Carolina Pulse Tackles Topics of Race and Current Events

Just more than 100 students and faculty gathered on a beautiful Monday evening for the first in a series of discussions entitled “Carolina Conversations.”

After an initial address from Chancellor Folt, Student Body Vice President Kyle Villemain, and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp, the crowd broke down into smaller groups and had open conversations about race and current events.

Villemain says he was encouraged the students voiced their desire to have events like this Carolina Pulse conversation, and then followed through and participated in the facilitated discussion.

“I think it speaks to the strength of the student body,” he says. “This was definitely a great turnout, and I think most importantly it was a diverse turnout. Talking to different people here, they come from different experiences, different backgrounds, and different parts of campus.

“Every single table had people who didn’t know each other, and that was incredibly important.”

Students and faculty in attendance were encouraged to move about during the conversation to different tables. At one point, they were prompted to text in one word that described how they felt about current events across the country. Some of the words most widely used were “frustrated, hopeless, and angry.”

Vice Chancellor Crisp says he would describe himself as “cautiously optimistic” about the conversations that were being had.

“But I don’t want people to hear that as a muted optimism,” he says. “It’s the beginning. We got off to a start. This is also, I remind people, only one piece of the bigger Carolina Conversations.”

Crisp adds he felt it was very important the students realized their voices were being heard.

“I think part of this is having the institution from the highest level – the Chancellor, the Senior Administration, the faculty – send a very clear message that this matters to us,” he says. “That the ability for every students, and I mean every student – and I don’t care what adjective you put in front of them – to feel like this is a place where they can express themselves.”

This was the first in a series of events under the Carolina Conversations banner.

UNC Shows More Detail On Transcripts

UNC transcripts will now tell more than just about the student whose grades are being represented.

The News and Observer’s Jane Stancil wrote this weekend of the new design at UNC’s flagship university, which is attempting to combat the issue of grade inflation that has grown since the middle of the 20th century.

The new transcripts show a median grade of classmates, the percentile range, the number of students in the class section, and a new measure, the schedule point average (SPA). This form of measurement shows just how rigorous the course load is that the student took.

Carolina’s new transcript is supposed to allow graduate schools and employers be able to better choose the great from the good.

Grade inflation has been a national issue, and a study in the Teachers College Record in 2012 found the most prevalent areas were in elite private universities followed by the flagship campuses.

UNC Asks Federal Court To Hear Willingham Lawsuit

UNC is asking that the lawsuit filed by a former employee who claims retaliation against her speaking out should be heard by a federal court and not on the county level.

According to WRAL, the University asked North Carolina’s Eastern District of Federal Court to pick up the case filed by former academic adviser Mary Willingham because the claim she is making falls under federal law, not state law.

Willingham has said the University put player eligibility for financial benefit above academic integrity. She claimed she was never properly listened to by UNC and then took her claims to the media.

She said the retaliation came when she was told she was going to be demoted and given additional duties. Her role, she said, was also changed from advising undergraduate student-athletes to senior graduate students. Lastly, she described the office to which she had to move as “poor”.

Willingham resigned from Carolina on May 6. She first said she had made the decision to leave on April 21 after an hour-long meeting with Chancellor Carol Folt. She said the conversation made her realize there was no more she could do at UNC and that she wanted to continue her fight to correct problems with intercollegiate athletics elsewhere. Along with the lawsuit, she has asked the University System Board of Governors for reinstatement.

Knife Wielder Committed To UNC Hospitals

Authorities say the man who was arrested for pulling a knife on a UNC student Sunday afternoon has been involuntarily committed to UNC hospitals.

According to the Daily Tar Heel, Chapel Hill resident and 31-year-old UNC graduate, Jesse Alan Kister was committed in UNC Department of Public Safety’s custody on Sunday. When he’s released, he will be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Chapel Hill Police and DPS coordinated the search for Kister. CHPD found him in The Chapel of the Cross on East Franklin Street. He was taken to the Chapel Hill Police Station and quickly turned over to DPS since the crime took place on campus.

Kister was found in possession of four knives valued at $100, according to the incident report.

Alert Carolina issued an emergency warning shortly after 4:00 p.m., when the incident first took place. Buildings on campus were locked down—including Carmichael Arena, where the UNC women’s basketball team was playing its first-round NCAA tournament game.

Alert Carolina issued the all-clear at 5:18 p.m. Sunday afternoon. There were no injuries.

The DTH interviewed one of Kister’s former professors who said he only knew Kister in the classroom and didn’t know him on a personal level.

Kister received his bachelor’s degree in information science from UNC in 2005. He also earned a master’s in health care administration in 2008 and information science in 2011.

DTH Article

High-Ranking UNC Educator Supports Willingham’s Claims

CHAPEL HILL – A high-ranking educator at UNC has come out in support of academic advisor Mary Willingham’s claims that the University has admitted student athletes who were not ready for Carolina.

Former interim dean of UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences and current Kenan Professor Emerita of Slavic Literatures, Madeline Levine wrote a letter to Chancellor Carol Folt and Provost Jim Dean expressing her disappointment in the attack of the information shared by Willingham.

The News and Observer intercepted the letter and broke the story Thursday evening.

Levine accused UNC of not trying to fix the fraudulent academic issues that have been plaguing the university for some time now. She also said that Provost Dean poorly handled the public announcement of the university’s stance with Willingham when he criticized her findings at a Faculty Council meeting.

Chancellor Folt reportedly responded to Levine’s letter saying she appreciated the input and that she passed the information along to Provost Dean and Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham. She went on to say that the university “accept(s) accountability for the past and (is) continuing to learn as a community from those painful lessons”—a sentiment shared recently by the university on multiple occasions.

Levine also reportedly met with the provost of UNC at the time, Bernadette Gray-Little in an attempt to express her concern for the lack of college readiness among student athletes. She said she was told that it was known that the decision had been made to grant special admission to a student and there was nothing to be done about it by then.” She went on to say that “I still feel guilty that I let the matter drop and did not publicly express my dismay.”

A spokesman for Gray-Little told the N&O she does not remember that conversation with Levine.

Friday morning, Mary Willingham and history professor Jay Smith will join Ron Stutts and News Director Ran Northam for a live interview in the WCHL studios at 7:00 a.m. to discuss the ongoing conversation of the claims of illiteracy at UNC.

MacArthur “Genius” Sends Carolina Graduates Out Into The World

CHAPEL HILL – The final class of 2013 turned its tassels Sunday in the Dean Smith Center as 1,104 Carolina students became UNC alumni.

Carolina prides itself on featuring highlighting faculty to speak at its December commencements. MacArthur “genius” grant winner and world renowned concussion expert, Kevin Guskiewicz told the graduates that, in order to go far in life, you’ve got to let go of what’s comfortable.

“You have the responsibility to add continued, and yes, credibility to your degree for those who will follow you,” Guskiewicz said. “It’s time to move forward and to explore. And in the words of Raymond Lindquist, ‘courage is the power to let go of the familiar’.”

And, Guskiewicz told the graduates to always advocate for themselves, but to do so humbly.

“Learn how to effectively build a case for yourself and your mission, and you will capture the attention of the people who can take you places,” Guzkiewicz says.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt presided at her first commencement since taking over as the university’s 11th chancellor. She referenced the passing of former South African president Nelson Mandela just ten days prior and the fight he put up for equality. She told the graduates to be proud to stand among such a diverse group of people.

“The class of 1898 celebrated their own graduation, but one graduate couldn’t be there,” Chancellor Folt said. “Carolina’s first woman graduate, Sally Walker Stoddard, was not allowed to take part in commencement.”

“In 1952, Harvey Beech was the first African American to graduate when he received his law degree,” Chancellor Folt said.

Carolina graduated young men and young women of many different races and nationalities on Sunday adding to its more than 295,000 alumni that have come before.

December UNC Graduates To Turn Their Tassels Sunday

CHAPEL HILL – MacArthur genius grant recipient and world renowned concussion expert, Kevin Guskiewicz will usher UNC graduates into their next phase of life as the December Commencement speaker Sunday.

Kevin Guskiewicz (Photo courtesy of UNC News Services)

Kevin Guskiewicz (Photo courtesy of UNC News Services)

This marks the first commencement for UNC Chancellor Carol Folt after being hired as the university’s 11th chancellor.

Guskiewicz is the founding director of the MatthewGfellerSport-RelatedTraumaticBrainInjuryResearchCenter and research director for the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes. He began work at UNC in the department of exercise and sports science in 1995.

He has studied hundreds of retired football players to determine a relationship between concussions or head injuries and the appearance of dementia, depression and other brain dysfunction later in life.

In an effort to make football a safer sport, Guskiewicz convinced ESPN to cancel a Sunday night program that featured the biggest hits from that day of NFL games.

Sunday’s commencement ceremony begins at 2:00 p.m. at the DeanSmithCenter. No tickets are necessary and parking is available in the lots surrounding the Dean Dome.

You can also watch a live stream of the event by clicking here.

UNC-CH Named Best Academic Value 13 Years Straight

CHAPEL HILL – UNC Chapel Hill is the No. 1 school for its academic value for the 13th year in a row, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.

Annually since 1998, Kiplinger rates the top schools based on their affordability for the education they give. The schools are graded based on their admission rate, the percentage of students who return for sophomore year, the student-faculty ratio, and the four-year graduation rate.

Carolina’s four-year graduation rate is 82 percent; its five-year rate is 89 percent; and its six-year rate is 90 percent.

A major factor that plays into the ranking is access to financial aid. Carolina was named “best in class” for lowest percentage of students who borrowed and for out-of-state value.

Fellow ACC member, Virginia, ranked second on Kiplinger’s list followed by Florida, William and Mary, and UCLA. The other UNC schools making the list are NC State at 16th, School of the Arts at 24th, UNC-Wilmington at 28th, Appalachian State at 30th, and UNC-Asheville at 58th.

For more about UNC’s announcement, click here.

Kleinschmidt Vs. Bell: The Bet Is On

CHAPEL HILL – Chapel Hill’s and Durham’s mayors understand just how much Saturday’s game means not only to its fans but for the municipalities as well.

“(It will bring) excitement as always,” Durham’s Bill Bell says. “It takes on sort of an atmosphere of its own. I’m looking forward to it. Looking forward to Duke winning, that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

“It’s been such a great experience watching the team grow over the course of the season,” Chapel Hill’s Mark Kleinschmidt says. “When we played at Cameron, it was unfortunate that we weren’t able to come back with a victory, but I remember thinking how proud I was, and I know many people in town were, about the kind of fight that they showed.”

Many years Carolina and Duke have both been ranked while playing in the regular season finale; it’s also been for the regular season title a number of times.

However, this year doesn’t fall into either of those categories. Duke is ranked No. 3 in the AP Top 25 and No. 4 in the USA Today Coaches Poll; Carolina is just outside the top 25 with the hopes of making it back in before the ACC tournament for the first time since the December 17 poll.

And Mayor Kleinschmidt says that, along with a six-game winning streak, plays a major role in the expectations of Carolina fans.

“I think expectations are now even higher having watched them grow over the course of the season; having seen them give Duke a real run for their money at Cameron,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says. “Having it here in the Dean Dome on Senior Day, it’s going to be an amazing day, and I expect that we’re going to pull out the ‘W’ here.”

Not just fans will be making wagers on Saturday night’s game. Mayor Bell says he has some making up to do for last year.

“We did do a bet the last time,” Mayor Bell says. “Unfortunately I ended up wearing Carolina Blue. It was good for my daughter because she went to Carolina; it wasn’t good for me.”

And Mayor Kleinschmidt says he’s quite proud of the record recent Chapel Hill Mayors hold.

“I have never had to wear Duke gear after a Carolina-Duke game,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says. “But, unfortunately poor Mr. Bell has, once with Mr. Foy and once with me last year.”

The mayors got together Friday afternoon and agreed on the same bet as last year. If Carolina wins, Mayor Bell will have to don the light blue; and if Duke wins, Mayor Kleinschmidt the dark blue.

Additionally, Mayor Kleinschmidt told WCHL that he invites any and all Carolina fans to his Facebook page to suggest just which item he should purchase for Mayor Bell should the Ram take the ‘W’.

Mark Kleinschmidt ‏@MayorMarkK
“I’ll take that bet!” Just got off the phone with Mayor Bell of Durham. Seems he’s wanting to add to his…

As a UNC alumnus and now a proud resident of the town of 25 years, Mayor Kleinschmidt is well-read and an avid follower of the Tar Heels. He says it’s been great to watch Roy Williams in his tenth season at the helm form this team into something that some onlookers thought was not possible.

“I feel for him a little bit about some of the criticism that he’s taken over the course of the year in fine-tuning this lineup,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says. “But, clearly he has shown folks that he knows what he is doing.”

And he says with all that Coach Williams and his staff has done this year, he believe the Head Tar Heel deserves to be crowned ACC Coach of the Year.

“Taking a team that is unlike any that has played for Carolina in decades and turning them into a contender here with an opportunity to secure a tied spot for second place in the ACC with a win (Saturday), I think it speaks to what an extraordinary coach Coach Williams is,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says.

A win would certainly help that cause.

North Carolina controls the series 132-103, but Duke has won six of the last eight meetings.

Coach Williams hopes to even his record against the Blue Devils in the Dean Smith Center as he is 4-5 on his home court.

Tipoff between North Carolina and Duke is 9:00 p.m. Saturday. WCHL’s pregame coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. with Countdown to Tipoff hosted by Ron Stutts.