Shipwreck-hunting company sues over Blackbeard’s ship | The Associated Press

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Jul 282015
 

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The shipwreck-hunting company that found Blackbeard’s flagship that sank off the North Carolina coast nearly 300 years ago sued the state Monday for more than $8 million, saying officials violated a contract involving photos and videos of the wreck and recovery.

 

Florida-based Intersal Inc. said in the lawsuit in state court in Raleigh that the amount could increase as the company discovers further violations of the contract involving the ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. The lawsuit also seeks a temporary order preventing the state from violating the contract and from recovering more objects from the ship.

“We really didn’t want to do this. But they continue to breach the agreement; that has not ended,” John Masters, chairman of Intersal’s board, said in a phone interview Monday. “And they continue to not behave in good faith. And this is costing us a huge amount of money. … We have no choice but to protect our rights. ”

Among the violations are the state display of more than 2,000 images and more than 200 minutes of video on websites other than the state Department of Cultural Resources website, the lawsuit says. These images and video have no watermark, time code site or website links as the contract requires, the lawsuit says.

No real loot was discovered on Queen Anne’s Revenge when Intersal found it almost 20 years ago; instead the company eventually reached a 15-year contract in 1998 for rights to photos and videos of the wreck and of the recovery, study and preservation of its historic artifacts.

The state, meanwhile, has created a tourist industry, including museum exhibits, around Blackbeard and his ship since the vessel’s discovery in 1996.

The two sides went to mediation in 2013 before signing another deal. And a petition filed by Intersal earlier this year in the state Office of Administrative Hearings was dismissed for jurisdictional reasons, so the company headed to court.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Cultural Resources said in an email that DCR denies any breach of contract.

Masters said his father searched for Blackbeard’s flagship for 20 years before finding it.

Queen Anne’s Revenge was a French slave ship called La Concorde when Blackbeard captured the vessel in the fall of 1717 in the Caribbean. Blackbeard renamed the vessel and made it his flagship, which he held onto for only a few months.

Blackbeard, an Englishman whose real name may have been Edward Teach or Thatch, was sailing north from Charleston, South Carolina, when the ship went aground in May 1718 in what’s now called Beaufort Inlet. The pirates likely had time to haul away most of the valuables, nautical archaeologists have said. Five months later, members of the Royal Navy of Virginia killed Blackbeard at Ocracoke Inlet.

The 1998 agreement also includes another shipwreck, the El Salvador, which sank in a 1750 hurricane. Treasure is thought to remain with that wreck, which likely is spread across the ocean floor, Masters has said.

The lawsuit says the state has obstructed and delayed Intersal’s efforts to renew the permit for that search.

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For some NC retirees, a big pension – and then some more | The News & Observer

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Jul 282015
 

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BY DAN KANE AND DAVID RAYNOR

Some of the state’s highest-paid government retirees are benefiting from a supplemental fund set up by state lawmakers in 2013 so the retirees can receive pensions that otherwise would be too high under federal law.

The pensions of 17 public retirees in North Carolina exceed the federal limits in 2014, in many cases by tens of thousands of dollars. The state’s top-paid retiree, former UNC Athletic Director Dick Baddour, received just over $64,000 of his $281,000 annual pension from the fund.

Other beneficiaries include former Wake County Manager David Cooke, who retired in 2013, and former Durham Schools Superintendent Carl Harris, who left in 2009 to join President Barack Obama’s administration.

In all cases, the retirees and their former employers met their obligations under state law by paying required contributions into the system during the retirees’ working years.

The supplemental fund, known as a qualified excess benefits arrangement, or QEBA, was created by state lawmakers last year to get around a potential problem the state could have fixed nearly 30 years ago, when Congress lowered the pension limits. But back then, no state or local employees in North Carolina were making the kind of money that would bring the limits into play.

“They probably looked and said, ‘It’s never going to apply to anyone,’ ” said Sam Watts, a policy development analyst for the State Retirement Systems Division, which is under State Treasurer Janet Cowell.

Retirement system officials realized about three years ago that some retirees were exceeding the federal limits, which are based on factors such as years of service and retirement age. The limits are typically adjusted upward annually. An employee who retired in 2014 at age 65, for example, was limited to a pension of no more than $210,000. Those who retire at a younger age have a lower pension limit.

Congress gave public pension systems the opportunity to make arrangements for excess retirement benefits in 1996, as those systems began finding some of their retiring employees bumping up against the pension limits. In 2013, officials with the state retirement system asked the legislature to set up a similar supplemental fund.

Lawmakers went along with the request, but they threw in a catch. Access to the supplemental pension money ended Dec. 31, 2014. Those who had not retired by then could find themselves receiving a reduced benefit in line with federal limits.

Schorr Johnson, a spokesman for the state treasurer, said the contributions from high-paid employees and employers typically are enough to cover their pensions. But the amount of pension that is above the federal limit has to come from a separate fund, so the retirement system stays in compliance with federal law. Public pension systems not compliant with federal law could lose their tax-exempt status.

The sunset provision in the 2013 law may have prompted a few public employees to retire before the end of 2014, retirement system officials said. That’s out of a group of roughly 40 people who retirement officials estimated could have been affected by the limits.

State Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Hendersonville Republican and co-chairman of the Senate committee on pensions and retirement, said he wanted a sunset to make sure the state retirement system isn’t on the hook for paying what could be a growing number of pensions that exceed the federal limit in future years. “I just don’t like carving out exceptions for one small group, and we’re responsible for the health of the state retirement plan,” Apodaca said.

A hastened retirement

Roughly 900,000 state and local employees in the state retirement system contribute 6 percent of their salaries each year, while their employers contribute 7 to 9 percent of the employee salaries. Beyond that, the fund relies on investment returns and occasional supplemental appropriations from the General Assembly to keep pensions properly funded for 240,000 retirees.

Employees are guaranteed a specific annual benefit based on their earnings and years of service. Typically, those who retire with 30 years of service receive a pension that amounts to roughly 55 percent of their annual pay. The state has one of the most solvent retirement funds in the nation, valued at $90 billion.

The legislature’s special retirement fund boosts that benefit for those who exceed the federal limits. It is funded by a deduction from the contributions of all public employers into the system. Those deductions are limited to no more than one hundredth of 1 percent of the employer’s contribution into the system. In 2014, the fund paid out roughly $480,000.

The fund was relatively unknown until another highly paid official suddenly announced his retirement.

In October, Raleigh Housing Authority Director Steve Beam provided a cryptic explanation for his decision to retire by the end 2014: If he didn’t get out by then, his pension would suffer. Neither Beam nor the authority’s board would provide a detailed explanation, other than to cite a recent change in state law.

It’s unclear how much Beam, 56, would have lost if his state pension exceeded the federal limit, and it’s unclear how much he will receive. Under the state’s basic pension formula, Beam stands to earn a pension of roughly $135,000 a year.

Beam’s pay was featured in a News & Observer series in 2013. “Checks Without Balances”reported on big salaries paid to some officials for public agencies that often draw little public attention. Beam’s pay put him among the 30 highest-paid public housing authority directors in the country, according to a 2011 federal survey. He made more than housing directors in Chicago, Boston and Charlotte, which all have bigger budgets and staffs.

Beam could not be reached for an interview. He and the housing authority’s board chairman had previously said that his pay reflected excellent service to the authority.

Another former official featured in the 2013 N&O series, Eric McKeithan, appears on the new list of retirees being paid out of the fund. He was the president of Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington who retired in 2012.

In the two years before McKeithan retired, his pay shot up nearly $100,000 – from $237,771 to $334,427 – because the college’s board converted perks such as car and housing allowances into salary. Those perks had not been eligible for pension purposes until they became salary money. They had the potential to spike his pension by nearly $27,000 a year.

Treasurer’s records show McKeithan collected a $172,000 pension in 2014, with $39,000 coming from the special fund.

McKeithan could not be reached for comment. In a previous interview, he said he earned the pension he is receiving.

The General Assembly passed legislation in 2014 to curb pension spiking by tying pensions to total contributions to the pension system, instead of relying solely on a formula that relies on an employee’s four highest consecutive years of pay.

Also on the list of special fund recipients: Billy Williams, the former administrator of the New Hanover County ABC Board. Williams retired in 2010 after the Star-News of Wilmington reported his pay was nearing $280,000 a year, well above any other ABC administrator in the state.

He was later convicted of a felony for using public money to help pay for a new garage at his home. Roughly $19,000 of his $195,000 pension comes from the special fund.

Baddour’s bonuses help

Baddour, UNC’s former athletic director, announced in July 2011 that he would retire earlier than he had planned, after a scandal erupted involving agents plying football players with perks and a former tutor providing improper academic help. UNC fired football coach Butch Davis at that time, and Baddour said he was stepping down early so a new athletic director could pick a new coach.

Since then, the N&O’s reporting helped reveal a bigger scandal of no-show classes with high grades that were primarily designed to help keep athletes eligible. Those fake classes began in 1993 under Baddour’s predecessor, John Swofford, who became ACC commissioner in 1997. Swofford and Baddour have both said they did not know the classes lacked instruction.

As athletic director, Baddour was paid a base annual salary that in his final years reached $295,000. But he earned tens of thousands of dollars more in bonuses tied to postseason play and academic performance. Treasurer’s records show his total annual pay over the last four years of his career averaged $437,000.

Not all of that bonus money would have counted for pension purposes. Federal law also limits how much pay can be subject to pension contributions. In 2014, for example, it was $385,000 for those who became members of a public pension plan by the end of 1993.

In interviews, Baddour said he was not aware of an issue with the size of his pension until several months ago, when he received a call from a state retirement system staff member. Baddour said he was told that some of his pension would be coming out of a separate fund. He was also assured he had nothing to worry about.

Baddour said there should not be a concern regarding his pension because he is only receiving what the state set up for all employees when he began working for UNC 47 years ago. “I’m glad I’m in the plan,” said Baddour, who became a UNC employee in 1967. “I think it’s a terrific plan, and I appreciate the plan, but I didn’t have a choice. … They took it out of my monthly paycheck, and there was a contract, so I would expect the state to do what it’s done.”

Baddour said he earned the bonuses that boosted his pension.

“I believe the bonuses that I was paid, they were earned,” Baddour said. “They were earned on the field and they were earned … in the classrooms. And I believe that the administration was helpful to the success of students, certainly through student support, through the academic support program, through the Carolina Leadership Academy and the student-athlete development programs that we have.”

Law is complex

When Congress began placing limits on pension plans in the 1970s and 1980s, it was more concerned with private companies, experts say. The fear was the companies would try to shield business income that would normally be taxed each year as salary by slipping it into a pension fund.

But the federal limits also included public plans that pay no corporate income tax. The limits became a problem for public pension plans in subsequent years as the pay for some positions increased.

“Now, we have some pretty highly compensated state employees – chief medical officers, coaches, heads of human services departments,” said David McKinney, an Oklahoma lawyer who specializes in pension matters.

The federal limit on pensions is set at $210,000 for employees who retired at the ages of 62 through 65. The limit can be less for those who retire at a younger age, designate an additional beneficiary or have fewer years of government service.

“I can’t stress enough the complexity of this thing,” said Steve Toole, state retirement systems division director.

Retirement systems correspondence requested by The N&O showed at least two governmental entities are concerned about losing access to the supplemental pension fund – the state’s public universities and school districts.

The universities employ more highly paid workers than any other public entity. They include hospital directors, top researchers and Division I athletic officials. Larger school districts, meanwhile, are often paying six-figure contracts for superintendents.

Tom Shanahan, general counsel for the UNC system, wants to continue the supplemental fund.

“We don’t think there are a lot of employees who are impacted by this; we think it’s very small,” Shanahan said. “However, the folks we think who would be impacted are medical faculty, long-serving researchers. They are very important to the operations of the universities, health care systems and medical schools.”

He said just extending the supplemental fund for a few years more might take care of the problem. That’s because as retirees age, the IRS pension ceiling goes higher, potentially bringing more of them below the limit, and the IRS continues to raise the ceiling. This year, for example, it climbed from $205,000 to $210,000.

An N&O review of 2013 pay data from the state treasurer’s office shows roughly a dozen veteran university employees who could be over the limit when they retire, because their salaries and other compensation are more than $350,000 a year.

The special funds set up to get around federal pension limits are fairly common. A Google search turned them up in South Carolina, Ohio, New Mexico, Kansas, Tennessee, Colorado and California.

Jane Pinsky, who scrutinizes the workings of government as director of the N.C. Coalition for Lobbying and Governmental Reform, said she had not been aware that North Carolina set up such a fund, and she had not known which retirees were its beneficiaries.

“We all need to know what is going on in our government to make it successful,” Pinsky said.

Jeannine Markoe Raymond, the director of federal relations for the National Association of State Retirement Administrators, said she does not know of any governing body other than North Carolina that placed a sunset provision on its supplemental fund.

Apodaca, the state senator from Hendersonville, sees a fairness issue for everyone else in the retirement system. He said if the universities and other public entities want to exceed the federal limits for highly-paid retirees in the future, they should set up supplemental retirement plans that they fund entirely, instead of using the entire system.

“They’ve got to find another way to fund a benefit for those they hire,” Apodaca said.

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Former Gov. Martin says he misspoke about UNC scandal | The News & Observer

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Jul 282015
 

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Nearly three years ago, former Gov. Jim Martin made a blunt pronouncement about the UNC-Chapel Hill academic scandal that brought cheers to fans of the university’s sports teams and relief to some public officials.

After investigating the scandal for four months, Martin delivered this conclusion to UNC trustees in a hotel ballroom packed with UNC officials and reporters: “This was not an athletic scandal. It was an academic scandal, which is worse; but an isolated one.”

UNC officials quickly seized on the finding to tell the public it was time to “move forward.” Shortly after, one trustee and UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said in an email exchange that the report likely dissuaded the NCAA from digging more deeply into the scandal.

Now, in a book slated for release in October, Martin says he misspoke. He believed it was an athletic and academic scandal then, and he believes it now.

“I could have said, ‘Not only is it an extraordinary athletic scandal, but it is also an incredibly damaging academic scandal,’” Martin said in a galley of the book provided to The News & Observer by the book publisher.

The book, “Catalyst: Jim Martin and the Rise of North Carolina Republicans,” was written by John Hood, the president of the John William Pope Foundation and chairman of the John Locke Foundation’s board. Hood is best known as a political commentator and columnist on the conservative side of the political spectrum.

“Catalyst” is predominantly a biography of Martin, starting with his upbringing in South Carolina and his rise in North Carolina politics, first as a Mecklenburg County commissioner, then as a congressman and finally as the state’s first two-term Republican governor from 1985 to 1993. Martin left politics in 1993 and remained a highly regarded public servant.

In August 2011, The N&O reported a suspicious transcript of a football player. UNC investigated itself, looking back at five years of classes and finding suspect lecture classes that never met and only required a paper. But the university determined the scandal wasn’t about athletics because non-athletes were also in the classes and received the same grades.

After that report in May 2012, more evidence surfaced showing the scandal went back further than five years, and athletes were enrolled in the classes in disproportionate numbers. UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp turned to Martin to lead a second investigation.

No emails

Martin, with the assistance of the Baker Tilly consulting firm, spent four months combing through 18 years of course data and interviewing more than 70 people before releasing a 74-page report on Dec. 20, 2012. They found what Martin called “phantom” classes that went at least as far back as 1997, and that there were roughly 200 confirmed or suspected ones.

But Martin and Baker Tilly did not review emails among the people involved, nor did they have access to the two officials who ran the fake classes: Deborah Crowder, the former African studies department manager, and her boss, Julius Nyang’oro, the former chairman of the department.

In early 2014, as more evidence emerged showing the connections between athletics and academics, UNC and the UNC system ordered a new investigation led by Kenneth Wainstein, a former top U.S. Justice Department official. He and his team had Crowder and Nyang’oro’s cooperation and reviewed at least 14 years of emails. The evidence produced a 131-page report that found an athletic and academic scandal. The NCAA returned and hit UNC with allegations of serious misconduct in May.

In a telephone interview last week, Martin confirmed the accuracy of Hood’s reporting. Martin had cooperated fully with the book.

He said his main point to the trustees and the public was what happened at UNC was far worse than an athletic scandal, but he erred in saying it wasn’t an athletic scandal.

TO ME, IT WAS FAR BIGGER AND FAR WORSE, AND THE REACTION WAS AS IF I HAD WHITEWASHED IT.
Former Gov. Jim Martin

“If it had just been athletes doing something wrong, like taking money, it would have been a big story,” Martin said. “If it had been tutors writing papers for them it would have been a big story. To me, it was far bigger and far worse, and the reaction was as if I had whitewashed it. That was not my intent, I guarantee you.”

It troubled Martin, a former chemistry professor at Davidson, that some viewed the report as good news because it appeared to clear athletics.

“That, to me, should be a bigger embarrassment to them because they didn’t see that the academic problem was worse than the athletic problem,” he said. “Lack of academic oversight was the reason that they were able to get away with it.”

In Hood’s book and in last week’s interview, Martin said his report also mistakenly said that athletic officials had told him they had twice alerted UNC’s faculty athletics committee about lecture classes within the AFAM department that were being held as independent studies instead. That should have raised concerns, since it meant classes that were supposed to meet did not.

He now says the athletic officials didn’t tell him about lecture classes that didn’t meet. They only discussed concerns about independent studies within the department. He said he realized the mistake while reading the report to the trustees.

Martin said he sought to correct that mistake as he answered the trustees’ questions during the presentation, but he and Baker Tilly didn’t make that mistake clear until a special panel of the UNC Board of Governors met roughly a month later.

By then, The N&O had contacted several faculty members on the committee and none remembered concerns being raised about the AFAM lecture classes. No documentation showed the committee had been alerted. Martin complained about the newspaper’s report a few days later in a letter to the editor.

Too much deference

Martin now says he gave athletic officials too much deference in accepting their version of events. He had only talked to one member of the faculty committee, former faculty athletic representative Jack Evans. Evans later told Wainstein he did not recall any discussion about lecture classes.

Former Senior Associate Athletic Director John Blanchard and Robert Mercer, the former academic support director for athletes, said in the Wainstein report they raised questions about AFAM lecture classes to the faculty committee. Wainstein found little evidence to back their claims.

HE RECOGNIZED THAT ATHLETICS WAS PART OF THE PROBLEM, BUT HE RESISTED ANY ATTEMPT TO REDUCE IT TO THE ONLY PROBLEM, OR THE MAIN PROBLEM.
John Hood, chairman of the John Locke Foundation and author of new book on former Gov. Jim Martin

Hood said he asked Martin about his report on the scandal because it threw a spotlight on the former governor. The passage takes up five pages of a 330-page book, and Hood said that’s about as much attention as it deserves in looking at Martin’s life and career. He accepted Martin’s explanation about what he meant to say, which reflected a long-time concern over declining academic standards.

“He recognized that athletics was part of the problem, but he resisted any attempt to reduce it to the only problem, or the main problem,” Hood said.

Despite the bashing Martin’s report took as time went on, the former governor said he does not regret taking up the investigation at the request of his friend, Thorp, who later resigned and is now the provost at Washington University in St. Louis. Martin was not paid for his work; Baker Tilly charged UNC roughly $940,000 for the probe and an analysis of reforms the university put in place.

While Martin chided critics for failing to credit him for the hard evidence he turned up, such as the fact the fake classes went well back into the 1990s, he acknowledged that he deserved criticism for miscommunicating.

“The most problems I’ve ever had in politics is when they wrote it up the way I said it,” Martin said.

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4 new trustees join board at UNC Pembroke | The Robesonian

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Jul 282015
 

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PEMBROKE – Four new people joined The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s Board of Trustees on Thursday, and Kellie Hunt Blue was elected chair of the board.

New members are Larry H. Stone and Jarrett L. Sampson, who were appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory, and Alphonzo McRae of Proctorville, who was appointed by the UNC Board of Governors. They will each serve four-year terms.

Candace B. Locklear, UNCP Student Government Association president, was sworn in as an ex-officio member of the board for 2015-2016. Patrick Corso, of Pinehurst, was also appointed to the board of trustees by the Board of Governors and will be sworn in at a later date.

Michael L. Holmes was elected vice chair and Don E. Metzger will serve as secretary for 2015-2016.

Outgoing Chairman Wiley G. Barrett served as chair of the recent Chancellor Search Committee and has served as a trustee since 2012.

“It has been an intense several years on the board with the retirement of a chancellor and the election of Chancellor (Robin) Cummings,” Barrett said. “It was an adventure, and I enjoyed getting to know many people better.”

From Pembroke, Blue is a UNCP graduate and the finance director for Robeson County. She will lead the 13-member board during the 2015-2016 academic year. Blue, a trustee since 2011, was secretary of the board last year and a member of the 2010 and 2015 Chancellor Search Committees.

Metzger, who serves on the Lumberton City Council, is a retired businessman and Lumberton resident. He has been a trustee since 2013.

Holmes is a retired rear admiral of the U.S. Navy and lives in Florida. A Robeson County native and UNCP graduate, Holmes has served as a trustee since 2013.

Corso is the executive director of Moore County Partners in Progress, the county’s economic development office. He came to the county in 1986 to manage Pinehurst Resorts and helped make it one of the world’s great golf destinations and host of two U.S. Open Championships.

purplearrowLocklear is a Pembroke native and a senior chemistry major. She is a member of the Esther G. Maynor Honors College and an Early Assurance Scholar with guaranteed admission to East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine.

McRae is vice president for institutional services for Robeson Community College. An educator with 40 years experience, he is a UNCP alumnus and a 1981 inductee into the UNCP Athletic Hall of Fame following a stellar basketball career.

Sampson grew up in the Five Forks community near Rowland and is a UNCP graduate. He is vice president and general manager of insurance agencies in Pembroke, Lumberton and Fayetteville.

Stone is president and owner of Pawn Plus Inc. in Lumberton. He is a UNCP graduate, engaged in farming, real estate and insurance businesses

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 Posted by at 8:42 am

Duncan calls for better student outcomes, more accountability in higher education | The News & Observer

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Jul 282015
 

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July 27, 2015
By Jane Stancill

As debt-free college becomes a hotly debated topic in the 2016 campaign, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants to shift the conversation to student outcomes at the nation’s colleges and universities.

“If we confine the discussion to cost and debt, we will have failed,” Duncan said in a speech Monday at University of Maryland-Baltimore County. “Because we will have only found better ways to pay for a system that fails far too many of our students.”

Nearly half of all U.S. college students in the United States do not graduate in six years’ time. The student debt problem is severe for those who don’t graduate or earn a degree that employers don’t value, Duncan said in a conference call with reporters. “We know the most expensive degree is the one you don’t complete,” he said.

He called on accreditors to consider graduation rates in reviews of colleges and universities, and he called on states not to walk away from investment in higher education.

The education department released data showing that states with lower student loan default rates tend to have higher graduation rates. North Carolina rated better than many states on that score. The default rate for students at four-year universities is 9 percent in North Carolina, where the six-year graduation rate is 60 percent. Nationally, the default rate is 11 percent and the graduation rate is 55 percent.

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UNCG goes old school with new water-saving device | Greensboro News & Record

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Jul 282015
 

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UNCG cistern 2015

UNC-Greensboro groundskeepers use water collected in the 2,500-gallon cistern to water flowers and shrubs on campus.

 

July 28, 2015

 

By John Newsom

 

GREENSBORO — UNC-Greensboro is using a lot of new technology to make it a more environmentally friendly campus.

New buildings, for instance, have high-efficiency heating and cooling systems. Bathrooms have low-flow faucets, toilets and dorm showers. The university uses new types of carpets, paints and roofing materials that are better for the environment.

UNCG’s latest water-saving device, however, is about as low-tech as they come. It’s a cistern.

The university in May installed a 2,500-gallon cistern next to its grounds shop on Oakland Avenue.

University groundskeepers use the water to water trees, flowers and shrubs in areas of the 250-acre campus that aren’t irrigated. In the winter, groundskeepers plan to use the water to make the brine solution that helps keep roads and sidewalks free of ice.

UNCG’s cistern works like cisterns have for thousands of years: It collects and stores rainwater.

In UNCG’s case, the cistern is plastic, stands about 8 feet tall and catches rainwater from the roofs of two adjacent buildings. A series of pipes keeps the water free of leaves and other debris, but it doesn’t clean it enough to make it drinkable.

It takes 3 inches of rain to completely fill the cistern. So far, UNCG grounds crews have pulled about 2,000 gallons from the storage tank.

The cistern water is a drop in the bucket for a campus that uses about 124 million gallons of water annually. (The university says it has cut about 60 percent of its water usage over the past decade.)

UNCG officials say the cistern will help in two ways: It will cut the amount of water the university buys from the city, and it will decrease the amount of rain runoff that flows into city storm sewers.

“We hope to do a lot more of these on campus,” said Hal Shelton, UNCG’s assistant director for grounds. “This is just to get us started.”

UNCG covered close to half the cost of the cistern with a $2,372 grant from the Guilford County Soil and Water Conservation District.

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 Posted by at 8:16 am

Affirmative Consent: Are Students Really Asking? | The New York Times

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Jul 282015
 

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By SANDY KEENAN
JULY 28, 2015

Tyler Frahme, a University at Albany junior, had never even heard of affirmative consent, the unequivocal O.K. to sex that is mandated by state law. Nor was he in the habit of asking women for permission to proceed at every new juncture of sexual activity.

He and his friend Jill Santiago, a fellow junior and psychology major, were catching up in the Campus Center near the close of the school year when I approached their table to ask about the state’s new definition — put in place last winter to guide, govern and presumably protect nearly half a million students across 64 public campuses of the State University of New York, and followed in July by a law that applies to all college students in the state.

New York’s new legislation of what constitutes consent covers a lot of ground in sobering terms:

“Affirmative consent is a knowing, voluntary and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity.”

“Consent to any sexual act or prior consensual sexual activity between or with any party does not necessarily constitute consent to any other sexual act.”
Photo
“The policy has changed but nobody knows,” said Carol Stenger, who directs the University at Albany’s Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence. Credit Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

Mr. Frahme turned defensive, even a little combative, after I introduced him to the legislation.

“Do you think this is a gender-neutral policy?” he demanded. “All these policies cast men in a predatory light. Most guys aren’t like that.”

I asked a test question: Can a really drunk person give consent?

“My answer to that is no,” he said. He was right.

“Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated.”

Mr. Frahme posed a (not-so-hypothetical) scenario of his own: “You both get drunk and it gets heated and you get into it. If the next day she regrets it and formally complains, to me that’s just plain wrong.” The initiator, in fact, is responsible for securing consent, but because the other party is intoxicated, it may not be obtainable.

Ms. Santiago, who knew all about the issue, having helped put together university-mandated training in sexual assault prevention for her sorority, jumped out of the interpretive rabbit hole, locked eyes with Mr. Frahme and said: “If guys realize they have to ask and get permission — and I’ve been asked before, it’s not that bad — this could wind up protecting everyone.”

It wasn’t such a mood kill, she said, when a partner paused and asked: “Do you want to do this. Is it O.K.?”

But Mr. Frahme wasn’t buying it — at least not yet.

Colleges and universities have been scurrying to amend codes of conduct and refine definitions of consent. One reason for the rush is that the Obama administration, which last year launched the “It’s on Us” campaign in an attempt to make campuses safer from sexual violence, has threatened to withhold federal funding from institutions that fail to address problems.

This past year saw a blossoming in the “yes means yes” movement, an about-face on “no means no,” which suggests that sex can advance until you hear that “no.”

“Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent.”

An estimated 1,400 institutions of higher education now use some type of affirmative consent definition in their sexual assault policies, according to the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, a for-profit consulting group. California was the first state to institute standards, last fall, followed by New York. Among states that have introduced affirmative consent bills are New Jersey, New Hampshire and Connecticut.

New York’s law standardizes prevention and response policies and procedures relating to sexual assault. The consent definition within it, officials say, is not intended to micromanage students’ sex lives but to reorient them on how to approach sex and to put them on notice to take the issue seriously.

So how are students incorporating the code into practice? Are they tucking pens and contracts into back jean pockets alongside breath mints and condoms?

To take the pulse of consent culture, I spoke with several dozen students at the University at Albany. Only a few knew about the standards.

“The policy has changed but nobody knows,” said Carol Stenger, a sex educator who directs the university’s Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence. The education of roughly 17,000 students, as well as faculty and staff members, on what the decree means mostly falls to Ms. Stenger and Chantelle Cleary, a former sex crimes prosecutor and now the university’s Title IX coordinator, responsible for investigating complaints of sexual violence.

Ms. Stenger tries to keep her message simple: “Think of it as borrowing a cellphone. You wouldn’t just take it. You’d ask for it first.” She’s been gathering and creating social scenarios to introduce consent at freshman orientation this summer. Upperclassmen will pose provocative statements, especially related to drinking.

The biggest challenge Ms. Stenger faces, she says, is addressing the alcohol question because men and women think the situation is a wash when both are inebriated. “It makes me crazy,” she said. “They ask, ‘Am I still a victim?’ Yes!”

The hope advanced by many sex educators, including Ms. Stenger, is that seeking and receiving consent will render sex healthier, more gender equitable and maybe even sexier.

But it turns out that men and women are not great verbal communicators when it comes to sex. Both genders are likely to follow what Kristen J. Jozkowski, a sex researcher and assistant professor at the University of Arkansas, characterizes as “traditional sexual scripts,” whereby men are the pursuers and women the gatekeepers of sex, trained by society to be reluctant. Studies have found these stereotypes, even in the age of hookup sites like Tinder, to be generally true. Men tend to rely on nonverbal cues in interpreting consent (61 percent say they get consent via body language), but women tend to wait to be asked before signaling consent (only 10 percent say they give consent via body language). No wonder there’s so much confusion.

“This discrepancy could potentially lead to miscommunication if men are looking for nonverbal cues and women are waiting to be asked,” Dr. Jozkowski explained. Women rarely initiate the discussion because they don’t want to come off as being promiscuous, she said. “That’s why it’s so important to deviate from these old scripts.”

What she knows for sure is that educating young people on healthy sexual relationships needs to start much earlier than college. She is optimistic that the new campaigns will change behavior, much as antismoking laws and public service announcements changed views regarding smoking.

I approached another table at the Campus Center — three juniors whose fondness for pickup basketball had brought them together as freshmen. None were aware of the consent decree. With some keyword coaching, Malik Alexander found the policy announcement in his old emails and read it aloud. He had his buddies’ attention.

Mr. Alexander warmed to the idea: “This sounds like something that should be done by everyone in everyday life anyway. I’ve always been more of a consensual sort of guy.”

Kevin Miranda shook his head. “I think that could be difficult in practice,” he said. “Can you at least use body language instead of always having to ask out loud?” Yes. California’s definition and the revised language going into effect in the fall in New York are clear on this point. Body language and physical clues (say, a clear nod) would count, but both warn that consent can be revoked at any time.

“When consent is withdrawn or can no longer be given, sexual activity must stop.”

One student about to graduate with a degree in science, who asked not to be identified given the intimate nature of her story, had read and absorbed New York’s law. She said she had had only one sexual encounter in four years at Albany, with a good friend she had begun dating. She was open to having sex but didn’t know what to expect, and it took awhile to realize when her partner became domineering and aggressive that this wasn’t how it was supposed to go.

“It wasn’t something we’d agreed upon,” she said. “It wasn’t sexy.” She told him to stop, she said, and tried to push him away, and that’s when “he covered my mouth with his hand” until he was finished.

She never told anyone, not a friend, not a counselor and not her family.

“They’d never look at me the same again.”

Did she think it rose to the level of sexual assault? “Yes it did,” she said.

And had she considered filing a complaint with the police or the SUNY authorities? “I don’t have that kind of courage,” she said, “but I commend all strong women who do.”

The new law, she believes, will help change behavior going forward. “Now that it’s outlined in black and white,” she said, “there’s really no excuse for people to be doing what they shouldn’t be doing.”

On a sparkling spring afternoon, on the Academic Podium, an imposing postmodern expanse of fountains, cerulean wading pools and grand colonnades, 50 or so women and a smattering of men marched in the annual Slut Walk, a protest against victim blaming. They wielded signs both optimistic (“Consent Is Sexy”) and pointed (“Rape Predated Miniskirts”). The night before, to mark sexual assault month, “The Vagina Monologues” was onstage and “The Hunting Ground,” a haunting documentary about rape culture on campus, was onscreen.

However passionate, the protest was somewhat insular, drawing little attention from those socializing or studying on nearby benches.

I met a boisterous foursome of women, all juniors and all transfer students who had gone through orientation last summer. They had learned about bystander intervention (friends looking out for friends), reporting protocols and campus resources for victims of sexual assault. But they were not aware of consent, the concept.

After hearing a bit about it, Daniela Kelly said, “Not a lot of people are going to follow that.”

“That’s needed more for hookup culture,” said Shanice Stephenson.

“And besides, it would be impossible to monitor,” said Chinyere Leigh Richardson. “If they’d asked for our input, maybe we’d be more inclined to try it.”

Ms. Kelly recounted a day of partying during spring break in Miami.

“This one guy kept tugging at me and touching and pawing me and he just wouldn’t stop,” she said.

So what did she do?

“I pretended I was dead.”

Like an animal?

“Exactly.”

Did it work? She shook her head.

O.K., then, given that story, I asked: Of the 10 men she knew and respected most on campus, how many would benefit from training in sexual consent?

Without a moment’s pause, she said, “11.”

About a month after my sit-down with Mr. Frahme, I checked in with him by phone. Since first hearing about the new policy, he said, he had been practicing consent almost religiously. He now asks for consent once or twice during sexual encounters with women he knows well, and four or five times during more casual or first-time hookups.

“I certainly didn’t expect the policy to change my behavior,” he said, “but it has.”

It’s getting to be a little more comfortable, he said. He crafts and poses questions like “You O.K. with this?” “Do you still want to go ahead?” and “Hey, you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.”

One woman he was having sex with for the first time accused him of being devious in asking for consent. She thought he was using reverse psychology to get her in bed. That wasn’t it at all, he said.

“I’m just letting them know I’m not trying to pressure anyone into something they are going to regret.”

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‘Enough IS enough': Colleges don’t need more sex-assault legislation | The Washington Post

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on ‘Enough IS enough': Colleges don’t need more sex-assault legislation | The Washington Post
Jul 282015
 

washingtonpost

By Kevin Kruger
July 27 at 1:47 PM

More than half of the states considered legislation this year aimed at preventing or coping with campus sexual assault, and experts predicted more will continue to weigh in on an issue that keeps making headlines.

That’s welcome news to many who worry about how to combat this problem — and concerning to others, who think layering laws and regulations on colleges could just confuse things. Kevin Kruger, the president of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, offers his opinion:

By Kevin Kruger

Earlier this month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the “Enough Is Enough” legislation, which aims to increase protections against sexual assault on college campuses statewide. While there is a lot that is good in the new law, I remain very concerned about the broader implications of state-by-state legislation to address sexual assault—particularly as the District of Columbia takes up its own legislation—and find Governor Cuomo’s comments about the reasons for advancing the law quite flawed.

Cuomo asserted at the bill signing that campuses have not previously acknowledged issues like domestic violence and campus sexual assault and that institutions are putting their reputations before the needs of their students.

Cuomo is flat-out wrong.

Advancing half-truths and twisting statistics for political gain does nothing to prevent incidents of sexual assault, help victims or make campuses stronger. Public and private college and university administrators, advocates and other experts are working together proactively and students are safer now than they have ever been.

Institutions have redoubled their efforts to respond to sexual assault and created victim-centered processes and resources to be in compliance with guidance from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

Institutions nationally have reorganized or added new staff to address complex compliance and regulatory expectations, with goals of changing the culture of their campuses and reducing occurrences of assault.

In my career-long work in student affairs, I can attest that the last thing individuals responding to victims would think about is the reputation of the institution. They are focused on ensuring a victim is receiving the support they need.

Having said that, I must stress that colleges aren’t courts of law — we are tasked with providing educational processes to allow victims to pursue their academic interests and hold those accused accountable for their actions if they are found responsible. Despite what any movie or magazine article or governor may assert, institutions are meeting these goals.

Despite the incorrect statements made by the governor, there is a lot that is good in this new law. I am a big fan of anything that helps students understand the complexity of relationships and applaud the state’s clear, simple and easy to understand definition of “consent.”

Best practices like bystander intervention training and campus climate surveys are included in the law, as is funding of new requirements, and I agree that all students should have have a safe and confidential place to report sexual assault.

I am, however, concerned that with three states (New York, California and Connecticut) passing legislation on campus sexual assault awareness and prevention, we may soon have a state-by-state patchwork dictating what are very complex campus processes.

As we’ve seen with the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, sponsored by a group of 12 US senators, a one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work well for higher education and I doubt 50 state-specific approaches (plus the District) will be any more effective.

For example, with the enactment of New York’s law, there are now three different state definitions of consent on the books. Adding 48 more would dilute the intended goal of providing clarification.

No student is going to ask themselves, “What state am I in? What definition of consent do I have to apply here?” which means the patchwork approach will ultimately fail to meet the needs of students and become a bureaucratic mess for institutions.

I am further concerned that language proposed in many states assumes that every institution is a residential, four-year institution meaning that many institutions will be held accountable for compliance when their campus doesn’t fit the legislation’s criteria.

The high-tech, blended-learning model of today reflects the increasing complexity of higher education and requires legislation that acknowledges shifting institutional types and cultures in order to truly put students first.

As with any legislation, there are elements of the “Enough Is Enough” law that are good, some that may have unintended consequences and the actions of others miss the greater mark on behalf of political gain.

Campus sexual assault is an issue of great concern, but our solutions must prioritize the experience of students, not the scoring of political points.

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Bombed the SAT or the ACT? Here are colleges that are ‘test-optional.’ | The Washington Post

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on Bombed the SAT or the ACT? Here are colleges that are ‘test-optional.’ | The Washington Post
Jul 282015
 

washingtonpost

By Nick Anderson
July 27 at 2:05 PM

So which colleges and universities will admit you without requiring or looking at test scores? If you’re aiming for the Ivy League or other national universities at the most elite level, forget about it. They not only demand SAT or ACT results, many also will look for other tests to show subject-matter mastery.

But there are plenty of schools that take a test-optional approach. On Monday, George Washington University became the latest. GWU said that with a few exceptions, students seeking freshman admission will no longer have to submit SAT or ACT scores.

The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, known as FairTest, is an advocacy group that tracks the test-optional movement. It has a list of more than 800 schools that admit substantial numbers of students to bachelor’s degree programs without using SAT or ACT scores.

The description of the list is carefully worded because of nuances in policies. Some schools require tests but allow students to submit results from assessments other than the two big admissions tests. Some public schools require tests but will then admit a portion of students based on grades or class rank, without considering their test scores. Some are test-optional but only for students who meet certain grade-point average thresholds. And so on.

The Washington Post analyzed FairTest’s list to see what types of schools offer some type of flexibility. Here are a few takeaways.

There are about 180 public and private schools on the list with published rankings from U.S. News & World Report, some of them national and many regional. They range from Agnes Scott College, a women’s school in Georgia, to Wake Forest University, a liberal arts/research university in North Carolina. There are no test-optional schools, however, among the top 25 on the U.S. News national university list. In general, there are far more test-optional schools among liberal arts colleges than major national universities.
There are at least 144 for-profit schools listed, ranging from the giant University of Phoenix network to various schools emphasizing art design, nursing, technology and other careers. Many of these are online operations. Some are hard to find on the federal College Navigator database and are probably not known to high school students.
There are about 460 private, nonprofit schools. Some are tiny. The Post counted 97 of these schools with enrollment of 200 undergraduates or fewer, according to recent federal data, and about 50 with no more than 100 undergrads. The latter include a great number of seminaries, bible colleges, rabbinical colleges and other religious institutions, from Shasta Bible College in Redding, Calif., (39 undergrads) to the Talmudical Institute of Upstate New York, in Rochester, with 13.
There are more than 230 public colleges and universities, from Alcorn State in Mississippi to Wichita State in Kansas. The California State University system is well-represented because it uses GPAs in core subjects to admit students. So are public schools in Texas, which use class rank to admit many in-state applicants. Virginia has become a hotbed of test-optional public experiments: George Mason, Old Dominion, Christopher Newport, Radford, Mary Washington and Virginia Commonwealth universities all are listed as test-optional with GPA thresholds. VCU is the latest, joining this year.
If you like test-optional choices, try Maine. This state has a cluster of well-regarded liberal arts colleges on the FairTest list. Bowdoin and Bates colleges are test-optional and have been for a long time. So are the College of the Atlantic and Thomas and Unity colleges, and several branches of the University of Maine. Colby College is test-flexible, meaning it requires tests but they don’t have to be the regular ACT or SAT. You could send in SAT Subject test scores instead.

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A list of 180+ ranked schools that don’t require ACT or SAT scores for admissions | The Washington Post

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on A list of 180+ ranked schools that don’t require ACT or SAT scores for admissions | The Washington Post
Jul 282015
 

washingtonpost

By Valerie Strauss
July 27 at 6:01 PM

George Washington University in the Washington, D.C. is the newest major school to drop its requirement that most freshman applicants must submit SAT or ACT test scores for admissions purposes, according to this story by my Post colleague Nick Anderson, joining a list of more than 850 accredited, bachelor-degree granting schools (out of about 3,000 in the United States).

Of that group, some schools don’t require any students to submit scores, others exempt those students with specific GPA and class rank statistics, and still others require the test scores for the purposes of class placement or other non-admissions reasons.

Here is a list of 181 leading colleges and universities that have changed their requirements on submitting ACT and SAT college admissions test scores. The number next to the schools refers to their rank on the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Guide (2015 Edition)

This list was compiled and is maintained by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, known as FairTest, a non-profit that works to prevent misuse and abuse of standardized tests. Its Web site has a lot of information on the SAT and ACT as well as on standardized testing in general. FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer said that growing number of test-optional schools “recognizes that no test—not the SAT, old or new, nor the ACT – is needed for high-quality admissions.”

And here is an analysis of the schools by Anderson.

National Liberal Arts College

5. Bowdoin College (ME)
7. Middlebury College (VT) “Test Flexible”
15. Colby College (ME) “Test Flexible”
15. Hamilton College (NY) “Test Flexible”
15. Wesleyan University (CT)
19. Bates College (ME)
19. Smith College (MA)
27. Bryn Mawr (PA)
27. Colorado College (CO) “Test Flexible”
34. College of the Holy Cross (MA)
35. Pitzer College (CA)
37. Dickinson College (PA)
37. Franklin and Marshall College (PA)
41. Mount Holyoke College (MA)
41. Union College (NY)
45. Bard College (NY)
45. Connecticut College (CT)
45. Sewanee — The University of the South (TN)
45. Trinity College (CT) “Test Flexible”
50. Gettysburg College (PA)
51. Denison University (OH)
51. Furman University (SC)
56. St. John’s College (MD)
56. St. Lawrence University (NY)
59. Lawrence University (WI)
59. Sarah Lawrence College (NY)
61. Beloit College (WI)
61. Hobart and William Smith Colleges (NY)
64. Gustavus Adolphus (MN)
64. Kalamazoo College (MI).
64. Muhlenberg College (PA)
69. Wheaton College (MA)
73. Agnes Scott College (GA)
73. Earlham College (IN)
77. Lewis and Clark (OR)
81. Allegheny College (PA)
81. Knox College (IL)
81. Transylvania University (KY)
81. University of Puget Sound (WA)
89. Bennington College (VT)
89. St. John’s College (NM)
96. Washington & Jefferson College (PA)
99. College of the Atlantic (ME)
99. Drew University (NJ)
99. Ohio Wesleyan (OH)
99. St. Michael’s College (VT)
105. Augustana College (IL)
105. Goucher College (MD)
105. Juniata College (PA)
105. Stonehill College (MA)
105. Washington College (MD)
113. Siena College (NY)
116 Susquehanna University (PA)
120. Lake Forest College (IL)
120. St. Anselm College (NH)
124. Presbyterian College (SC)
129. McDaniel College (MD)
139. Wittenberg University (OH)
155. Illinois College (IL)
155. William Jewell College (MO)
159. Lycoming College (PA)
165. Hartwick College (NY)
165. Warren Wilson College (NC)
172. Guilford College (NC)
177. Albright College (PA)

National Universities

27. Wake Forest University (NC)
32. New York University (NY) “Test Flexible”
33. University of Rochester (NY) “Test Flexible”
35. Brandeis University (MA)
53. Univ. of Texas – Austin (TX) “Top 8%”
54. George Washington University
68. Texas A & M (TX) “Top 10%”
68. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (MA)
71. American University (DC)
76. Clark University (MA)
116. Duquesne University (PA)
121. DePaul University (IL)
121. Temple University (PA)
121. University of Arizona (AZ)
129. Arizona State University (AZ)
135. Hofstra University (NY)
135. New School (NY)
138. George Mason University (VA)
142. Kansas State University (KS)
145. Univ. of Texas – Dallas (TX) “Top 15%”
149. University of Mississippi (MS)
156. Virginia Commonwealth University (VA)
194. University of Nevada – Reno (NV

Regional Universities – North
2. Providence College (RI)
3. College of New Jersey (NJ)
3. Fairfield University (CT)
3. Loyola University (MD)
7. University of Scranton (PA)
9. Ithaca College (NY)
11. Bryant University (RI)
11. Marist College (NY)
11. Saint Joseph’s University (PA)
19. Le Moyne College (NY)
19. Rowan University (NJ)
28. Wagner College (NY)
31. Assumption College (MA)
31. Hood College (MD)
31. Nazareth College (NY)
38. Sacred Heart University (CT)
41. College of Saint Rose (NY)
41. King’s College (PA)
41. Roger Williams University (RI)
50. Montclair State University (NJ)
50. Salve Regina University (RI)
56. Chatham University (PA)
56. Mercyhurst University (PA)
60. Emmanuel College (MA)
65. Johnson and Wales University (RI)
65. Salisbury University (MD)
83. Manhattanville College (NY)
87. SUNY Potsdam (NY)
87. The Sage Colleges (NY)
103. Eastern Connecticut State University (CT)
103. Plymouth State University (NH)
120. Utica College (NY)
125. Keuka College (NY)
135. Cabrini College (PA)

Regional Universities — South
2. Rollins College (FL)
6. Stetson University (FL)
13. University of Mary Washingotn (VA)
17. Christopher Newport University (VA)
18. Hampton University (VA)
34. Radford University (VA)
65. St. Leo University (FL)
65. St. Thomas University (FL)

Regional Universities – Midwest
3. Drake University (IA)
14. Baldwin-Wallace College (OH)
48. University of Wisconsin –Whitewater (WI)
80. Northwest Missouri State University (MO)
80. Robert Morris University (IL)
84. Wayne State College (NE)

Regional Universities – West
9. Whitworth University (WA)
35. California State Univ. – Chico (CA)
38. San Jose State University (CA)
40. California State Univ. – Fullerton (CA)
43. Sonoma State University (CA)
46. California State Univ. – Fresno (CA)
55. California State Univ. – Stanislaus (CA)
58. California State Univ. – Sacramento (CA)
58. Humboldt State University (CA)
58. San Francisco State University (CA)
58. Walla Walla University (WA)
66. California State Univ. – San Bernadino (CA)
68. California State Univ. – Monterey Bay (CA)
68. California State Univ. – Northridge (CA)
68. University of Alaska – Anchorage (AK)
68. Weber State University (UT)
75. California State Univ. – Channel Islands (CA)
80. California State Univ. – Bakersfield (CA)
80. Hawaii Pacific University (HI)
84. California State Univ. – Los Angeles (CA)
84. California State Univ. – San Marcos (CA)
84. Western Oregon University (OR)

Regional Colleges – North
4. Elizabethtown College (PA)
6. Lebanon Valley College (PA)
7. University of Scranton (PA)
9. Merrimack College (MA)
12. Bard College at Simon’s Rock (MA)
17. Wilson College (PA)
18. University of Maine – Farmington (ME)
24. Cazenovia College (NY)
26. Dean College (MA)
28. Pennsylvania College of Technology (PA)
31. Unity College (ME)
33. SUNY College of Technology – Delhi (NY)
37. University of Maine – Fort Kent (ME)
40. Nichols College (MA)
46. University of Maine – Presque Isle (ME)
46. Washington Adventist University (MD)

Regional Colleges – South
16. Catawba College (NC)
37. Belmont Abbey College (NC)
40. Keiser University (FL)
54. Lees-McRae College (NC)
64. Indian River State College (FL)
70. Everglades University (FL)

Regional Colleges – Midwest
47. Olivet College (MI)
64. Dunwoody College of Technology (MN)

Regional Colleges — West
6. Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OK)
25. St. Gregory’s University (OK)

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Construction to enhance campus life | The Daily Reflector

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on Construction to enhance campus life | The Daily Reflector
Jul 272015
 

reflector1

By Holly West
Sunday, July 26, 2015

East Carolina University staff are finishing up several construction projects and renovations that will make living on campus a little more pleasant for students.

The summer’s major project is the completion of Gateway Residence Hall, the first new dorm on campus in almost a decade.

The $58 million project includes two buildings — Gateway East and Gateway West. It will have 722 beds, almost 300 more than its predecessor Belk Hall, which was demolished last year. The new residence hall will also include two apartments for resident coordinators and two guest apartments for faculty or visitors, said Gina Shoemaker, ECU’s assistant director of facilities engineering and architectural services and Gateway’s project manager.

Gateway is the first dorm on campus to receive Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification, a green building designation created by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The residence hall was named for its purpose, to serve as a gateway from the campus’s College Hill area, from 10th and 14th streets, to the ECU athletics complexes.

Another project on the list this summer was the removal of mailboxes from dorms. Students can now pick up their mail in two centralized locations — the West End Dining Hall and Gateway Residence Hall — depending on where they live.

Shoemaker said students were not getting enough mail to justify mailboxes in every dorm.

“Our housing administration decided that students don’t get the amount of mail they used to, so they centralized it,” she said.

Students already had to go to centralized locations to get packages, so now they will be able to get both packages and standard mail in one place, she said.

Renovations also were made to the neighborhood services offices and the West End Dining Hall. Improvements in the landscape and handicap access were made throughout campus, too.

The next big project on the list is White Residence Hall. The dorm will close in January to allow for extensive renovations totaling about $19 million. All the rooms will be renovated, and the bathrooms will be gutted and redone. The laundry rooms, which are on every other floor, will be combined into a larger laundry facility on the first floor, making room for study lounges on every floor.

In addition, there will be new flooring and paint, a new roof and a new exterior. The first floor will be expanded, and its lobby will be renovated.

“The students that live in White in the fall semester will be relocated in the spring semester,” Shoemaker said. “That renovation will take place all spring and all summer and it will be open again next fall.”

The renovation is the first in a series of major overhauls of the campus’ three high-rise dorms.

“The same identical thing will be done at Clement starting next summer,” Shoemaker said. “Exactly a year following that will be Greene.”

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Educators learn inclusiveness | The Daily Reflector

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on Educators learn inclusiveness | The Daily Reflector
Jul 272015
 

reflector1

By Holly West
Monday, July 27, 2015

Pitt County educators were among 100 people from throughout the country who attended ECU’s first Leadership Learning Exchange last week.

The five-day event was co-sponsored by the Institute for Educational Leadership, which has held several similar programs across the United States.

Teachers, faculty and students shared their ideas on important policy issues and met with Greenville community organizations, all tied to the week’s theme: “Breathe Joy & Justice into School and Community Leadership.”

ECU professor Matthew Militello, the facilitator of the program, said it’s important for educators to work with communities rather than for them.

“We want to do more leadership and development work in the community,” he said. “We believe the problems that exist in a neighborhood or community can only be fixed by members of that community.”

An important way to do that, he said, is to make sure everyone is involved in the discussion, from school children to community members.

D.H. Conley High School Assistant Principal Norman McDuffie was among the Pitt County educators who attended. He said one thing from the program that stuck with him is the idea of making all students feel like they belong.

Often, certain students are identified as “at-risk” for having problems in school. McDuffie said students can internalize that message, which creates self-fulfilling prophesies.

“That identity piece, it can prevent kids from performing well on standardized tests and in the classroom,” he said.

McDuffie said he also has been thinking about the efficacy of suspensions. While students need to be disciplined, he said, taking them out of class might not be the answer.

“If a kid is not in the class, he can’t learn,” he said. “We need to get to the root of the problem.”

In addition, he said minority students are disproportionately targeted for both “at-risk” groups and suspensions. This kind of thought is exactly what the Exchange aims to spark, said Lynda Tredway, the event’s co-facilitator and a senior associate at the Institute for Educational Leadership.

“People can go back to their school and districts and re-imagine how they do reform,” she said.

Thursday, the last day of the exchange, attendees worked with their home teams to develop plans for improvement for their districts. McDuffie said the Pitt group is planning to present its ideas to the superintendent and school board.

There will be plenty of material to share with the district. Throughout the week, the activities of the exchange have been documented by a group of 10 high school students from across the country. They have videoed, photographed and interviewed participants so the participants can share their work with others.

“I like to listen to people’s stories and hear their background,” said Dylan Janson, 13, of Jacksonville, Fla.

Forums on education are not always kid-friendly, but with the Institute on Educational Leadership’s focus on getting students involved in the conversation, young documentarians such as Malik Scott, 12, of Oakland, Calif., said this one was fun. And Scott would know.

“I go to a lot of events with my mom, who’s an educator, and they’re all really boring,” he said. “But this is really interesting.”

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Editorial: Removing debate worse | The Daily Reflector

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on Editorial: Removing debate worse | The Daily Reflector
Jul 272015
 

reflector1

July 26, 2015

The State Legislature spent much of last week debating whether cities, counties, schools and universities can be trusted with hundreds of historical monuments and memorials that adorn public properties. The answer, according to Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican majority, is a resounding “No.”

Flames of passion, one GOP lawmaker said, were in danger of overriding common sense. But as “flames of passion” engulf both sides in this monumental debate, the ban on removing historical markers does not represent common sense so much as it does the ones holding the biggest flame.

Lawmakers who pushed this law through the General Assembly have valid arguments regarding the importance of preserving history. Markers that represent this state’s colorful past — the good, the bad and the ugly — should not be removed from the public eye simply to satisfy those who disagree with the history represented.

To throw a blanket of state jurisdiction over every engraved plaque and pillar in the land, however, smacks of the kind of totalitarianism present in nations where leaders erect giant portraits of themselves. That is not the way America or North Carolina governs, of course, but it does raise an interesting possibility.

Suppose the Republican-controlled Legislature were to decide that the front of every county courthouse should be adorned with a ginormous portrait of Pat McCrory to commemorate our bespectacled governor’s historic reign over The Old North State. And suppose McCrory were to sign on with such a nutty idea.

Every man, woman and child would then have to look at a two-story portrait of Pat upon each visit to the public square — and there would be nothing anyone in Pitt or the state’s 99 other counties could do about it.

An absurd thought, perhaps, but one now supported by state law.

Those who support the law are rightly concerned about movements to remove controversial Confederate war memorials in several areas of the state. Those movements are in part the ripple effect from a deadly church shooting last month in Charleston, S.C.

The legislative ban on removing historical markers was in motion in this state months before the shooting, however. Lawmakers began crafting the law in response to movements on college campuses, including East Carolina University, to remove the names of historic figures known to have been white supremacists.

Those movements here and elsewhere have been marked by much public debate and thoughtful deliberation. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the outcomes, the debates took place in the public squares of the respective communities.

Removing monuments can be a terrible thing. Removing the authority of local governments and institutions to debate them is a worse thing.

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ECU notes: SGA officers prepare | The Daily Reflector

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on ECU notes: SGA officers prepare | The Daily Reflector
Jul 272015
 

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July 26, 2015

SGA officers prepare

The new slate of officers guiding East Carolina University’s Student Government Association has made transparency in campus leadership activities a top priority for the upcoming school year.

SGA president Mark Matulewicz of Currituck, vice president Jenny Betz of Cary, treasurer Carson Pierce of Charlotte and secretary Selma Gomez of Buffalo, N.Y., were sworn in on April 20 and started work this summer. Gomez recently stepped down and the secretary position was filled by Chelsea Scott of Charlotte, who ran on the second ticket during the spring semester.

As SGA president, Matulewicz also will serve as an ex-officio member of the ECU Board of Trustees. He was sworn in on July 17.

“We want to be open and honest with students so they understand what is taking place on their campus and how they can get involved,” Matulewicz said. “We also want our students to feel comfortable around SGA and be able to come to us and voice their concerns.”

To improve communication, the officers plan to create an SGA blog along with “Senate in a Minute” video segments compiled from senate meetings.

The leaders also hope to initiate changes that will improve the college experience for students.

“When we all decided to run, my teammates and I had really similar views,” Matulewicz said. “We just wanted to make ECU a better place in general.”

To help achieve this objective, the leaders supported the adoption of LiveSafe, an IOS and Android compatible app, which helps students use their mobile devices to report suspicious activity to police through images, video and text messages. Designed to help students feel safer on campus, the app uses Google Maps to link students who wish to walk from one place to another on campus and in surrounding areas with other trusted users. The officers will promote the app during on campus events such as Pirate Palooza and Barefoot on the Mall.

Matulewicz is a rising junior majoring in finance. He is a member of the Financial Management Association and Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and has served as an ECU Ambassador and resident advisor. He served as the director of First Year Programs and Shipmates in the executive cabinet before running for student body president his sophomore year.

Betz is a rising senior and a former member of the ECU women’s soccer team. After an injury, she hung up her cleats and became involved in student organizations. She joined ECU Ambassadors, Greek Life and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. As a sophomore, she became a senator for the College of Business.

A former student body president of Cardinal Gibbons High School, Betz said she always has enjoyed influencing a positive change among her peers.

“I want to make a more inclusive environment (on campus), especially within SGA,” Betz said. “The students are what I’m really passionate about.”

Betz is most excited about the Pirate Pickup Project, a new bus service that will transport students with long-term and short-term mobility impairments around campus.

Betz is majoring in marketing and minoring in economics. She hopes to obtain her MBA after graduation.

Rising senior Carson Pierce is a double major in political science and communication. He began in SGA as a member of the judicial council his freshman year and ran the judicial branch last year.

“I want to be the guy that funds the most organizations in the history of SGA on record,” he said. “I want to make sure that we can walk away from this and say that we’ve touched as many events and organizations at ECU and left the biggest footprint behind than any SGA administration has in the past.”

As treasurer, he plans to use his position to lighten the financial burden on students and campus organizations, with such projects as a student discount card that also would boost Greenville’s economy by encouraging student purchases in the area.

Rising junior and sociology major Chelsea Scott is an active leader on campus. She serves as the Black Student Union ambassador, Pirate 2 Pirate mentor and African Student Organization social coordinator.

Scott is excited to join the SGA team and looks forward to bringing about a positive change on campus.

By supporting her peers and serving as secretary, Scott aims to fulfill ECU’s model of service.

“I hope to bring a fresh outlook to SGA and help close the gap students may feel between the student body and SGA as a whole,” Scott said.

NCLR names new competition for editor

The North Carolina Literary Review (NCLR) has named its new creative nonfiction competition for founding editor Alex Albright.

“This new competition recognizes NCLR’s continued commitment to publishing the best creative nonfiction available about topics of interest to North Carolina readers and to its ongoing openness to writers at the beginning of their careers,” Albright, who joined ECU in 1981, said.

The Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize competition is open to anyone who fits the NCLR definition of a North Carolina writer: current or previous residents of North Carolina or a writer who uses North Carolina as subject matter. The winner will receive $250 and publication in NCLR. Finalists will also be considered for publication in the 2016 print and online issues.

“It is particularly significant that the first winner of the Albright Prize will be published in NCLR’s 25th issue,” NCLR editor Margaret Bauer said.

The submission period for the Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize Competition opened on June 15, and the deadline is Aug. 1.

Albright said he shares the honor with his original associate editors, John Patterson and the late Bertie Fearing.

Find complete submission guidelines for NCLR’s Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction competition at http://www.nclr.ecu.edu/submissions/albright-guidelines.html.

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VIDEO: ECU holds 11th annual Ladies Clinic | WITN

 News clippings compiled by ECU News Services  Comments Off on VIDEO: ECU holds 11th annual Ladies Clinic | WITN
Jul 272015
 

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Updated: Sat 10:45 PM
Jul 25, 2015

To view news video at WITN, click here.

The East Carolina University football team held its 11th annual Ladies Clinic Saturday.

The event gives local women the opportunity to experience what life is like as an ECU football player. Campers studied film, worked out in the weight room and performed drills inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Nearly 200 women of all ages participated in the event which is held every year at the end of July.

The ECU football team will open their fall camp on August 5th.

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