Listen to the 2015 WCHL Community Forum

UNC: Under Wraps? Transparency Still A Major Concern

In the wake of the NCAA investigation and last year’s Wainstein Report, citizens and journalists alike have called for more transparency from officials at UNC.

How well has UNC answered the call?

Joel Curran is UNC’s Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs. He took that position shortly after Carol Folt became chancellor in 2013 – and he says UNC’s done a much better job with transparency since Folt arrived on campus.

“Perhaps we (weren’t) as strong on that prior to the arrival of Chancellor Folt,” he says. “I think what she brought was a much stronger commitment to (being) out and open, making sure that we are as transparent as possible.”

Whether or not there’s been improvement, though, not everyone is satisfied with the current state of affairs.

“(UNC) is the university of the people, so we believe that the people should have the access to the records that they want,” says Daily Tar Heel editor-in-chief Jenny Surane. “The time it takes for us to get records – and in some cases the lack of access to certain records – we just don’t believe that that’s right.”

Beyond access to records, reporters have also complained that Chancellor Folt herself is far more guarded – and far less accessible to the media – than any of her predecessors in the chancellor’s role.

Joel Curran downplays that concern. “When you start to talk about a folksy time when the chancellor was able to take callers on the porch…I think you’re going back to a rotary phone era,” he says. “It’s a different time that we’re living in, and the chancellor runs a major enterprise…

“It’s not that she doesn’t want to speak to the media, it’s that she wants to be able to have a process in place so that she can be more responsive – and I think anybody who is in a chancellor’s role who puts themselves out there as often as she does is being very responsive to the media.”

But Jenny Surane says while Folt is often available for a quote or two, staff at the DTH – and students in general – are hoping for more in the way of substance.

“We would like to know more about how the chancellor feels about different things (happening) on campus,” she says. “I think that she is in an incredible position of power and that she is a really great thought leader for students, (and) I think that a statement from Chancellor Folt that says more than just ‘we’re disappointed that the Poverty Center has closed’ would mean so much to students and really guide campus thought…

“She’s told us in the past that she leads by consensus building – and I think that’s admirable, but I do think there are some instances where the University is clearly being preyed upon, (where) she could easily make a stand and have the entire student body behind her. And certainly have the Daily Tar Heel’s editorial (staff) behind her.”

The DTH published a piece on this issue Friday morning.

Curran and Surane made their comments during the “UNC Under Fire” panel of the 2015 WCHL Community Forum.

Listen to the full panel here.

http://chapelboro.com/news/community-forum/unc-under-wraps-transparency-still-a-major-concern/

UNC: Under Fire?

From state funding cuts to the closure of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, there’s a growing sense in Chapel Hill that UNC is under siege.

But is it true?

“We are one of the best-supported university systems in the country, (but) over the last few years there’s been a small but steady decline in the support,” said UNC Provost Jim Dean at Thursday’s WCHL Community Forum.

But he says it could be worse. “There’s not a university in the country that’s not feeling financial pressure, and many of them are in much greater difficulty than we are,” Dean said Thursday. “We’ve had historically high support from the (state) legislature – over the last few years that support has gone down a bit, but relative to other universities in the country, it’s still quite high.”

Still, it’s not just a question of funding. Controversy flared recently when the UNC Board of Governors voted to close the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at UNC-Chapel Hill – a center run by outspoken law professor Gene Nichol, who’s angered conservatives with his statements against the General Assembly.

Was the Board’s decision to close the Center an attempt to punish Nichol for speaking out?

Mitch Kokai, communications director for the John Locke Foundation, says no. “It’s part of this whole idea of making sure that if you’re giving the University a lot of state money, (you should) make sure that the university system and the campus in Chapel Hill are focusing on high priorities,” he says.

Provost Dean points out that the closure of the center was never a question of money. “The poverty center was receiving no state support, so there was no savings there whatsoever,” he says.

But Kokai says there was more behind the decision than that.

“A lot of people…remember that the center started (by Nichol) for John Edwards to help launch his next presidential campaign,” he said Thursday. “So it was seen to be political…and if there had been a good solid record (of achievements) that he could have pointed to and said, look, you’re going to close down this center that’s doing all these great things, I think he would have had a case.

“But that just wasn’t forthcoming.”

Regardless, both Dean and Kokai agree that Nichol and his staff appear to have been able to continue the Center’s work, even without official status – so if the closure was an attempt to punish Gene Nichol, Kokai says it wasn’t particularly effective.

Click here to hear the full audio from Thursday’s Community Forum.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-under-fire/

William Powell, Renowned North Carolina Historian, dies at 95

William Stevens Powell was born in Johnston County, North Carolina, in 1919. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNC. In between, he served for five years in the US Army during World War II.

In his early years at the university he worked as a researcher and curator. He went on to teach history at UNC for 13 years before retiring as professor emeritus in 1986.

William Powell, photo via NC Literary Hall of Fame.

William Powell, photo via NC Literary Hall of Fame.

Throughout his long career he chronicled the history of North Carolina, publishing more than 100 books on the topic, including the Encyclopedia of North Carolina.

He received the North Carolina Award for Literature in 2000, and was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2008.

Powell was 95 when he passed away last week. He is survived by his wife, Virginia, three children and 11 grandchildren. The family is planning a private service.

http://chapelboro.com/news/obituaries/william-powell-renowned-north-carolina-historian-dies-at-95/

Oldest Living UNC Sports Alum Leads ‘Walk for Health’

The oldest living former UNC athlete will return to old school to lead a “Walk for Health” today at noon.

Bob Gersten said he hopes he can help set a good example for younger folks.

Ninety-four-year old Gersten played baseball and basketball for UNC from 1938 to 1942.

These days, he’s more about golf and tennis – although he did suit up and get on the court five years ago at the 100 Years alumni game at the Dean Smith Center.

One reason Gersten can’t stop being physically active is that he can’t remember a time that he wasn’t, thanks to the encouragement of his family.

“I started when I was a young boy, about 7 or 8, with doing something every day, and playing all the time,” said Gersten. “My mother and father were a big help. They said, ‘Don’t ask for rides. Take a walk.’”

At UNC, he was a physical education major. He became the school’s assistant basketball coach after graduation.

His devotion to physical fitness continued when he joined the Air Force.

“I was a physical training instructor,” said Gersten, “and I coached a wonderful basketball team. I was so lucky.”

The team’s 17-game winning streak was stopped by national champs Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.

Basically, he’s spent much of his life as a coach and phys-ed teacher.

“The only time I wasn’t that, I was a dean of students,” said Gersten, “and I promoted a lot of physical activities then.”

Today at noon, he’ll host the first “Walk for Health” event in Chapel Hill.

It’s a two-mile walk from the tennis courts near Jackson Hall to the Finley Golf Club.

Physical fitness and sports really do seem to be in the Gersten DNA. Members of his family opened Brant Lake Camp in the Adirondacks in 1916. It’s one of the oldest privately owned boy’s camps in the U.S.

He said that one reason he’s leading today’s walk is that he thinks kids should learn about fitness by example. He advises today’s parents to keep their kids active during the hazy, lazy days of summer.

“Going to camp when you were young, and learning to play every sport was something that helped you for the rest of your life,” said Gersten.

Today’s “Walk for Health” event is free, and open to the public.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/oldest-living-unc-sports-alum-leads-walk-for-health/

Bus Collides with Pedestrian in Wheelchair

An accident occurred on UNC’s campus Thursday involving a wheelchair and a bus.

The incident occurred just before 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

UNC Department of Public Safety Spokesperson Randy Young says, as of last update, the investigation is ongoing. No citations issued or fault was determined as of Wednesday evening.

But Young did confirm an individual in a wheelchair was struck by Chapel Hill Transit bus in the Manning Drive crosswalk at Ridge Road.

The victim was then transported to UNC Hospitals for treatment for lacerations, but was conscious and alert at the time.

http://chapelboro.com/news/bus-collides-with-pedestrian-in-wheelchair/

UNC Greek Organizations ‘Walk a Mile’ Against Sexual Assaults

Some Greek organizations at UNC are teaming up with other campus organizations to march against sexual assault this evening.

Organizers say it’s an attempt to get people together in one place, to have conversations they don’t normally have together.

“We really think this is an extremely important issue – not only on UNC’s campus, but on college campuses all over the country,” said Michael Catalano, the vice president of the Sigma Phi fraternity at UNC. “And we, as a fraternity, want to take a stand and show that sexual assault is unacceptable, and that we are taking a stand against it.”

“Walk a Mile” will take place Thursday evening at 6, beginning at the Old Well, and proceeding around both quads on UNC’s campus.

Participants will carry signs, and some will read survivor stories and testimonials.

After a quick dinner, participants will break off into discussion groups, led by facilitators from One Act.

“One Act is a group on campus that, basically, leads training sessions on how to intervene and deal with cases of sexual assault, and also how to talk to and work with survivors afterward,” said Catalano.

Organizers hope to draw around 300 people to the event.

Andrew Brennen, the service and philanthropy chair of Sigma Phi, says the march is in response to a general culture that fails to show enough support to survivors of sexual assault on campus.

And it addresses some unpleasant statistics about university life.

“Fraternity men are three times more likely to commit sexual assault than other college-age men,” said Brennen, “and being a part of a fraternity, that number kind of, you know, embarrasses me.”

In addition, Brennen cites the statistic that one-in-five women are sexually assaulted on college campuses. Again, he says it’s something his fraternity finds embarrassing, and disgusting.

Catalano said it will be the first UNC philanthropy event co-hosted by members of all four Greek councils. Three Greek organizations from each council are sponsoring the walk.

Carolina Advocating for Gender Equality is also co-sponsoring the event.

Registration for the walk is taking place in the Pit throughout the day. The cost is $5, which also covers a barbecue dinner.

T-shirts will cost $15. All proceeds from the event go to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. Registration can also be completed through a link on the Walk a Mile event page on Facebook.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/unc-greek-organizations-walk-a-mile-against-sexual-assaults/

UNC Offers Over 3,000 Candidates Admission

3,055 first-year candidates were offered admission to UNC last Friday.

That number includes the regular-decision applications, as well as the more than 2,400 early-action candidates whose decisions were initially deferred.

More than 6,000 candidates were offered admission during the early-action period.

Carolina received a total of 31,943 applications for enrollment this year, which marks the 10th consecutive year of a new record. The number of applications has grown 37 percent over the last five years.

Across both deadlines, admitted students come from 97 counties in North Carolina, 49 states and the District of Columbia, and 75 different countries. Fourteen percent will be following in the Carolina footsteps of one or more parents; another 14 percent will be the first in their families to attend college.

“The numbers don’t tell the full story. The students we’ve admitted include inventors, entrepreneurs, leaders, athletes, artists, community servants and more,” said Stephen Farmer, Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions. “Between now and May 1—the first-year enrollment deadline—we will be doing our best to help these students decide whether Carolina is the place they will call home for the next four years.”

The university expects to enroll 4,000 new students in the fall.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-offers-over-3000-candidates-admissions/

14 UNC Students from Orange County Named to Honor Society

14 UNC students from Orange County have been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa – that nation’s oldest and most honored college honor society, according to the university.

Helena Irene Archer, a senior with a health policy and management major and creative writing and French minors, daughter of Trevor Archer and Janet Archer of Chapel Hill.

Zachary Benjamin Gossett, a spring 2014 graduate with a music major and a German minor, son of John Gossett of Chapel Hill.

Hana Khalil Haidar, a senior with English and sociology majors and an Hispanic studies minor, daughter of Joumana Haidar and Khalil Haidar of Chapel Hill.

Jonathan Hebert, a senior with economics and public policy majors, of Chapel Hill.

Michael P. Jushchuk, a junior with a mathematical decision sciences major, son of Dr. Leslie Bunce and Michael Jushchuk of Chapel Hill.

Joshua Arthur Hilton Lewis, a junior with a mathematics major and a mathematical decision sciences minor, son of Bruce Lewis and Kim Lewis of Clayton.

Mary Clare Mazzocchi, a spring 2014 graduate with an American studies major and creative writing and philosophy minors, of Chapel Hill.

Sarah Lee Molina, a junior with an art history major and a philosophy, politics, and economics minor, daughter of Dr. Paul Molina and Grace Molina of Chapel Hill.

Anna Noone, a senior with history and political science majors and an Arabic minor, daughter of Dr. Peadar Noone and Dr. Eithne Burke of Carrboro.

Maggie Rae Poole, a senior with a dramatic art major and a music minor, daughter of Gary Poole of Charlotte, NC and Edie Poole of Goldsboro, NC.

Jake Rohde, a junior with philosophy and classics majors, son of Marshall Rohde and Rebecca Rohde of Chapel Hill.

Andrew Steffensen Romaine, a senior with a biology major and exercise and sport science and chemistry minors, son of Susan Romaine and Craig Romaine of Chapel Hill.

Andrea Nicole Stewart, a junior with an environmental sciences major and computer science and geography minors, daughter of Randy Stewart and Anne Stewart of Hillsborough.

Fareeda M. Zikry, a senior with global studies and political science majors and an Arabic minor, daughter of Mona Razik and Mohammed Zikry of Chapel Hill.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/14-unc-students-from-orange-county-named-to-honor-society/

UNC Grad Assistant Coach Charged With DWI

***

UPDATE: McRath has resigned his position at UNC. The following statement from McRath was released by the university:

“I apologize for my actions and for bringing negative publicity and attention to the University of North Carolina and the football program. I have decided to resign my position as a graduate assistant coach at UNC and move forward with my career.”

***

A UNC graduate assistant football coach was arrested early Monday morning on a charge of driving while impaired.

Durham police charged 28-year-old Gerald McRath with DWI. He was released on a $1,500 dollar bond.

McRath joined the Tar Heels football staff earlier this year as a Defensive Graduate Assistant Coach.

He played for Coach Larry Fedora while at the University of Southern Mississippi before being drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2009.

He played for four seasons, but was suspended for four games in 2010 after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.

McRath said at the time the positive test came from a tainted supplement.

Assistant Athletic Director for Communications Kevin Best told WCHL the university is aware of the incident and officials are looking into it.

http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/unc-grad-assistant-coach-charged-with-dwi/

UNC Students Use Federal Law To Get Admissions Data

Steve Farmer is the admissions director at UNC. He says he’s seen a significant increase in the number of students requesting access to their admissions files.

“We’ve never had a request in the admissions office under FERPA in the time that I’ve been here, at least as I can recall,” says Farmer. “We’ve had about 25 requests this year for students to review the contents of their admissions files.”

Students are making their requests under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as FERPA. It grants students the right to see their educational records and protects those records from disclosure to others.

An anonymous newsletter from Stanford University called the Fountain Hopper was published in January outlining the steps necessary for students to request their files. Since then, college students across the nation have taken advantage of the law.

Farmer says the admissions files UNC students receive will likely contain application materials, transcripts, and notes from university personnel, but not letters of recommendation.

“Generally when students apply for admission, they waive the right to see confidential letters of recommendation and other supporting materials that are submitted by the student’s school on behalf of the student,” explains Farmer. “Because the students waive their FERPA rights and because those recommendations were submitted with the expectation of confidentiality, those generally can’t be accessed by students.”

Farmer says one of the most surprising documents might be the student’s own words.

“For some students, seeing what they submitted when they were 17 or 18 years old might be reassuring or it might be a bit of a shock, depending on how much time has passed,” says Farmer.

Currently, UNC admissions department staffers are working on the logistics of filling those requests.

“What we want to make sure we’re doing is that we’re complying fully with the law and that we’re honoring students’ rights to see their records. The mechanics of it are a little complicated,” says Farmer. “It’s also been a little complicated figuring out what exactly in the file is confidential and what’s not. We’re making good progress and I think we’ll be done soon.”

The university has 45 days to comply under the federal law.

http://chapelboro.com/news/higher-education/unc-students-use-federal-law-to-get-admissions-data/