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At UNC-CH, retired profs looking for work

A group of retired faculty from UNC Chapel Hill knows the university is having a tough time right now, what with massive budget cuts and all.

So it volunteered the services of its members, free of charge. But the response has been, well, underwhelming.

Turns out, it's not as simple as bringing back faculty and sending them off into classrooms. There isn't always a class in need of a teacher that fits every retired prof's area of expertise. Still, the university is looking for ways to make better use of this resource.

Here's the story.

Are radicals being empowered at UNC-CH?

UPDATE - The student group Youth for Western Civilization is back in business, having found three new faculty advisors.

The faculty advisor for a controversial student group at UNC Chapel Hill was relieved of his volunteer duties last week after an ill-advised remark about a gun.

But in insisting that retired professor Elliot Cramer step down as advisor for Youth for Western Civilization, UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp has empowered campus radicals who now pledge to disrupt any event that group presents on campus.

So says Jay Schalin, writing this week for the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

In asking for Cramer to step down, Thorp in essence hamstrung the student group's ability to exist, since the clock is now ticking towards a deadline before which it must have a new faculty advisor.

Schalin writes in part:

Thorp can amend this error by making bold statements that he will not let legitimate opinions on his campus be harassed into silence. One thing he could do is to sponsor the YWC himself, at least for this year. That would send a powerful message to the radicals that his campus is a place for free expression of ideas, not group intimidation and violence.

Additionally, he must make it clear that attempts to intimidate and silence others on campus will be met with expulsion and prosecution. For without a very clear no-tolerance policy of such behavior, the radicals will grow continually more aggressive until they get their way or until somebody gets hurt. And if they get their way, they will use the same methods to silence other voices that disagree with them.

What do you think? Did the chancellor overstep in asking Cramer to step down for a remark that appears to be made in jest?

UNC-CH frat sanctioned for party

The UNC Chapel Hill fraternity that hosted a party the night its president was shot to death by police in Archdale has been sanctioned.

The university’s Greek Judicial Board placed the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity on one year of social probation — which means it can’t hold mixers or cocktail parties — and shortened its pledge period from eight to four weeks.

DKE ran afoul of the judicial board in part for violating policies prohibiting having alcohol present at recruiting events.

The fraternity's president, Courtland Smith, 21, had attended the Aug. 22 party before leaving around 12:30 a.m. He was shot by an Archdale police officer after being stopped on Interstate 85 just before 5 a.m. He had dialed 911 as he drove west at a high speed. He told a dispatcher that he was trying to kill himself, that he had been drinking and that he had a 9 mm handgun.

After Smith’s death, UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp ordered the investigation into the fraternity party.

UNC's Bowles talking layoffs today

This morning, UNC system President Erskine Bowles is speaking about the 900 or so administrative jobs being cut from the UNC system budget.

Stay tuned for details. But here's what Bowles just told members of the UNC system's Board of Governors at the start of two days of meetings.

Like every other organization in America, without exception, this organization has gone through some pretty tough times in the last 18 months. We've let a lot of folks go. We've abolished over 900 administrative positions. A year ago, well over 600 were filled. Anyone in this room who has ever fired anybody or instituted a RIF (reduction in force) knows that is really painful. It's really tough on the people who lose their jobs, but I'm here to tell you it's not easy on the people instituting it.

These jobs aren't just cuts. They're real people who were in them and real families who were depending on them. They were folks who were working hard at this university trying to do their part to provide the students the education they need. A lot of them still don't have jobs. I get emails from a lot of them and they're suffering a lot. So while we may get some kudos for doing the right thing in tough times, I'm telling you it's not without some pain.

We knew where to cut. We have cut our administrative costs on a permanent basis by over 18 percent. When you add the one-time administrative cut, we've cut it by over 22 percent. As I said, that was over 900 jobs that were abolished. At the same time, we were able to protect the academic core and on a permanent basis, we have only cut the academic core by less than 1 percent. When you add in the one-time cuts, it's about 5.2 percent. I think we've done this and done it smart.

These administrative cuts - they weren't just from anywhere. Because we had worked so hard to develop a roadmap. That's what we've been working on. We were able to make these administrative cuts where we had duplication or overlap, and where we had enough strength that we could afford to slim down. But most important, while we made these cuts, I can look you in the eye and tell you we have protected the academic core. We have protected our ability to manage this place effectively.


UNC's Hansbrough: Finding a little girl's lost dog

Oh, that Tyler Hansbrough. When he isn't out-hustling everyone and winning a national championship, he's finding a little girl's lost dog.

Or at least that's the deal in this new AT&T commercial shot at UNC Chapel Hill.

Check it out.


H1N1 settles in on area campuses

In today's paper, the latest campus swine flu update.

The H1N1 virus hasn't yet become the danger public health officials have feared, but it is becoming increasingly common on college campuses.

The virus, similar to the common flu, hits young people hard. At UNC-CH, it has hit particularly hard, to the tune of about 700 cases so far this semester. But every campus around has had cases, from the big - N.C. State - to the small - Peace College.

There is no vaccine, yet, though drug makers are working on it and the first doses are expected to be available next month.

At NCSU, one professor has a thought as to why certain viruses spread so quickly on college campuses. Essentially, it is this: Students know how to practice good hygiene but don't do so.

Ben Chapman, an assistant professor of family and consumer services, recently published a study on a norovirus outbreak at the University of Guelph in Canada. He found that 83 percent of students who ate in a campus dining hall said they followed posted hygiene recommendations, but only 17 percent actually did so.

And part of the reason is the communication campaigns conducted by health agencies, which commonly use phrases like “self-isolate” and “gastrointestinal illness.”

If you're talking to a college student, Chapman argues, just tell them they'll puke if they don't wash their hands.

“A lot of the stuff that is out there is motherly and generic,” he said. “We have to target students differently than we need to target parents of little kids.”

You can read more about Chapman's study here.

Bain & Company: getting popular

Bain & Company, the firm hired at UNC Chapel Hill to evaluate its finances and look for cost savings, is getting popular among universities.

We reported recently that after working in Chapel Hill, it headed to Cornell.

Now, we learn that UC Berkeley is interested as well.

I can't help but wonder whether Berkeley, a public university, will say how much they pay Bain for its expertise.

At UNC-CH, a designer chosen for University Square

An architect has been selected to design a new University Square in Chapel Hill.

The Chapel Hill Foundation Real Estate Holdings and its development partner, Cousins Properties, have hired Boston-based Elkus Manfredi Architects.

Manfredi will soon begin designing an entirely new mixed-use development for the swath of land between Columbia and Mallette streets in downtown Chapel Hill rimmed by Franklin Street and Cameron Avenue.

The 12-acre tract is currently home to the University Square shopping center and Granville Towers, a private residence hall complex.

The Chapel Hill foundation is a non-profit arm of UNC Chapel Hill. It purchased the land recently for about $46 million and now plans a massive redevelopment project.

The Manfredi hiring is a critical step; the firm has experience with similar campus projects including one at Ohio State that caught the eye of Chapel Hill officials evaluating a handful of architecture firms, said Gordon Merklein, UNC-CH's executive director of real estate development.

Design will continue until spring and construction likely won't start for three years, he said.
The project will bring retail and office space closer to Franklin Street, creating a more urban feel, and will include a parking deck, officials say.

"It needs to reconnect to Franklin Street and reconnect to campus," Merklein said of the new development. "It doesn't do that at all now. It's just a suburban office building sitting back from the street."

The Atlanta-based Cousins Properties conducted a market survey, selected Manfredi, and ultimately will develop the project. 

Erskine Bowles, the UNC system president, is a member of the Cousins board of directors. He has not been involved in this project, Merklein said.

Hayden Renwick, longtime college administrator, dies

A longtime college administrator at UNC Chapel Hill and other state universities has died.

Hayden Bentley Renwick was 74 when he died Sept. 2 at Presbyterian Medical Center after suffering heart failure.

The Statesville native was a Johnson C. Smith University graduate and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity member who spent three decades in education.
He began as a teacher and coach at Horton High School in Pittsboro, taught physical education at N.C. A & T University and was an assistant principal at Guy B. Phillips Junior High School in Chapel Hill.

After getting a master's of education degree from UNC Chapel Hill, Renwick began a career in higher education. He was first an assistant director in undergraduate admissions at UNC-CH, then assistant dean in its College of Arts and Sciences, eventually moving up into an associate deanship there.

From 1988 to 1991 he served as associate vice chancellor at Fayetteville State University and later as special assistant to the chancellor at Winston-Salem State University.

 He leaves a wife, Sandra Medford Renwick, a daughter, Beverly Renwick Pappy, a son, Michael Lewis Renwick, and a host of other family members. 

Click here for more information.

UNC budget cuts hit the classroom

From the weekend: a look at how budget cuts at UNC system campuses are hitting the classroom.

It all depends on who you talk to. Some professors, advisors and the like are really struggling to cut costs. And some students, like Jarmir Smith, who you'll meet in this story, are feeling it, too. 

But others, like the freshmen in Don Raleigh's freshman seminar at UNC Chapel Hill, say they don't see the problem. Of course, they just got to college and have little basis for comparison.

It should be noted: while UNC-CH raised its cap on freshman seminar enrollment to 24 students, not all seminars have that many students this fall. And, the university asked professors whether they'd mind the higher enrollment before expanding it from 20; those who didn't like the idea of larger seminars didn't have to host them. 

Since this story focused on public universities, we didn't cover the effects of the economy on private colleges. But I talked to some folks at Duke about this too last week.

There, officials say they're able to avoid academic cuts by paring costs in other areas. New construction has been halted, for example, and plans across campus to replace computers and other office equipment are being delayed, said Michael Schoenfeld, a Duke spokesman.

And housekeepers will no longer clean residence halls on Saturdays.

"We are doing things at the margins that will be noticeable to students," Schoenfeld said.

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