UNC Gets $3 Million To Help Students Graduate

A $3 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education will go to help first-generation students at UNC make it all the way to graduation.

Abigail Panter is a psychology professor and the senior associate dean for undergraduate education at UNC. Over the next four years she will develop a program to help improve undergraduate retention as part of a national push to increase the number of college graduates.

Called The Finish Line Project, the program will be aimed at the nearly 20 percent of UNC undergraduates who are the first in their families to attend college. Many come from rural areas or traditionally underserved populations. These students are about twice as likely to drop out of college after the first year.

The program will include intensive academic counseling and targeted transition courses to help new students adjust to the rigors of college. It will also examine curriculum design for STEM classes at the community college and university levels.

The grant is one of 24 awarded by the Department of Education to fund the First in the World initiative to improve access to higher education and raise college graduation rates across the country.


UNC Gathers Second-Highest Research Funding Total

UNC secured nearly $793 million in research contracts and grants in the 2014 fiscal year, an increase of $215 million since 2004.

Chancellor Carol Folt made the announcement Thursday during a meeting of the Board of Trustees.

The University received almost 72 percent of its $792.7 million from the federal government. Some of the biggest federal contributors include the National Institutes of Health, which contributed $428 million, and the National Science Foundation, which contributed $37.4 million.

Scientific teams from research centers and institutes at the University won $141.5 million funding in FY14 to study things like malaria, HIV, autism and alternative fuel methods.

The research awards from FY14 are only surpassed by those from the FY10. The University received $803 million that year. Almost $126 million were from the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009. The Act aimed to save jobs and promote economic growth. This year, only $3.5 million were part of that economic stimulus plan.


UNC Per-Athlete Spending Lower Than ACC Median

Additional reporting by Zach Mayo

UNC is spending more on athletics than the median average within the Atlantic Coast Conference, but athletic director Bubba Cunningham says that’s due to the commitment to giving more student-athletes the opportunity to play college sport.

“We want to provide a great experience for our student-athletes,” Cunningham says. “If you look at the finances within the ACC, we’re about in the middle. But, the one thing I’m really proud of is we have more sports than anybody, except Boston College, but we offer more scholarships. What we’re about is trying to create a broad-base program and give kids the opportunity to participate in sport. Carolina’s been very effective in doing that.”

According to data presented to the UNC Board of Trustees Wednesday, UNC spent $83 million on athletics last year. The median of the ACC was $128,576 per athlete while UNC spent $104,464 per athlete. Carolina currently has 26 men’s and women’s athletic programs.


UNC ‘Focused On Student-Athletes’, All Students’ Success’

Story by Zach Mayo

UNC Provost Jim Dean gave a detailed report on athletics at the University to the Board of Trustees Wednesday afternoon.

The Provost offered a broad look at how student athletes are performing in the classroom, saying the University is on par with other ACC schools in terms of graduation rate and grade point average. Still, efforts are being made to bridge the gap between GPAs of athletes and non-athletes.

“We’re doing a number of things to try and make sure we’re providing as much help as we can to student athletes in terms of being successful, but at the same time we’re providing additional help to students who are not athletes,” Provost Dean said. “So, I’m not sure if that’s going to bring them together or not, because we may be raising the bar for everybody.”

Dean’s report comes as Kenneth Wainstein’s independent investigation on academic irregularities on campus is expected later in the Fall. Dean does not have a more specific timetable for its release.

STORY: Wainstein: ‘Don’t Have Findings Yet’

Athletes had a 2.95 GPA in Spring 2014 compared with the 3.2 GPA of all undergraduates.


Alert Carolina: Strong Arm Robbery On Campus

Alert Carolina has issued a warning to the campus community about a reported strong-arm robbery that occurred this morning at the Nash Lot near the Carolina Inn.
The statement from Alert Carolina follows:
Campus police are responding to a strong arm robbery that does NOT pose an immediate threat to health or safety. At around 2:25 a.m., 3 male suspects reportedly committed strong arm robbery at Nash Lot. Two suspects were described as black males, with the third of unknown race. Main suspect is approximately 6 feet in height, with a short afro and wearing blue jeans and no shirt. No weapons were seen and suspects were traveling in unknown direction. The situation may pose a continuing danger to the campus community and this notice is intended to enable people to protect themselves and/or their property.
The University advises students, faculty and staff to see alertcarolina.unc.edu, for updates. Campus police ask anyone seeing suspicious activity to call 911. Do not call 911 or campus police to ask for information about the current situation.

UNC System Reviewing Centers’ And Institutes’ Functionality

Additional reporting by Danny Hooley

The UNC Board of Governors plans to review more than 200 centers and institutes in the UNC system, with the possibility of redirecting state funding elsewhere, in some cases.

The Board of Governors recently formed a review committee to check on the 237 centers and institutes, after the state legislature recommended as much as $15 million in reductions to research centers, speaker series, or other non-academic areas.

The committee’s leader, BoG member James Holmes, Jr., told the News and Observer that the group seeks to review and understand the centers, to determine whether they continue to “fit the school’s mission.”

He also told the N&O that most of the centers and institutions won’t see any cuts, adding: “There’s no mandate to get any dollars.”

UNC-Chapel Hill stands to lose the most if cuts are made. Eighty of the 237 centers and institutions across the system are within the flagship university; N.C. State houses 48.

Cuts would likely reduce the federal and other outside sources of funding. Last year, $556 million was collected.

WCHL requested a comment from UNC Chancellor Carol Folt and Provost Jim Dean, but neither was available on Friday.


Report Of Alleged Assault At Aloft Surfaces

An incomplete report has surfaced of an alleged assault at the Aloft Hotel around the time a UNC football player alleges he was assaulted resulting in a concussion, but no new details have emerged.

UNC is currently investigating an incident that was first reported by Yahoo! Sports. That story says walk-on redshirt freshman wide receiver Jackson Boyer said a number of his teammates physically assaulted him at the Aloft hotel when the team was staying there during fall camp. Boyer said the incident resulted in a concussion, according to Yahoo! Sports.

UNC Football: Four Suspended Vs Liberty

The University says the investigation, led by the office of student affairs, is ongoing.

According to the News and Observer, a report was filed with the UNC Department of Public Safety (UNC Police) alleging aggravated assault, but it doesn’t say who called in the report or who was involved. It also says the report was filed on August 8, four days after the incident UNC is investigating is said to have taken place.

The N&O says UNC Police Chief Jeff McCracken acknowledged that the date and time on the incident report were incorrect, and that a corrected report has been field.

The story also says he spoke with Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue about the report. Since the alleged incident took place off campus, CHPD would be the investigating agency. However, CHPD Public Information Lieutenant Josh Mecimore says no action was taken because of the limited information in the report.

“Without information related to a victim coming forward and asking for a report or something like that—we don’t have any incident report; we don’t have an investigation—so there’s not really anything for us to do,” Lt. Mecimore says.

He says no one has filed a reported pertaining to the alleged incident at the Aloft Hotel.

Four football players were suspended from the Liberty game for violating team rules. Those players were Des Lawrence, M.J. Stewart, Brian Walker, and Donnie Miles. Head coach Larry Fedora said the decision of a one-game suspension was final and he didn’t foresee further suspensions for those players on the field. He said he also didn’t expect any other players to be added to the list.

UNC Football: Four Suspended Vs Liberty

Coach Fedora wouldn’t say more about what the players did that got them suspended other than violating team policy.

Other Headlines
In UNC Football Investigation, Source: ‘Twitter Accusations Wrong’
Source: UNC Investigating ‘Prank Gone Wrong’
More Details Of UNC Football Altercation Emerge


Persons Of Interest Listed In Hedgepeth Murder Investigation Documents

Search warrants unsealed by the Durham County District Attorney’s office Friday morning reveal multiple people of interest in the murder investigation of Faith Hedgepeth nearly two years ago. Chapel Hill Police have yet to say if any have been ruled out as suspects.

The most notable connection with the victim is Eriq Takoy Jones, who lived in the same apartment complex as Hedgepeth, a few buildings away from where she was found murdered. Jones apparently had a previous relationship with Hedgepeth’s roommate, Karena Lynn Rosario.

According to a warrant, Jones told Rosario earlier that summer that he hated Hedgepeth and would kill her if Rosario didn’t get back together with him. Police were told that Jones resented Hedgepeth because he considered her a barrier to his relationship with Rosario.

Police say Rosario placed a restraining order against Jones two months before Hedgepeth was murdered, after he allegedly kicked two doors off their frame in Rosario’s apartment.

Jones gave investigators permission to search his cell phone. They found a text message Jones sent to a friend the day before the murder asking the friend to forgive him for what he was about to do. Jones also sent a tweet to someone else asking for forgiveness. Police said the cover photo on Jones’ Facebook page was changed to include, “Dear Lord. Forgive me for all of my sins and the sins I may commit today. Protect me from the girls who don’t deserve me and the ones who wish me dead today.”

Jacob Beatley of 103 West Longview Street in Chapel Hill was also questioned six months after the murder took place. A warrant shows that a cell tower search conducted early in the investigation connected an incident report to Beatley’s phone number.

Investigators said when they contacted Beatley they found that he lived with the person who Rosario was with during the time of the murder. Police said he also went to the nightclub The Thrill that night, but couldn’t recall when he left. The warrants say Beatley was asked to submit a DNA sample, but he did not do so voluntarily.

Another person of interest included Reginald Leonard Jackson, II who was living in Greensboro in November 2012 when investigators attempted to contact him.

A Chapel Hill Police officer said he attempted to get in touch with him by phone multiple times before traveling to his last known address in Greensboro. The CHPD officer said he caught up with Jackson with the assistance of local police. He said Jackson was in his car and pulling out of the parking lot of his apartment complex. The warrant says Jackson told the officers he “knew of (Hedgepeth)” but that he doesn’t talk to police like that.

In Thursday’s release, Police Chief Chris Blue said investigators collected hundreds of DNA samples, but did not name any suspects. Chapel Hill Police did report that at least one person refused to have a DNA sample submitted.

Investigators continue to ask that if you have any information regarding the case to call 919-614-6363. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515.


The Latest Faith Hedgepeth Murder Investigation Details

Some information in this story may be considered graphic

***Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue Addresses the Media***

• At approximately 11:00am on September 7, 2012, officers with the Chapel Hill Police Department received a call to the Hawthorne at the View apartment complex located at 5639 Old Chapel Hill Road in reference to a possible dead body located in apartment 1502.

• When officers arrived, they were greeted by the primary tenant of apartment 1502, Karena Rosario, who advised that she had found the victim, Faith Hedgepeth, inside and that she was unresponsive.

• Officers located Faith Hedgepeth dead in a bedroom inside. Faith’s body was found on the floor leaning against the bed with her shirt pulled up; she had no clothes on from the waist down.

• There was pooled blood near her body and blood spatter on the wall and bedroom closet door. A note written on a take-out fast-food bag was also located on the bed.

Note image

Click to enlarge

• An autopsy determined that Faith’s death was caused by blunt force trauma to the head resulting from a beating.

• A sexual assault kit was collected, which revealed the presence of semen. It was determined that the DNA profile generated from this semen matched other DNA evidence which was also recovered from the crime scene. Investigators believe that this DNA belongs to the person responsible for Faith Hedgepeth’s murder.

• Investigators determined that, prior to her death, Faith Hedgepeth and Karena Rosario visited Davis Library on the UNC campus at approximately 7:30 pm and arrived home shortly after midnight. At a little before 1AM on Sept 7th, they arrived at the Wallace Parking Deck on East Rosemary Street and walked to The Thrill bar. Hedgepeth and Rosario left the bar together at 2:38 am and drove home in Faith’s car, a white Nissan Altima. Investigators believe the pair returned home and that Rosario left the apartment at 4:27 am. Rosario returned home with a friend at approx. 11 am that morning, at which time she discovered Hedgepeth’s body.

The Chapel Hill Police Department says it has surveillance from The Thrill.

• Investigators of the Chapel Hill Police Department and agents of the NC SBI, have collected hundreds of items of evidence; interviewed friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, classmates, etc. and consulted with experts in various scientific fields of study.

• Investigators have executed numerous search warrants and court orders for computers, cellular phones, social media accounts, financial records, etc. Investigators have asked persons of interest to provide oral DNA swabs so that their DNA could be compared to the DNA profile of the offender. Hundreds of DNA samples have been collected and analyzed during the course of this investigation. None of the samples have been found to match the DNA profile of the offender.

• Investigators have excellent evidence in this case and we are making a public appeal for any information that will help us tie that evidence to Faith’s killer.

• This is not a cold case. It has been and remains an active investigation.

• Reward money has been pledged from a number of sources and there is over $40,000 in reward money available in this case.

If anyone has information that they wish to provide, please contact investigators at 919-614-6363. If you call this number, you will speak directly to one of the Investigators who are assigned to this case and are familiar with it. This number will be staffed 24 hours a day. You can also submit a time online at www.crimestoppers-chcunc.org.


CHPD Releases New Hedgepeth Murder Investigation Details

Some information in this story may be considered graphic

Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue released new information Thursday that he says he hopes will help lead to the capture of the suspected killer in the murder of a UNC sophomore.

“Since September 7, 2012, a killer has been on the loose and has not been held accountable for Faith’s death,” Chief Blue said. “We believe that someone knows who did this and will be compelled to come forward.”

“If Faith’s killer is out there hearing this message, you should know that we will catch you,” Chief Blue said.

Sunday marks two years since a roommate of 19-year-old Faith Danielle Hedgepeth found her dead in their off-campus apartment.

However, Chief Blue says this has not, at any time, become a cold case.

“We’ve conducted an extensive investigation, and we have excellent evidence,” Chief Blue says. “This is a very strong case. What we need to do is connect that case to Faith’s killer.”

In the attempts of making that connection, Chapel Hill Police released never-before-told details about the investigation, which has—at times during the case—gone outside of North Carolina.

Click Here for the Latest Faith Hedgepeth Murder Investigation Details

Part of that release includes the confirmation of what Hedgepeth’s parents earlier told the media, that they suspected she was beaten to death. She was found badly beaten and partially undressed, according to the release.

On January 8 of this year, Chapel Hill Police announced the DNA of a male suspect was found at the scene.

STORY: CHPD Releases Timeline, Suspect’s DNA Discovery In Hedgepeth Murder Case

“Investigators have asked persons of interest to provide oral DNA swabs so that their DNA can be compared to the DNA collected at the scene,” Chief Blue says. “Hundreds of DNA samples have been collected and analyzed at this point. None of them have been found to match the DNA profile of Faith’s killer.”

Police say DNA samples were submitted in various forms, including oral swabs. At least one person has declined to submit a DNA sample.

Investigators also released a photo of a hand-written note that was found at the scene, which was believed to have been written by the killer.

Note image

Click to enlarge

The murder took place at the Hawthorne at the View apartment complex, which is located in the Durham County portion of Chapel Hill. The Durham District Attorney’s Office will prosecute a suspect, should any arrests be made, though the Chapel Hill Police Department is the investigating agency.


Click to enlarge

STORY: Remembering Faith Hedgepeth 1 Yr. After Her Murder

If anyone has information that they wish to provide, please contact investigators at 919-614-6363. If you call this number, you will speak directly to one of the Investigators who are assigned to this case and are familiar with it. This number will be staffed 24 hours a day. You can also submit online at www.crimestoppers-chcunc.org. You can reach Crime Stoppers at 919-942-7515.

UNC spokesperson Karen Moon released the following statement regarding the release of information:

“Chapel Hill Police contacted the University in connection with their investigation into Faith Hedgepeth’s death. Because this is a Chapel Hill Police Department investigation, we are not in a position to comment on it. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Hedgepeth family as they deal with such a tragic loss. We remain hopeful that the case will be solved as quickly as possible.”

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt told WCHL he did not want to comment on the information release at this time in order to allow the police department to continue its diligent work without interruption.