Wright dazles in debut | The Daily Reflector

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May 182015


By David Ginsburg
Sunday, May 17, 2015

BALTIMORE — Mike Wright’s major league debut was over.

The right-hander and former East Carolina Pirate had just turned in a sparkling performance on the mound, and as he headed toward the dugout, many of 41,733 fans at Camden Yards stood and cheered.

“I just wanted to kind of savor it,” Wright said. “Most of the advice I got was that you only make your debut once. There’s plenty of games, but you only make your debut once, so soak it all in. And that’s definitely what I tried to do.”

Wright (1-0) allowed four hits over 71⁄3 innings, and the Baltimore Orioles ended the Los Angeles Angels’ five-game winning streak with a 3-0 victory Sunday.

Selected in the third round of the 2011 amateur draft, the 6-foot-6 Wright was clocked at 98 mph on a fastball that produced his first major league strikeout, a swing-and-a-miss by Mike Trout.

He finished with six strikeouts and not a single walk.

“That’s everything you dream of going into it,” Wright said, “and it was really fun.”

Wright allowed an eighth-inning single to Matt Joyce before being removed by manager Buck Showalter after 90 pitches.

The standing ovation followed.

“I tried to, you know, like look up and see what was going on so I could make sure I remember that forever,” the 25-year-old Wright said.

Brad Brach struck out the last two batters in the eighth, and Zach Britton worked the ninth for his eighth save.

Wright outpitched Los Angeles starter Garrett Richards (3-2), who gave up two runs and five hits in 72⁄3 innings.

“Garrett pitched his heart out,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “It was really humid out there.”

Adam Jones scored on a wild pitch in the fourth inning and added a two-run double in the eighth to help Baltimore salvage the finale of the three-game series and improve to 1-12 when scoring fewer than four runs.

Wright started 91 games over five minor league seasons before joining the Orioles on Wednesday for depth in the bullpen. But after starter Chris Tillman developed back spasms, the Orioles called upon Wright to fill the void.

“He was just basically on top of the fastball and we couldn’t square it up,” Angels second baseman Johnny Giavotella said. “He was coming at us. You have to tip your hat off to him.”

Wright retired the first nine batters before Kole Calhoun led off the fourth with a single.

After Albert Pujols doubled with one out, Calhoun was erased in a rundown and Wright struck out Giavotella.

That was the last time the Angels got a runner past first base until the ninth.

Baltimore went up 1-0 in the fourth when Jones reached on an infield hit and scored with two outs when Richards bounced a curveball that got past catcher Carlos Perez.Jones made it 3-0 in the eighth with a two-out double.


In Memoriam: Kent Williford | The Daily Reflector

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May 182015


Kent Williford

WINDSOR – Kent Williford 58, of 204 Crescent Drive, died Saturday, May 16, 2015, at Vidant Bertie Memorial Hospital.

He was born on May 31, 1956, in Windsor to Jimmy and Barbara Williford. Kent (aka “Cheese”) was best known for his big heart that beat for his family. He was a strong man of faith and prayed all day everyday as he rode up and down the rows on his tractor.

His prayers were always for his family and others. Kent was a member of Cashie Baptist Church and Cashie Country Club, where he was a dedicated member and served frequently on the board of directors. He farmed with his father and son for more than 40 years.

Williford Farms Inc. grew cotton, peanuts and tobacco. From 1983 until 1989, Kent owned and operated the Carolina House Restaurant. Kent was a very humble man and was a great role model. He was an outstanding natural athlete in all sports. He was presented the “Athlete of the Year” award back to back in 1973-74 at Bertie High School. Kent lettered in football as a walk-on freshman at East Carolina University in 1974. “Cheese” also was an avid golfer and duck hunter.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Cashie Baptist Church by the Rev. Bobby Strother. Burial will follow in Edgewood Cemetery.

Survivors include his wife of 17 years, Linda Futrelle Williford of the home; son, Kyle Williford (Amy) of Windsor; daughter, Kaley W. Wilson (Matt) of Knoxville, Tenn.; son, David Wilson of Gainesville, Va.; daughter, Katie Meshaw of Chapel Hill; mother and father, Jimmy and Barbara Williford of Windsor; sister, Trudy W. Bowen of Greenville; brothers, Rodney Williford of Bethel and Marshall Williford of Edenton; grandchildren, Layla Williford, Eli Kent Williford and Chloe Wilson.

The family will receive friends Monday from 7-8:30 p.m. at Walker Funeral Home and from the home at other times.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Kent “Cheese” Williford Memorial Fund, Cashie Golf and Country Club, P.O. Box 297, Windsor, NC 27983.


Charlotte group to unveil medical school feasibility study | The Charlotte Observer

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May 182015


By Karen Garloch

Later this month, a group of eight health and business leaders plan to announce the results of a study on the feasibility of establishing a medical school in Charlotte.

Dr. Richard Reiling, a retired Novant Health executive, organized the group, called the Charlotte Medical Education Expansion Committee, more than a year ago. Reiling said an anonymous benefactor made a “sizeable” donation towards paying for the $225,000 contract with Tripp Umbach, a Pittsburgh-based consulting firm that helped develop medical schools in Las Vegas and Scranton, Pa., despite resistance from established schools in those states.

Dr. Richard Reiling, former medical director of the cancer center at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center and leader of an effort to bring a four-year medical school to Charlotte.

Dr. Richard Reiling, former medical director of the cancer center at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center and leader of an effort to bring a four-year medical school to Charlotte. | Novant Health

In recent weeks, Tripp Umbach representatives interviewed many of the 60 leaders who have been invited to the Duke Mansion for the May 27 announcement, Reiling said. He declined to share names of committee members or those who have been invited to the event.

Reiling has been pushing for a four-year medical school for years, noting that Charlotte is the largest city in the country without one.

He said his committee’s goal is to create an independent, four-year medical school that could be under the auspices of UNC Charlotte, and maybe in cooperation with Johnson C. Smith University, Davidson College and Queens University of Charlotte. It would use doctors and hospitals from both Carolinas HealthCare System and Novant Health for clinical training, he said.

North Carolina has five medical schools, at UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, Wake Forest University, East Carolina University and Campbell University. Campbell is the newest, opened in 2013 to train osteopathic doctors who have the same privileges as medical doctors but generally put more emphasis on holistic care and the musculoskeletal system.

Even without a medical school, Charlotte has a long academic medical tradition. Since the 1940s, Carolinas Medical Center has had a residency program that today trains 295 residents and fellows in 35 specialty areas.

In 2010, CMC and UNC collaborated to bring a medical school branch campus to Charlotte. Plans for the satellite were scaled back in 2008 when the legislature failed to approve funding because of revenue shortfalls during the recession.

Today, the UNC School of Medicine Charlotte Campus provides training for 23 third-year students and 17 fourth-year students, said Dr. Mary Hall, associate dean of the Charlotte campus and chief academic officer for Carolinas HealthCare System. Other UNC students spend a few months at CMC for medical rotations.

CMC has 300 faculty doctors, including some who have been teaching medical students and residents for decades, Hall said. Carolinas HealthCare also owns NorthEast hospital in Concord, which has 25 physicians in residency and fellowship programs. Some Novant Health doctors also teach the Charlotte medical students, Hall said.

When she was interviewed by a Tripp Umbach official in recent weeks, Hall said she shared her view there is no need to “create something from scratch … when we already have a high-quality product here.”

“Our suggestion is that we take the nest egg we already have and, if we need to expand, that we expand that,” Hall said. “That’s what makes the most, really the only, sense.”


The continuing education of John Fennebresque | The News & Observer

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May 182015


By Pam Kelley

John Fennebresque, chairman of the UNC Board of Governors, is killing a few minutes, chatting with board members on his Charlotte law firm’s 30th floor while awaiting several others who are coming by private plane. The agenda on this March morning: Nominate a committee to search for North Carolina’s next university system president.

Fennebresque looks distinguished with his silvering hair, white shirt, bespoke charcoal suit. But he hasn’t slept well. For months, since he initiated the effort to replace UNC system President Tom Ross, good sleep has eluded him.

In Charlotte, Fennebresque has long been known as a complicated character. He’s a successful corporate lawyer who counts former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl among his clients, but he’s also a jokester who quotes the movie “National Lampoon’s Animal House” with great facility. He’s driven, witty and generous, but he sometimes acts like a jerk. He has many fans. He has also ticked off a lot of people.

Last year, Fennebresque, 68, became chairman of the Board of Governors, which sets policy for the state’s 17 campuses. So far, his tenure has been marked by controversial board decisions to oust Ross and shut down three campus centers linked to liberal causes. And since Fennebresque is the man in charge, he has become the face of what critics see as a Republican assault on academic freedom, the liberal arts and the public good that North Carolina’s universities provide.

He says his critics are mistaken.

“Promise to make it clear I love the university system,” Fennebresque says.

But he admits that some recent difficulties are of his own making, including his most public misstep, the January news conference after Ross’ retirement announcement. A professor dubbed the event “22 minutes of doublespeak.” Fennebresque himself describes it as “a fiasco.”

His biggest challenge – the selection of a new president – is still to come. As head of a 32-member board that’s strongly opinionated, he needs political finesse, patience and tact, qualities often lacking in his past endeavors.

Ross, a Democrat, came to the university system in 2011 after serving as president of Davidson College. Though he led in a time of major legislative budget cuts, he was generally seen as successful. But he took the job just as Republicans gained control of the legislature. Their far-reaching agenda includes rethinking the $9 billion university system viewed for decades as one of North Carolina’s proudest achievements.

Since then, as terms on the Board of Governors have ended, legislators have appointed new members, transforming the board from majority Democrat to mostly Republican with a couple of politically unaffiliated members. Many had hoped Ross, who turns 65 in June, would retire quietly. But when Fennebresque informed Ross, their meeting went badly. At the news conference a week later, Ross made it clear he wasn’t going willingly. Fennebresque was testy with reporters. He denied politics was involved: “I said no. Really clearly. And it’s a short word.” He also praised Ross lavishly.

But he never answered the obvious question: If the man is so great, why get rid of him?

With no explanation of what the board wanted to achieve, critics assumed Fennebresque was following the Republican legislature’s marching orders. They watched what they perceived as other political attacks. In February, the board shut campus centers dedicated to poverty, voter engagement and the environment. In March, a state senator introduced a bill, now shelved, that would double faculty teaching loads. Critics worried the next president could be Art Pope, Gov. Pat McCrory’sformer state budget director and a financier on the political right.

Fennebresque is trying to calm the waters.

In April, he took questions from a group of UNC-Chapel Hill professors for nearly three hours. In March, he told the Legislative Black Caucus he supported the state’s five historically black universities, especially Elizabeth City State, which has been threatened with closure. He has responded to dozens of people who sent him angry email.

He still defends closing the three campus centers. He says the board used the same criteria to review 240 centers across the system. Eight chose to close, and the board closed three after determining their work didn’t require a formal center. The board took flak for delving into campus-level policies, but he says he doesn’t see that happening again.

Fennebresque has begun talking more about the circumstances surrounding Ross’ departure. First off: “I promise on a stack of Bibles I don’t hear from any of the people in Raleigh about what to do,” he said in a recent interview. “And I would be very, very angry if somebody tried to do that with me.”

Most of all, he’s working obsessively, treating his unpaid chairman position like a full-time job. He sends email at all hours and reads the Chronicle of Higher Education when he’s sleepless at 3 a.m. He rented a Raleigh apartment so he can spend more time there.

Throwing himself into his work is what he always does, Fennebresque says, when he fears he might fail. It’s what he’s done ever since he met his wife, Frances, when they were students at UNC. That’s when he decided, for the first time in his life, that he very much wanted to succeed.
From Oyster Bay to UNC

In April, Fennebresque attended a Charlotte Chamber meeting to give an update on the university system. It was his belief, he told the auditorium full of city leaders, that the university system president’s job is more important than the governor’s. He also weighed in on the 2016 governor’s race, noting that he planned to vote for Pat McCrory, the incumbent Republican.

The next day, he wondered whether he said too much. “Clearly, I need a handler.”

Fennebresque’s put-it-out-there style is one of the things McColl, retired president of Bank of America, admires about the man who’s both his friend and lawyer. Fennebresque isn’t always politic, McColl says, but he’s always honest. “If he’s not skillful with the press, and he is not, that doesn’t make him a bad person.”

The two men met soon after Fennebresque arrived in Charlotte in 1973 for his first job, a position with Moore & Van Allen, then a 10-person law firm. He worked all the time, drumming up business by courting bank loan officers over lunches at the Charlotte City Club. He also recruited many talented lawyers and Moore & Van Allen became a legal force.

Fennebresque had only recently acquired his work ethic. He’d been a lousy student during high school and most of college at Chapel Hill. “I was a great disappointment to my parents,” he says.

He had come from wealth. His late father, John D. Fennebresque, was a Yale graduate and Mobil Oil executive. The family lived in Oyster Bay on Long Island, in a house that would later be purchased by Billy Joel, who would feature the property on his “Glass Houses” album cover. Fennebresque was, by his own admission, “spoiled rotten.”

After graduating from Choate, a Connecticut prep school, he went to Chapel Hill, mostly because he didn’t get into Yale. He majored in history and continued to underperform. But a senior year blind date with Frances Woltz, an education major from Mount Airy, changed his life. Two months later, they were engaged, and he was a newly serious student.

Fennebresque did well in law school at Vanderbilt. He’s not sure why it took him so long to apply himself. “It could have been, ‘If I don’t try, I won’t fail.’ I don’t know.”

His brother, Kim Fennebresque, a New York investment banker, believes he and his brother inherited their drive from their father, who died of a heart attack at 54, when John Fennebresque was in law school.

This year, John and Frances celebrate their 45th anniversary. Kim Fennebresque credits Frances for softening his brother. “I think Frances has helped him know when speaking his mind has been hurtful.”

During a recent interview at their Myers Park condo, Fennebresque insisted on including Frances – his handler, so to speak. They sat side by side on a light-green sofa. Several times, she defended his actions. Later, he said: “Isn’t she wonderful?”

Largesse and impatience

Fennebresque became managing partner at Moore & Van Allen in 1987, but he alienated colleagues who said he ran the firm like he owned it. Some also disliked his fraternity-house humor. He bestowed nicknames – Deals, Hummer, The Dog – on some lawyers, but women associates weren’t among them. In 1992, he was asked to step down as managing partner.

The setback was devastating, he says, but instructive. “One of my real weaknesses is impatience. And that has caused me great angst in my adult life, because I’m a results person, not a process person. In my brain, I see the objective. I see a straight line, and I go to it. Real life is not that simple in many instances.”

The next year, he started his own firm, which later merged with McGuireWoods, now one of the nation’s largest law firms. In 1999, he made news again as chairman of a Charlotte committee searching for a new arena site. He secretly flew to New York and encouraged Michael Jordan to buy the Charlotte Hornets. Not much came of that meeting, except complaints from some Charlotte City Council members that Fennebresque shouldn’t have done it in secret and that it wasn’t part of his job, anyway.

Today, Fennebresque is vice chairman of McGuireWoods. He can still be abrupt – “He is very direct, but that’s what I love about him,” says Richard Cullen, McGuireWoods’ chairman – but he’s also known for supporting co-workers, and for quietly writing a check when he learns of a staff member with a financial emergency. “There are people on our staff who would die for him,” says Larry Dagenhart, a law partner.

In fact, for every story about Fennebresque stepping out of line, friends recall acts of kindness.

In 2011, Ginny Amendum, then president of Thompson Child & Family Focus, recruited Fennebresque to serve as her “ask” person at the nonprofit’s annual fundraiser.

Fennebresque had worked for several years with the organization, which serves at-risk children. By the day of the luncheon, he says he’d never been more nervous about a speech, “thinking about all the kids that won’t get the help they need if I screw this up.” In the end, he tossed his written remarks, talked off the cuff, and helped raise $1.3 million, breaking Thompson’s record.

“I loved John Fennebresque,” Amendum says, “and I love him right up to today.”

Path to a fiasco

Fennebresque, a self-described moderate Republican who never votes a straight-party ticket, was elected to the Board of Governors in 2011.

Since 2010, he has donated more than $216,000 to Republican candidates, including North Carolina legislators. He says he gave to legislators “to make sure I have an audience” when lobbying for the system. He sought the chairmanship last year because, he says, “I wanted to do something toward the end of my career that would make a difference to the whole state.”

When new Board of Governors members arrived in 2013, Fennebresque says about a dozen immediately wanted a new president. By fall 2014, about 25 of 32 wanted a change. “This new board wanted its own person,” he says.

Fennebresque consulted Erskine Bowles, the UNC system’s previous president. Bowles says he wasn’t surprised, because new boards often want their own leaders. But he predicted Ross would be surprised, and he warned Fennebresque “it would be really difficult to find a better leader than Tom.”

When Fennebresque went to Ross’ office in January, he had alerted only a handful of board members. He wanted the change to look like Ross’ decision, he says. He’d been advised to take another board member with him, but he went alone. He didn’t want Ross to feel ganged up on.

In an interview, Ross said he was surprised when Fennebresque brought up a leadership change. He had clearly told search committee members in 2010 that he wasn’t interested in the job if they wanted him to retire at 65. He says they told him “they were looking for someone for seven to 10 years.” Also, he says, after coming through a tough economic time, “it was my own assessment it wasn’t the right time to make a transition.”

Fennebresque says he wasn’t aware of Ross’ earlier conversations with board members. And despite Bowles’ warning, he was shocked that Ross was surprised. UNC system presidents have followed an informal tradition of retirement at 65, even though age discrimination laws prohibit mandatory retirement. Fennebresque says he expected to have subsequent conversations. But by early the next week, Ross had retained a lawyer.

Meanwhile, Frances Fennebresque had become seriously ill. Fennebresque shuttled between Chapel Hill and Charlotte. Within days, the university system had a contract with Ross that set retirement in January 2016. And Frances, who has since recovered, was in surgery for pancreatitis.

Ross’ retirement was made public on Jan. 16, with the board voting 31-1 to approve his contract. The awkward news conference with Fennebresque and Ross followed. Though the vote suggested solidarity, some board members were unhappy that they’d only learned of Fennebresque’s actions upon arriving in Chapel Hill.

Marty Kotis of Greensboro, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said he didn’t have enough time to consider the action and didn’t think Fennebresque “should take pretty serious actions without the full consent of the board.”

Fennebresque says now it was a mistake to speak to Ross by himself. Also, he should have informed the entire board first. During the news conference, he was sleep-deprived and anxious about his wife. He was so focused on saying nice things about Ross that he neglected to address the reason for the change.

“So,” he says, “I’d say it was a fiasco.”

Searching for a visionary

News of Ross’ forced retirement produced harsh criticism of Fennebresque and the Board of Governors. An online petition to reinstate Ross attracted more than 2,700 signatures. Fennebresque got hate mail. The criticism has hurt. He has repeatedly joked about finding someone who’ll say nice things about him for this article, the assumption being that it would be difficult.

Ross, on the other hand, has received standing ovations at recent events. He has argued in recent speeches that American higher education is heading in the wrong direction, with too much focus on metrics and job preparation, too little on the value of teaching students to think and communicate effectively.

The issues Ross raises worry many people, including Charlotte lawyer Ray Farris, a former Board of Governors member who voices a common refrain: “They have the right to change the president. It’s just that I want to know the direction they want to take the university.”

One reason that direction seems nebulous is that members aren’t of one mind. Generally, they agree that a new leader mustn’t settle for the status quo, and though no one criticizes Ross, what’s unsaid is that they believe Ross represents the status quo.

Some might consider closing or consolidating campuses. Some might agree with McCrory, who has argued that universities shouldn’t be subsidizing courses – Swahili, gender studies – that don’t lead directly to jobs.

Fennebresque says these aren’t his views. He wants a visionary president, someone who can predict what campuses should be doing in a decade and move toward that goal. He doesn’t care if the person is a Democrat or Republican, from academia or the business world.

He also wants to cut costs by reducing program duplication and axing administrative positions, but he describes himself as “a big believer in liberal arts.” He thinks the faculty deserves a raise.

North Carolina’s tuition is still below the national average, but it has risen 52 percent since 2008-2009, largely to fill the hole created by legislative budget cuts. Like Ross, Fennebresque is adamant that the cuts must stop. “If the University of North Carolina is allowed to deteriorate, it will hurt the prosperity of this state for a long, long time.”

The presidential search committee’s goal is to find a new leader who could start by January 2016, when Ross’ contract ends.

At least until the board selects a new UNC system president, questions about Fennebresque’s motives will continue. Tamar Birckhead, a UNC law professor who helped launch the online petition to reinstate Ross, says it’s “potentially heartening” to hear Fennebresque support the liberal arts, but she’ll wait to see how words translate into action.

Hannah Gage, a Democrat and former board chairwoman who remains a nonvoting member, says she believes Fennebresque is “trying really hard to set things right and do good work and do the right thing for the university and the state. Everything we do will be filtered through a partisan lens now, and I think John understands that.”

One thing Fennebresque says he can guarantee: The new president won’t be Art Pope.

Of course, that’s not something he can actually promise, because he doesn’t control all the votes.

“Well,” he replies, “I act like I do sometimes.”

John Fennebresque may be anxious and sleep-deprived, worried about the UNC system and his own legacy. But for a moment, he laughs.

Kelley: 704 358-5271

John Fennebresque

Family: Married to Frances Woltz Fennebresque. Children: Amy Fennebresque Burleson, John Jr., Frances Fennebresque Hankins, Billy. Seven grandchildren.

Professional: Vice chairman at McGuireWoods.

Education: B.A. in history, UNC-Chapel Hill, 1970; J.D., Vanderbilt Law Review, Vanderbilt University, 1973.

Community and political work: Served on boards of Habitat for Humanity, Queens College of Charlotte, the Mint Museum, United Way of the Central Carolinas, Thompson Child & Family Focus Foundation. Led Charlotte’s New Arena Committee and Charlotte Regional Sports Commission in the 1990s and chaired Charlotte Latin’s board of trustees from 1987 to 1995. Fundraiser for numerous Republican candidates. Served on the UNC Board of Governors from 1995 to 1999 and from 2011 to the present. Became chairman in 2014. Re-elected to the board in March by the state Senate.

Nicknames: His wife is Bunny. Longtime friends know Fennebresque as Tudor, a name his family bestowed at birth. He’s also known as Czar, which he says he adopted when Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot appointed him chairman of Charlotte’s sports commission.

Recent reading: Jon Krakauer’s “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town.” He found the nonfiction story of sexual assaults on and around the University of Montana’s campus so important that he purchased copies for the entire board.

Pam Kelley


ODU will pay stipends to athletes, but how much? | The Virginian-Pilot

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May 182015


By Harry Minium
The Virginian-Pilot
© May 18, 2015


East Carolina, Marshall and Virginia Commonwealth have taken the plunge. So have all 80 schools from the Power-5 conferences, among them Virginia and Virginia Tech.

All will pay the so-called full cost of attendance for every athlete in every sport, meaning athletes will begin to receive stipends, along with the tuition, room and board and books that have long been a part of a full scholarship.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the stipends will range from $1,400 to $6,000, depending on the school. They are designed to cover expenses such as travel home, clothes, cell phones and entertainment.

“The recruiting process,” ECU athletic director Jeff Compher said recently, “has evolved to the point where it is imperative that we provide this support.”

But Old Dominion, which considers ECU, VCU and Marshall recruiting rivals in many sports, said it won’t decide how much aid to offer until later this summer. ODU needs to decide soon – athletes are slated to begin receiving aid when they enroll in August.

“We’re monitoring the situation,” athletic director Wood Selig said. “We’re talking with people and surveying the landscape. But we don’t know yet what we’re going to do.”

The full cost of attendance, the latest NCAA rules change intended to benefit athletes, is based on a complicated federal formula that computes costs a traditional scholarship doesn’t cover. Legislation passed at the January NCAA convention allows schools to pay as much or as little as they can afford toward that maximum cost.

If ODU paid every athlete the $2,975 maximum allowed under the formula, it would add $750,000 to its athletic budget. If it gave athletes stipends based on financial need, that cost would fall to $250,000.

Conference USA is cushioning the blow for its 14 members by offering each school $450,000 over three years to help in the transition.

“That will be an enormous help,” Selig said.

But Selig said he and president John Broderick long ago agreed that ODU must find the remaining money to pay for the stipends from fundraising and not student fees. That means even with the C-USA contribution, ODU must raise $600,000 a year to pay full stipends.

C-USA officials discussed the subject during meetings last week in Destin, Fla., but didn’t come up with a league-wide policy.

“I think you’re going to see all kinds of models in Conference USA, from some who provide the full cost to every athlete to others who may only offer aid in football and men’s and women’s basketball,” Selig said.

“We’re looking at everything. It’s something we may phase in. We may provide more than just need-based aid, but not the maximum allowable. We have a lot of options.”

Broderick has final say in how much ODU will pay. He will huddle with Selig and senior assistant athletic director Ken Brown in late May, with a decision likely to come in June.

Marshall and VCU will begin paying the full cost allowable in August. ECU will phase in its payments over two years, an expense eventually expected to approach $1 million per year.

VCU will pay $4,100 per student. If ODU elects to pay stipends based on need only, that would give the Rams an advantage over the Monarchs in recruiting in many sports.

“That doesn’t put pressure on us,” Selig said. “But it gives us more clarity. We’re going to do what we can do regardless of what others may or may not be doing.”

Selig said no recruits have yet asked about the stipends, according to coaches.

“I think there will be some athletes who shop around and compare the cost-of-attendance numbers,” he said. “But I don’t think there will be many.”

Outside of football and men’s and women’s basketball, most ODU athletes are on partial scholarships, meaning they’re already shopping around for the best financial aid packages.

Power conference schools have far more resources than mid-major schools such as ODU to pay for the cost of attendance because of lucrative TV contracts. Yet, even some power conference officials are concerned about the new rule.

Auburn’s athletes will receive nearly $6,000 in stipends, nearly twice the average in the SEC.

Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney told USA Today that the new rule is well-intended, but also is a “nightmare.”

“For one school to be able to pay $3,000 or $4,000 more than another school, that means at the end of the day, guys are going to make decisions for the wrong reasons. I don’t like where we are now.”

Neither does the Colonial Athletic Association, which opposed the legislation. William & Mary athletic director Terry Driscoll said after the legislation passed that there was “little appetite” among Football Championship Subdivision schools to pay the stipends.

Still, Liberty University, which has aspirations of moving to the Football Bowl Subdivision, has announced it will pay full stipends – the only FCS school to do so. It will give the Flames a recruiting advantage among the state’s seven FCS schools.

Liberty is a member of the Big South, which decided to offer stipends only in men’s and women’s basketball. But schools aren’t limited by conference decisions.

James Madison, a member of the CAA, estimates its cost of attendance stipend at $4,180 per athlete. Athletic director Jeff Bourne told the Richmond Times-Dispatch last week that he’s in the same situation as ODU – unsure of how much, if any, the Dukes, will pay.

Most schools already have begun to appeal to athletic donors to pay for the stipends. VCU recently asked its donors to increase their giving by 15 percent.

Selig said waiting until the summer won’t hurt ODU, and will allow the school the time to make the right decision.

“No one recruited for the 2015-2016 school year was promised anything,” he said. “It was not a part of the recruiting conversation, so there was no reason to rush.”

But ODU received its first football commitment for 2016-17 on Thursday. Recruiting in most sports will amp up in July.

“We’re meeting with our coaches to see what they’re hearing, to see what they’re up against,” Selig said. “I think, by the time we meet with President Broderick, we will bring enough options to him that we can collectively arrive at a good place for our athletic program.”


Duke professor responds to criticism about his comments on African Americans | The News & Observer

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May 182015


May 16, 2015
By Jane Stancill

A Duke University professor faced sharp criticism for online comments he made on The New York Times website, where he compared “the blacks” and “the Asians,” writing that Asians “didn’t feel sorry for themselves, but worked doubly hard.”

In a six-paragraph comment on the Times website, political science professor Jerry Hough wrote: “The blacks get awful editorials like this that tell them to feel sorry for themselves.”

Hough did not agree to be interviewed, but late Friday he said in an email that his comments were misunderstood. He had been prompted to write about a May 9 editorial in the New York Times on the Baltimore riots and underlying factors of segregation and poverty. He said the editorial should have called for the mayor of Baltimore to resign, instead of blaming white racism.

“I don’t know if you will find anyone to agree with me,” he said in an email to The News & Observer. “Anyone who says anything is a racist and ignorant as I was called by a colleague. The question is whether you want to get involved in the harassment and few do. I am 80 and figure I can speak the truth as I see it. Ignorant I am not.”

In his New York Times comment, Hough praised Asians. “Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration,” his online comment said. “Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration. The amount of Asian-white dating is enormous and so surely will be the intermarriage. Black-white dating is almost non-existent because of the ostracism by blacks of anyone who dates a white.”

The comment concluded: “It was appropriate that a Chinese design won the competition for the Martin Luther King state (sic). King helped them overcome. The blacks followed Malcolm X.”

Hough was swiftly blasted on Twitter and other social media sites. Duke officials decried the professor’s comments while defending his right to make them.

Mark Anthony Neal, a Duke professor of African and African American Studies, responded on his blog by pasting a screen shot of the comment, with this: “In the words of Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, microagressions = micro-nooses–Mark Anthony Neal.” Bonilla-Silva is a Duke sociology professor.

In an email, Hough said he was a disciple of Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1950s and voted for President Barack Obama. He pointed out that the first book he assigned to students in 1961 was “Black Like Me.” He further stated that one of the best students he ever taught was African American, and he had encouraged her to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship, but she pursued a career in athletics.

He said he’s working on a book on the 1960s social revolutions and that “I am very disappointed in the lack of progress” for African Americans.

“The point I was raising was why the Asians who were oppressed did so well and are integrating so well, and the blacks are not doing as well,” his email said. “The comments have convinced me to write a book which will add the Asians to all the research I did on blacks.”

He also admitted his comment in the New York Times was not expressed as well as he had intended: “There were typos in my outrage towards [the editorial] and I could have been more careful (though hard in the space limits).”

Duke reaction

Duke spokesman Michael Schoenfeld distanced the university from the professor’s New York Times comments but also pointed out academic freedom provisions in Duke’s Faculty Handbook.

“The comments were noxious, offensive and have no place in civil discourse,” Schoenfeld wrote in an email. “Duke University has a deeply-held commitment to inclusiveness grounded in respect for all, and we encourage our community to speak out when they feel that those ideals are challenged or undermined, as they were in this case.”

He quoted from the Faculty Handbook, which says every faculty member has the right “to act and to speak in his or her capacity as a citizen without institutional censorship or discipline.”

Schoenfeld said he couldn’t comment on personnel matters, but added, “we take issues like this seriously and will use the opportunity to restate Duke’s core values of diversity and tolerance.”

According to the university’s website, Hough, the James B. Duke Professor of Political Science, has focused his research on the former Soviet Union. He has also written on the U.S. Founding Fathers. He holds three degrees from Harvard. He said in his email that he has been on leave this year and will wrap up his teaching career in 2016 after 40 years at Duke.

The situation comes a few weeks after a Duke student hung a noose from a tree, prompting outrage. The student left the campus but issued an apology and will return to Duke in the fall.


Duke professor, attacked for ‘noxious’ racial comments, refuses to back down | The Washington Post

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May 182015


By Michael E. Miller
May 18

Jerry Hough has made a career out of cutting against the grain. As one of the nation’s leading Kremlinologists, Hough tried for decades to dispel what he considered misconceptions about the Soviet Union. “Hough’s arguments are forcefully put, backed by intriguing details and the kind of arch contempt for conventional wisdom that has made Hough an enfant terrible in his field,” according to a 1988 book review in The Washington Post.

Nearly three decades later, however, Hough’s contempt for conventional wisdom has gotten him into a serious controversy. During the past week, the Duke politics professor has come under attack from students, colleagues and school administrators over allegedly racially “noxious” comments he posted online. The enfant terrible has been accused of simply being terrible.

Reacting to a May 9 editorial in the New York Times titled “How Racism Doomed Baltimore,” Hough posted a six-paragraph comment that compared “the blacks” to “the Asians” and blamed African Americans for refusing to integrate by insisting on “strange new” names.

The comment, in which Hough identified himself as a Duke professor, led to a quick and heated response on social media. A fellow Duke professor compared Hough’s statement to a “micro noose.” Michael Schoenfeld, the university’s vice president for public affairs, told Fox 8 television that Hough’s words were “noxious, offensive, and have no place in civil discourse.”

This weekend, Fox 8 and Slate both seemed to suggest Hough had been placed on leave after making his remarks. But Hough told a local newspaper that he had already been on academic leave before the controversy, and that he wasn’t backing down from anything he said.

Instead, Hough said he was being attacked for again saying something different.

“I don’t know if you will find anyone to agree with me,” he told The News & Observer. “Anyone who says anything is [called] a racist and ignorant, as I was called by a colleague. The question is whether you want to get involved in the harassment and few do. I am 80 and figure I can speak the truth as I see it. Ignorant I am not.”

Hough has taught at Duke for 40 years and is set to stop teaching in 2016, he told The News & Observer. He holds three degrees from Harvard and has penned numerous op-eds for national publications, including The Washington Post.

The controversy stems from Hough’s comment to the New York Times editorial, which linked riots in Baltimore to the city’s “intractable” poverty segregated schools. Here is Hough’s full comment:

This editorial is what is wrong. The Democrats are an alliance of Westchester and Harlem, of Montgomery County and intercity Baltimore. Westchester and Montgomery get a Citigroup asset stimulus policy that triples the market. The blacks get a decline in wages after inflation.

But the blacks get symbolic recognition in an utterly incompetent mayor who handled this so badly from beginning to end that her resignation would be demanded if she were white.The blacks get awful editorials like this that tell them to feel sorry for themselves.

In 1965 the Asians were discriminated against as least as badly as blacks. That was reflected in the word “colored.” The racism against what even Eleanor Roosevelt called the yellow races was at least as bad.

So where are the editorials that say racism doomed the Asian-Americans. They didn’t feel sorry for themselves, but worked doubly hard.

I am a professor at Duke University. Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration. Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration. The amount of Asian-white dating is enormous and so surely will be the intermarriage. Black-white dating is almost non-existemt because of the ostracism by blacks of anyone who dates a white.

It was appropriate that a Chinese design won the competition for the Martin Luther King state. King helped them overcome. The blacks followed Malcolm X.

Almost immediately, other readers criticized the comments as inappropriate of a Duke professor.

“Are you serious? Someone’s non-Anglo first name is part of the problem?” asked one commenter. “Read this professors reviews from students on Rate My Professor, multiple reviews reference his prejudices. And who are the people recommending his post? Duke, you should be ashamed.”

In fact, one student who gave Hough a “poor” rating in 2011 mentioned his professor’s alleged prejudices.

“Hough is interestingly out of date,” the student wrote on the anonymous Web site. “His antiquated views are placed in a modern world. His class is like Groundhog Day, repeating itself endlessly with nothing interesting happening. His text book is what he should be lecturing, and grading is relatively easy. He vocalizes some extremely strong prejudices so be careful.” Hough’s overall “grade” on the website is 2.6/5, considered on the low end of average.

In an e-mail sent to several media outlets, however, Hough argued that he wasn’t racist and that people were being so sensitive about race that they were ignoring important issues.

“Martin Luther King was my hero and I was a big proponent of all the measures taken at the time, including Affirmative Action,” he wrote. “But the degree of integration is not what I expected, and it is time to ask why and to change our approach. I am, of course, strongly against the toleration of racial discrimination. I do not know what racial intolerance means in modern code words and hesitate to comment on that specific comment.

“The issue is whether my comments were largely accurate. In writing me, no one has said I was wrong, just racist. The question is whether I was right or what the nuanced story is since anything in a paragraph is too simple.

“I am strongly against the obsession with ‘sensitivity,’” Hough wrote. “The more we have emphasized sensitivity in recent years, the worse race relations have become. I think that is not an accident. I know that the 60 years since the Montgomery bus boycott is a long time, and things must be changed.

“The Japanese and other Asians did not obsess with the concentration camps and the fact they were linked with blacks as ‘colored.’ They pushed ahead and achieved,” Hough wrote in an attempt to explain his New York Times post. He then made an analogy to Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, a wildly popular figure on campus known as “Coach K.”

“Coach K did not obsess with all the Polish jokes about Polish stupidity,” Hough said. “He pushed ahead and achieved. And by his achievement and visibility, he has played a huge role in destroying stereotypes about Poles. Many blacks have done that too, but no one says they have done as well on the average as the Asians. In my opinion, the time has come to stop talking incessantly about race relations in general terms as the President and activists have advocated, but talk about how the Asians and Poles got ahead — and to copy their approach. I don’t see why that is insensitive or racist.”

Hough’s comments come at a time of strained race relations across America and on Duke’s campus, where a noose was found hanging in a tree last month. An unnamed undergraduate was sanctioned over the noose incident, but will reportedly be allowed to return to campus in the fall.

At the time, school administrators announced that they wouldn’t allow racial intolerance.

Hough says his only regret is not being clearer in his comments. “There were typos in my outrage towards [the editorial] and I could have been more careful (though hard in the space limits),” he wrote in his e-mail.


A bittersweet farewell to Sweet Briar as college celebrates final graduation | The Washington Post

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May 182015


By Moriah Balingit and Susan Svrluga
May 16

SWEET BRIAR, Va. — In her first year as Sweet Briar’s dean, Amy Jessen- Marshall struggled to come up with the words to welcome the Class of 2015. But inspiration struck suddenly from deep beneath her feet.

That was the year that a rare and mild earthquake shook the rural campus here. And it gave the class one of its nicknames: the earth shakers.

Those 123 young women received their Sweet Briar degrees Saturday, most likely the last people ever to carry Sweet Briar diplomas into their professional lives. The bittersweet moment came just three months after the school announced that it would close for good, an announcement that shocked the all-women’s liberal arts college. In the midst of the normal tumult of a college senior year, the class has been forced to deal with the wrenching possibility that the cherished institution — for many, a source of pride and identity — would abruptly cease to exist.

“You may be the last graduating class, and I may be the last academic dean of Sweet Briar College, and that is both a heavy burden and a tremendous privilege,” Jessen- Marshall tearfully told the graduates Saturday. “Go out into this world, stable in your foundation when the earth shakes, my gritty, fierce Sweet Briar Class of 2015.”

The ceremony, on a verdant quad beneath a cloudless sky, marked what is perhaps the end of a more than century-old educational tradition that has shaped generations of women. Hundreds huddled beneath a canopy of trees on the bucolic campus, set among rural Virginia’s rolling hills. The occasion seesawed between gleeful and mournful.

It was also move-out day for many of the students; after they have finished cramming minivans and U-Hauls with furniture, just a handful of students will remain on campus for summer classes before the school is slated to close permanently in August.

Graduating — and leaving the college known as the “Pink Bubble” — was hard enough. Knowing that they might never be able to return to their alma mater was overwhelming for some.


The In-State Tuition Break, Slowly Disappearing | The New York Times

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May 182015


MAY 18, 2015

A few weeks ago, I took my daughter to see the latest Disney movie. Because it was early in the afternoon, and my daughter is 5, I expected to get a significant discount on the price of our tickets. The electronic ticket kiosk had other intentions. “1 Adult: $11.00” and “1 Child: $10.00.”

It turned out that the full matinee discount applied only to the 10:45 a.m. showing. The child price break, meanwhile, had been squeezed to a single dollar. Technically, both discounts still existed. But by limiting their size and availability, the theater was steadily pushing more tickets toward the full-market price.

Something similar has been happening in the market for higher education. Over the last decade, state governments and universities have been chipping away at a pillar of American opportunity: in-state tuition.

Part of this story is familiar to anyone who has watched public universities raise tuition and fees, in some cases by 50 percent or more. But there’s another, less obvious, part of the story. Many of the most elite public universities are steadily restricting the number of students who are allowed to pay in-state tuition in the first place.

A result is the creeping privatization of elite public universities that have historically provided an accessible route to jobs in academia, business and government. One of the most important paths to upward mobility, open on a meritocratic basis to people from all economic classes, is narrowing.

To understand why, it helps to divide public universities into two categories. The nonprofit Carnegie Foundation classifies 147 public universities as national leaders in conducting research. These are the flagship universities and land-grant institutions that often have selective admissions criteria and Division I football teams. An additional 500 regional public universities conduct less research and often have less selective admissions policies. These two groups — national and regional public universities — each educate about the same number of students.

Most students attending public universities stay in the state where their parents reside, in large part because in-state students have traditionally received a steep tuition discount. Out-of-state students have long been in the minority and pay tuition closer to that charged by private universities. As recently as 2000, national and regional public universities were similar in this regard. That year, 80 percent of national public university students were in-state, compared with 86 percent at regional public universities.

But in the years that followed, the two groups began to diverge. At regionals, little changed. College enrollment swelled in every state after 2000 as the baby boom echo generation finished high school and a larger share of high school graduates enrolled in college. The additional students at regional universities looked much like the old ones. From 2000 to 2012 (the latest year of available federal data), nine out of 10 additional regional public university students were in-state.

The pattern at elite national universities was very different. There, the majority of additional students were from other states. Instead of extending their traditional mission of providing an affordable, high-quality education to local residents, national universities focused on recruiting students from other states and nations, many of whom paid much higher tuition rates. As a result, the number of in-state spots relative to the college-going population as a whole declined significantly at national public universities.

As my colleague Stephen Burd documented in a recent report, the change at some national universities has been striking. The University of Alabama’s football program has an aggressive nationwide recruitment machine, and its coach, Nick Saban, has led the team to three national championships in the last decade. Less well known is the university’s equally ambitious recruitment program for nonathletes. With 30 full-time admissions officers across the country armed with millions of dollars in scholarships, the university has more than quadrupled its class of out-of-state students since 2000, to the point that they now represent the majority of all freshmen arriving in Tuscaloosa. Many if not most of the undergraduates bleeding Alabama crimson in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday afternoons come from somewhere else.

Alabama accomplished this in part by substantially expanding the total number of students it enrolls, including in-state students. Other public universities have made space for out-of-state students by allowing fewer in-state ones to attend. The University of California, Berkeley, enrolled 384 fewer in-state freshmen in 2012 compared with 2000, while out-of-state American students grew by more than 300 and the number of international students increased eightfold. This happened at the same time that in-state tuition and fees increased to $13,200 from $3,964. (Out-of-state and international students pay more than $36,000 per year.) Purdue University cut annual in-state slots for incoming freshmen by more than 500 students, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by more than 300, and Auburn and Michigan State by more than 200, with each enrolling hundreds of additional out-of-state and international students in their stead.

Replacing in-state with out-of-state students can be easier than raising prices because tuition increases are highly public and are frequently regulated by state legislatures and governing bodies. Universities often have more discretion over the in-state/out-of-state of mix.

This isn’t the case everywhere. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is prohibited by law from enrolling more than 18 percent of students from out of state. Not coincidentally, in-state enrollment there has remained robust. In 2000, U.N.C. admitted 32 international students as undergraduates. At U.C.L.A., by comparison, the number was 43. Twelve years later, U.N.C.’s international freshman enrollment had risen slightly, to 48. U.C.L.A., by contrast, enrolled 1,046 international freshmen in a single year, almost 25 times more in little more than a decade. The number of in-state slots at U.C.L.A. barely changed, even as the number of in-state applications surged.

The slow death of in-state tuition is a case where declining public investment and selfish institutional interests unfortunately coincide. National public universities are cutting in-state enrollment in part to make up for state budget cuts. But they also have a strong desire to become more like elite private universities — Stanford, Duke, the Ivy League — that have the freedom to enroll the best and the brightest from around the world and charge whatever prices the market will bear. Budget cuts give them an excuse to become what they wanted to be all along.


Julio’s Story: From Cuba to America | WITN-TV

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May 152015

Updated: Thu 9:17 PM, May 14, 2015
By: Dave Jordan/Brendan King

Click here to watch video coverage at WITN.com.

Imagine being just 9-years old and floating on a raft with five men through rough seas- just for a chance at freedom.

That’s the story of Cuban born Julio Morales, who grew up in America and has been working hard to make his dreams come true, right here in eastern Carolina.

Holding the hands of his wife Carmen, 30-year-old Julio Morales says he owes everything he has now- to the United States of America.

Morales says, “This is the best country in the world to me.”

When Morales was nine, living in the Communist country of Cuba, his father would make a decision that would change his life forever.

Morales says, “My father never agreed with that type of government. He just decided that it was enough and he had to escape.”

Their escape was in a homemade metal and Styrofoam raft with a Chevy engine on the back.

Five agonizing days on the sea and nearly 100-miles later, the U.S. Coast Guard would find their makeshift raft.

Morales says, “We saw this red thing coming on top of the waves. We’ve never seen anything like it in our lives. We’ve never seen any nice boats or anything. What is that red thing float over the water?’ It’s just the Coast Guard.”

Morales, now on American soil, would grow up in Miami, learn English, and graduate high school.

You may be thinking Morales took advantage of our country’s good will toward strangers. Yet some would say he earned his right to be where he is today. He risked his life for a country where he wasn’t even born.

Morales says, “I didn’t just come here and say can I get this, can I get that. I had to fight for what I wanted and this country provides that for you if you want it.”

Ten-years ago, Morales joined the U.S. Army, swore his allegiance to America, and became a U.S. citizen.

purplearrowMorales fought for our country in Iraq. He would then be honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant, and meet Maggie Wilson, the Vice Dean of East Carolina University’s School of Dental Medicine.

Wilson says, “Julio was somebody who is very self aware, people who are able to overcome obstacles, people who can navigate systems that may be a little bit difficult, and have a proven track record of doing that. And that certainly would describe Julio.”

Now, Morales is an aspiring doctor- hoping to use his dental degree to treat patients in poor and under served communities in North Carolina – a mission of ECU’s Dental School.

Morales says, “It’s always good to give back. I’ve always given back my entire life, especially with all of this knowledge now that I’ll be gaining, I can take it back to the community.”

Morales is set to graduate from the dental school in 2018.


North Carolina budget decisions aren’t as painful with $400M cushion — ABC 11

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May 152015


Published May 14, 2015 10:30 p.m.

North Carolina budget decisions aren’t as painful with $400M cushion

Budget panels met to hear spending proposals for six categories of government, led by public education and health. Lawmakers offered amendments before subcommittees approved their proposals, with the last panel wrapping up early Thursday evening.

Appropriations leaders are benefiting from a projected $400 million surplus this year, which also means they had another $835 million more to work with through mid-2017 than anticipated in February. The budget GOP Gov. Pat McCrory proposed two months ago to legislators was based on February figures predicting a $270 million shortfall this year.

“It’s the first time since I’ve been here that I haven’t had to cut,” said three-term Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, co-chairman of the House education budget subcommittees. “It’s hard not to be enthusiastic.”

Democrats argue any additional spending, especially for public schools, don’t fully cancel the spending reductions Republicans have implemented since taking over the General Assembly in 2011. They also contend GOP colleagues cut taxes too deeply to provide adequate revenues.

“We’re in a hole because of the disastrous cuts to the classroom that we’ve done over the last several budgets, and this budget does not undo that damage,” said Minority Leader Larry Hall, D-Durham.

Here’s a look at what the subcommittees offered:

PUBLIC EDUCATION: The proposal, which spends about 2 percent more for education than this year, pays for the costs of educating more than 17,000 additional public school students and 3,300 university enrollees expected next fall.

For the public schools, there’s over $50 million more for textbooks and $12 million to help bring broadband to more classrooms. A program to reward the best teachers in schools and those with leadership responsibilities with salary increases would begin in up to 10 districts in fall 2016.

The University of North Carolina system would have to locate $26 million in spending reductions – less than the $49 million in reductions in McCrory’s spending proposal. The East Carolina University medical school would get $8 million and Elizabeth City State University $3 million to help address recent financial challenges.

Teachers could receive $50 bonuses for each student who scores well on Advancement Placement exams or on vocational or technical certification tests.

HEALTH CARE: The subcommittee set aside $270 million more next year and $460 million in 2016-17 to pay for the increasing cost of covering Medicaid enrollees. There are no cuts in Medicaid service reimbursement rates to doctors or hospitals, as in previous years.

The subcommittee wants to spend up to $25 million of the proceeds from the pending sale of the Dorothea Dix mental hospital property in Raleigh to convert empty hospital beds in rural areas to provide short-term treatment to the mentally ill.

TRANSPORTATION: Division of Motor Vehicle fees would increase 50 percent across the board and the state gasoline tax would fall 3 cents to 33 cents in the approved transportation subcommittee budget.

The DMV increases had been introduced in a separate bill designed to narrow the long-term shortfall between transportation funds and needs. That bill would have lowered the gas tax to 30 cents, but subcommittee co-chairman Rep. Frank Iler, R-Brunswick, said the tax couldn’t be lowered that much because two other revenue-raising provisions – a higher sales tax on car purchases among them – didn’t have enough support.

COURTS AND COPS: While McCrory sought $16 million over two years in his budget for state court operations, a House subcommittee proposed much more- roughly $17.5 million each of the next two years. Much of the money will help upgrade courts technology, such as expanding electronic filing of legal documents.

The justice and public safety budget also would equip dashboard cameras on all Highway Patrol cruisers. Currently about one-third have the cameras, said Rep. John Faircloth, R-Guilford, a subcommittee co-chairman. A few hundred thousand dollars are also set aside to train state correctional and state police officers on the proper use of force and to purchase training simulators.

MCCRORY’S TAKEAWAYS: The governor got many provisions he sought in his own budget proposal that would spend $21.5 billion next year, including the creation of a new Cabinet-level Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. But House members declined his requests to move state parks, aquariums and the North Carolina Zoo to the Department of Cultural Resources and to elevate his information technology office into a Cabinet agency.

WHAT’S NEXT: A full House budget, with any teacher and state employee raises, is expected to be released early next week. The bill will have to clear three additional committees before the first of two required floor votes, likely Wednesday.


NC House budget reduces cut for UNC system — The News & Observer

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May 152015


Published May 15, 2015

Under the Dome

NC House budget reduces cut for UNC system

Instead of calling for UNC system in cuts of $50 million – a key provision of McCrory’s budget – the House plan would require a $26 million cut.

And UNC system administrators wouldn’t be allowed to pass along an across-the-board cut to each campus. The budget would ban any cuts to financial aid programs or to six smaller campuses: Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics and the UNC School of the Arts.

The budget provision would force faculty members to “have a teaching workload equal to the national average in their Carnegie classification,” a mandate that could mean higher course loads for some professors.

Other highlights of the higher education spending plan include:

Growth pressures: The budget allocates $49.32 million in the next fiscal year to cover the additional 3,300 students expected. Overall, the UNC system budget would increase $33.1 million, or about 1 percent – leading to the need for cuts.

Fundraising funds: House budget writers agreed with McCrory that UNC system campuses shouldn’t spend more than $1 million of state money on fundraising efforts. Putting a cap on that spending would results in a $17.9 million cut next year.

New teacher program: The N.C. New Teacher Support Program, which offers support and training to beginning teachers through state universities, would get an additional $1.5 million. That would put its total budget at $2.7 million.

Research: Funding for what the House terms “game-changing research” at universities would increase from $3 million to $5 million.

Community college tuition: As in McCrory’s budget, the House would hike community college tuition from $72 per credit hour to $76 per credit hour, costing the average full-time student an additional $128 a year.

Private college scholarships: The N.C. Need-Based Scholarship, which helps disadvantaged students pay tuition at private colleges, would increase by $2.5 million to $88.9 million.


WCU Fraternity Member Charged With Assault — WLOS

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May 152015


Published May 14, 2015

WCU Fraternity Member Charged With Assault

By Rex Hodge

CULLOWHEE, N.C. — A fraternity at Western Carolina University that has already been suspended for hazing allegations now faces more trouble.

In April, Pi Kappa Alpha was suspended from the university for five years after allegations members water-boarded a pledge in an off-campus incident in February.

Now, a member is charged with assault. Walter Conger is accused of severely beating freshman Zach Denson during an off-campus party last month.

“This street gang mentality the kids have up there has got to stop,” says Denson’s father.

Bob Denson, who is from the Charlotte area, says his son was not pledging, but that he accidentally knocked over Conger’s beer, leading to the attack.

Conger’s arrest warrant says Zach Denson was hit in the face and kicked repeatedly on the ground, and suffered a broken nose, a concussion and a spinal injury. He’s home now recovering especially from the spinal injury, Bob said.

Bob says four other people who were allegedly involved in beating his son should be charged.

“When they swung those punches they messed up their futures,” he says.

Conger is charged with assault inflicting serious injury — a misdemeanor that Denson says should be something more severe.

He promises, as a former scout leader and fraternity president himself, to be unrelenting in his push for stiffer penalties for all those involved.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate. The district attorney’s office says it can’t comment on an open case.

“Do it for the next kid that might be able to avoid having this happen to them,” says Denson.

“I don’t believe in it and I know some of the students here don’t believe in it a bit. And it’s not what we’re here for and it’s not what we’re striving to go for at Western,” says WCU junior Joshua Smith.

News 13 reached out to Pi Kappa Alpha’s headquarters in Tennessee for a response, but did not hear back as of the time of this writing.



Miniature golf among activities that help those with brain injuries — The Charlotte Observer

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May 152015


Published May 15, 2015

Miniature golf among activities that help those with brain injuries

Few people play miniature golf the way John Simon does.

“Pirate Golf,” he calls it, is based on a version of the game he and some college buddies developed at East Carolina University about 30 years ago.

One rule requires players to always bank their shots. Also, because players take turns instead of finishing before the next player tees off, every ball on the hole can be hit by an opponent’s shot.

Simon likes the way it challenges players and requires them to approach the game from a different perspective. It’s why he introduces it to people when the Charlotte Area Brain Injury Alliance convenes for its annual miniature golf outing.

On May 9, the alliance held its annual event at The Lost Duffer Miniature Golf Course in University City. The Paradise Valley Par 3 Golf Course is its sister facility.

The Charlotte Area Brain Injury Alliance, which has ties to University City, is a loosely organized support group that welcomes participants from several more-structured brain injury support groups in the Charlotte area. The alliance holds monthly meetings and occasional outings, many of which have a sports theme.

Simon, who suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) during a bicycle accident in 1994, serves as the alliance’s president. The effects of his injury include headaches and some learning loss. But those symptoms do not prevent him from being a leader and mentor to others in the group.

“(Pirate golf) is a little juvenile but, for an adult, it’s fun,” said Simon, a south Charlotte resident. “The purpose is to have fun, not to get a low score.”

In addition to miniature golf, the alliance coordinates an annual bowling event at AMF University Lanes, and an annual picnic at the Lake Norman YMCA in Cornelius with water skiing directed by Carolinas Rehabilitation, a nonprofit rehabilitation provider.

The alliance and its members are supported by TBI Project STAR, a state-funded organization that assists people with TBI offering seminars, referrals and training.

Barbara Westphal, a University City resident, is the alliance’s volunteer activities director. She schedules outings primarily to promote socialization among its members.

“Playing miniature golf is a risk, it’s out of their day-to-day norm,” Westphal said. “It depends on the level of disability.

“For some people, they don’t have the opportunity to do that much because they maybe can’t drive. Some have ongoing therapies. Some need public transportation to get to therapy. Some work several days of the week. Some are in a wheelchair all day.”

Westphal became involved a couple years after her husband Bill suffered moderate TBI due to an care wreck in 1995. As a result, Bill developed short-term memory loss, a lack of taste and smell and what he describes as a short fuse.

“Why she’s still married to me is a mystery to me,” said Bill, 67. “She got me through all this. She pushed me to get the medical attention I needed. You never fully recover.”

Newell Crossing resident Reggie Crowder enjoys the support the alliance provides. The TBI he suffered 30 years ago after a physical confrontation at school led to limitations on the left side of his body. He swings a golf club using only his right hand.

Crowder was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. He progressed to walking with a cane and is proud he has been walking without aid for the past 10 years.

Through Carolinas Rehabilitation, Crowder found out about the alliance about three years ago. Since then, he has participated in the miniature golf, bowling, and water skiing activities.

“There are a lot of people with brain injuries like I have that are much more limited than I am,” said Crowder, 43. “I don’t have a disability, I have a limitation. This group has helped in all areas such as social networking, setting goals, and getting back in the workforce.”

Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at joehabina@gmail.com.


Duke hires UNC professor as its next arts, sciences dean — The News & Observer

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May 152015


Published May 15, 2015

Duke hires UNC professor as its next arts, sciences dean

Duke University has scored a steal from its Triangle rival.

On Thursday, Duke announced the hiring of Valerie Ashby, a UNC-Chapel Hill chemistry professor and department head, as its new dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. She’ll start the job July 1.

In the position, Ashby will oversee the university’s main academic units across the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. She replaces Laurie Patton, who left to become president of Middlebury College in Vermont.

Ashby, who received undergraduate and doctoral degrees in chemistry at UNC, joined the faculty in Chapel Hill in 2003 after eight years at Iowa State University. She has a distinguished professorship at UNC, where her work has focused on synthetic polymers that have biomedical and drug delivery uses. She holds eight patents.

Ashby won three teaching awards at UNC and rose to be chairwoman of the chemistry department in 2012. She is a North Carolina native who was raised in Clayton.

Her move to Duke represents a significant loss for UNC. Ashby, who is African American, has promoted increased diversity in higher education, serving as a consultant to diversity programs for the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. At UNC, she was faculty director for a minority excellence initiative in the graduate school.

Duke President Richard Brodhead called her a distinguished professor “who has shown extraordinary aptitude for academic leadership.”

In Duke’s announcement of Ashby’s hiring, Duke Provost Sally Kornbluth said: “She is a gifted teacher, a distinguished researcher and a talented academic leader who understands the essential role of a liberal arts college within a research university. Her commitment to a broad and diverse education for our students, and to identifying and nurturing an excellent faculty, is evident to all who have followed her career.”

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt released a statement about Ashby’s departure.

“Although I am very sorry to see Dr. Valerie Ashby depart, she will leave a tremendous legacy of excellence at Carolina when she joins the faculty at Duke University,” Folt’s statement said. “A two-time Carolina alumna, faculty marshal and chair of our chemistry department, Valerie is one of our most beloved and accomplished faculty members. … Valerie’s contributions to our campus are immeasurable, and we look forward to working with her to strengthen our many existing faculty partnerships with Duke.”

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