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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

News in Brief for Oct. 25, 2017

AAU report shows progress in STEM teaching at Carolina and 7 other schools

The Association of American Universities (AAU) released a five-year status report that highlights institutional progress in improving  the quality of undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching and learning resulting from the Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative. The Oct. 3 report provides detailed analysis of STEM educational reforms at eight seed-funded AAU STEM project sites, including Carolina.

“Our member universities are educating tomorrow’s leaders in STEM, preparing them to enter the dynamic 21st century economy,” noted AAU President Mary Sue Coleman. “It’s critical that our teaching methods are not only effective, but also engaging as we work to retain students in STEM fields.”

The other project sites include Brown, Michigan State and Washington universities; the universities of Arizona and Pennsylvania; the University of California, Davis; and the University of Colorado, Boulder.

The objective of Carolina’s STEM project is to support the widespread adoption of high-structure, active-learning (HSAL) practices in large introductory-level lecture-based STEM courses through a mentor/apprentice program. In the program, faculty who are experienced in HSAL practices and those who are less experienced pair up to teach redesigned courses.

After completing the co-teaching experience, apprentices go on to teach the redesigned courses on their own. At Carolina, D and F grades in redesigned introductory courses dropped from 11.5 percent in 2013 to 9.5 percent in 2016. The learning gains in HSAL courses were 13 percent higher than in traditional courses. Redesigned courses also substantially reduced the classroom performance gap between majority and underrepresented minority students. 

Act on benefits and flu shots

 Employees have only a few more days to update State Health Plan and NCFlex benefit plans at By Oct. 31, all these changes must be made and any insurance enrollment forms submitted. Employees should also:

  • Complete the tobacco attestation to reduce charges for 70/30 or 80/20 medical plan.
  • Remember to click on SAVE to lock-in changes.
  • Maintain a copy of the confirmation statement.
  • Take the time to look at December paycheck to check medical plan deductions changes for 2018.
  • Look again in January to make sure all benefit plan deductions are correct.

Enrollment assistance will be available through Oct. 31. Employees can get help enrolling at the Office of Human Resources, 104 Airport Drive, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Oct. 26-27 and Oct. 30-31 or SILS computer lab, Manning Hall, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Oct. 27.

If you missed getting your flu shot at the Campus Flu Clinics, you can still get vaccinated at Student Stores Pharmacy, located on the 3rd floor of UNC Student Stores, and Campus Health Pharmacy, located in the basement of Campus Health. Both places offer no-appointment flu shots for students, faculty and staff during open hours (9 a.m.–6 p.m. weekdays at both pharmacies and 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturdays at Student Stores Pharmacy only). Bring your insurance card. Medicare plans are not accepted. For more information, visit the pharmacy website at

Carolina Cares, Carolina Shares campaign kicks off

Carolina has kicked off Carolina Cares, Carolina Shares (CCCS), which is the University’s way of supporting the State Employees’ Combined Campaign (SECC). The SECC (and by extension CCCS) is the only authorized charitable campaign in the workplace and allows employees to choose payroll deduction as a payment option.

Since the first campaign in 1985, state employees have contributed more than $100 million to charities serving North Carolina residents. More than 1,000 charities were reviewed and approved to participate this year. Carolina’s goal is to raise $1 million, said Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler, who is serving as the 2017 campaign chair. To learn more, go to


Verbiest to lead Jordan Institute

Sarah Verbiest, John A. Tate Early Career Scholar for Children in Need, has been appointed director of the Jordan Institute for Families at the School of Social Work.

The Jordan Institute for Families addresses issues including child welfare, developmental disabilities, substance use disorders, trauma and mental health. The institute consults on policy development, conducts applied research, offers training and builds networks to strengthen families across North Carolina, with an emphasis on social justice.

Carolina alumnus Michael Jordan and his family founded the Institute in 1996.

“Dr. Verbiest is perfectly suited to lead the Jordan Institute,” said Gary Bowen, dean of the School of Social Work. “She has a passion for the field of social work, particularly in bridging research, evidence-based practice and data into policy and programs. She has demonstrated her capacity for strategic planning throughout her career, and her scholarship is well-aligned with the work of the Jordan Institute.”

Verbiest, a triple Tar Heel who came to work at the School of Social Work in 2015, is a nationally known researcher with expertise in preconception health, postpartum wellness, infant mortality reduction and health equity issues. In early 2018, the American Public Health Association Press is scheduled to publish a book about maternal and child health that she edited.

Verbiest will continue to direct the Center for Maternal & Infant Health in the School of Medicine, where she has served as executive director since 2004. She is a senior consultant to the Centers for Disease Control for the National Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative. She also is co-chair of the N.C. Child Fatality Task Force Perinatal Health Committee and 2005 Fellow of the William C. Friday Fellowship on Human Relations.