UNC Names New Dean of School of Dentistry

Dr. Scott De Rossi has been selected by UNC to serve as the new dean of the School of Dentistry.

De Rossi was most recently the chair of the oral health and diagnostic sciences department at August University’s Dental College of Georgia.

“I am honored to be chosen to lead Carolina’s School of Dentistry,” De Rossi said. “The school has a rich history of distinctive strengths that position it to greatly influence academic dentistry and shape the next generation of oral health professionals. I look forward to working with students, faculty, staff and alumni in promoting the health of the people of North Carolina, the nation and the world through excellence in education, patient care, research and service.”

UNC executive vice chancellor and provost Jim Dean said De Rossi’s selection will further UNC’s global mission.

“Scott De Rossi is a leader in oral medicine and brings significant clinical and research expertise,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost James W. Dean Jr. “Chancellor Folt and I are confident that his concern for faculty and student diversity and globalization will help our School of Dentistry achieve its vision to be a world leader in improving oral health through excellence in education, patient care, research, public service and engagement.”

Dr. Jane Weintraub announced last December that she would be stepping down as dean of the School of Dentistry after five years leading the school. Weintraub has returned to a researching and teaching at the university.

De Rossi’s appointment has been approved by the UNC Board of Trustees and is effective January 15, 2017.


Chansky’s Notebook: Coach For The Ages

Hail to Anson Dorrance, the 800-win man.

He’s has been so good for so long, and so self-effacing, that Anson Dorrance lives below the radar. He has not only built Carolina women’s soccer into a national powerhouse, he is the man most responsible for making the game a phenomenon for the female gender. And he continues to do it while the craze he created has seemingly brought the Carolina program back to the field.

No, the Tar Heels do not dominate like they once did when most every good girl soccer player in high school either signed with UNC or took a long look before going elsewhere. There is such parody in the ACC – heck, we lost to N.C. State this season – that schools once afterthoughts in the game have become powers. Florida State reached Carolina’s level first and most of the rest have followed to the point where the Tar Heels have a much harder time winning the conference and getting a high seed for the NCAA Tournament.

That is all Anson, who has the most wins in college soccer history. He was the USA women’s coach until he had to step down because he was gaining too much of a recruiting advantage at UNC, something USA Basketball should have done with Mike Krzyzewski after he coached our Olympic team once or at least twice. Yet, Dorrance and recruiting chief Chris Ducar still scout, recruit and sign the best players in the country. It’s not a slam dunk for every girl, as it used to be, but the Tar Heels remain the gold standard in women’s college soccer and have sent 33 players on to the Olympic team, the national teams, the professional leagues and the broadcast booth.

Dorrance won his 800th game last weekend by beating plucky Wake Forest, and together with 172 victories he notched as the UNC men’s coach in the 1970s is 28 wins away from a total of 1,000.  Anson won’t reach that plateau this season or next, but the ageless wonder will be around here long enough to do it.

You can bet on it. Great going, Coach.


UNC Announces Fundraising Challenge for Financial Aid

An anonymous donation is spurring fundraising efforts for need-based and merit-based scholarships at UNC.

Officials announced on Tuesday the university had accepted a $20 million “match challenge” to benefit both Carolina Covenant and Morehead-Cain Scholarships.

The challenge, known as the “Give for Good: Scholarship Challenge,” will allow UNC to continue meeting the university’s mission of being “truly need blind during the admission process.”

Chancellor Carol Folt said announcing this challenge on University Day – celebrating the opening of UNC – was an appropriate way to further the university’s cause.

“This is a wonderful way to mark Carolina’s 223rd birthday with an incredibly generous gift and the match challenge, which will help us raise additional funds for need- and merit-based scholarships,” Folt said in a statement issued by the university. “Carolina continues as a leader among public universities at meeting the full financial need of all undergraduate students who qualify for federal aid. We believe that all students should have the opportunity to go as far as their talents and hard work takes them. This initiative will help provide additional scholarship resources for our deserving students.”

The challenge is the next piece of a fundraising campaign that has set records for annual giving in each of the last two years.

“We are profoundly grateful for a gift that so deftly aligns with our core values, upholds UNC-Chapel Hill’s commitment to excellence, accessibility, and affordability, and at the same time issues a call to action to others in the Carolina community to help enrich the lives of deserving students and their families,” vice chancellor for university development David Routh said in a release.

The Morehead-Cain Foundation, which was founded in 1945, established the first merit-based scholarship program in the country and has benefitted more than 3,100 students over that time frame, according to UNC.

The Carolina Covenant scholarship program was launched in 2004 with hopes of providing students from low-income families to attend UNC and graduate debt free. The program serves many students who are the first in their families to go to college. More than 6,000 students have been a part of the program over its 12-year existence.

The match challenge runs through October 2017.


UNC AD Bubba Cunningham Receives Second 10 Percent Pay Bump of 2016

UNC athletics director Bubba Cunningham has received a pay bump after it appeared Cunningham was ready to move to the University of Florida in early September.

The News & Observer is citing a university record that was released on Friday in reporting Cunningham’s salary has been increased to $705,853 annually.

WCHL reported that the university was preparing a raise for Cunningham in the wake of the near move to Florida, which was reportedly offering Cunningham $1.4 million annually.

Cunningham’s new salary at UNC represents nearly a 10 percent bump from his previous salary of $642,268. This is the second 10 percent increase Cunningham has received in the 2016 calendar year. Cunningham’s salary has increased form $583,880 to the new $705,853 figure over the last 10 months.

Cunningham was one of nine administrators who received a raise at a January UNC Board of Trustees meeting. While eight other administrators received raises at that meeting, Cunningham’s was the largest percentage increase.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt’s salary has jumped nearly 13 percent since October 2015. Folt was given a nearly 10 percent increase by the UNC System Board of Governors last fall before receiving a raise of more than three percent in July. Folt’s salary is now $596,448.


Report: Alcohol A Factor in Fatal Wrong-Way Wreck in Chapel Hill

A toxicology report shows that alcohol was involved in a fatal wrong-way crash on Raleigh Road earlier this summer.

The marketing and press director at UNC’s PlayMakers Repertory Company was driving with a blood-alcohol content nearly three times the legal limit when she was killed in a head-on crash earlier this year.

The News & Observer reported on Monday that the toxicology report from the office of the North Carolina Chief Medical Examiner showed Connie Mahan’s BAC was between .21 and .22 the night of the crash. The legal limit to drive for individuals over 21 years of age in North Carolina is .08.

Police say the accident took place around 9:39 on the night of Thursday, August 25. The vehicle being operated by Mahan was traveling west in the eastbound lane of Raleigh Road and ran into another vehicle.

The other driver was treated for minor injuries at the scene and released, according to police.

In a statement released on the PlayMakers Facebook page following the crash, Mahan was described as “a cherished colleague and champion of theatre throughout North Carolina.”

Mahan was 62 years old.


Chansky’s Notebook: Washout Weekend

Now the Tar Heels have to go back to Florida and win again.

Carolina’s dismal loss to Virginia Tech in a game that never should have been played in hurricane conditions leaves the team no other choice but to win at Miami Saturday the same way it did at Florida State two weekends ago. That’s the only chance the Tar Heels have of repeating as ACC Coastal Division champs.

They are now 2-1 in the ACC while Virginia Tech is 2-0 with a favorable conference schedule remaining – games at Syracuse, Pitt and Duke; and home to Miami,  Georgia Tech and Virginia. Carolina goes to Virginia after Miami, takes a week off and then finishes league play with Georgia Tech at home, at Duke and State at home.

The Heels would have to overtake the Hokies, who now have the tie-breaker, by one game thanks to the lopsided loss in sopping Kenan Stadium. I know football is supposed to be played in all kinds of weather as long as the safety of the players and fans are not at stake. The Tar Heels were bruised more in soul than body, but the fans who braved the strong rain and wind had to travel through flood zones to get to and from Chapel Hill. The game should have been delayed until Saturday night, when the rain tapered off, or Sunday when it was sunny but still windy.

Why that did not happen had much to do with the changing course of Hurricane Matthew. First thought to be moving out over the Atlantic by the weekend, it turned back inland and by Friday we knew it would dump heavy rainfall on the Triangle. UNC, Duke and State all decided early in the week that they would play, and the Blue Devils and Wolfpack pulled out wins over Notre Dame and Army.

Carolina wasn’t so lucky. Virginia Tech, which depends on the run game and a stout defense, is a tough match-up on a dry day, but an impossible one in wet conditions. The Tar Heels attack by air, averaging more than 40 passes a game. That doesn’t work in a monsoon, and everything else went wrong, as well. Now, they have to win at Miami, which also has one league loss and is beatable, but only by UNC playing as well as it did poorly against the Hokies.


Testimony: Chandler Kania Fought Off Friends Trying to Stop Him from Driving Before Fatal Wrong-Way Crash

The trial detailing the events leading up to a fatal wrong-way crash on I-85 last summer continue to play out in an Orange County courtroom.

Aditya “Dits” Shah, one of Chandler Kania’s fraternity brothers, testified in Kania’s murder trial on Friday that Kania “picked me up and threw me to the ground” in July 2015 before Kania drove away from the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house.

That night Kania then drove the wrong way on I-85 and struck another vehicle head-on, killing three of the four passengers in the other car.

Shah was one of several of Kania’s friends and fraternity brothers that have testified so far in the trial of the former UNC student. The testimony details several hours of drinking among a group of mostly underage individuals – many of whom were UNC students. An argument eventually started between Kania and another fraternity brother over “a couple of girls,” as it was described by Kania’s defense attorney.

The testimony through Friday described Kania as being agitated or angry after the argument and getting into his Jeep Wrangler. Several of his friends have testified so far that they tried to stop him from driving. Shah’s testimony on Friday was the first showing a physical altercation between Kania and anyone trying to keep him from leaving the fraternity house.

Shah testified that Kania “very aggressively” backed out from a parking spot and left the parking lot. Kania returned about five minutes later, according to testimony, but left again before anyone could stop him from leaving again.

Kania eventually ended up going the wrong way on I-85 and striking another vehicle. That collision resulted in the death of 49-year-old Felicia Harris, 46-year-old Darlene McGee and six-year-old Jahnice Barid.

Nine-year-old Jahnia King was the only survivor from the other vehicle but was seriously injured in the crash.

Kania’s blood-alcohol content from the night of the crash was .17, which is twice the legal limit for anyone to drive in North Carolina. Because Kania was underage at the time of the crash, any alcohol in his system while he was driving would have been illegal.

Kania has entered guilty pleas on three counts of felony death by motor vehicle, felony serious injury by motor vehicle and driving while impaired, among other charges.

The trial is proceeding on three counts of second-degree murder and one count of reckless driving.

The trial is expected to last nearly two more weeks.


Friends of Chandler Kania Testify in Trial Over Fatal Crash

The trial of a former UNC student charged with murder after a fatal wrong-way crash in Orange County last summer entered its second day Thursday.

Friends of Chandler Kania took the stand on Thursday recounting events in mid-July 2015 that resulted in the death of three individuals.

Kania, who was a 20-year-old UNC student at the time of the crash, spent several hours drinking before driving the wrong way on I-85 for at least six miles before crashing head-on into another vehicle, killing three of the four passengers – 49-year-old Felicia Harris, 46-year-old Darlene McGee and six-year-old Jahnice Baird. The fourth passenger in the car, nine-year-old Jahnia King, was seriously injured in the crash.

Friends of Kania from his home in Asheboro and from his time at UNC testified on Thursday. They recounted events beginning on Friday, July 17 of last year when Kania met with friends from high school Alex Pugh and Josh Hall to go to a concert in Wilmington. Pugh and Hall testified that the three of them smoked marijuana several times and drank alcohol on that Friday. The trio then traveled to Chapel Hill on Saturday and met up with some other UNC students taking classes over the summer.

Rebecca Greene, who is now a senior at UNC, testified that she and Kania were friends and that a group of mostly underage individuals were planning to gather at her apartment before heading out to bars that were typically more open to underage individuals in Chapel Hill. The group spent time drinking at Greene’s apartment before going to La Res and He’s Not Here.

After the bars closed, Kania and one of his friends got into an argument over, what his defense attorneys described, as “a couple of girls.”

That led to Kania getting “agitated,” according to Pugh’s testimony. He also testified several members of the group tried to keep Kania from driving that night. They were unsuccessful.

Kania has already entered guilty pleas to three counts of felony death by motor vehicle, felony serious injury by motor vehicle and driving while impaired, among other charges.

But he is still facing three counts of second-degree murder and one count of reckless driving.

For Kania to be convicted of murder, the state has to prove to the jury that Kania acted with malice the night of the crash.

One juror was dismissed from the proceedings on Thursday for falling asleep during the testimony from one witness.

The trial is set to continue on Friday and is expected to last between two and three weeks.


Chansky’s Notebook: Not So Equal, Please

If Hurricane Mathew arrives, Carolina must play its smartest game of the season.

The late Bill Dooley had a favorite expression when inclement weather was forecast for one of his team’s games. “Rain is the great equalizer,” Dooley used to say. In the kind of conditions predicted for Saturday against Virginia Tech, the old trench fighter’s bad UNC team once upset nationally ranked Florida because the Gators fumbled seven times. He also lost some games in the rain he would have won otherwise.

That’s why the current Tar Heels need to play fast and physical against the Hokies but, especially, smart – the third part of their slogan. Virginia Tech is good but not good enough on a dry day. If, indeed, rain is the great equalizer, VaTech can certainly leave town with a victory and a 2-0 record in the ACC and the potential tie-breaker against the Heels in the Coastal Division.

Under new coach Justin Fuente, the Hokies are 3-1 with their only loss to Tennessee, 45-24, and one-sided wins over patsies Liberty, Boston College and East Carolina. Fuente retained defensive coordinator Bud Foster from Frank Beamer’s staff, which was a great move for continuity, and Foster’s defense has already intercepted five passes and recovered three fumbles. Carolina, by the way, is still looking for its first pick after intercepting 17 passes last season.

So, for Larry Fedora’s team to get knocked off its ACC track Saturday, Mitch Trubisky will throw his first picks of the season and the front seven will keep playing soft run defense and missing tackles. You never know what kind of effect sloppy conditions will have, but as Dooley liked to say it can certainly make the game more even than it was supposed to be and, in some cases, turn victory into defeat.

Virginia Tech is like Carolina light, with a good quarterback named Jerod Evans and decent running backs and receivers.  Tennessee ran up big numbers against the Hokies, which the Tar Heels might do on a dry field. But in the rain, not turning the ball over and being the team that forces the mistakes rather than makes them is paramount in keeping the game not so equal after all.


ACC Expanding Baseball Tournament

The Atlantic Coast Conference is restructuring the conference’s baseball tournament.

The changes include expanding the field to 12 teams and culminating in a four-team, single-elimination bracket to determine the league’s champion.

The conference is one of the best overall leagues in collegiate baseball annually and over the last few years the league has limited the conference tournament to the league’s top 10 records from the regular season.

The winners of four three-team pools will advance to the semifinal.

UNC missed the ACC tournament last season, despite being No. 19 in the nation’s RPI rankings; Carolina was the highest ranked team not to make the NCAA Tournament after missing the conference tournament.

The 2017 Championship will be held in late May at Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, Kentucky. The 2017 conference tournament was scheduled to be held in Durham but was moved over North Carolina’s House Bill 2.

The expansion of the ACC Tournament was made at the conference’s fall meeting, which was held in Chapel Hill this week.