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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Omarova uses her expertise to make finance more ‘public-minded’

Omarova_mugLast year was a busy one for Saule Omarova.

She published “The Merchants of Wall Street: Banking, Commerce and Commodities” in the Minnesota Law Review (Vol. 98, 2013), pointing out questionable commodity trading practices of several large national financial institutions. Then, the George R. Ward Distinguished Professor of Law was asked to testify before the Senate Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection.

Her research fueled a national debate, resulting in media coverage from the New York Times, Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, along with “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

Omarova’s work – which focuses on the regulation of financial institutions, banking law, international finance and corporate finance – has frequently put her at the center of debate on federal regulation of financial institutions and markets.

Omarova came to Carolina in 2007 from the U.S. Department of Treasury, where she served as a special adviser for regulatory policy to the Under Secretary for Domestic Finance. Before that, she was a bank regulatory lawyer in New York, where she became interested in the intricacies of U.S. banking law and how it was connected to other areas of financial regulation.

The more she learned, the more she began asking broader theoretical questions, which led her to pursue academic research about the nature of the financial system, its social functions and its public role.

“I think it’s my duty to use my knowledge of this very technical and specialized field to make finance more public-minded and efficient as a tool of the broader and sustainable societal progress,” Omarova said. “What happens in financial markets affects all of us, and so we should all have a say in how they are governed. That’s what drives my work and keeps me excited about it.”

Originally from Kazakhstan, Omarova was educated in Moscow before coming to the United States in 1991 on a student exchange program in the political science department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, she stayed in Madison and became a doctoral student in the same department. She then pursued a law degree at Northwestern University.

Omarova admitted that with her background, she might be considered an unlikely financial regulation expert. Even so, she said, “I love my field and think it is incredibly important, not only as an economic matter but as a matter of building a strong, truly democratic America.”

Her passion for her field of interest is matched by her enthusiasm for Carolina students.

“Carolina students are truly our best asset, and their dedication to defending and furthering the public interest is contagious and inspiring,” Omarova said. “Working with our students is the best part of being a Carolina law professor.”

Tar Heel Trailblazers pave the way


Chancellor Carol L. Folt chats with former Carolina basketball standout Charles Scott and his wife, Trudy, in South Building.

In celebration of Black History Month and as part of the new Tar Heel Trailblazers program, UNC Athletics honored four of its African-American pioneers during halftime of the Feb. 22 Carolina-Wake Forest men’s basketball game.

The four – Courtney Bumpers, Robyn Hadley, Ricky Lanier and Charles Scott – received an ovation from the Smith Center crowd.

Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham said the University was thrilled to pay tribute to these four individuals who made diverse, significant impacts during their time at Carolina.

Bumpers, now a federal prosecutor in Charlotte, was a two-time NCAA gold medalist in floor exercise and remains the only UNC gymnast to claim a national championship. Read more.

Hadley, who now heads the Ervin Scholars Program at Washington University in St. Louis, played for the women’s basketball team; she was a Morehead Scholar and went on to become a Rhodes Scholar. Read more.

Lanier, now an earth and environmental science teacher at Western Guilford High School, was the first black scholarship football player at UNC in the fall of 1967. Read more.

Scott, an Academic All-America men’s basketball player for the Tar Heels and a three-time NBA All-Star, became Carolina’s first black scholarship athlete in 1966, although he said he never considered himself a pioneer. Read more.

Honors for February 26, 2014

Carolina ranked eighth in the world and third in the United States out of 301 universities for sustainability, according to the Universitas Indonesia’s annual GreenMetric report, which rates campuses worldwide on their sustainability programs.

Will Robin, a doctoral student in musicology, will serve as the first-ever scholar-in-residence for the North Carolina Symphony. Robin was chosen for his connection to contemporary music, combined with his proven abilities as a writer.

UNC Digital Innovation Lab’s DH Press, a digital humanities toolkit, was second runner up for best digital humanities tool in the 2013 Digital Humanities Awards, which recognize talent and expertise in the digital humanities community.

Big assist


Graphic: Melanie Busbee

Imagine that your elderly mom broke her hip and that she isn’t able to live at home in her aging two-story house. She will be discharged from rehabilitative care in a week and her doctors say she needs to go to an assisted living facility. But you don’t have a clue which ones are close to your neighborhood, will provide the care she needs or will let her keep her cat.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone had done that research for you?

Someone has. Two Carolina faculty members with 40 years of combined research experience on the topic have put that information at your fingertips in the searchable website

The nonprofit site was created nearly a year ago by Sheryl Zimmerman in the School of Social Work and Philip Sloane in the Department of Family Medicine, co-directors since 1997 of the Program on Aging, Disability and Long-term Care at UNC’s Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.

Together they are Assisted Living Comparison Experts (ALCE).

ALCE provides free, objective and detailed information about all assisted living residences in North Carolina. The site is a labor of love for two boomer generation adults who had encountered their own frustrations in finding the right assisted living community for their own parents.

It is user-friendly and informative, created for those who don’t even know which questions to ask – and for people who often are in “crisis mode” when they’re doing this research.

“People have a tendency not to plan ahead,” Sloane said. “Then something happens and all of a sudden it’s urgent.”

Ted Zoller, director of Kenan-Flagler’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, said that virtually every family faces this situation at some point, “and very few websites are looking at this with strong evaluative standards.”

ALCE includes all the assisted living providers in the state, with information about each one downloaded from state regulatory websites as well as phone calls made by the research staff, and updated regularly.

Read more.

TEDxUNC soars with ideas

ted_x_unc_14_400As American astronaut Jerry Linenger finished his captivating description of life in space, the full house in attendance for the Feb. 15 TEDxUNC event “Taking Flight” soared to its feet.

The crowd at Memorial Hall expressed enthusiastic appreciation for the Tar Heel hero, who twisted, turned and arched on stage to accent the extraordinary story of a life in pursuit of the dream to soar through the heavens.

Linenger, who received a master’s degree and a doctorate in epidemiology from the Gillings School of Global Public Health in 1989, was part of a gifted lineup of speakers and performers whose work spans the globe.

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. From its initial conference in California 26 years ago, TED has grown to support world-changing ideas with many initiatives.

During a TED conference, the world’s leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less. The goal is to inspire, ask big questions and motivate positive change in the world.

Attendees at “Taking Flight” were challenged to re-imagine nonprofit education, push new frontiers of collaboration in entrepreneurship, take on the plight of pollinating bees to save our food supply and re-examine our relationship with contemporary social justice icons such as Martin Luther King Jr.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt opened the event, with some of Carolina’s star speakers and performers including:

  • Safiyah Ismail, a junior environmental health science major and founder of UNC’s American Sign Language club, explored the connections among language, community and accessibility through the lens of her experience as a proficient sign language interpreter;
  • Bobby Mook, a senior business major, probed the effect of social media on our ability to feel secure and appreciated, proposing that the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) makes it challenging for people to stay in the moment, be connected and achieve goals that require focus and sacrifice;
  • Debra Barksdale, director of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, talked about her journey from poverty to accomplished nurse, motivated by a fictional TV character of the 1960s balanced with the real-life support of a beloved teacher-mentor;
  • Beat Academy, headed by music department chair Mark Katz, performed a sample of the way it uses music around the world to connect cultures and explore common themes;
  • Zeynep Tufekci, an assistant professor in the School of Information and Library Science, spoke about collective action and social movements, politics and civics, complex systems, and surveillance and privacy; and
  • Omid Safi, professor of Islamic studies, challenged the audience to go beyond its iconic view of Martin Luther King Jr., and confront the difficult social justice issues underpinning his teaching that remain ingrained in society.

Terry Rhodes, senior associate dean for fine arts and humanities, and Judith Cone, special assistant to the chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship, emceed the event. View the recording at

Independent counsel to conduct inquiry of information about academic irregularities

Chancellor Carol L. Folt announced in an email today (Feb. 21) that the University has retained an outside attorney to conduct an independent inquiry of academic irregularities at Carolina, based on new information that may become available.

The University has remained in contact with Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall throughout his investigation of potential criminal activity connected to course irregularities in the former Department of African and Afro-American Studies. Woodall has indicated that he will cooperate with the inquiry and that he can now share with the independent counsel as much information acquired by his office during the criminal investigation as determined to be appropriate. Woodall relied on the SBI to help determine whether criminal activity had occurred.

UNC President Tom Ross and Folt, on behalf of the University, jointly decided to retain Kenneth L. Wainstein, a 19-year veteran of the U.S. Justice Department, as an independent counsel to conduct the inquiry. Wainstein, a partner with Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP in Washington, D.C., has served as general counsel and chief of staff to the FBI, and was twice nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate for leadership positions in the Justice Department. In 2004, he was appointed the U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., where he oversaw the investigation and prosecution of high-profile white-collar cases. In 2006, he was confirmed as the first Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and in 2008, he was named Homeland Security Advisor by President Bush.

Based on information that the district attorney is able to offer, Wainstein will take any further steps necessary to address any questions left unanswered during previous reviews commissioned by the University. While there is no set timetable for completing the inquiry, the University will cooperate fully with Wainstein and ensure he has the full access he needs to complete his work. He will produce a written report, which will be made public.

“We — the UNC Board of Governors, UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees, Chancellor Folt and I — have said all along that we would re-evaluate next steps once the SBI had completed its investigation,” Ross said. “Thanks to the cooperation of District Attorney Woodall, the University may now have access to additional information needed to address any remaining questions and bring this matter to closure. Chancellor Folt and I felt strongly that this would best be handled by bringing in the outside, independent perspective of an experienced professional like Ken Wainstein.”

Said Folt, “We have directed Mr. Wainstein to ask the tough questions, follow the facts wherever they lead, and get the job done. I have quickly grown to admire the extent to which the Carolina community has encouraged me to look within the University, to identify challenges, and to take strong actions to address them. I believe these efforts will accelerate the University’s capacity to achieve the meaningful academic and athletic reform that our entire community expects.”

Wainstein said, “I look forward to working closely with the University community to develop a full understanding of the facts and to provide an independent and comprehensive assessment of those facts for the University and the public.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Snow covers Carolina’s campus

A winter storm arrived on Carolina’s campus midday Feb. 12, closing campus for the rest of the week. University Photographer Dan Sears took these photos Feb. 14 as people enjoyed the snow in the sunshine. Campus will operate on a normal schedule Feb. 15.

Lai: Carolina is the ‘perfect place’ to study sticky subject


Mucus might not be the most attractive thing to study, but it’s what attracted Sam Lai to Carolina.

While finishing his post-graduate work at Johns Hopkins University, Lai had his eye on the research coming out of UNC. There was the Cystic Fibrosis and Pulmonary Research and Treatment Center, the Center for Infectious Diseases, a stellar Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and a group of applied mathematicians, chemists and physicists putting their heads together on the role of mucus in the body.

He knew there were like minds at Carolina.

“The fact is, what I’m working on has rarely been studied because people don’t like working with mucus,” Lai said. “It’s not in the mindset of a lot of researchers.”

Though it’s an unpleasant topic, it’s one that Lai thinks will save lives. The assistant professor in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy has been well recognized – by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Science Foundation – for his inventive research on how the antibodies in our mucosal lining may be used to bolster the body’s defense against diseases.

He’s now been awarded a prestigious Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, a five-year $875,000 award that recognizes the nation’s most innovative young scientists, which will give him the freedom to lead his lab toward a solution.

Engineering better lives

Lai was studying engineering at Cornell University when an engaging course on drug delivery showed him how an engineering background could be valuable to modern medicine.

“It opened my eyes. There is so much improvement that can be made in medicine simply by getting the drug to where it’s needed,” he said.

Born in Hong Kong, Lai came to America to attend Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. He watched his friends back home move into banking and finance. He even tried an internship in investment banking, but he knew that wasn’t for him.

Other things weighed heavily on his mind: health care and education.

“I see them as the two pillars of modern society, and wanted to figure out how to work at the interface of those two things, so research on ways to improve medicine made a lot of sense to me. Without health, people can’t be productive in their efforts. Without education, they can’t contribute in the ways they want,” Lai said.

He spent his graduate and post-doctoral years at Johns Hopkins, where he set out to find a medical problem that few people were working on – and fix it. He began to explore ways that would deliver drugs right to the mucosal surfaces that line our body’s systems, like airways or the gastrointestinal tract.

Because drugs delivered intravenously often reach mucosal sites with very low efficiencies, finding ways to directly deliver medicine to those linings made sense to Lai. “But, there’s no sustained delivery of medicine to a mucosal surface – we had to overcome the mucus barrier, which continuously cleanses most foreign particulates from the body.”

His team was able to make a synthetic particle that could penetrate the mucus barrier for localized therapy, and they began to transition the technology to a start-up company. He’d found his passion – using early-stage technology research to solve medical problems – but it led him to think about a different problem.

“Because I’d spent so much time trying to get things to go through mucus, I just stopped and thought about the other side. Was there anything we could do to better keep pathogens from passing through those linings in the first place?” he said.

The mucosal lining is also the way we absorb nutrients, so the solution had to allow the good things to get in while keeping the bad things out.

Lai is studying how pathogens behave in mucus and how they interact with the antibodies our immune system secretes directly into the mucus. These antibodies can actually work together with mucus to prevent infection from occurring in the first place. The work will contribute towards engineering – or inducing – antibodies that can better reinforce our body’s first line of defense.

“Our perspective is that this should help with virtually all infections that transmit in mucosal surfaces – influenza, the common cold, norovirus and various sexually transmitted diseases,” he said.

The perfect place

This research is largely uncharted territory, Lai said, and Carolina is just the place for it.

“I’m very grateful to the Eshelman School of Pharmacy for taking a chance on me,” he said. “Carolina has such a nurturing environment. I’m not limited in terms of resources or expertise – everything is available on this campus.”

Although he has no training in microbiology, immunology or virology, and he’s not a pharmacist, Lai knew the school was the perfect fit.

“In my research, I’ve often heard, ‘What does an engineer have to tell us about infectious diseases?’ While it’s certainly not conventional, the school believed in the work I’d done, and they trusted I would be able to make contributions,” Lai said.

He turns that trust and support over to the students and researchers in his lab. He said a common complaint about academic research is that it doesn’t happen fast enough, but that misses the point.

“We’re not only in the business of advancing research, but also the next generations of researchers,” Lai said. “And like any principal investigator, I’ll be very happy to one day see my students exceed my accomplishments.”

The results of that training can go well beyond the impact of the actual research his students do in his lab, he said.

“They are motivated and driven, and they will become good scientists and find their own way. You just don’t know what they’ll be able to do one day and the things they will contribute,” he said.

With so many accolades behind him so early in his career, it seems that Lai’s contributions are well recognized, but he hesitates to see it that way.

“I’ll be able to say I’ve made a contribution when what I do benefits a real person,” Lai said. “The burden is on me to work on research that will impact people’s lives.”

Advertising students pitch Millennials on life in the fast lane

NASCAR_400From its raw beginnings on Southern dirt tracks after World War II, NASCAR transformed itself into a sports colossus, attended by crowds in the hundreds of thousands, watched on television by the second-largest viewing audience in sports and bankrolled by the largesse of the Fortune 500’s elite.

But as it rounds the first corner of a new century, NASCAR faces the danger of crashing into a demographic brick wall: The “good old boys” who have had a lifelong love affair with the sport got old. Most of its television viewing audience is now over 50.

Knowing that capturing the next generation of fans is key to keeping the brand off pit road, Fox Sports and its newly launched NASCAR channel, Fox 1, turned to an innovative immersion program in the advertising department of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication called Fox Sports University.

Assistant Professor Dana McMahan divided 50 students from two J-school advertising classes into creative teams – each seeking to beat the competition as they developed their ideas, then pitched them to FOX Sports executives last month.

Only half the members of the winning team were from North Carolina, NASCAR’S birthplace. And not one, before getting this assignment, considered themselves fans.

What they had going for them, said team leader Laura Vroom – besides her last name, that is – is that they all belong to the target group NASCAR is seeking to draw to the sport.

All are Millennials, born after 1980 – a generation with fleeting attention spans, plugged into a constant flow of information and social networking from their smart phones.

As Vroom explained during a presentation to the University Board of Trustees last month, “We are Millennials, so we know how we think and we know how we act.”

Millennials accept that life can be hard and unpredictable, Vroom said. But for Millennials, “life can never be boring.”

‘You on life’

And it was this latter insight that inspired the winning campaign, “Life on NASCAR.”

Only 6 percent of the audience that watches NASCAR races on television is of Millennial age. To entice more people in this age group to tune into the sport, Vroom said, the team developed a strategy to get them to imagine what it would be like to live the sport on the track, strapped in the driver’s seat.

Vroom wrote the copy for the commercial spot that Fox Sports may or may not produce.

It begins with a Millennial stuck in the humdrum routine of a rush-hour traffic jam. The caption reads: “This is you living life on normal. This is you going the speed limit. This is you getting there – but not arriving.”

The spot then flashes to the same person behind the wheel of a racecar – where the calm begins to rev, the monotonous turns to thunder and “speed becomes so very limitless.”

Then the close: “You want unsettled, you need to feel thoroughly uncomfortable ‘cause when you feel the heat of the lights, the throw of 100,000 heartbeats and hear that champagne pop, you’ll be there, living it. Leaving your normal miles behind with burnt rubber and spent fuel.

“This is you on life. Life on NASCAR.”

Fox Sports University

The commercial is only one part of a multi-pronged campaign the team developed to get Millennials to experience NASCAR at a visceral level. It includes a huge focus on social media using #GrabYourCrew to encourage fan participation and celebrate the intensely social nature of the sport – a quality that aligns perfectly with Millennials.

Immersive in-stadium experiences and interactive print, mobile and outdoor executions of the same themes were also part of the students’ work.

This is the fourth year McMahan and her students have been involved with Fox Sports University. McMahan, Joe Bob Hester and Heidi Hennink-Kaminski piloted Fox Sports University at Carolina in 2009. At the time, there were only four universities participating. Now there are more than 20.

Anna Folwell, a 2012 graduate and member of McMahan’s winning Fox Sports University team that first year, now serves as marketing coordinator for Fox Sports and has become part of the client team that visits campus each fall to brief students.

McMahan said what made Fox Sports University unique was the opportunity for students to see their finished work produced.

In mid-January, Fox Sports implemented the social media campaign #GrabYourCrew, allowing fans to submit photos showing how their “crews” live life at a different speed ( The crew who submits the best picture will win a trip to the Daytona 500.

For undergraduate students to see their work come to life this way is almost unheard of, McMahan said.

But the broader educational value is seeing that even well-established organizations “need to learn how to behave entrepreneurially and be nimble in a changing market,” McMahan said.

Another term for that is ‘intrapreneurial,’ she explained – new thinking from the inside of a company about how to reinvent itself as time moves on and consumer habits change.

For NASCAR and Fox, that is not just an opportunity, but a key to remaining competitive as racing evolves and their viewing audience’s habits change, McMahan said.

“Part of what students got to see through this exercise is the life cycle of a brand,” McMahan said. “At some point, a company has to go through a re-visioning process that is much like launching something new.

“The good news for NASCAR is that they have this extraordinary history to draw upon. But then they have to ask how do they make that history meaningful in this instantaneous world that Millennials inhabit?”

Another bonus: NASCAR has invited the members of the winning team – Vroom, Michelle Brant, Cynthia Betubzia, Carolina Boese, Linsday Franco, Katie McNulty, Kathleen Doyle, Amy Glen, Katie Sweeney and (yes, one guy did make the team) Tom Brosnan – to attend the race in Daytona later this month.

Ladies (and gentleman), start your engines.

Elbogen provides tools, compassion to help veterans cope

elbogen_eric_2_400Several murders at Fort Bragg in 2002 led Eric Elbogen to wonder if violence was a growing problem for some veterans.

Elbogen, a forensic psychologist in UNC’s Department of Psychiatry, was working with civilians then, but the troubling news of soldiers’ violence began a change in his career path.

His work since then has led to a groundbreaking way to assess a veteran’s risk for violence and to help prevent it. Elbogen and his research team were the first to develop risk assessment tools designed for military veterans that can be used by clinicians treating veterans in both VA and non-VA facilities.

The tools came after Elbogen completed a National Institutes of Health-funded national survey to identify which U.S. veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may be at most risk for aggression after deployment and what strategies could potentially help reduce the likelihood of violence when veterans return home.

The study examined eight protective factors associated with significantly lower levels of violence in veterans:

  • Employment;
  • Meeting basic needs;
  • Living stability;
  • Social support;
  • Spiritual faith;
  • Ability to care for oneself;
  • Perceived self-determination; and
  • Resilience (ability to adapt to stress).

Veterans with these factors were 92 percent less likely to report severe violence than veterans whose lives did not include them. More than three-quarters of veterans were low-threat because they indicated that their lives included most of the protective factors.

“The majority of veterans are not violent,” Elbogen said.

The evolving work goes beyond the often one-dimensional, knee-jerk use of PTSD in media reports about veterans committing violent acts.

From a Chapel Hill-based clinic not too far from two military bases – Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune – Elbogen’s team is well situated to help veterans. “It’s a plus being near North Carolina’s high proportion of military families to civilians, ranking second in the United States,” he said.

Elbogen spends time with veterans, listening and getting to know them. He gives them tools to help cope with stress.

“I run a group called CALM, which stands for Client-centered Anger and Life Management,” he said. “My 11-year-old daughter said it should be called ‘Cool And Laidback Mood.’ The veterans like her acronym much better, not surprisingly.”

Elbogen also leads a financial counseling group at the VA called $teps for Achieving Financial Empowerment ($AFE).


Army veteran Garry Grice is among the veterans counseled by Eric Elbogen during a money management group held at the InterFaith Council in Chapel Hill.

At other times, he’s collecting and analyzing data that lead to ideas on how to help veterans further.

Because of the state’s number of military personnel, UNC Hospitals is a TRIcare- (military insurance) designated site. Three years ago, UNC Hospitals saw 12,000 TRIcare patients a year, and it was on track to increase by 1,000 a year.

The more than 30,000 visits included spouses, kids and reservists, and the numbers reflect the hospital’s history of helping veterans. In fact, the first hospital building, N.C. Memorial Hospital, was built in the early 1950s as a memorial to North Carolinians in the armed forces, past and present.

Elbogen’s efforts grew from his time as a crisis clinician working with mentally ill civilians. At that time, few guidelines existed to predict who would be violent or aggressive, and Elbogen wanted to understand how to better predict such behavior. So, he studied violence risk assessment at the University of Nebraska’s Law and Psychology Program.

An internship at Harvard Medical School followed, after which he worked at Duke University Medical Center before joining the UNC Forensic Psychiatry Program and Clinic in the Department of Psychiatry in 2007. He also holds a joint appointment as a clinical psychologist at the Durham VA Medical Center.

Elbogen had begun changing his research focus in 2002 after a number of murders on military bases.

“With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I began to wonder if aggression would be an issue for our newly returned veterans,” he said. “And if it was, I wanted to figure out how to help our veterans, when they returned home from combat, identify who was at risk and determine what to do about it.”

By that time, clinicians had assessment tools for civilians, but there were no tools to assess veterans. Elbogen’s desire to apply what was known about civilians to veterans accelerated at the Durham VA.

“I shifted to applying the science of violence risk assessment to veterans,” he said.

He won a grant from the NIH to develop tools to assess and reduce violence in military veterans. Elbogen’s team reviewed previous research and conducted new studies to identify risk factors for aggression, suicide and alcohol misuse in veterans. They have identified risk and protective factors related to violence, which clinicians can use to assess a veteran’s risk of violence.

The team in UNC’s forensic psychiatry program and clinic includes Sally Johnson and several master’s- and Ph.D.-level clinicians and postdoctoral fellows. Psychiatry professor Aysenil Belger oversees MRIs and ERGs conducted as part of the team’s research. (See

“We want to make sure our research gets used in real-life clinical practice,” Elbogen said. “The VA is a great vehicle for this because they’ve had an excellent electronic medical record system for a long time.”

With the screening on track, the team is helping veterans bring protective factors to their lives, something Elbogen describes as an “inoculation” against violence. These include money management intervention with an emphasis on employment and the use of mobile apps to promote mindfulness and goal achievement.

Elbogen’s work, which he said is incredibly rewarding, is part of the UNC system’s programs for active-duty military veterans and their families known as the UNC Partnership for National Security.

“Today’s veterans show a strength and integrity of character that is rare,” he said. “These are a statistically small group of individuals who selected an occupation in which they risk life and limb every day. They are truly heroes.

“To help veterans who’ve allowed me to have the kind of life I have, I can ask for no higher honor.”

‘Black and Blue’ tour traces Carolina’s racial history


Tim McMillan sits at The Unsung Founders Memorial, a gift of the Class of 2002 to memorialize the slaves who built Carolina’s campus. Behind him is the Joseph Caldwell Monument, also a part of his “Black and Blue” tour.

One of the oldest landmarks on campus is the monument on McCorkle Place marking the resting place of Joseph Caldwell, Carolina’s first president.

The marble obelisk is actually the second memorial. The original, made of sandstone, was moved to the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery more than a century ago to mark the burial site of another Caldwell: Wilson Swain Caldwell. A groundskeeper and campus servant – and the son of Joseph Caldwell’s slave November – he was later the head of the campus janitorial staff until his death in 1889.

From Caldwell to Caldwell is how Tim McMillan traces the University’s racial history during his “Black and Blue” campus walking tour, which explores life at Carolina through slavery and Jim Crow laws to the desegregation of campus and the racial tension that came with a changing student body.

“Talking to my students here in 2014, I find that they are always amazed to learn this past because it’s not something they usually feel today,” said McMillan. “But you don’t have to go very far to study the history of race and slavery – you can walk around the place we’re already in.”

A landscape of learning

When McMillan, a longtime senior lecturer in the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies, developed the tour in 2001 he started with the Joseph Caldwell Monument.

The arrival of the Unsung Founders Memorial in 2005 gave it a new anchor.

A gift of the Class of 2002, the sculpture – made of black granite and supported by 300 bronze figures – was placed on McCorkle Place to honor “the University’s unsung founders – the people of color bond and free – who helped build the Carolina that we cherish today.”

“From the moment it appeared, it’s been viewed with a variety of eyes for all sorts of reasons,” said McMillan. “It’s the perfect place to start because it opens all these doors. How do black people see it, how do white people see it, how does it fit in with the Civil War monument across from it?”

What was intended to honor the people who built Carolina’s campus came under fire for different reasons: The artist wasn’t black. The language on the inscription doesn’t use the word “slave.” Trash can sometimes be found wedged between the figures.

“I doubt people mean to intentionally desecrate it, but it’s easy to symbolically misuse,” McMillan said. “People use it to stretch before a run or put their drinks on it, and it’s a monument to heroes.”

The Unsung Founders Memorial, Joseph Caldwell Monument and Silent Sam make this part of campus a “historic triangle” of Carolina in the 19th century.

“We talk about ways our past creates our present, specifically our racial past. How do you create one monument, one story that will encompass all of this?” said McMillan. “I want people to think as they walk across campus: what happened on this place and to create this place we love?”

A not-so-distant past

In crossing Cameron Avenue, the tour meets the 20th century at South Building. The building where Wilson Swain Caldwell had worked as head janitor a century before is where members of the Black Student Movement held sit-ins to advocate for a black cultural center and the creation of the department where McMillan has taught since 1997.

Nearby, Historic Playmakers Theatre was the site of Carolina’s first desegregated classroom in 1939 when author Zora Neale Hurston took playwriting classes with Paul Green.

“She wasn’t an officially matriculated student, but she wanted to learn how to turn her stories into plays,” McMillan said. “For a year, she was an unofficial black female student on Carolina’s campus.”

Green eventually moved the class to his house to protect Hurston from students’ negative attitudes towards her.

Steele Building, which now holds the offices of General College academic advising, housed Carolina’s first black students – brothers Ralph and LeRoy Frasier and John Brandon – in 1951. The University officially desegregated in 1955, earlier than many southern campuses.

“They didn’t graduate from UNC because they didn’t have the easiest time on this campus, as you can imagine. An important part of the story, though, is that they’ve come back to visit and to tell their stories, and their descendants have come to Carolina to learn,” McMillan said.

As current Carolina students enter Steele Building to see their advisers, he said, “it’s really a reminder that the struggle of desegregation is fresh.”


The Student Body monument, now behind Hamilton Hall, was met with controversy when unveiled in 1990 in front of Davis Library.

Behind Hamilton Hall sits The Student Body, a collection of four copper statues. The original monument included six statues when it was unveiled in front of Davis Library in 1990.

Meant to represent the campus’ diversity, many students thought the monument reinforced cultural stereotypes. In 1991, the statue depicting a black student balancing a basketball was vandalized. The monument moved to its current location, and the statues depicting the basketball player and an Asian student playing a violin were later removed.

“It brought up a lot of issues for people: debates about public art and free speech, issues of race and student safety,” he said. “This wasn’t even the racist 1930s – this was in the 1990s.”

An unforgettable history


The Wilson Swain Caldwell monument, in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery off South Road, features the original marker of Joseph Caldwell’s resting place.

McMillan ends with the Wilson Swain Caldwell monument in the cemetery off South Road. The monument is also dedicated to three other enslaved men who worked for the University: Wilson’s father, November; David Barham; and Henry Smith. The cemetery is segregated, divided by one of the stone walls built by slave hands.

“That wall shows that from the 1700s to today, there’s a wall that divides black and white in the graveyard,” he said. “We cannot forget that this is our history.”

Uncomfortable histories string throughout America and American universities, not just UNC, McMillan said. The narratives need to be told, and there’s more information than ever to help tell them.

“There are symbols, and then there are the specific sets of facts around them,” he said. “Every person in the world with a smart device has access to what used to belong to two historians plowing through dusty images.”’

Through online resources like Carolina’s virtual museum, Documenting the American South and UNC Library’s deep collections of digitized archival documents and photos, everyone can have the same access to facts: from the racially charged speech Julian Carr gave in 1913 as he dedicated Silent Sam to the actual writings of campus poet and slave George Moses Horton. In 2007, Hinton James North was renamed the George Moses Horton Residence Hall.

“Teaching history is different now because, anything I say, these students can fact check me, and they do. The data and texts are there for us to look at and help inform how we feel about them now,” McMillan said.

Until McMillan started the “Black and Blue” tour, much of the legacy of African Americans on campus went unknown and unnoticed, said Taffye Benson Clayton, associate vice chancellor and chief diversity officer.

“His wealth of knowledge on this topic is something we should all avail ourselves of,” she said. “History is the foundation on which we build our future, and the future of this University is dependent on people like Professor McMillan and others to help inform our decisions as we move forward.”

McMillan’s next tour will be Feb. 21 at 3 p.m. as part of the UNC Visitors’ Center Priceless Gem tour series and Carolina’s celebration of Black History Month. Tours start from the Visitors’ Center, located inside the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.


37th annual Carolina Jazz Festival kicks off Feb. 19


Rahsaan Barber

The multiple Grammy Award-winning Wayne Shorter Quartet will headline the 37th annual Carolina Jazz Festival, to be held Feb. 19–22.

The festival promotes performance, education and scholarship in jazz studies. Other featured performers include artists-in-residence Rahsaan Barber and Roland Barber, the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra, the UNC Jazz Band, UNC Jazz Combos and UNC Faculty Jazz Ensemble.


Roland Barber

Shorter, a tenor saxophonist and composer, was inspired by jazz legends including Lester Young, Stan Kenton, Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane, with whom he practiced in the mid-1950s. At age 16, Shorter began playing clarinet and switched to the tenor sax before entering New York University.

He played with the quintet of jazz great Miles Davis for six years and became one of the group’s most prolific composers. Last February, Shorter’s recording “Without a Net” was released as a precursor to his 80th birthday.

Twins Rahsaan Barber, who plays saxophone, and Roland Barber, who plays trombone, grew up in a musical family with strong ties to gospel music.

Reviewers have called Rahsaan Barber a charismatic advocate for jazz and “Nashville’s version of Wynton Marsalis.” In his “Everyday Magic” album, one reviewer said, Barber “possesses the fire of John Coltrane, the soul of Stanley Turrentine, the spirit of his namesake, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and a sound that’s all his own.”

Roland Barber, also a composer and arranger, has played with such diverse artists as Chaka Khan, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis, Robin Thicke, the Temptations and the NBC Saturday Night Live Band, among others. With a strong commitment to teaching, he also educates musicians from all walks of life.

Jazz festival events include:

  • Feb. 19, 4 p.m. – UNC Faculty Jazz Ensemble, Kenan Music Building Rehearsal Hall;
  • Feb. 20, 9 a.m. – North Carolina Regional Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Festival, offered in conjunction with Jazz at Lincoln Center, features a day of performances and clinics, FPG Student Union Great Hall;
  • Feb. 20, 7:30 p.m. – North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra directed by Jim Ketch (, Kenan Music Building Rehearsal Hall;
  • Feb. 21, 4 p.m. – Fred and Gail Fearing Jazz for a Friday Afternoon featuring UNC Jazz Combos with Rahsaan Barber and Roland Barber, Kenan Music Building Rehearsal Hall;
  • Feb. 21, 8 p.m. – Wayne Shorter Quartet, Memorial Hall (for tickets and information, call 919-843-3333);
  • Feb. 21, 10:30 p.m. – Jazz After Hours Evening Jam Session, West End Wine Bar in Chapel Hill;
  • Feb. 22, 4 p.m. – Jazz Workshop with Rahsaan Barber and Roland Barber, Kenan Music Building Rehearsal Hall; and
  • Feb. 22, 8 p.m. – UNC Jazz Band with Rahsaan Barber and Roland Barber, Kenan Music Building Rehearsal Hall.

Many of the events are free. For events that require tickets, tickets are available at the Memorial Hall Box Office (919-843-3333) or at the door beforehand.

For additional information about the jazz festival, see or contact the music department in the College of Arts and Sciences at 919-962-1039.

UNC resumes normal operations Saturday

alertcarolina-fav-outlines-colorThe University will resume normal operations as planned starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, for offices and employees scheduled to work this weekend.

The University will be open Monday, Feb. 17, on a regular operating schedule. Classes will be held; offices will be open (Condition 1).

Classes will resume at their normally scheduled time. Arrangements to make up missed classes are at the discretion of the faculty member.

If conditions should change during the weekend affecting operations and classes on Monday, Feb. 17, another announcement will be made.

SPA and EPA Non-Faculty employees are reminded to consult the University’s applicable adverse weather policies; more information is available on the Office of Human Resources website. Also, employees can refer to information in an adverse weather policy clarification, posted on Alert Carolina.

UNC uses three main adverse weather operating conditions: Condition 1 (open), Condition 2 (classes canceled; offices open) or Condition 3 (classes canceled; offices closed). Reports of state government closings do not apply to the University. The University generally announces adverse weather news on, the campus information sources listed below, and through the news media. Unless a change is announced, the University always operates under Condition 1 – regular schedule.

For more information, refer to:

  • (919) 843-1234. Adverse Weather and Emergency Phone Line for recorded information and announcements about campus operations;
  • UNC Traveler’s Information System Radio, 1610 AM, near campus;
  • UNC Department of Public Safety for details including parking lot conditions; and
  • Chapel Hill Transit inclement weather news and routes and schedules


UNC to remain closed Friday

alertcarolina-fav-outlines-colorThe University will remain closed (Condition 3: classes cancelled; offices closed) for all of Friday, Feb. 14, through 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 15.

University officials said factors that led to that decision this afternoon included:

  • Continuing snow and freezing precipitation;
  • Deteriorating travel conditions, including expected refreezing on roads overnight, as well as the outlook for authorities to get local roads to safe travel conditions; and
  • Current limitations of Chapel Hill Transit, which did not operate today.

The University currently plans to resume normal operations at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, for offices and employees scheduled to work this weekend. The University will make additional announcements if necessary about those weekend operations.

The University will also announce plans for operations on Monday, Feb. 17, at a later time.

When the University is in Condition 3 (classes canceled; offices closed), emergency employees should report for work. All other employees are directed not to report to work while the University is closed.

SPA and EPA Non-Faculty employees are reminded to consult the University’s applicable adverse weather policies; more information is available on the Office of Human Resources website.

UNC uses three main adverse weather operating conditions: Condition 1 (open), Condition 2 (classes canceled; offices open) or Condition 3 (classes canceled; offices closed). Reports of state government closings do not apply to the University. The University generally announces adverse weather news on, the campus information sources listed below, and through the news media. Unless a change is announced, the University always operates under Condition 1 – regular schedule.

For more information, refer to:


UNC is operating on Condition 3: classes canceled, offices closed through 8 a.m. Feb. 14

alertcarolina-fav-outlines-colorThe University is operating on Condition 3 (classes canceled, offices closed), which remains in effect through 8 a.m. Friday, Feb. 14, 2014.

No classes will be held and no offices will be open all day Thursday, Feb. 13.

Employees (SPA and EPA non-faculty) are reminded of the University’s Adverse Weather Policy. Emergency employees should report for work. All other employees are instructed not to come to work during this period.

UNC uses three main adverse weather operating conditions: Condition 1 (open), Condition 2 (classes canceled; offices open) or Condition 3 (classes canceled; offices closed). Reports of state government closings do not apply to the University. The University generally announces adverse weather news on, the campus information sources listed below, and through the news media. Unless a change is announced, the University always operates under Condition 1 – regular schedule.

For more information, refer to:

  • (919) 843-1234. Adverse Weather and Emergency Phone Line for recorded information and announcements about campus operations;
  • UNC Traveler’s Information System Radio, 1610 AM, near campus;
  • UNC Department of Public Safety for details including parking lot conditions; and
  • Chapel Hill Transit for inclement weather updates, routes and schedules, and actual bus arrival times.

Check for updates to the University’s condition.

Ndaliko adds new weapon for war-torn Congo: art

nadaliko_cherie_rivers_400When her mother learned that Chérie Rivers Ndaliko was thinking of grad school, she did what she always had: she created a spreadsheet of the best schools.

“I mean, when I was a kid, she went through the entire phone book to choose my elementary school,” which began with a W, Ndaliko said.

The name at the top of the latest list started with an H. “I said, ‘Mother, c’mon. You can’t be serious.’”

But her mother had done her homework: Harvard was not at the top of the list because of its prestige, her mother insisted. “She said, ‘This place will help you find the answers you are looking for.’”

Ndaliko was skeptical. Not only that she could get in, but that Harvard was the place to study Africa from her social activism perspective.

It took her 10 years – at 10 different institutions on three continents – to get her bachelor’s degree.

She began at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she trained as a concert pianist, then set off to Europe and Africa and back to study everything from literature to psychology to education. Her last stop was the Berklee College of Music, where she finally picked up her degree and began scoring socially conscious films.

Her problem was not aimlessness, but conviction. She always had a vision for what she wanted to do in the world and believed she could bring about change, given all the right tools. It was a matter of acquiring them.

“To my utter shock, Harvard not only accepted my application, but gave me a Presidential Fellowship,” she said. “And they said, ‘Whatever it is you are doing, come do it here.’”

California dreaming

She grew up on the northern fringes of San Francisco, in an area where most people were well educated, liberal and white.

There was no TV in the house, only musical instruments, books and a backyard garden. Ndaliko started playing the piano when she was 3, and later, a series of other instruments.

“My Dad and I were the only black people where I grew up, and everyone accepted and loved us,” she said. “But it was never the place I knew I belonged.”

Her father grew up in southern Louisiana, one of 11 children in a family that believed in education as the pathway to wherever they needed to go.

That idea took him to graduate school at Columbia University, then to California where he spent 30 years in the Department of Corrections developing programs that placed value on redemption and rehabilitation.

Her parents met when her mother was a student at the University of California, Berkeley and volunteered with at-risk children in Oakland. In the racial climate of the times, Ndaliko’s maternal grandparents disowned their daughter when she married a black man.

“Growing up in a mixed family, with aunts and uncles from Africa, grandparents from Denmark and an African-American father, I had so many questions about who my people were supposed to be,” Ndaliko said. “But over time, it gave me a perspective that I really came to appreciate because I really do feel a deep human connection to many, many different places.”

‘A meeting of the minds’

Because she grew up without TV or movies, Ndaliko said, she was drawn to film and its power to shape – and change – minds. But she was also troubled by the news accounts that had painted a false picture of Africa in the Western imagination as a dire, homogenous place perpetually in crisis.

As a film scorer, Ndaliko worked with African-American filmmakers who sought to counterbalance that caricature by making positive movies about Africa. But these bothered her just as much since they often created a mythic, utopian Africa that was equally unreal.

“It is not enough to say millions of people in Africa are living in disaster, but neither is it enough to say millions of people in Africa are doing really well,” Ndaliko said. “To see Africa as it really is, you have to understand that these opposing realities – crisis and normalcy – do not cancel each other out. They exist side by side as part of a complex, larger truth.”

In 2006, she went to Harvard in search of the information she needed to make films that revealed a more nuanced Africa. Ndaliko still considered herself more of a social activist than an academic, more interested in changing the world than advancing her career.

Soon after she arrived, she was summoned to the office of Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, the chair of the Department of African and African-American Studies, who had a mission for her.

Higginbotham had recently started the Social Engagement Initiative to link practical experience with academic study. In addition to traditional scholarly training, the program allowed students to develop research and service projects in Africa and African-American communities, then draw on an interdisciplinary cluster of professors to help fine-tune and evaluate the projects.

“She said, ‘Chérie, I started this program to integrate the highest caliber of intellectual work in higher education with the ethic of service that African studies was founded upon. I want you to help me figure out how to create this marriage of scholarship and service at the graduate level.”

With that in mind, Ndaliko returned, once again, to her roots in Africa.

Finding her way to Congo

The next person Ndaliko met at Harvard who would change her life was Petna Ndaliko Katondolo, an internationally acclaimed Congolese filmmaker and activist.

After hearing him lecture, she interviewed him the next day.

The fifth of 13 children, Petna had not yet turned 20 in spring 1994 when the genocide began in Rwanda and the torrent of refugees began flowing past their home in Goma, capital city of the North Kivu Province in the east of Congo.

His mother took whatever she had – food, clothes, bandages – to give the people who flooded past their door.

That same year, Petna wrote his first play, “Victims of War,” which explored the memory of the survivors of that genocide. In 1997, he was forced into exile in Uganda for his outspoken anti-war sentiments. While there, he was at the forefront of human rights activism and funded Yolé!Africa, a center with a mission to promote peace through art and culture.

In 2002, Petna returned to Goma to establish a second branch of Yole!Africa there.

“At the time, it was the only institution in the east of Congo that offered youth an alternative to either joining a rebel militia, leaving as a refugee, or getting killed by a rebel militia,” Ndaliko said.

“Petna believed that fundamental human rights include the right to self-expression and critical thought,” she said. “He founded Yole!Africa to give youth the tools to imagine something different than war. He said, ‘If they can’t imagine it, then it is never going to happen.’”

During their interview, Ndaliko described the research she had done in Mali, Kenya, and South Africa – and that she intended to travel to Congo to conclude her research on film and social change in Africa’s conflict regions. She promised to go to Yole!Africa.

“Yeah, yeah, that would be great,” he said. “You are welcome any time.”

She knew he did not believe her because while many people say that are going to Congo, “nobody comes.”

But Ndaliko not only went to Congo, after living there for more than four years, she and Petna eventually married.

The mission back home

In 2012, Ndaliko became the first doctoral student at Harvard to complete a social engagement dissertation, a groundbreaking study of aesthetics and ideology in the conflict zone of Goma that identified the fight for controlling the media as the locus for understanding post-independence Africa and spurring social change.

Along the way, she joined with Petna to launch “Jazz Mama,” a documentary film and growing social movement that drew attention to the power and dignity of Congolese women, despite the horrific circumstances they faced in the ongoing conflict.

She also became co-director of Yolé!Africa in Goma, which now serves some 24,000 youth every year by offering free training in video arts, dance and music. Ndaliko launched and directs a choir for women and girls – writing and scoring some of the songs herself – with inspiring messages of women’s empowerment.

She had traveled all over the world searching. Congo was different; it kept pulling her back. “All of a sudden it got really clear that this was home,” she said.

That connection continued even after Ndaliko accepted a position as an assistant professor in Carolina’s music department in 2012.

With her students in her First Year Seminar, she and Petna founded Yole!Africa U.S. to spread awareness in the United States, inspire legislative change and promote artistic exchange between American and Congolese youth. Last fall, the music department, the College or Arts and Sciences and the Stone Center sponsored “Celebrating Congo: a Two-Day Festival of Art and Advocacy” that Ndaliko planned with the help of music students and Yole!Africa U.S.

Ndaliko doesn’t inspire activism by insisting on doing things her way.

“I can definitely give people information, give them tools and help them make connections,” she said.

“That’s the exciting thing about working with young people. They have so many great ideas, and if you don’t tell them it’s not possible, they just go ahead and do them.”

PlayMakers’ upcoming season combines classics, regional premiere

A Tony Award-winner straight from Broadway, a 20th-century classic and a beloved tale from Shakespeare paired with a tour de force musical by Stephen Sondheim will highlight the 2014–15 Mainstage Season from PlayMakers Repertory Company.

“It’s a lineup of compelling, thought-provoking, spectacularly entertaining theater that we can’t wait for Triangle audiences to see on our stage,” said PlayMakers Producing Artistic Director Joseph Haj.

The theater will also present its popular PRC2 second-stage series. Negotiations are pending, with details to be released soon, for three timely, topical plays in which the onstage stories are followed by a “second act” of post-show dialogue between the artists and the audience.

Mainstage productions for 2014–15 are:

  • “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang, Sept. 17 to Oct. 5 – this regional premiere of a new play straight from Broadway mixes one part Chekhov, a heaping portion of hilarity, a dash of misery and some pop culture, combined with laughter;
  • “Into the Woods” with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim performed in rotating repertory with William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Nov. 1 to Dec. 7 – audiences will venture into the dark reaches of the forest with two tales of magic and transformation;
  • “Trouble in Mind” by Alice Childress, Jan. 21 to Feb. 8, 2015 – in rehearsal for a 1957 groundbreaking racially integrated production, the leading actress must wrestle with a choice between the role of a lifetime or compromising her values;
  • “An Enemy of the People” by Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Arthur Miller, Feb 25 to March 15, 2015 – a contemporary dramatic classic, presented to mark the centennial of Miller’s birth, in which a man who discovers an environmental threat to his community is forced to stand alone; and
  • “4000 Miles” by Amy Herzog, April 1 to 19, 2015 – an emotionally compelling, humor-filled drama about an elderly grandmother with a fading memory who opens her door –and her life – to her wayward grandson.

Subscription packages for the 2014–15 season are available for purchase. Renewing subscribers can secure their current seats for the new season through March 31 by calling 919-962-7529 or visiting

Information about PlayMakers’ current season also is available online. “Love Alone” by Deborah Salem Smith will be on stage from Feb. 26 to March 16.

PHOTO GALLERY: ‘Give Kids a Smile’

More than 90 Durham Head Start children ages 3 to 5 came to the School of Dentistry last week for free dental care services and pointers about healthy living.

Faculty members, students and residents from the dental school provided dental exams, teeth cleanings and fluoride varnish treatments, worth an estimated $16,185, in conjunction with the American Dental Association’s annual Give Kids a Smile Day.

As part of the overall health fair, representatives from the schools of medicine and nursing, the Gillings School of Global Public Health and members of Carolina’s volleyball and football teams were on hand to get the children moving, help them dress up like a dentist and show them proper tooth brushing, hand washing, nutritional habits and overall body health. (Photos by Ramona Hutton-Howe)

Folt encourages campus-wide participation in Black History Month


Chancellor Carol L. Folt, center, stands with (from left) Ina McNeil, keynote speaker Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Joseph McNeil and Edward B. Fort, chancellor emeritus of NC A&T State University, the alma mater of the Greensboro Four.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt has urged the campus community to heed the call to “keep the pressure on” in fighting for justice, equality and freedom, as civil rights scholar Hasan Kwame Jeffries advocated during the Feb. 5 program commemorating Black History Month held at the Stone Center.

Folt attended the program in which the Greensboro Four, including Joseph McNeil and the friends and families of Jibreel Khazan, Franklin McCain and David Richmond, were honored and recognized. Also, members of the Carolina faculty spoke.

Professor Reginald Hildebrand from the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies spoke about the power of quiet acts of courage and character, Folt said in a campus email message last week. These actions “resonate with something that is in each of us, something decent and strong, that has integrity…something that says, ‘I will no longer allow my worth and value to be dismissed and discounted. I will not be a silent witness while that happens to others.’”

The Greensboro Four held the 1960 sit-in that catalyzed change in the country as well as on the Carolina campus. Empowered by the movement, African American students together with faculty and staff spoke out and took action, Folt said. Their efforts led to the formation of the Black Student Movement, the realization of the Stone Center and the creation of what is now the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies.

“Carolina is richer for the efforts of those pioneers,” Folt said, “and today’s leaders continue to guide us as we learn from the past, shape the present and prepare our students for the future.”

Folt encouraged the campus to participate in as many Black History Month events as possible and to read the statement from the Carolina Black Caucus. See Folt’s email.

Honors for February 12, 2014

Rebecca Macy, associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Social Work, was one of eight people appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory to serve on the North Carolina Domestic Violence Commission. Macy researches family and interpersonal violence issues and human trafficking, among other areas.

Thava Mahadevan, director of operations for the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health, received a Citizen’s Award from Indy Week. The annual awards honor those who have tirelessly fought for social justice and worked to improve their communities.

The Carolina Population Center’s MEASURE Evaluation project, which addresses global health challenges in resource-poor settings, was awarded two Science and Technology Pioneers Prizes from the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of Science and Technology.

Ashby, Smithies receive alumni faculty service awards

The chair of the chemistry department and a Nobel Prize-winning genetics researcher at Carolina have been honored with the General Alumni Association’s Faculty Service Award.

The association’s board of directors presented the awards to chemistry professor and chair Valerie Ashby and genetics scientist Oliver Smithies. The award was established in 1990 and honors faculty members who have performed outstanding service for the University or the association.


Valerie Ashby, Chemistry, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ashby grew up in Clayton and earned both a bachelor’s degree in 1988 and a doctorate in 1994 in chemistry at UNC. After postdoctoral work overseas and a faculty position at Iowa State University, Ashby in 2003 returned to UNC as a professor in the chemistry department, where her research focuses on synthesis of biomaterials used for such functions as drug delivery and gene therapy.

She quickly became one of the most popular professors on campus and in 2007 was named the Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Professor for excellence in undergraduate teaching and research. She became department chair in 2012.

Ashby also is director of the UNC National Science Foundation program aimed at promoting underrepresented minorities into doctoral programs in science, technology, engineering and math, which she participated in as a student.

She received the outstanding faculty/staff award from the GAA-sponsored Black Alumni Reunion’s Light on the Hill Society in 2008 and was UNC’s December Commencement speaker that same year. She is the UNC faculty marshal and served on the GAA board of directors as faculty representative for 2010–11.



Smithies, a native of England, is the Weatherspoon Eminent Distinguished Professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He joined the faculty in 1988 after earning a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Oxford and spending more than two decades as a researcher at the University of Wisconsin.

Smithies was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2007 for his work in genetics. The award recognized his contribution to introducing gene modifications to mice using embryonic stem cells, giving the mice human-like characteristics to more accurately predict how treatments might work in humans. His was the first Nobel awarded to a UNC faculty member and his presence has been credited with attracting other prominent genetics and genomics researchers to the University.

Smithies has received numerous other honors for his discoveries, including the North Carolina Award for Science in 1993, the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 2001 and the O. Max Gardner Award and the Wolf Prize for Medicine in 2002.

Sociology scholar to lead Carolina Seminars Program

perrin_andrew_400Andrew Perrin, an associate professor of sociology, has been named the new director of the Carolina Seminars Program. He succeeded James Peacock, Kenan Professor of Anthropology, on Feb. 1.

The mission of the Carolina Seminars Program is to assemble scholars from different departments and schools to study complex problems, bridge disciplinary boundaries and enrich academic discourse.

Perrin is a cultural and political sociologist who has published on a broad range of topics, including recent articles on public opinion research, the Tea Party Movement and obesity-related behaviors and stigma in children’s movies.

He teaches courses in sociological theory and cultural sociology as well as first-year seminars on democratic citizenship in the United States. He is also a member of the Faculty Athletics Committee and the Student-Athlete Initiative Working Group.

“Professor Perrin is an accomplished interdisciplinary scholar and well prepared to build on the remarkable history and success of the Carolina Seminars Program and extend its reach to all corners of the campus,” said Carol Tresolini, vice provost for academic initiatives. “We are deeply grateful to the Massey and Weatherspoon families for making this program possible and, in so doing, enriching the life of the University.”

Perrin is in charge of providing intellectual and administrative leadership to the program by encouraging interdisciplinary examination of critical issues. He will solicit proposals for new seminars, assess their value and contributions, and align them with the goals of the Academic Plan. He will also administer the Douglass Hunt Lecture series.

A graduate of Swarthmore College, Perrin earned his doctorate in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. He was an assistant professor of sociology at UNC from 2001 to 2007, when he became an associate professor of sociology. He is the author or co-author of five books, including “Citizen Speak: The Democratic Imagination in American Life” and the forthcoming “American Democracy: From Tocqueville to Town Halls to Twitter.”

Employee Forum speakers review campus safety, health insurance

Howard Kallem, a recognized expert in Title IX compliance, was recruited to serve as Carolina’s new Title IX compliance coordinator because of his experience and expertise.

After a month on the job, Kallem spoke to the Employee Forum at its Feb. 5 meeting to explain what drew him here. The short answer, he said, was Carolina’s commitment not simply to meet the minimum requirements of the federal law, but to designate the resources necessary to create a safe learning and working environment for all students and employees.

Kallem said Chancellor Carol L. Folt has demonstrated a staunch commitment to make campus safety a top priority.

Hilary Delbridge has already been hired to fill the new position of Title IX public communication specialist. Another Title IX investigator position to work with Jayne Grandes is in the process of being filled, he said.

“That level of resources is unprecedented, and quite frankly, what convinced me to take the job here,” Kallem said. “Chapel Hill is really serious about taking on this issue.”

Kallem had been the chief regional attorney of the District of Columbia Enforcement Office for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR is responsible for ensuring civil rights enforcement and compliance with Title IX, as well as other federal nondiscrimination legislation. Kallem has more than 15 years of experience with OCR, as well as 14 years of experience with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

As Title IX compliance coordinator, Kallem coordinates the University’s compliance with federal guidelines and oversees campus training, education and outreach on Title IX issues.

Even before he arrived, Kallem said Carolina had a network of support in place to provide resources for people who have been sexually assaulted. In the months ahead, the Title IX office will take a look at those resources to assess “what things we are doing well, what we could be doing, and finding where there are gaps,” he said.

“We will be pulling together existing resources for support so that we have a uniform, consistent process in place,” Kallem said. “We want everyone to get the same message and we want a victim to be able to go to any number of places and be directed to the resources they need.”

Forum members also heard a report on state health insurance from Chuck Stone, a lobbyist with the State Employee’s Association of North Carolina (SEANC).

Stone said state employees should not expect to see significant changes to the current health-care plan in 2015 and encouraged employees to buy the best health-care plan they could afford because health-care expenses are a leading cause of bankruptcy. He advocated that employees enroll in the Enhanced PPO 80/20 plan.

Felicia A. Washington, who became the University’s new Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement on Feb. 1, also introduced herself to forum members.

Washington said she knew that she had “big shoes to fill” in replacing Brenda Malone, but that she has a wonderful team with the Office of Human Resources to support her.

“I am excited to be at Carolina, and I am happy to be here today to see what topics are important to this group,” she said.

Testing under way for ConnectCarolina finance, HR, payroll functions

When the University’s administrative software system ConnectCarolina expands to include finance, human resources and payroll functions this October, thousands of University employees will count on the new system as they do their work daily.

ConnectCarolina is an all-in-one, web-based tool that is replacing older software systems in these areas, just as it replaced the old student services system in 2010.

To ensure that the system will support all University functions related to finance, human resources and payroll at go-live, the project team is working with the people across campus who own these different business functions to put ConnectCarolina through rigorous testing.

Every day, this group converges on “testing central” in the ITS Manning building to ensure that all the pieces of ConnectCarolina will work well together.

An essential part of the ConnectCarolina project has been engaging the employees who have an intimate knowledge of how the University does business. These business owners have been involved in testing by creating and executing test scenarios that are unique to the University.

As they develop an understanding of how ConnectCarolina handles their particular business needs (such as hiring employees or paying the University’s bills), the business owners can see what their operations will be like with the new system, and they can plan accordingly.

While the team in ITS Manning tests how the system’s processes work, another technical team in ITS Franklin is focusing on fine-tuning the system so it works quickly and reliably.

Later this spring, the team will use special software to simulate heavy traffic on ConnectCarolina to make sure that even during times of peak use – such as during course registration, payroll processing or fiscal year-end reporting – the system will perform to expectations.

Testing will continue through the summer, with even more campus users participating in June and July, and will conclude when the business owners sign off that ConnectCarolina is ready to go live.

Find out more about the testing process and the progress of the ConnectCarolina project at There, you can sign up for the bi-weekly email newsletter to stay abreast of the latest project news. Send questions and comments to

Afro-Brazilian filmmaker Araújo returns to campus as scholar-in-residence

Award winning Afro-Brazilian filmmaker and scholar Joel Zito Araújo has returned to Carolina as scholar-in-residence at the Stone Center during February.

Araújo previously visited the Stone Center in 2004 as a visiting artist. Throughout February, he will visit classes at UNC and other area universities to participate in lectures and discussions, and host screenings of his films. UNC’s Institute for the Study of the Americas and the Office of the Provost are also providing support for Araújo’s residency, which began Feb. 6.

Araújo is an acclaimed filmmaker, director, writer and producer of films and TV programs, with 24 documentaries, 22 shorts and three full-length features to his name. Most notable of his efforts is the award-winning full-length documentary “Denying Brazil,” the saga of black actors’ images as they are portrayed in Brazil’s famed soap operas, or novellas.

The film received the script award prize in the Ministry of Culture’s 1999 National Documentary Competition, among others.

On Feb. 20 at 7 p.m., the Stone Center will screen Araújo’s first narrative feature, “Filhas do Vento” (Daughters of the Wind), in the Hitchcock Room, followed by a discussion with the scholar-in-residence.

The film won eight top awards, including best film and best director at the 32nd Gramado Film Festival, Brazil’s equivalent of the Oscars. It premiered in the U.S. at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in June 2004 and four months later at the Diaspora Festival of Black and Independent Film at the Stone Center.

His most recent release, “Raça,” follows three Afro-Brazilian protagonists whose lives demonstrate the profound and historic changes Brazil is experiencing. The film is part of an innovative campaign that will bring the filmmakers together with grassroots organizers to push for concrete social change. The filmmakers will donate their box office proceeds to the newly created Baobá Fund for Racial Equity.

For information about campus events related to his visit, call 919-962-9001.