February 27, 2008 edition

Feb. 27 issue as pdf


The School of Law plans to move to Carolina North.

The possibility of such a move has been talked about for a while but grew more serious in spring 2007 after a report from SmithGroup identified an array of structural deficiencies in the current building on Ridge Road.

The plan to move became official Feb. 15 when law school Dean Jack Boger announced that the school intended to pursue construction of a new building at Carolina North. This makes the law school the first academic program to commit to locating at the University’s new mixed-use academic campus.

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Larry Conrad became Carolina’s vice chancellor for information technology and chief information officer on Feb. 1. He came here from Florida State University, where he was chief information officer since 1998 and for the past five years was also associate vice president for technology integration. The Gazette recently spoke with Conrad about the role of technology at a major research university like Carolina.

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Nearly a year into the exceptional drought experienced by much of the state, water reservoirs have not yet begun to rebound.

For water customers in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area, that could mean additional water restrictions.

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The University has announced the recipients of the 2008 University Teaching Awards, the highest campuswide recognition for teaching excellence.

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Many people graduate from Carolina equipped with the confidence — and commitment — to change the world.

But undergraduates who venture off campus to study abroad in the middle of their college careers often have a different story to tell when they return.

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Carolina works toward full textbook buyback in large classes

Escalating textbook costs are driving stepped-up efforts throughout the UNC system to make books more affordable for students.

“The cost of books is rising faster than the cost of tuition, and it is hitting students hard,” Chancellor James Moeser told the Faculty Council last week. “I want faculty to take this issue seriously.”

UNC President Erskine Bowles asked each campus to establish a system to ease the textbook burden for students.

“One thing we can do to help control costs, primarily in our large undergraduate sections, is to order textbooks on time so that students can sell books back at the end of the semester and buy used textbooks the following semester,” Moeser said.

At Carolina, he said, the goal is to have 100 percent buyback next year. This semester the faculty set a record — at 80.5 percent — for meeting the deadline to adopt textbooks.

In his response to Bowles, Moeser said that Carolina administrators would meet with faculty and department chairs in each of the large introductory courses to gain their commitment to the buyback program and would post a weekly compliance update to encourage full participation in ordering books on time.

That is the key to maximizing savings, said John Jones, director of the Student Stores. When faculty place their textbook orders on time, Student Stores can buy books back from students at 50 percent of the cost and sell them the following semester for 75 percent of the cost.

“Often we are caught between a rock and a hard place with the student constituency and the faculty constituency,” Jones said.

The end of March is the deadline for submitting textbook requests for next fall, and the end of September will be the submission deadline for the spring 2009 semester, he said.

The buyback program applies to paperbacks as well as hard cover books, Jones said. It can also apply to books faculty use to teach a course only in the spring or fall instead of in consecutive semesters as long as faculty members notify Student Stores. But it does not apply to books sold in the Health Affairs Bookstore — only books for arts and sciences courses.

Jean DeSaix, senior lecturer in biology, asked what would happen if faculty selected a new book for a course, but decided after one semester not to use it again.

Jones said Student Stores would not impose penalties, but it would feel the financial effect in its contributions to scholarships. All Student Stores’ revenues go toward student scholarships.

Moeser said that Carolina’s commitment to the buyback program was beneficial for faculty as well as students. “I’m concerned about protecting your right to choose your textbooks,” he said. “I’m concerned that that right could be in jeopardy if we don’t take this issue seriously. So I encourage you to be responsible in making those textbook decisions and getting your order to Student Stores on time.”

UNC Tomorrow response
Moeser also reassured council members about the University’s upcoming response to the UNC Tomorrow Commission.

“There seems to be a lot of anxiety and concern about what this really means to individual faculty members and their departments,” he said. “But UNC Tomorrow will not distort in any way the depth or breadth of what we do at UNC-Chapel Hill. In fact, we are well positioned to be the flagship institution in this effort.”

Earlier this month, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bernadette Gray-Little notified faculty about six committees working toward preliminary reports on topics ranging from the environment and health to public schools and global readiness. Soon faculty will receive a Web survey that asks about their teaching, research and service and how it directly affects North Carolinians. The results of the survey will help form the basis of Carolina’s UNC Tomorrow response, which is due May 1, Moeser said.

“This is an enormous opportunity for us to show the state of North Carolina the depth of the contribution we make across our state,” he said. “We don’t do a very good job of telling our story. We’re modest, to say the least, in letting people know all that we do.”

There is no contradiction in becoming more focused on the state while also being a global university, Moeser said.

Other action
Steve Farmer, assistant provost and director of admissions, said undergraduate applications this year topped 21,000, up from 17,900 five years ago. The quality of the applicant pool has continued to increase as well, with this year’s average SAT score rising above 1300 for the first time.

Hispanic enrollment has quadrupled over the last 10 years, and the enrollment of Asian students has doubled in that time. In six of the last nine years, Carolina has had the highest percentage of African-American students in the first-year class among the top 50 colleges, Farmer said. By comparison, the percentage of Native American students is low, but that figure mirrors the percentage of Native Americans in the state, he said.

In other action, the council passed a first reading of a resolution to amend the Faculty Code of University Government. The resolution calls for limiting the faculty chair’s term to three years and not allowing immediate reelection. The resolution must be read a second time, said Joe Ferrell, faculty secretary.

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