Cunningham Said Yes, Then No, To Florida

Sources close to both athletic departments have confirmed a USA Today report that UNC’s Bubba Cunningham agreed to become the new athletics director at the University of Florida in August but changed his mind as the deal was to be announced in Gainesville, Florida.

Cunningham, who grew up in Naples, Florida, and still has family there, was offered a reported $1.4 million annual contract, according to the sources. His guaranteed annual income is about half that at UNC, which is reportedly preparing a contract extension and substantial pay increase. Cunningham, who has begun his sixth year as Carolina’s AD, received a raise in early 2016 to $642,268, with performance-based bonuses that could drive his total compensation close to $1 million.

USA Today reported that Jeremy Foley, the athletics director for last 25 years at Florida, staying on in an advisory capacity with an “emeritus” title might have played a part in Cunningham’s decision to remain at UNC.  Cunningham is also in the late stages of shepherding UNC through a two-plus year NCAA investigation, and – according to sources in Chapel Hill – he wants to see that process through.

While UNC has an $80 million athletics budget supporting 28 intercollegiate sports program, Florida has a $160 million budget for only 19 sports. The fact that Florida competes in the Southeastern Conference, which has (with the Big 10) the largest annual distribution of television rights per school contributes heavily to its budget.

Contacted in Illinois, where he was with the Tar Heel football team, Cunnkingham said, “I understand there is great interest in that position but, consistent with my philosophy and policy on any job searches involving coaches, I do not comment on employment issues regardless of whether it is at Carolina or any other school unless there is a change in employment status.

“I am fortunate to have one of the top athletic director’s jobs in the nation at one of the premier institutions in the world. Our student-athletes, coaches and staff are excited about a new year getting started and I am happy to help them try and reach their dreams and goals.”

UNC Honored for Fundraising Efforts

UNC has been awarded the sustained excellence award in fundraising by the Council for Advancement and Support Education, the university announced Wednesday.

Carolina is one of nine public universities recognized for the award.

This announcement comes after UNC announced a second-consecutive record-setting fundraising total across the university over the last year.

The sustained excellence award goes to fundraising programs that have garnered a CASE award for educational fundraising for either overall performance or overall improvement in three of the last five years, according to a release.

Carolina received an honor for overall performance and improvement this year, according to university officials. And UNC has won awards for overall performance in 2015 and overall performance and sustained excellence in 2012.

“This award is a testament to our donors, who generously support the University and its important work on behalf of students and the larger world,” said David Routh, vice chancellor for university development. “Without their generosity and love for Carolina, this recognition wouldn’t be possible.”

UNC announced last month that it has raised $495 million in fiscal 2016.

Four Years Later, Faith Hedgepeth Murder Case ‘Very Active’

Wednesday marks four years since the murder of Faith Hedgepeth in Chapel Hill.

The body of the UNC student was found in her apartment in September 2012 and no arrest has been made.

Despite the time that has lapsed, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said the case “is as strong as it ever was and is as active as it ever was.”

Blue said CHPD continues to be inspired to find who killed Hedgepeth by maintaining contact with her family.

“When we meet with Faith’s family – which we do pretty regularly and our investigators talk to them weekly, for sure – you’re reminded that this is a family that’s looking for our help in bringing some closure to them and helping them begin to make some sense of what happened.

“And if that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what does.”

Police released a large batch of information two years ago, on the two-year anniversary of Hedgepeth’s killing, but no new evidence has been released recently.

“We have been very thoughtful about what we’ve said about this case because it’s a unique case,” Blue said. “And because we haven’t said very much, it has been in some ways difficult for people to know how to help.”

Still, four years after the murder and with no arrest made, Blue said he is confident in the strength of the case.

“We have got outstanding evidence in this case,” Blue said, “really, really strong evidence. What we’re missing is just that one little key piece of information.”

With authorities maintaining that it is a strong and active case, Blue admits there are times of irritation during the investigation.

“It is frustrating, mostly because we know that Faith’s family is looking for closure in this case.”

Blue did say that he anticipates additional information being made public “in the coming weeks and months” that police feel will help further the investigation.

Blue said police want any information that anyone has that may be relevant to the case.

A $40,000 reward has been offered that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Hedgepeth’s murder.

The family will also be holding a fundraiser on September 17 for the Faith’s Smile Scholarship fund.

Folt: Putting Provost in Charge is Indication UNC Takes Controversial Collaboratory ‘Very Seriously’

A new research collaboratory is drawing a lot of attention from faculty members at UNC. But campus leadership says it feels it is doing enough to calm any remaining concerns regarding the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory.

UNC was directed to launch the venture by the Republican-led General Assembly, which initially caused concern from some faculty members over who would be leading the research and the overall process of it coming to life.

UNC announced in a news release that it would be moving forward with the collaboratory and Brad Ives, the university’s chief sustainability officer and associate vice chancellor for campus enterprises, would be managing the collaboratory on an interim basis and its function would fall under the purview of the UNC Provost Jim Dean.

Chancellor Carol Folt said last week that placing the provost at the helm showed the seriousness with which the university is taking the venture.

“We’re basically saying, ‘We take it very seriously,’” Folt said. “The integrity of the institution and the goal to meet the needs of the state are really important to us.

“So I’m actually pretty excited about the opportunity to really try to make good on that promise.”

Folt reiterated the leadership of Dean would keep the values of the university top of mind.

“Asking the provost to lead it is my indication that that really matters to me and matters to the university,” Folt said.

The state legislature ordered the institution’s development as part of the most recent budget in order to have first-hand access to research to use while developing policy specific to environmental concerns.

The release from UNC said that it was hopeful two new staff positions in the areas of research coordination and community engagement would be created in the next three months.

UNC Launches Mobile App for Campus Safety

Students and faculty have in the past complained about Alert Carolina and the timeliness of the alerts it sends to students, faculty and staff. The university and the Department of Public Safety have been working all summer to change that. Earlier this summer, they unveiled the “one button” system that automates these alerts, by the touch of one of the five buttons.

But now there’s a new component to campus safety. It’s an app called LiveSafe.

“If you are walking at 2:00 A.M. from South Building to the library and you designated me as your friend, I could monitor your travels and we could communicate en route,” said Derek Kemp, Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Safety and Risk Management at UNC.

Kemp said one of the features of the app lets your friend or family see where you are with a GPS-based SafeWalk feature. Another feature lets you send a report to UNC public safety officials.

“It could be suspicious activity,” he said. “It could be a safety hazard, and it also provides the ability to provide that information anonymously, it also allows the individual to forward pictures.”

The new app replaces RaveGuardian, an app with fewer features and a lower user rate. Kemp says he thinks more students will opt to use LiveSafe because students are behind the whole thing.

“On something like this, when you’re going to go out and encourage people to use a new system or tool, it’s always helpful if they’re advocates from day one,” he said.

Kemp also said UNC is working with LiveSafe to directly connect the app to Alert Carolina, so users can directly receive all notifications from the program. He says overall, the goal is to make the campus safer by making all resources as streamlined as possible, although the “one button” upgrade earlier this summer has already helped.

“To go from awareness to alert, it used to be about a 15 minute process and now that’s down to about a two or three minute process,” Kemp said. “So it’s all tied into that greater effort, to that continual effort to make this campus safer.”

UNC Ranked 39 on Sierra Club “Cool Schools” List

UNC checks in at No. 39 on the newly released Sierra Club “Cool Schools” annual sustainability report.

The rankings are compiled of the top 200 colleges and universities nationwide when comparing the institutions’ commitment to sustainability.

Carolina scored well in varying categories, including innovation, co-curricular activities, planning, food and water. UNC officials attribute the high scores to the efforts on the Chapel Hill campus to reduce water use by 12 percent while the campus has grown by 7.3 million square feet since 2000.

Carolina also touts the Three Zeros Initiative as a reason for the accolades. The initiative calls for the campus to move toward water neutrality, zero waste and greenhouse gas neutrality.

Other efforts on campus, including the student-founded Edible Campus project also helped solidify UNC’s placement in the rankings.

UNC chief sustainability officer and associate vice chancellor for campus enterprises Brad Ives said the university has a lot more to do in its efforts to cut waste and emissions.

“Continuing to transform UNC-Chapel Hill into a living-learning laboratory for sustainability will be a journey, and we’re only just beginning. While we have already positioned Carolina as a sustainability leader among our peers, we are ready to embrace a host of new, sustainability-related opportunities by building upon our unique culture of service and innovation.”

The rankings were based off of data from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education which is then scored across questions from the Sierra Club, according to a release.

Chandler Kania Defense Motion to Suppress Cell Phone Evidence Denied

The evidence seized from Chandler Kania’s cell phone following the wrong-way crash that left three people dead last summer will be allowed into the upcoming trial. Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour issued that decision late Tuesday.

Kania’s defense attorneys had argued the search warrant seizing the phone was illegally served twice, but the judge disagreed.

Kania is accused of driving the wrong way on I-85 for at least six miles after several hours of drinking last summer. Kania’s Jeep slammed head-on into another vehicle, killing three of the four passengers.

Kania was a 20-year-old UNC student at the time and had a blood-alcohol content that registered .17 following the crash; that’s twice the legal limit for anyone to drive in North Carolina and Kania was underage at the time.

The search warrant for Kania’s cell phone was initially served in Kania’s hospital room where he was recovering from injuries sustained in the wreck. Kania’s parents did not have the cell phone in their possession at the time, but they offered to retrieve the phone from the family’s Asheboro residence, according to testimony from members of the state Highway Patrol at a motion hearing last month.

The investigating trooper sent another member of the Highway Patrol to the Kania residence to retrieve the phone. Kania’s defense attorneys argued that constituted a second service of the warrant and that the warrant did not authorize the search of the Kania residence. Baddour disagreed by issuing Tuesday’s ruling. In court last month, he was skeptical that constituted a second search because no law enforcement officer physically entered the Asheboro home.

Kania has been under house arrest at his parents’ home since being released from custody after posting a $1 million bond in July of last year.

On the one-year anniversary of the crash, family members of the victims – 49-year-old Felicia Harris, 46-year-old Darlene McGee and six-year-old Jahnice Baird – held a candlelight vigil in Chapel Hill. Another nine-year-old girl was seriously injured in the crash.

Kania has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder, among other charges. His trial is set to begin on October 3.

UNC Cracks Tinder Top 10

Tinder, an online dating app, sorted the schools who are currently ranked in the AP and Coaches Top 25 football polls.  UNC landed at No. 10 on the list.

Carolina starts the football season at No. 22 in the AP Poll and No. 20 in the Coaches Poll.

But, according to Tinder usage, UNC is a top ten school.  The app compiled data by examining the profiles of users, who were given the ability to input their education information in November 2015.  Of course, this includes all students and some alums, not just student-athletes.


Photo by Todd Melet

ACC rival Florida State landed on top of the list.  The Seminoles were the only ACC school ranked ahead of the Tar Heels.  The other Top 25 ACC teams, Clemson and Louisville, were ranked 15th and 19th, respectively.

The Tinder Top 10

  1. Florida State
  2. Ohio State
  3. Michigan State
  4. Florida
  5. UCLA
  6. Michigan
  7. USC
  8. Washington
  9. Alabama
  10.  North Carolina

See the full rankings at USA Today.

Tinder launched in 2012.  The app boasts more than 10 billion matches in 196 countries.

UNC Receives $1 Million Scholarship Check After Privatizing Student Stores

As students and families were milling around the new Students Stores at UNC on Thursday, campus leaders gathered to celebrate $1 million being donated to fund scholarships.

The money was a signing bonus – or “down payment” as it was referred to on Thursday – from an agreement to privatize the operation of the Student Stores.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said this money would be going directly toward student scholarships.

“Need-based aid strengthens our institution, and it creates a better future,” Folt told the crowd on Thursday, “not only for our students, but clearly for the state of North Carolina and, of course, for the world.”

Barnes and Noble College presenting UNC with a $1 Million check as part of agreement to privatize Student Stores. Photo via Blake Hodge.

Barnes and Noble College presenting UNC with a $1 Million check as part of agreement to privatize Student Stores. Photo via Blake Hodge.

UNC vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions Steve Farmer said the university was “virtually unmatched” by public universities in meeting the full demonstrated need of undergraduates who qualify for federal aid.

“It is not an easy commitment to keep, and that’s why others no longer make it,” Farmer said. “But it’s a commitment that we’re proud to keep, and it’s a commitment that we are determined to keep.”

Jesse Sykes is currently earning her master’s degree in Clinical Rehabilitation at UNC after receiving her undergraduate degree in psychology and neuroscience in Chapel Hill. Sykes grew up in Nash County and was a Carolina Covenant scholar during her undergraduate years, which meets the needs of low-income students without using loans.

Sykes is now continuing her education based off of the student stores’ scholarship funding.

“Student aid is not just an abstract concept,” Sykes said. “It can make the difference between staying in a small town in North Carolina your whole life, or going out into big cities or other parts of the world and making a difference.”

Farmer said as an overall, general figure, the $1 million would immediately provide “significant help” to between 50 and 75 students depending on the varying need of those students.

The decision to privatize student stores was part of a 10-year, $30 million agreement between UNC and Barnes and Noble College.

The move was not made without criticism. Some saw this privatization of a valued portion of the university’s operation as part of the corporatization of higher education.

Folt, on Thursday, said she felt that the number of those voicing opposition was declining as more members of the campus community saw the increased funding going toward scholarships.

“People worked so hard to make this not only for scholarship and aid, the prices for students are absolutely cheaper,” Folt said. “So students really like it. And the staff were given a very strong, positive support and almost everybody accepted it.

“I think that was really important.”

Folt said that the students were taking to the new system with rentals and online book orders both increasing by more than four times last year’s rate.

UNC Moving Forward with Collaboratory Ordered by General Assembly

It’s common for UNC to work with state and local government officials for research of different issues. But it isn’t so common for the General Assembly to direct university researchers to studying environmental policy.

The General Assembly appropriated one million dollars to the university as part of the 2016-2017 state budget to launch the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory. Its purpose is for the faculty-led research at UNC to join with practical usage by the General Assembly.

UNC Faculty Chair Bruce Cairns spoke with WCHL about the possibility of this collaboratory last week. Cairns said the faculty is ready to get the project started but not without some concern over how the center was ordered from the legislature.

“The faculty, as it always has been, is fully engaged in the creation of these kinds of entities.”

However, Cairns also says getting the process started will be a little different since research centers aren’t usually created by a spot in the state budget. He says U-N-C faculty and Provost Jim Dean are working to find out how the collaboratory will fit in the UNC structure.

“We are a public university so this becomes a transparent process. And we have a mission. And we have a set of standards that we uplift and uphold. And all of this will be our focus as we move forward with this enterprise.”

Cairns says Dean plans to keep the faculty updated with where the collaboratory is in the research processes. And he says he’s excited for it to get off the ground.
“It is a novel mechanism to try to create an entity such as this at UNC Chapel Hill.”

UNC announced it was going forward with the collaboratory and that it will be managed by the office of Brad Ives, the university’s chief sustainability officer and associate vice chancellor for campus enterprises. He’ll serve as interim director during the launch phase.

The collaboratory has the opportunity to receive an additional $3.5 million if the university can raise enough money to match the original $1 million provided by the legislature.