Boxill Resignation Comes Days Before Appeal Hearing

Dr. Jan Boxill, who has been one of the key figures in the academic scandal at UNC, resigned her position just before her appeal of her firing was to be heard by a faculty committee.

Rick White, Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs at UNC, says that process came to a halt with her resignation.

“That hearing was scheduled to take place,” he says. “However, Dr. Boxill chose to resign prior to that hearing starting. Once that letter of resignation was received and accepted, then that whole process just stopped.”

Boxill’s resignation was effective February 28.

White says they did not cut a deal for the resignation.

“That was no settlement per se,” he says. “Dr. Boxill is covered under the state of North Carolina retirement system. However, we’re treating this now simply as a resignation and not a termination, because she did resign prior to that termination process being complete.”

White says as far as the university is concerned, the resignation of Boxill is a “closed book.”

Boxill did not return a request for comment from WCHL.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/boxill-resignation-comes-days-before-appeal-hearing/

UNC System President Ross Responds to Governor’s Budget

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Highlights of Gov. Pat McCrory’s $21.5 billion spending plan released Thursday for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Unless otherwise noted, the dollars amounts are for the 2015-16 year only. For spending changes, figures are for amount spent or saved compared to what was projected or needed to keep operating at current levels.

PUBLIC EDUCATION:

— locate $111 million to increase the floor for early-career teacher salaries from $33,000 to $35,000 and to give experienced-based raises.

— hire 1,400 new teachers to cover expected public school enrollment growth of more than 17,300 students next fall.

— give $15 million over next two years to new endowment designed to award teachers additional pay for improved student performance.

— increase textbook and instructional materials funding by $35 million, with more flexibility to local districts on how to spend it.

— reduce the Department of Public Instruction budget by 10 percent, or $4.1 million.

— save $3 million in community college system to reflect decreased enrollment by 1.6 percent.

— increase community college tuition by $4 per credit hour, collecting $16.1 million.

— give $49.3 million to University of North Carolina system to meet projected 1.7 percent enrollment growth.

— provide $8 million in operating funds for East Carolina University’s medical school.

— implement 2 percent efficiencies within the UNC system, or $49.9 million in savings.

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES:

— locate $18 million for operations, modernization and maintenance of NC FAST and NC TRACKS computer programs.

— expand permanently the number of slots for North Carolina Pre-K program for 4-year-olds to 26,800, at a cost of $2.3 million.

— spend $5.3 million over two years to modernize Office of Chief Medical Examiner.

— develop electronic death records system, at a cost of $1.9 million over two years.

— increase foster care funds by $4.5 million to reflect higher caseload volume.

— require $287 million in additional Medicaid funds to reflect higher enrollment and patient costs.

— lay groundwork for potential Accountable Care Organizations designed to treat Medicaid patients, costing $1.2 million.

— reduce personal services contracts by $1.2 million.

— spend $16.6 million to help open new Broughton mental hospital in Broughton in 2016.

— eliminate $8.5 million carry-over of liabilities from mental health facilities.

COMMERCE AND TAXES:

— give $10 million more to a new film and TV production grant program that replaced a tax credit program that was allowed to expire last year.

— allocate $33.5 million more to the Job Development Investment Grant, Job Maintenance and Capital Development Fund and One North Carolina Small Business economic incentives programs.

— restore the state’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit for repairing old buildings. The credit was allowed to expire last year.

— extend various current tax credits or refunds related to research and development, renewable energy for non-solar projects and for jet fuel.

— calculates road building revenues based on 35-cent per gallon motor fuels tax.

COURTS, PRISONS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT:

— provide $16 million over two years to restore court funding to pay for jurors, interpreters, expert witnesses and equipment.

— increase payments for private indigent defense lawyers by $3.2 million.

— create six lab technician positions at State Crime Laboratory for $251,000 to help reduce criminal case backlog.

— give 5 percent pay raises to 700 state troopers, at a cost of $1.8 million.

— replace 75 aging State Bureau of Investigation and Alcohol Law Enforcement vehicles for $1.9 million.

— begin process of reclassifying correctional officers and raise pay, with salaries increasing beginning in mid-2016.

— create 181 positions to improve mental health services for prisons, at a cost of $6.4 million.

TRANSPORTATION

— give $19.6 million from Highway Fund for general road maintenance reserve.

— complete modernization of Division of Motor Vehicles statewide automated driver license system.

— provide $58 million more to carry out state Department of Transportation’s new 10-year road-building plan.

OTHER STATE AGENCIES:

— locate 2 percent cut in Governor’s Office, or $110,000.

— add portfolio manager’s position in State Treasurer’s Office, costing $176,000.

— create new Cabinet-level Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Information Technology from existing programs.

— shift state parks, Museum of Natural Sciences, state aquariums and N.C. Zoological Park from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to the Department of Cultural Resources.

— privatize state motor pool for short-term vehicle rental services.

RESERVES, OTHER PLANS:

— place another $47 million in the state’s rainy day reserve fund, increasing it to $698 million.

— earmark $175 million over two years in a Medicaid risk reserve that could be tapped to cover potential shortfalls.

— set aside $82 million over two years for salary fund for pay increases in hard-to-find and hard-to-retain positions.

— increase reserve for health insurance plan for public employee by $34 million.

— McCrory will propose two bonds: one for transportation projects and a second for government building repairs and renovations. Each one will range from $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion.

UNC System President Tom Ross issued the following statement regarding Governor McCrory’s proposed budget:

We appreciate Governor McCrory’s recognition of the value of UNC’s research efforts and the significant intellectual property created by our world-class faculty, as evidenced by his support of our UNC Strategic Directions efforts to commercialize university research. We are also pleased that the Governor’s proposed budget funds growth in student enrollment and much-needed emergency support for East Carolina University’s medical school and Elizabeth City State University.
 
The University of North Carolina has long been key to our State’s economic vitality and way of life.  A recently released report shows that UNC contributes $27.9 billion in added value to the state’s economy and offers an impressive $3.90 return for every $1 invested by the taxpayers. The UNC system has worked successfully to become more efficient through efforts dating back to before the start of the recession. We are disappointed to see an additional cut of 2% proposed and no salary raises for faculty and staff as the state’s economy continues to recover and grow.  We are also concerned that the Governor’s budget proposes an $18-million reduction in funds available to our campuses to build and expand private partnerships. To continue to improve North Carolina’s economic position, attract new industry, and create needed new jobs, North Carolina must continue to maintain and invest in our strong public university system.
We are committed to working with the Governor and the General Assembly throughout the budget process to meet state needs and address key University priorities. 
http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/unc-system-president-ross-responds-to-governors-budget/

Transparency at UNC

The University of North Carolina has been under an intense microscope in recent years, dealing with questions from an academic scandal that spanned nearly two decades.

The issue of public records being filled by UNC has been a topic of many media stories in recent years, including whether the university was releasing all of the information that it should be handing over as part of public records laws. Recently these accusations were made by The Daily Tar Heel after its request for the budget of the Chapel Hill Foundation was denied.

Jonathan Jones, Director of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition and a Professor at Elon University, says the foundation has a history of not having a Form 990 on file, which provides a snapshot into the workings of a non-profit agency.

“There’s a foundation out there that controls a great deal of money, to which many donations that people make to the University of North Carolina are actually diverted to this foundation,” he says.

“People give money to this foundation under the auspices of the University of North Carolina, yet it’s not being transparent in any way – by either filing its Form 990 or being responsive to the public records law.”

Rick White, Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs at UNC, says the university complies with all regulations.

“I would disagree with Jonathan, I think, on that,” he says. “The university works very hard, certainly, to follow both the letter and the spirit of certainly open records laws.

“To provide information that’s requested by anyone who asks for it – whether be a member of the news media or a member of the public – we work very, very hard to do that.”

The number of public records requests made to UNC has grown from 213 discrete requests in the 2009 – 2010 academic year, to a projected 450 for the current academic calendar, according to White.

He says he feels at times some have mistaken the time it takes for a records request to be filled for a lack of transparency.

White adds some confusion may be caused by the intersections of state and federal laws.

Jones, meanwhile, says he feels the university is benefitting from both sides of the coin.

“The university is claiming on one side that the foundation is not an entity that is subject to the public records law because it’s a non-profit,” he says. “But then on the other side, the reason that it hasn’t been filing a 990 is because there is an exemption for government-affiliated 501(c)(3)’s that don’t have to file a 990.

“And so on one side, they’re saying ‘we’re not a government entity subject to the public records law.’ But then on the other side, they’re saying ‘we’re a government entity, we don’t have to comply with the IRS’ transparency requirements.’”

White says the university has legal standing for the decision to not file a 990.

“There is a regulation, in the IRS regulations, that allows entities like the foundation to not file a Form 990. The foundation did apply for that exemption some time ago. It was granted that exemption,” he says.

“So it had not filed a Form 990 for some time.”

Having said that, White adds that, in the spirit of transparency, the foundation will file a 990 this year.

“The decision has been made, at the chancellor’s urging, that we will be filing that Form 990. You’ll see that this year,” he says. “I think the chancellor recognized that there was a bit of a view there that could be viewed as not being transparent.

“And she is very committed to being transparent and open in our processes here, wanted to do that, encouraged us to do so. And that’s going to happen.”

From Jones’ perspective, while this is good news, this could have been handled years ago.

“From a transparency perspective, the university could have gotten in front of this scandal four years ago,” he says, “the first time that The Daily Tar Heel, and WRAL, and the News & Observer took them to court over public records issues.

“They could have gotten in front of all of this by instituting a system in which they were going to be, if not the most transparent state agency, one of the most transparent state agencies.”

White says the expectation of transparency from the university comes with the territory.

“I think it’s always fair to ask the question, ‘Are you living up to the letter and the spirit of the law? Are you doing what you can do?’” he says.

“It would have been fair, for example, to criticize our university for not being transparent a few years ago, when we were woefully understaffed in our public records office. And it was taking an incredibly long time to get records out of there.”

Jones adds openness is part of being a government entity.

“The idea of public records is that the information that government creates is the property of the people,” he says. “And that they should be able to inspect it, in order to make an informed decision about how well their government is functioning.”

White says he believes the university is moving in the right direction.

“We’ve come a long way on this,” he says, “and really think that we’re doing a pretty good job in terms of being responsive to those kind of requests.”

Jones echoes that under Chancellor Carol Folt he has seen movement from the university to increase transparency, but the work isn’t done yet.

“We’re still in the early stages of Chancellor Folt’s leadership,” he says. “I think in the first year and a half, two years that she’s been there we have seen some positive changes in transparency at the university.

“And I’m a three-time graduate of the university. I want my university, my alma mater, to be the model. And it’s not.”

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/transparency-at-unc/

UNC Graduate Program in Spotlight

The graduate program at UNC was put under the microscope in an article in Sunday’s News and Observer after revelations were made that special permissions were given for athletes at Carolina. WCHL’s Blake Hodge spoke with UNC Faculty Chair Doctor Bruce Cairns to find out if he was aware of these incidents prior to this report.

 

Cairns also provided an update on the policy of student-athlete admissions at UNC and new recommendations that are being considered.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-graduate-program-in-spotlight/

Chancellor Emeritus Moeser: Campus Climate Change at UNC

UNC Chancellor Emeritus James Moeser is calling on residents of North Carolina to stand up for the state’s universities.

Anxiety has fallen on much of the UNC campus following decisions recently made by the University System Board of Governors, from the removal of Tom Ross as President of the UNC System to the closure of centers on three campuses across the state.

Chancellor Emeritus James Moeser says he believes there is one motivating factor for these decisions.

“There’s an old saying – when they say it’s not about money, it’s about money,” he says. “My corollary to that is – when they say it’s not about politics, it’s about politics.”

Moeser is referring to the dramatic shift among state lawmakers, and correspondingly to the appointed members of the Board of Governors.

“I think the things that have happened in the last few weeks, decisions by the Board of Governors [and] comments that have been made publicly by state policy makers and leaders,” he says, “have sent a chill across the campus and into the faculty.

“And I think a lot of people are concerned about whether this university will be able to stay on course.”

Meoser adds he is concerned many faculty members may leave the university if they feel the university’s academic freedom has been compromised, along with the work they do.

“[That work] includes questioning public leaders and their motives,” he says, “and having the freedom to speak out.”

He says he wrote this article to appeal to the residents of Chapel Hill, and all of the Tar Heel state, to stand up for the University System.

“Right now, the faculty are very concerned about the state of the university,” he says. “And that’s why, in a sense, the purpose of this piece was really directed not to the campus, but beyond the campus.

“To the people of this state who I know love this university, cherish it actually, and don’t want to see harm done to it.”

Moeser says he believes this is a crucial time for the university, and the people who are questioning its direction.

“They speak up, and they say enough. Stop this political interference,” he says. “This university has never been the pawn of any political group; let’s not let it become that.

“There’s too much at stake here, a great university.”

Moeser credits the 17-campus University System for many of the advances made in North Carolina.

“The University of North Carolina really led the whole South and allowed North Carolina to be different from the rest of the South,” he says. “And as a result, we are a different state today. We have Research Triangle Park, we have great universities, [and] we have Charlotte.

“So much came to North Carolina because of the confluence of great universities right here in the Triangle. That is not something to be trifled with.”

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/chancellor-emeritus-moeser-campus-climate-change-at-unc/

Eve Carson Scholarship Carries on Her Memory

Thursday marks the anniversary of a day that many in the Chapel Hill community will never forget.

March 5, 2008, Eve Carson was shot and killed.

At a press conference, then Chapel Hill Police Chief Brian Curran made the announcement.

“The victim has been identified as Eve Carson, age 22, a UNC Senior and current UNC Student Body President,” he said. “Eve was a resident of Chapel Hill and a highly-regarded member of the university community.”

It has been seven years now since that day, and Eve Carson’s spirit lives on at UNC.

UNC Media Relations Assistant Helen Buchanan says the Eve Carson Scholarship is awarded annually to rising Tar Heel seniors who are making a difference in our community and around the world.

“[The Eve Carson Scholarship] was to further Eve’s mission here,” she says. “[Eve] loved this university with all her heart, and she loved the students here.

“The Eve Carson Scholarship is a way to celebrate those students who exhibit that same passion and growth.”

Buchanan adds this is a very peer-driven scholarship with a selection committee made up of students.

“The values that Eve distilled from this university, it’s about empathy, and passion, and being inquisitive about the world,” she says. “What better way than to have students celebrate that with their peers?”

Buchanan adds there are several of these scholarship recipients who stand out as carrying on the legacy that Carson left behind.

“[Students are] passionate about food donations, or helping poor in Africa, there have been all sorts of things,” she says. “We had one student, who actually received one of the first [scholarships], he’s transformed his into a cancer research donation fund.”

Buchanan adds two to three scholarships are typically awarded. The scholarships cover half of the student’s tuition as well as a $5,000 stipend for their summer service project.

This spirit of helping others helps the memory of Eve Carson live on.

You can donate to the Eve Carson scholarship here.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/eve-carson-scholarship-carries-on-her-memory/

Center on Law and Gov’t Voluntarily Closes

The decision of the UNC Board of Governors to close three centers across the UNC System has drawn a lot of attention over the last few days.

The Center for Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at UNC was voted to be shut down in the next twelve months by the BOG.

But another center on UNC’s campus chose to voluntarily close its doors.

Michael Gerhardt is the Samuel Ash Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law and Director of the Center on Law and Government at UNC. He released the following statement to WCHL:

“We closed the Center for Law and Government, because there [was] never anything magical about its being called a center and because we can carry on all the same activities — sponsoring non-partisan programs teaching our students about how lawyers may contribute to public policy-making — without calling ourselves a center. The decision on whether to move forward, and under what name, will be made by the next dean of the law school.”

The other centers closed by a unanimous Board of Governor’s vote last week were the Center for Biodiversity at East Carolina; and the Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change at NC Central University.

http://chapelboro.com/news/higher-education/center-on-law-and-govt-voluntarily-closes/

Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence to Speak at UNC

UNC will host the United States Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Dr. Michael Vickers, on Monday night at Gerrard Hall.

D.r Vickers is scheduled to speak at 7 o’clock. The event is free and open to the public.

As part of his undersecretary duties, Dr. Vickers is the principal intelligence advisor to the US Secretary of Defense. Vickers has been in this role since 2010.

The event is sponsored by the Triangle Institute for Security Studies IC-CAE in Intelligence and Security and by UNC-Chapel Hill’s curriculum in peace, war, and defense.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/undersecretary-of-defense-for-intelligence-to-speak-at-unc/

3 Former UNC Athletes Join McAdoo in Lawsuit Against School

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A former women’s basketball player at the University of North Carolina has joined in a lawsuit which alleges the school failed to provide athletes a quality education by guiding them toward sham classes.

Kenya McBee has joined the class-action lawsuit filed by ex-football player Michael McAdoo in federal court last November.

Another former women’s basketball player, Leah Metcalf, and former football player James Arnold have filed a similar class-action lawsuit in state court.

McAdoo’s lawsuit said he was guaranteed a good education while being recruited, but was ultimately directed toward three options, one of which was African-American Studies — the curriculum that formed the basis for the long-running academic scandal.

UNC spokesman Joel Curran said in a text message that the school wouldn’t comment on pending litigation.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/3-former-unc-athletes-join-mcadoo-in-lawsuit-against-school/

UNC Settles Lawsuit From Mary Willingham

The University of North Carolina has reached a settlement in the lawsuit from learning specialist Mary Willingham, who resigned last year after her public statements about academic improprieties at the school resulted in a tense meeting with Chancellor Carol Folt.

Willingham said she was berated at that hourlong April meeting.

In July, Willingham sued the university, and asked the Board of Governors for reinstatement.

The terms of the settlement have not been announced. UNC has said the settlement does not include reinstatement.

Here is Monday’s statement from UNC, attributed to Rick White, Associate Vice Chancellor of Communications and Public Affairs:

“The University has reached a settlement with Mrs. Willingham that resolves all of the outstanding legal issues in the case. We appreciate the efforts of the mediator to help us achieve a successful and timely conclusion to the mediation. We believe the settlement is in the best interest of the University and allows us to move forward and fully focus on other important issues. The settlement is pending review and final action by Judge Boyle.””

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-settles-lawsuit-from-mary-willingham/