A. continues to navigate a series of lawsuits aimed at amateurism, an effort to unionize and a vocal chorus of critics, the scholarship — which usually covers tuition, books, and room and board — has long provided a window into the complicated relationship between players and their coaches and universities.

Once considered a violation of amateurism, the four-year scholarship was adopted by the N.C.A.A. in 1956 to curb prohibited payments to college athletes. A decade later, some colleges had soured on it. At the N.C.A.A. Convention in 1965, Oklahoma’s faculty representative voiced frustration that players could quit a team but keep their free rides.

The rules of the scholarship were questioned later that decade when athletic departments became the targets of student protests, mostly by black athletes, including public accusations of racism at several universities: Washington, California, Texas-El Paso, Indiana, Pittsburgh and Princeton. The sociologist Harry Edwards once estimated that black college athletes had prompted 37 protests in 1968 alone.

Coaches, meanwhile, grew concerned with the challenges to their authority. A three-part Sports Illustrated series in 1969 described them as “bewildered, angry and disillusioned, no longer certain of their mission, or, in some cases, their relevance.”

In response to the unrest in athletic departments, the N.C.A.A. determined in 1967 that players’ scholarships could be canceled if they quit a team. With the changes, Florida’s football coach, Ray Graves, said he no longer had to “deal with troublemakers.”

After Title IX, a federal law mandating gender equity in college sports, went into effect in 1972, universities that suddenly had to expand women’s sports programs looked for budget relief. Scholarships were on the chopping block in 1973: The number of football scholarships was capped for the first time at 105 per program, and scholarships were officially limited to one year.

“The protests continued, and the protesters could still keep their scholarships,” said Dave Meggyesy, who played football at Syracuse from 1959 to 1963 and went on to play in the N.F.L. and write “Out of Their League,” a memoir critical of football culture during the era. “Officially making it one year was the ultimate mechanism for control because there was an implicit threat that it could be taken away.”

Bill Curry, who coached at Georgia Tech, Alabama, Kentucky and Georgia State between 1980 and 2012, said: “I saw coaches treat the scholarship like a one-year contract. There were guys who routinely signed too many players and then dropped them.”

Kevin Lennon, an N.C.A.A. vice president, said the association had been more focused on other benefits for athletes over the years. In the 1980s, players were allowed to receive need-based federal aid, and a recent rule change allowed for unlimited academic and career counseling, including laptops and internships. The one-year cap also remained in place, Lennon said, to maintain consistency with aid based on merit and financial need, which is distributed annually, and to preserve the flexibility to offer scholarships to walk-ons.

In 1991, the N.C.A.A. made accommodations to allow severely injured players to remain on scholarship without counting against a team’s limit. And universities are required to have appeal policies in place for players whose scholarships are not renewed.

“With the one-year grant, students would need to be fully engaged as students and fully engaged as teammates,” Lennon said.

Not until 2010, when the Justice Department questioned the N.C.A.A. about the one-year scholarship, did the issue resurface. Lawyers wondered whether a cap on aid could represent an antitrust violation by limiting the choices of recruits. The same year, Joseph Agnew, a former Rice cornerback, sued the N.C.A.A. over the one-year scholarship cap after his scholarship was revoked by a new coach when he sustained a back injury. He appealed to Rice and won the right keep the aid for his junior year, but not his senior year. The lawsuit was dismissed.

“They said to me, ‘We’re going to give your scholarship to someone who can be on the field,’ ” Agnew said.

The N.C.A.A.’s executive committee acted in 2011, eliminating the one-year restriction.

The reaction at many universities, though, was negative. During a period in which they could review the new rule, Indiana State wrote to the N.C.A.A. saying that a university could be “locked in” to a contract “potentially with someone that is of no ‘athletic’ usefulness to the program.”

The Big Ten’s guarantee is contingent on players’ following team rules and staying in good academic standing. But Sack, the New Haven professor, said the practicality of the four-year scholarship, as well as the legality, was important.

He said he saw the newfound momentum as a direct response to the Northwestern football team’s effort to unionize, though he said he supported the movement toward four-year scholarships, no matter the reason.

“If you have four-year scholarships with the proper protections in place for the athletes, then it looks a lot more like an academic institution and less like an employee model,” he said. “So that’s a good thing.”

A version of this article appears in print on October 29, 2014, on page B16 of the New York edition with the headline: Shift on Four-Year Scholarship Reflects Players’ Power.