DBAP Outranks Dean Dome and Cameron Indoor for Stadium Experience

For many sports fans along tobacco road it doesn’t get any better than watching the Tar Heels at the Dean Dome or the Blue Devils in Cameron Indoor. But recently another area sports venue has outranked both iconic basketball arenas.

Jason deBruyn with the Triangle Business Journal says the trade publication, Stadium Journey, has an annual ranking of sports venues.

“This is the fourth year they’ve been [ranking] the top 100 in-stadium experiences,” he says. “The number one ranked stadium experience in North Carolina was the Durham Bulls Athletic Park; they ranked 33 in the nation.”

deBruyn says the DBAP got $20 million in improvements prior to last baseball season – with $12 million coming from the city of Durham – but most was done on the inner workings of the stadium. The DBAP got very high marks from the trade publication, with seemingly the only negative being the lack of lodging and restaurants in walking distance.

The home of the Durham Bulls checked in at number 33 on Stadium Journey’s list, but other venues in the Tar Heel state cracked the top 100.

“The only other two spots to crack the top 100 in the nation,” he says, “were, in fact, the Dean Smith Center and the Carolina Panthers stadium.”

Accessibility could be an issue; tickets to Cameron Indoor and the Dean Dome are much harder to come by than tickets to DBAP. deBruyn says last year the UNC – Duke game at Cameron was one of the most expensive tickets in the nation.

“The UNC – Duke game at Cameron Indoor was the toughest ticket,” he says. “The average cost of a ticket to that game is $1,400.”

You can see the full list of the Top 100 Stadium Experiences of 2014, according to Stadium Journey, here.


MBA@UNC Ranked #1 Online MBA Program

The Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC has brought in another number one ranking.

For the first time ever, U.S. News & World Report ranked online MBA programs. And MBA@UNC is checking in at the top spot.

Doug Shackelford, Dean of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, says they were excited to be at the top of the list

“We started the program in 2011,” he says. “Our mindset, from the very beginning, was there are a lot of great MBA prospective students for whom coming to Chapel Hill might not be very easy. But they would love to get an education from us.”

The program has grown to more than 630 students, who represent 47 states and 35 countries.

Shackelford says that the program is ideal for those who travel on a regular basis, those who are working overseas – including a large military contingency – and those who do not have access to a higher-quality education, wherever they may be.

He adds that it was important to structure the program in a way that would not compromise the education being offered, the faculty teaching the course, or the students enrolled.

Shackelford says we are spoiled in the Triangle with so many high-quality options for a higher education.

“There are a lot of places, in this country and around the world, where you can’t find a top-quality education for hundreds of miles,” he says. “We’re able to bring a top-tier MBA education to those people.”

Shackelford says the program affords students virtual classrooms to meet and correspond with each other and the teacher, adding students all around the world may be taking part in the class together during completely different portions of their day.

He says this model allows classes to be taught in the same way they are on campus.

To build camaraderie among students in the classes, quarterly meetings are held; students are not required to attend every meeting, but they must attend a certain number to graduate. Shackelford adds two of these meetings are held outside of the U.S., one at a location in the country, and every December the students are brought to Chapel Hill.

“We’re building Tar Heels all around the world,” he says. “When we bring them here [Chapel Hill] in December, they raid the student store and buy up everything blue they can find.

“Last year we had [more than] two hundred students able to attend a basketball game.”

He adds he is excited to see what the future holds for this form of education.

“We feel we’re on the verge of where the future’s going,” Shackelford says. “I feel this program is a little bit like the first time you ever saw a cell phone.”


Funeral Arrangements Set for Stuart Scott

The funeral arrangements for legendary Tar Heel and ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott have been set for this weekend in Raleigh.

Scott died, on Sunday, after a long battle with cancer. He was 49.

The family has requested donations be made in his name to the Jimmy V Foundation.


WCHL’s 2014 Year In Review

The year 2015 is finally upon us – but before saying goodbye to 2014, the WCHL news team took a look back at the year that was in our local community.

In a year dominated by ice storms, high-profile elections, serious debates over policing and public safety and same-sex marriage, and still more scandal at UNC, what were the top news stories that shaped the year 2014 in Chapel Hill? And who were the top newsmakers?

As we do every year, WCHL’s news team compiled a list of the top 10 news stories, and the top 10 newsmakers, here in Orange County. Does your list match ours?

Listen to our 2014 Year In Review special!

Part 1: #10, #9, #8


Part 2: #7, #6, #5 (and the year in sports)


Part 3: Aaron Keck chats with Akiva Fox and Allison Driskill about the top stories of 2014 as viewed on Chapelboro.com.


Part 4: #4, #3, and #2


Part 5: #1



News Story: Rooftop Incident At Hampton Inn
Newsmaker: Rita Balaban

Our #10 news story of the year took place on Tuesday, September 30, when Carrboro police got a call that a man was on the roof of the Hampton Inn on Main Street, threatening to jump. What followed was an 18-hour standoff, during which Chapel Hill and Carrboro police shut down traffic downtown so trained negotiators could talk the man off the roof – which they did, successfully, the following morning.

Our #10 newsmaker is UNC economics professor Rita Balaban, the professor who unmasked three streakers who dashed through her classroom in October. Coincidentally, she was also the professor of the class that police entered in November to arrest the student who’d posted a bomb threat in the Pit on social media.


News Story: UNC’s Response To Ebola Crisis
Newsmaker: Francis Henry

Thousands in West Africa died during the worst outbreak of Ebola in history. Other than a handful of cases, the disease didn’t make it to the U.S., but in Chapel Hill, the work of UNC researchers was pivotal in the fight against the disease overseas.

Meanwhile, the fate of Hillsborough’s beloved, now-dilapidated Colonial Inn was a hot topic all year. Francis Henry, the building’s current owner, petitioned the town for permission to tear the historic building down, but was denied.


News Story: Teacher Pay
Newsmaker: Robert Campbell

North Carolina public school teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation – a fact that sparked an outcry in 2014. That outcry was so loud that state legislators actually responded to it, passing a sizable pay increase, but that didn’t quell the controversy: those raises were minimal at best for experienced teachers.

2014 was a banner year for Reverend Robert Campbell, whose tireless work on behalf of the Rogers Road community came to fruition at year’s end. Orange County municipalities finally came together on a remediation plan to extend water and sewer service to the neighborhood, and a new community center opened in the fall.


News story: Development in Chapel Hill
Newsmaker: Roger Perry

Our #7 news story and our #7 newsmaker go hand in hand: 2014 saw big debates about new developments in Chapel Hill, primarily at Obey Creek and the Ephesus/Fordham district. Developer Roger Perry was at the center of both discussions: his East West Partners is both the lead developer at Obey Creek and the developer behind the first major proposal at Ephesus/Fordham.

Wrapped up with development is the ongoing discussion about affordable housing – which is getting harder and harder to find. Chapel Hill teamed up with DHIC for a major affordable housing project in Ephesus/Fordham, but that’s on hold because clerical errors in DHIC’s funding application led to its rejection.


News story: Ferguson and Police Militarization
Newsmaker: Charles Blackwood

The events in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked several major debates locally: from protests over the non-indictment of the officer who killed Michael Brown (as well as the officer who killed Eric Garner) to a debate about perceived police militarization, sparked by the heavily-armed police response to protestors in Ferguson.

This year’s local elections were mostly a low-key affair, but the sheriff’s race was an exception, as six candidates vied to replace longtime sheriff Lindy Pendergrass. Charles Blackwood emerged victorious, defeating David Caldwell in a summer runoff.


News story: Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety
Newsmaker(s): Mark Kleinschmidt and Lydia Lavelle

Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and UNC were all honored as “Bicycle Friendly” by the League of American Bicyclists, but our community was hit by a series of incidents involving bikers and pedestrians – most notably the tragic death of bicyclist Pamela Lane in October, in a collision with a vehicle on MLK.

It was a busy year all around for Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, but perhaps most notable was their respective contributions to the fight for same-sex marriage in North Carolina. Kleinschmidt was an attorney on the case that saw the state’s ban struck down; Lavelle and her partner Alicia Stemper were the first same-sex couple to apply for, and receive, a marriage license in Orange County.


News story: Ice Storm
Newsmaker: Rashad McCants

We won’t soon forget the February ice storm that shut down Chapel Hill and Carrboro for days, left motorists stuck on 15/501 and other roads for hours, and forced UNC to call off the Duke/Carolina basketball game scheduled for that evening. (Carolina won the rescheduled game, when it was finally played.)

Former UNC basketball star Rashad McCants made waves in the summer when he appeared on ESPN to declare not only that he’d taken phony classes and had tutors write his papers at UNC, but also that his coaches – including Roy Williams – knew all about it.


News story: Murder of Feng Liu
Newsmaker(s): Thom Tillis and Kay Hagan

Chapel Hill and the UNC community were shocked when pharmacy professor Feng Liu was attacked and killed on July 23, while taking a walk near campus in the middle of the afternoon. Two men were arrested for his murder the following day.

Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis waged a hard-fought (and extremely expensive) battle all year for a seat in the U.S. Senate. State House Speaker Tillis won, riding a Republican wave in spite of the unpopularity of the General Assembly.


News story: Same-Sex Marriage Legalized
Newsmaker: Carol Folt

In May, Mark Chilton unseated incumbent Deborah Brooks in the race for Orange County Register of Deeds, at least partly because he said he’d be willing to defy the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. As it turned out, though, that wouldn’t be necessary: a district court judge struck down that ban in October, and it was Brooks (not yet out of office) who issued Orange County’s first same-sex marriage license.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt was at the center of every major debate on campus. The academic/athletic scandal was the most prominent, of course, but there were also plenty of major accomplishments as well.


News story: The Wainstein Report
Newsmaker: Mary Willingham

Commissioned in February and delivered in October, Kenneth Wainstein’s 131-page report on academic irregularities at UNC shocked observers who thought they’d heard it all – shedding light on a “scheme” of fraudulent classes that went unchecked for nearly two decades.

Former UNC academic advisor Mary Willingham sparked massive debate when she appeared on CNN in January to blow the whistle on UNC admissions – arguing that a sizable percentage of UNC football and basketball players couldn’t read above an eighth-grade level.


OC Commissioner Jacobs Weighs In On UNC Personnel Changes After Wainstein Report

Barry Jacobs, a local sports reporter who also serves as an Orange County Commissioner, shared some of his thoughts with WCHL’s Danny Hooley about Wednesday’s news from UNC.

Hear the full interview:


Jacobs’ remarks were in in reaction to Wednesday’s news that three employees have left UNC in the wake of the Wainstein investigation into so-called “paper classes” in the former Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies.

A lecturer from that department, Dr, Tim McMillan, has resigned.

In addition, UNC also disclosed – for the first time – that the University fired former faculty chair and women’s basketball advisor Jan Boxill immediately following the report’s release on October 22.

Former academic counselor Jaimie Lee has also been fired, and six more employees are under review.


After Wainstein: One Resigns, Another Fired Pending Appeal

Another UNC employee has left the University following the revelations of the Wainstein Report.

UNC announced Wednesday that Dr. Tim McMillan has resigned. McMillan was a lecturer in the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies; Kenneth Wainstein’s investigation found that he’d been listed as the professor and signed off on the grades for several of the “paper” classes created by department administrator Deborah Crowder.

In addition, UNC also disclosed – for the first time – that the University fired former faculty chair Jan Boxill immediately following the report’s release on October 22. Boxill served as an advisor for the UNC women’s basketball team, and Wainstein’s investigation found that she’d been fully aware of the “paper” classes and even suggested grades to Crowder for some of her advisees.

Boxill’s termination is not official: she’s requested a hearing before a committee of the faculty, and UNC says that process is still ongoing.

Wednesday’s statement also confirmed that former academic counselor Jaimie Lee has been terminated as well. According to Wainstein’s report, Lee too was fully aware of the “paper” classes and steered student-athletes to them.

When the Wainstein Report was released on October 22, UNC officials said that nine employees faced possible discipline or dismissal as a consequence of the findings. UNC reiterated that on Wednesday, confirming that six other individuals are undergoing reviews in addition to Lee, Boxill and McMillan.

UNC has not disclosed the names of those six individuals, but the Daily Tar Heel reported in October that the six are Bobbi Owen, Alphonse Mutima, Corey Holliday, Travis Gore, Brent Blanton, and Beth Bridger. (Those names are unconfirmed, but that DTH report also correctly identified Lee, McMillan, and Boxill long before UNC confirmed they were among the nine employees facing discipline.)

The full statement from UNC is below:

(Chapel Hill, N.C. – Dec. 31, 2014) — Just over two months ago, in connection with the issuance of the report by Kenneth Wainstein of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP on past academic irregularities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University pledged its full commitment to restoring trust, continuing to implement a broad range of reforms, and holding individuals accountable based on facts and evidence and consistent with fair process and appropriate respect for their privacy. The University continues to work hard on each of these fronts.
In February 2014, the University commissioned an independent investigation led by Mr. Wainstein. At the October 22 news conference announcing the release of his report, the University announced it had terminated or commenced disciplinary reviews against nine UNC-Chapel Hill employees. In providing information about these decisions and ongoing processes, the University has respected and complied fully with the North Carolina Public Records Act and the State’s Human Resources Act. We are committed in these very challenging circumstances to providing the personnel information required by law and to respecting the privacy of due process rights of our employees.
Adhering to our obligations under North Carolina law, today we are disclosing that Dr. Tim McMillan has resigned effective December 31. We previously released personnel information relating to Jaimie Lee, an at will employee who was terminated after her appeal rights expired. Six other employees are undergoing reviews. These reviews are being taken very seriously and may result in employees being held accountable.
Of the employees referred to by the Chancellor during the October 22 news conference, six were designated to undergo a review for consideration of any disciplinary action. At the Chancellor’s direction, the Executive Vice Chancellor/Provost and Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement commenced a review process for each of the six employees. The review is being conducted and led by those two individuals and has entailed a review of pertinent records, discussions with each employee,  and consideration of other information. The process began immediately after the October 22 news conference and is moving forward and progressing. While the University cannot pinpoint precisely when each decision will be made, the Chancellor has directed the Provost and the Vice Chancellor to complete the review process as expeditiously as possible.
The University will disclose each decision as it is made, including a decision not to discipline. If disciplinary action is decided upon, the name of the employee and the nature of the disciplinary action will be made public immediately pursuant to G.S. 126-23(a)(9) or (11). If any of the six employees chooses to challenge disciplinary action, the University will make public of the fact of such a challenge and will provide a good faith estimate of the time required to complete the challenge process.
This process has been and will continue to be taken very seriously and is being managed at the highest levels. Facts and fair process guide our reviews and decision-making. Once decisions have been made for these employees, we will release any personnel information required by North Carolina law, while also informing the Carolina community when the reviews of all six employees have been completed.
In light of the extraordinary circumstances underlying the longstanding and intolerable academic irregularities described in the Wainstein Report, as well as her role as chair of the faculty council during a period of time covered by the report, the Chancellor has determined that in order to preserve the University’s integrity, it is necessary to disclose that, on October 22, 2014, the University informed faculty member Jeanette Boxill, Ph.D., of an intent to terminate her employment based on evidence accompanying the report. Dr. Boxill responded by requesting a hearing before a committee of the faculty—a decision we fully respect. While that process is pending, and after extensive reflection and deliberation, the Chancellor determined that disclosing this information relating to Dr. Boxill is necessary to maintaining the level and quality of services Carolina provides as well as our integrity as we continue to move forward.
With this and all actions we take, it is our intention to be transparent, responsible, and committed to excellence and integrity in everything we do.


UNC’s Quick Lane Loss Means Town Council Will See Red

True story: we do not have a photo in our archives of Mark Kleinschmidt wearing anything red. This is as close as it gets.

When next the Chapel Hill Town Council meets, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt will be seeing red.

That’s because he’s agreed to wear a jersey from Rutgers University, paying up on a bet he made with Piscataway, NJ, mayor Brian Wahler.

The two mayors made a friendly wager on which of their teams would win the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit on Friday: the Tar Heels of Chapel Hill or the Rutgers Scarlet Knights of Piscataway. Rutgers got the win easily, 40-21, dropping Carolina to 6-7 on the year.

The Chapel Hill Town Council next meets in a work session on Monday, January 5.


UNC Ranked Best Value Education in Country

UNC is checking in atop a national ranking for the 14th year in a row.

Carolina offers the best value of any public school in the country, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, which publishes the annual list.

“UNC ranks number one for both in-state and out-of-state [students],” says editor Sandra Block. “UNC is just a bargain for what you get.”

Block says that UNC’s ability to provide financial aid to students is paramount to maintaining their positioning on the top of the list, but there are other factors – including “[the] student-faculty ratio, [the] admission rate – which is 27%, very competitive – [and] undergraduate debt, [which] is lower than average.”

Block mentions that UNC is the top ranking public university on the combined public-private value list, checking in at number 22. She says the list is dominated by private universities because of the amount of financial aid at the disposal of the schools – including one just down the road from UNC.

“Duke is number 10 on our combined list,” she says.

Both UNC and Duke excelled at graduating their students in four years. Duke has a four-year graduation rate of 87%, while Carolina’s is 81%.

Block adds that public universities face some obstacles that private institutions don’t – including state budget cuts.

The recent revelations of academic irregularities at UNC involving student athletes have dominated headlines in the academic world. Block says that they did factor that into their study by removing those students and rerunning the numbers to recalculate the graduation rate.

“Not to downplay the seriousness of the scandal,” she warns, “(but) statistically it wasn’t significant.”

Block says that, overall, the state of North Carolina, in particularly the Triangle, is very well represented on the list. UNC tops the list for in-state and out-of-state students at public universities. Duke checked in at number 10 on the combined public-private list, and North Carolina State University ranked 12th on the public university list for in-state students.


Temporary Process To Report Suspicious Academic Activities Unveiled

Plates were full for administrators, faculty, and students at UNC this holiday season, with commencement, final exams, and reviews from the UNC System Board of Governors.

There was certainly a lot to cover on Friday, and Chancellor Folt made an effort to touch on everything in front of the Faculty Council. She encouraged as many as she could to come to commencement on Sunday, and celebrate the hard work of the approximately 2,100 students who will be graduating.

Chancellor Folt also took a moment to praise the faculty for their presentations to the UNC System Board of Governors – who were conducting reviews of different departments in universities across the state.

“The people that gave the presentations were just tremendous,” she said. “And the reason I mention this is to let you know that every single person here takes this extremely seriously.”

Chancellor Folt also mentioned how proud she was of the UNC students, who were showing great passion for their departments amidst everything else going on right now, from final exams to taking part in nationwide protest over injustices they feel have been handed down in recent weeks.

“I was also concerned on the other end that for many students they were studying for their finals,” she added. “There are so many things going on, on our campus, which carry anxiety and concern.”

The main focus of the meeting was a presentation by the Faculty Athletics Committee. Chair Joy Renner introduced a draft program that would allow faculty members to voice any concerns over actions involving academic choices of student athletes at UNC.

A draft process is now in place for faculty members to voice concerns over any academic irregularities that involve student athletes. This process will bring any complaints through a vetting process to involve several departments that collaboratively look into each case.

One faculty member asked if the athletics committee was the appropriate branch to handle this enforcement. Chancellor Folt said this is a temporary fix and a bigger solution is in the works.

“This is much bigger than just faculty issues, or athletic issues,” Folt said. “We’re trying to do an audit of where people go when they have concerns when they want to bring forward.

“Once we do that audit, then we can start looking for the best process to build the equivalent of an ombudsperson. But it’s going to take time to get that right.”

The goal of Chancellor Folt and Committee Chair Renner is for the process to be completely transparent – and available to the public – once the final order of directives is in place.


UNC Awarded $25.3 Million To Run EPA’s Library

UNC’s School of Information and Library Science received its largest grant ever to operate the Environmental Protection Agency’s Research Triangle Park library.

SILS Dean Gary Marchionini says the $25.3 million dollar contract will allow the EPA library to expand its services.

“They’ve put RTP, that library, in charge of serving most of the journals and subscriptions for the entire library system in the EPA.”

The library serves the 2,000 scientists, engineers and contractors working at the EPA in the Triangle. That facility is already one of the largest in the nation; now it will serve as an information hub for the EPA’s other libraries.

The School of Information and Library Science has run the EPA’s RTP library since 1975. While it’s aimed at those researching environmental policies, the library is open to the general public.

Marchionini says it’s also a great example of collaboration between a public university and a government agency. “It’s kind of a nice partnership that’s a win-win for everybody.”

You can learn about SILS and the EPA library here.