January 30, 2008 edition

Jan. 30 issue as pdf


In a recent State of the University speech, Chancellor James Moeser described private funds as the fuel that propels a university to greatness.

With the close of the Carolina First Campaign, which raised a record $2.38 billion over the past eight years, the University has surpassed expectations in that quest.

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For the past five years, University researchers have examined how living in smaller cities, towns and rural areas influences the development of young children.

Now, with a $12.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, researchers at the FPG Child Development Institute and the School of Education will look at how well these children make the transition to school.

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The master plan for Carolina North, along with a concept plan for an Innovation Center that would serve as its gateway project, shared center stage at the Chapel Hill Town Council meeting on Jan. 23.

Jack Evans, executive director of Carolina North, said the twin presentations of the master plan and a concept plan for the Innovation Center were important steps for the town’s approval. Both marked a culmination of months of planning on a host of fronts.

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The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York will support a collaborative effort on civil rights between the University and UNC Press.

The three-year, $937,000 grant will support “ Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement,” a project that, through print and digital publications, will underscore one of Carolina’s longstanding academic priorities: interdisciplinary civil rights scholarship.

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Fred Eshelman may not have intended to propel the Carolina First Campaign into the history books, but his $9 million pledge to the School of Pharmacy did just that. The University now has completed the fifth-largest campaign in higher education and the largest at a southern university.

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  Today's date:


* * Faculty Council News : Faculty contribute to Carolina First campaign success
* * Employee Forum News: UNC system explores greater flexibility in managing human resources programs
* * Board of Trustees News: BOT hears plans to address N.C. health needs
* * Board of Trustees News: Trustees focus on grad student aid
* * Board of Trustees News: Faculty salaries, research among top legislative priorities

Faculty contribute to Carolina First campaign success

When it comes to fundraising, success helps breed success.

The recently completed Carolina First campaign, which brought in a record $2.38 billion, created 208 new endowed professorships, eight more than the goal. The success of that effort was due in large part to the stature of Carolina’s faculty, Matt Kupec, vice chancellor for University advancement, told the Faculty Council at its Jan. 25 meeting.

“You are our shining star that helped us be able to recruit and retain outstanding faculty members,” he said.

Besides being the fifth-largest completed campaign in the nation, the eight-year fundraising effort exceeded expectations in many areas.

Every professional school and unit surpassed its individual goal, and the percentage of money contributed by Carolina’s alumni exceeded the national average. Alumni donations made up 36 percent of the campaign goal, compared to 28 percent nationwide.

“At Carolina, we are blessed to have some very loyal alumni who want to give back and make sure future generations have the opportunity to thrive here,” Kupec said.

Through two new committees, the University strengthened its ties to women, recruiting 105 women to serve on boards across campus, and to minorities, adding 62 minority members to Carolina’s Board of Visitors during the course of the campaign. In turn, those groups yielded many new donors — 18,000 additional female donors in the past three years and 4,300 new minority donors between 2000 and 2006.

Even with the campaign’s success, Kupec said, the University has to look toward its next campaign, probably in 2011.

“If we’re going to make this a better state, nation and world, we can’t afford to stop engaging our alumni in the life of this institution,” he said. “We want to continue to showcase the things you are doing. The key is really to talk about what you’re doing every day; it doesn’t matter whether we’re in a campaign or not.”

Bernadette Gray-Little, executive vice chancellor and provost, said that one priority for the next fundraising campaign would be graduate student fellowships.

“The Graduate School has raised private funds for fellowships, and we have dramatically more than we did five years ago,” she said, “but it still is not enough.”

Other action
The council unanimously approved support for a campuswide sabbatical program and agreed to begin a dialogue about how such a program could be structured.

Harvey Seim, associate professor of marine sciences and chair of the Faculty Research Committee, said most peer institutions had regular sabbatical programs. He presented the idea as a way to help grow Carolina’s research enterprise. The University has set as a priority generating $1 billion in annual external funding by 2015.

“The committee thought a sabbatical program could provide time to think, which could improve research productivity,” he said.

The council also discussed amending the Faculty Code to remove a provision passed in 2003 allowing faculty chairs to be elected to two consecutive terms.

In response to a request from Faculty Chair Joe Templeton, the Committee on University Government consulted with Templeton and five previous faculty chairs as well as other faculty members and administrators.

The committee recommended reinstating the former provision, which would limit the chair to a three-year term without eligibility for immediate reelection. A former chair could be elected again at a later time.

Five years ago, the committee favored the possibility of back-to-back terms because that was consistent with other committees and could ensure continuity, said Michael Lienesch, professor of political science and committee chair.

“Besides, we assumed that no one would ever choose to serve two consecutive terms,” he said. 

The committee felt that the proposed change would encourage broader faculty participation and allow for greater diversity of faculty experience and views. It would also prevent a reelection advantage for incumbents and be an optimal way for the faculty chair to be the chief advocate for faculty priorities, Lienesch said.

Instituting the change would require calling a meeting of the general faculty and reading the amendment twice before a vote could be taken, said Joe Ferrell, secretary of the faculty.

* *

UNC system explores greater flexibility in
managing human resources programs

The Employee Forum on Jan. 9 discussed the implications of a draft proposal from a 21-member human resources task force that would give universities in the UNC system greater flexibility to develop and manage human resources programs.

The task force was composed of representatives from each of the 16 campuses and included chancellors, provosts, chief financial officers, human resource officers, faculty and staff.

Charles T. “Chuck” Brink, a former Employee Forum member who now represents Carolina on the UNC system’s Staff Assembly, made the presentation.

UNC President Erskine Bowles appointed the task force to examine the application of the State Personnel Act to the UNC system, with the following goals:

* * Improve the ability of the UNC system to attract, reward and retain high-quality employees;

* * Enable the UNC system to better meet the needs of its employees; and

* * Improve the efficiency of the UNC system personnel operations.

According to an executive summary of the draft report Brink presented, the task force will recommend that the UNC system request legislation granting it authority to create “substantially equivalent” human resource programs, subject to the approval of the Office of State Personnel and the State Personnel Commission.

Forum Chair Ernie Patterson said this was a complex, important issue and that forum members should try to understand the proposal’s implications if it should go into effect. A key issue, he said, was to understand precisely what “substantially equivalent” means.

Brink said the UNC system decided to seek greater flexibility under the State Personnel Act after conducting an internal study in 2006–07 to determine the feasibility of creating a separate personnel system for all UNC system campuses. That idea was ultimately rejected.

If Bowles signs off on the task force’s proposal, it could be presented to the UNC Board of Governors in February. If approved by the BOG, the idea would be forwarded for consideration in March to the N.C. General Assembly.

Other action, information
In other action, the forum voted unanimously to approve a resolution requesting that Chancellor James Moeser institute a moratorium on any new outsourcing that would result in a reduction in force until formal policies and guidelines are in place to address all legal and policy matters related to outsourcing.

In another matter, Jack Evans, executive director of Carolina North, gave an hour-long presentation on the project.

Evans reiterated that Carolina North would address the University’s need for space now that the main campus is fully built. In addition, he said, it will help strengthen the University’s research links with the private sector.

Currently, Carolina ranks 97th in attracting private funds to support research, he said. Carolina North will be a key to improving that ranking.

University officials had an informal conversation with the Chapel Hill Town Council about Carolina North on Jan. 13 and made a formal presentation to the council at its Jan. 23 meeting.

* *

BOT hears plans to address N.C. health needs

University administrators presented plans to address both the health-care needs for the state’s growing population and the shortage of health-care practitioners in North Carolina.

With UNC Hospitals beds already between 98 percent and 100 percent full, the current capacity cannot keep pace with patients’ needs here in the fastest growing part of the state, William L. Roper, dean of the School of Medicine, vice chancellor for medical affairs and chief executive officer of the UNC Health Care System, told the trustees last week.

“We are jammed full all the time,” he said. “We need to expand.”

A proposed expansion that would include a new 320-bed patient bed tower and increased research and academic facilities would cost $732 million, with $406.5 million coming from UNC Hospitals, Roper said. The UNC Health Care System would ask the state for the remaining $325.5 million. Around $200 million would go for research enhancements and $100 for changes to academic facilities in Berryhill Hall.

In 2006, the North Carolina General Assembly appropriated $3 million to the UNC Health Care System to fund a master facility plan to address the needs of the health-care system and medical school over the next decade. Last week, University trustees approved the design for the plan.

In conjunction with meeting patient-care needs in Chapel Hill, Roper mentioned a proposed expansion of medical school enrollment to address the state’s physician shortage, particularly in rural and inner-city areas.

State and national medical organizations predict a deficit of doctors by 2020. The four medical schools in North Carolina graduate around 440 medical students each year, virtually the same number as 30 years ago. 

By forming partnerships with regional medical facilities in Asheville and Charlotte, administrators said, Carolina could expand its medical school enrollment from 160 to 230 first-year students. The school would phase in the additional 70 students beginning in 2009.

Under the proposal, all medical students would spend their first two years at Carolina and their last two years at a regional campus — 20 students in Asheville and 50 in Charlotte. All three campuses would share a common curriculum and educational approach and consistent evaluation methods.

To put the expansion in perspective, East Carolina University’s medical school graduates 70 students a year, Etta Pisano, vice dean for academic affairs at Carolina’s medical school, told the trustees’ University Affairs Committee.

The expansion builds on the strong existing relationship with AHEC, the Area Health Education Centers network across the state, she said.

Creating the regional educational programs also will require funding: $40 million in recurring funds for additional faculty and staff and $239 million in non-recurring funds for facilities construction and renovation on the campuses.

Recurring funds needed will range from $3.6 million in fiscal year 2009 to $40.2 million in fiscal year 2015 when all three sites are at full enrollment.

Still, this price tag is less than the cost of building and operating a new medical school, Pisano said.

The bottom line is, the state needs more doctors, she said. “And if we don’t address this shortage, I’m not sure anyone will do it.”

* *

Trustees focus on grad student aid

University trustees are focusing on improving support for graduate students to compete with peer campuses. They agree that will take money, but are less sure about where it should come from.

After a lengthy discussion, board Chair Roger Perry asked the administration to study the issue and come back with a report on possible solutions including more competitive stipends for graduate teaching assistants.

The University Affairs Committee, chaired by Trustee Rusty Carter, has devoted significant time to the challenges facing graduate students.

Carter in November suggested that the campus-based tuition increases graduate and professional students will pay next year should be earmarked to offer increased support to those students with stipends and financial aid. Carter said the move could have a dramatic impact in one year. Trustees did not act on his proposal.

Raising faculty salaries to competitive levels has been a long-standing trustee priority for which the bulk of tuition revenues are used after 35 percent are reserved for need-based financial aid.

Trustee John Ellison said top students were attracted to UNC’s graduate and professional programs because of the financial package and the quality and reputation of the programs, something that could be maintained by attracting and keeping a great faculty.

The discussion followed an extensive report from Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bernadette Gray Little and Holden Thorp, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as Linda Dykstra, dean of the Graduate School.

In 2006–07, for example, $168.6 million was disbursed to graduate students: $47.4 million from grant support; $42.7 million in loans and work study; $19.8 million in teaching assistant stipends; $27.4 million in research assistant/fellowship stipends; $16.2 million in tuition remissions; $9.6 million in in-state tuition awards; and $5.3 million in health insurance benefits.

In research assistant stipends, Carolina did slightly better in 2006–07 than its public peers. Carolina’s average nine-month stipend was $17,388, compared to $17,100 for public peers.

Perry cautioned against viewing this slight advantage as “fool’s gold” because each school or department competed for students within its own subset of peer campuses.

Because each unit had its own set of recruitment circumstances and challenges, Thorp said, arts and sciences department chairs control spending the money they receive for graduate student support.

* *

Faculty salaries, research among top legislative priorities

The University’s target for faculty salaries is the 80th percentile of peer institutions. To make more progress, Carolina is seeking $16.6 million in the state’s 2008–09 expansion budget.

Chancellor James Moeser, in reviewing budget priorities with the Board of Trustees last week, said competitive salaries remained critical to UNC’s success. The $16.6 million request recognized the value that administrators have placed in Carolina’s greatest asset — faculty, he said.

UNC’s budget request was forwarded to General Administration earlier this month for consideration in the UNC Board of Governors proposal for state legislators.

Carolina also sought $1 million in recurring funds as part of a successful systemwide faculty retention fund that already had a major impact on campus. Moeser said the strategic importance of these funds could not be overstated.

The University asked for $2 million in recurring funds and $4 million in non-recurring funds to expand the Distinguished Professorships program, which leverages private gifts.

The three other legislative priorities fall under the categories of research, engagement and capital.

The University sought $10 million for “commercialization gap funding.” Moeser said the additional funds would close the gap between the funded research and the licensing of intellectual property. Applied research is usually not funded by traditional sources.

The $3 million request for graduate student recruitment and retention recognizes the vital role that top graduate students play in research, Moeser said. The money would support up to 150 tuition remissions.

Also important to the state is the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, Moeser said. The University asked for $9.5 million in recurring funds and $4.5 million in non-recurring funds. The money would fund faculty salaries and benefits, support graduate students and create a core lab facility.

Requests for capital projects include:

* *$69 million to supplement the $30 million previously appropriated for a Dental Sciences Teaching and Learning Facility;

* *$247 million to go with the $8 million previously appropriated for the Biomedical Research Imaging Facility; and

* *$30 million toward the first phase of Carolina North including a facility to potentially house the School of Law.

Under engagement, Carolina is seeking:

* *$2.5 million in recurring funds to increase the number of K-12 science teachers and to partner with public schools to support the professional development of teachers;

* *$15 million in recurring funds for the Area Health Education Centers Program to address the shortage of health-care workers; to provide outreach support for indigent care; to support medical school expansion through regional UNC medical campuses in Asheville and Charlotte; and infectious disease funding to support global health initiatives; and

* *$2 million in recurring funds to expand the master of business administration degree consulting assistance program, which would serve up to 75 N.C. companies a year.

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