Friday, December 4, 2009

Emergency Response “Exercise” Important Step for University

Guest blog by Lisa A. Patterson
Shortly after the holiday break (Jan. 5), a full-scale emergency response exercise will be held on the UNC Charlotte campus. The simulation, sponsored by the Risk Management, Safety and Security Department in conjunction with Homeland Security, will include staff from many University departments, campus and local police, the fire department, local hospitals and other first-responders.

The live-action exercise will simulate an “active shooter” situation in which one or more gunmen open fire and/or take hostages. First responders and those involved in UNC Charlotte’s emergency response teams will react to the exercise as they would in the event of an actual emergency.

I fear that referring to the planned event as an “exercise” somehow diminishes its importance — the use of the word allows us to tune out. We might be tempted to nod in agreement with the plan, happy that the UNC General Administration is serious about campus safety — serious enough to contract with a consulting firm to design and coordinate this type of simulation for each campus in the system. If we’re not directly involved in the exercise, we might forget about it and go on with our business.

But the safety of the campus community is dependent upon the vigilance of all its members, and survival in an active shooter situation is largely dependent upon the mental preparation and prior knowledge by the individuals involved. Research has shown that individuals who have received even minimal training to deal with potentially deadly situations react much differently (and with more success) than those who’ve never received instruction.

On Jan. 5 the majority of the campus will not be involved in the exercise because, in order for the exercise to be effective, it has to be somewhat controlled. However, campus safety should be a priority of every student, faculty and staff member. Even if you aren’t a participant in the exercise, you can take steps to enhance your personal safety. Video resources are available through business continuity department. They may be checked out by individuals or groups and are ideal for viewing at team meetings. The videos, which also can be viewed online, are:
• “Shots Fired on Campus” provides strategies for dealing with an active shooter situation in the workplace.
• “Campus Safety 101,” which is primarily a security awareness video course for college and university students, but it contains relevant information for faculty and staff.
• “Flashpoint – Workplace Violence” deals with identifying and addressing “behaviors of concern” early as the best way to prevent violence in the workplace.
• “Stay Safe at College” is an instructional video that covers topics in seven separate chapters, such as protection of personal property, identity theft, assaults, stalking, travel and common-sense measures of protection in adverse situations. While it is oriented toward students, it is relevant for faculty and staff.

Students, staff and faculty can access these videos online, by contacting the information technology services department at 704-687-7027.

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Lisa A.Patterson is a writer in UNC Charotte's Office of Public Relations

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Signing Climate Commitment Just the Start, Not Conclusion

Guest blog by Paul Nowell

Chancellor Philip L. Dubois has signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which designates UNC Charlotte as one of 16 colleges or universities across North Carolina to sign the pledge to address global warming.

By signing the pledge, UNC Charlotte also joins more than 650 institutions of higher education across the nation that have declared they would address global warming by neutralizing their greenhouse gas emissions and accelerating research and educational efforts to equip society to re-stabilize the earth's climate.

“Anyone who is familiar with this university’s legacy understands we have had a strong commitment to environmental protection, and signing the Presidents’ Climate Commitment shows we are demonstrating how a large public institution can be a good environmental steward," Dubois said.

“We also realize signing this piece of paper is just a start, not the conclusion” he said. “We must continue to discover practical sustainability goals for our students and employees and do what we can to help them succeed.”

Under Dubois’ leadership, the university has launched a number of initiatives that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and environmental protection. The ACUPCC will be viewed as a key driver to future sustainability efforts on campus.

One of Dubois’ first moves in support of the agreement was to appoint a UNC Charlotte Sustainability Committee. The panel will meet several times each year to review the progress of the implementation of the commitment and also will play a key role to ensure the resources and expertise of the institution are brought to bear on this project.

UNC Charlotte already has a proven track record in environmental stewardship and sustainability and research, said David Jones, sustainability coordinator at the university.

Some examples include:

• The Charlotte Green Initiative (CGI) was established in the fall of 2008 as the result of a student-led campaign spearheaded by the Earth Club. The CGI consists of an additional student fee of $1 that full-time students pay each semester for environmentally sustainable projects at UNC Charlotte. The fee is allocated by the Charlotte Green Initiative Committee, a group of student leaders who select projects that will help UNC Charlotte operate in a more sustainable manner.

• UNC Charlotte has created a fleet of alternatively fueled vehicles. These electric vehicles have replaced many gasoline carts and similar high emissions vehicles all over the campus. The university has added approximately 65 low-speed, electric vehicles along with 19 flex-fuel (E-85 or gasoline) vehicles for a total of 84 alternative fueled vehicles (AFUs) to UNC Charlotte’s Automotive Fleet. Since the 2005-06, UNC Charlotte has realized a 21 percent reduction in petroleum use within the campus fleet.

• The UNC Charlotte Recycling Department was established in 1992. Over the years, the department has grown to 14 employees and collects over 40 items. Roughly one-third of all waste on the campus is diverted to a recycling facility or special construction and demolition landfill.

• A car-sharing program, “Connect by Hertz,” offers qualified drivers, ages 18 years and up, environmentally friendly vehicles to rent at a low rate – by the hour or the day. The goal of the car-sharing program is to make public transportation or carpooling a more attractive and convenient option.

As part of the Presidents’ Climate Commitment, other steps will be taken to move the campus closer to climate neutrality. In the short term, the university will take the following actions:

• Work towards adoption of green standards for buildings, following U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) construction guidelines. LEED certification is being sought on new capital projects, including the new Center City Building and the EPIC Building.

• Adopt an energy-efficient appliance purchasing policy requiring purchase of ENERGY STAR certified products in all areas for which such ratings exist.

• Encourage use of and provide access to public transportation for all faculty, staff, students and visitors.

“The fact that Chancellor Dubois is willing to sign on to this agreement sends an important message to our students, faculty and staff as well as the Charlotte community at large,” said Jones. “It says our efforts to reverse the effects of global warming are critically important to everyone on this campus.”

So UNC Charlotte is among an elite list of universities to sign the pledge. What do you think of the University's track record and its future goals for reducing the detrimental effects of global warming?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Boomtown Ethos: Where do we go from here?

Guest blog by Lisa A. Lambert

Former Charlotte Observer reporter Binyamin Applebaum recently published an opinion piece in the Washington Post titled “This is the bust in the boomtown that banks built” (

In the piece he explores the importance of the financial sector to the Charlotte region’s economic health. The piece concludes:
Some local leaders have suggested that Charlotte diversify its economy. But it is much more common to find people who say the city's destiny as a financial center has simply been postponed.

Applebaum implies that more of the same is in Charlotte’s future. But what exactly is more of the same?

Charlotte remains a major metropolitan area, despite the financial crisis. The city is making strides to improve public transportation and greenways, and enhance cultural offerings, while maintaining a robust business community. The piece fails to mention that eight Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Mecklenburg County. It also fails to mention that the opening of the Afro-American Cultural Center will be followed by a new Mint Museum of Art, the January opening of the museum of modern art and the opening of a 1,200 seat performing arts venue in Uptown.

As the state’s only urban research university, UNC Charlotte has been a resource and partner as the region has grown. And perhaps now more than ever before the University is positioned to help drive the region’s development. For years, Charlotte was among the few major metropolitan areas in the country without a doctoral degree granting university. In 1994, UNC Charlotte implemented its first doctoral programs. Charlotte needs a highly educated workforce to meet the needs of the employers who’ve chosen the city as their home, as well as to attract new organizations, and UNC Charlotte is working to meet that need.

Exemplary of this effort is the Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC), which will train engineers and contribute to research in energy production fields. EPIC is a partnership with the burgeoning energy production sector currently located in Charlotte. The initiative is indicative of Charlotte’s efforts to grow a diverse regional economy, an economy less easily shaken by global or national recession. I could cite scores of similar examples of the University’s reach into the community (including the Center City Building), but I won’t for the sake of brevity.

This brings me back to Applebaum’s piece, which read like a post-mortem on Charlotte and its financial sector. If anything can be gleaned from the piece, perhaps it’s that complacency snuffs out innovation and diversification. The financial sector was and will remain an important component of the region’s economy but Charlotte has been moving toward, and should continue to move toward, a more diverse regional economy. And UNC Charlotte will prove to be an invaluable resource in the process.
What do you think? What are some of the problems/opportunities that need to be addressed in order for the Charlotte region to prosper? How can UNC Charlotte play a meaningful role going forward?
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Break a Sweat, Help a Student Stay in College

The 4.NINERK's not just another autumn run (or walk) in the park, benefiting a worthy charity. It's a scrappy attempt to bring in money that can help cash-strapped UNC Charlotte students stay in school. And as of today, organizers expect more than 300 runners and walkers to take part in the 4.9 kilometer run (or walk), and a fun slate of entertainment on the campus, Oct. 24 at 8:49. For details point your browser to

UNC Charlotte students returned form fall break last week. Among the 24,700 are hundreds who barely made ends meet for fall semester, and without something extraordinary intervening, they likely won't be able to return in January -- because they don't have the money. Traditional sources of financial aid have been exhausted; the Great Recession has seen to that. So, rather than sitting back and bemoaning the sad state of affairs, UNC Charlotte's division of university relations and community affairs is driving this novel idea to stage a recreational event and forward every dollar of proceeds to need-based scholarships.

UNC Charlotte is becoming a more traditional university in that more students live on or immediately near campus. It offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs and works closely with business and other community leaders to add value to metro Charlotte; in this ways it is traditional. But many of its students are not traditional. Many are first generation college students, and many work more than one job just to get by. They can't rely on the home folks to foot the bill -- even in the pre- and post-recession years.

Case in point: a real student we'll call John Doe. A sudden family illness when he was in high school left his family scrambling to keep afloat. They managed to deliver John to UNC Charlotte but he only stayed in school through a succession of financial aid, some of which may no longer be available to others in his position. Many, if not most of us who graduated did so with the help of loans or scholarships, but relatively few of us were desperate to make it through. Imagine if the financial doors had been shut to you -- maybe they were, and you know what it means to delay your dream of a college education.

In any case, Oct. 24 is a special date on the calendar. A time to get some fresh air, enjoy the beautiful UNC Charlotte campus, take on an awesome race course and break a sweat to help a student stay in college.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A-OK Re H1N1

It may help to be a code reader in deciphering the headline here, but the upshot is that UNC Charlotte is well prepared to manage the effects of H1N1 flu on the campus -- particularly with students, and their parents' needs to stay informed.

At last count, we had recorded approximately 85 cases of flu-like symptoms. In accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention practice we are not testing specifically for H1N1 but prescribing through our Student Health Center, responsive measures to flu-like symptoms.

So, the good news is that our campus has so far been spared the rampant spread of flu that has hit some sister UNC schools and others around the nation. There's more good news. On Sept. 22 we launched a special H1N1 Update micro-site that contains information tailored to four important audiences: students, parents, staff and faculty. The site is easily accessed by clicking on the blue and orange H1N1 Update icon at our home page On that site, readers will find information on flu prevention, response to flu, related university policy, and even information about preparedness should the pandemic become disruptive to university operations. We have informed the campus community of this web site via meetings, newsletter, email and social media.

There's even more good news. UNC Charlotte has taken two innovative steps to help students who may be afflicted. First, our dining services department has created Food for Flu, a program whereby students who are sick and self-isolating in their campus dorms can order in a box of food that includes all sorts of nutritious and yummy easy-to-prepare munchies and drinks to tide them over for a few days. The Food for Flu boxes aren't free-of-charge, but they are convenient. Another innovation: a self-reporting mechanism in which students who are ill complete an online form that links to the Dean of Students Office. That office verifies that the student is in fact ill, and then touches base with the student's academic advisor to validate that the student is excused from class without prejudice. Of course, the form includes disclaimers and checks that discourage falsely reporting illness.

That's a lot of good news related to an unfortune situation. So, what's the bad news? There is none, except that, as with any flu season, people will get sick, and that with H1N1, more people than usual will be inconvenienced. In their usual proactive and collaborative way, UNC Charlotte's people have stepped up to meet a challenge and staked their claim to thoughtful improvisation and can-do. And so far, we feel warily confident that we will manage, come what may.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

K-8 @ the U?

The headline above, disciphered into plain English any school kid could understand, refers to a proposed partnership between UNC Charlotte and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to open a new elementary school on the university’s campus.

The idea is analgous to a "teaching hospital," with a mission to prepare the next generation of professionals. The proposal would provide College of Education students with more professional development training, and for CMS it would mean a new K-8 school with close ties to the university’s College of Education. That's important when you consider than UNC Charlotte graduated the second highest number of new school teachers of any university in North Carolina -- more than 630 new teachers in 2008. The more opportunities aspiring teachers get to work in direct contact with school children in classroom experiences, the better prepared they'll be to teach full time. And, “There’s a great need for additional schools in this part of Mecklenburg County,” Calhoun told the board.

The proposal is in the early stages and if approved by all parties the new school would open its doors in 2017, she said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is the top employer of UNC Charlotte College of Education graduates and nearly 2,000 graduates of the college are working in the state’s largest school district. The university currently has professional development partnerships with several CMS, Cabarrus County, and city of Kannapolis schools.

If approved, the new school would be located on the UNC Charlotte campus in a shared-space agreement that allows for K-8 school-based professional preparation for education majors. The plans call for a K-8 facility with an enrollment of 1,000 students, who will come from surrounding neighborhoods.

The 54-classroom school would offer the university a campus location for faculty to observe, collaborate, research, implement and evaluate best practices in an on-site, urban public school.

The new school also would serve as a recruitment tool for future educators. And it will symbolize the university’s role as a public education partner with CMS. Calhoun said the next step will be to make sure the proposal is included in CMS’s new master construction plan in November.

With this initiative the Collge of Education is once again staking its claim to leadership in the training of new teachers.

University doing its part to make UCity safe and livable

Guest blog by Paul Nowell

The Charlotte Observer recently ran a column that highlights the enormous, if not insurmountable, challenges facing the part of the city aptly named for the campus it encompasses.

Located less than 10 miles from the city’s business district, the residents of University City have plenty of reasons to be proud. First and foremost, University City is home base to North Carolina’s urban research institution. UNC Charlotte's enrollment of 24,700 includes students, faculty and staff from 80 countries. Consequently, UCity is the most diverse area in Charlotte.

University City also is the Charlotte region's second-largest employment center. Not too shabby, huh? So what’s the problem?

Much like UNC Charlotte’s efforts to shed a persistent but outdated image, University City faces its own self-esteem problem. Kevin Toomb, marketing co-chair for University City Partners, noted too few people don’t know or just don’t care to find out the kinds of things the community has to offer.

Toomb is launching a brand campaign for University City. It comes on the heels of the UNC Charlotte’s own brand campaign, which urges students, faculty, staff and neighbors to “Stake Your Claim” in the university.

Toomb calls UNC Charlotte the “crown jewel” of UCity. He’s absolutely right. In addition to being the center for learning and research, the university also serves as a gathering place for neighbors to attend cultural events.

Still, anyone who lives or works in UCity knows there are challenges. Some Observer readers commented that the community suffer from crime and urban sprawl. While some of those comments may be true, UNC Charlotte is working to make UCity a better place, from the campus, outward.

UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois has made campus safety a top-of-mind issue; data on campus-area crime show that the campus is very safe. Even during tight economic times, Dubois has beefed up campus security.

Police patrol the campus and surrounding areas 24/7 on foot, bicycle, motorcycle, and car. Efforts also have been made to reach out to property managers at off-campus housing complexes to make sure they are providing safety tips to their residents. The University's new Master Plan, which will be finalized in a few months, presents options that will enhance the campus area even further. UCity is go through growing pains, but it is getting better.

Paul Nowell is media relations manager at UNC Charlotte

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hair on Fire Was Never This Much Fun

Working in public relations is usually fun and stressful at the same time, and that's never been more the case during July and August at UNC Charlotte. These last several weeks have seen many days when our hair was on fire, rushing about trying to meet deadlines, finding experts for media interviews, planning a major press conference, sewing together the latest edition of a great magazine, writing op-eds and ballyhooing our new branding campaign. We gird our loins and bring our "A" game everyday. We love the "juice" of stress and never skimp on laughs; sometimes we lapse profane.

Communicating about UNC Charlotte is fun because we are working on behalf of a university that's one of the "good guys." Here are some of the stories we've been wrapped around lately, all of which bode well for all 28,000 students, staff and faculty, and indirectly for all of Charlotte.

On Aug. 18 we announced with The Leon Levine Foundation, a magnificent new merit scholarship program, Levine Scholars. Beginning next fall we'll bring to campus 15 top scholars every year -- stellar students from NC and beyond. The Levines are committing at least $9.3 million to this program that will seed the campus and community with young people who will enrich the community. From a room in our new Student Union, overlooking campus, an overflow crowd cheered this new initiative. The PR team, and colleagues in marketing, admissions, conference services, development and more busted it to make the event one for the ages at UNC Charlotte. On Aug. 18 we made history! Learn more at

Speaking of the Student Union, it opened offically on Aug. 24. The sparkling new 196,000 square foot mecca is stunning. It dominates the new center of campus and is a spacious, gorgeous and inviting new home for all 49ers. Read about it, see photos and watch video on You Tube and the UNC Charlotte fan page on Facebook or at The Student Union marketing team has another great story to tell and the PR team will help spread the word about yet another development that will make campus life exciting, fun and fulfilling. Drop by our Barnes & Noble book store, Starbucks, 49per Mac computer store, movie theater, dining courts and piano lounge.

Our Stake Your Claim branding campaign is gaining legs, especially now that students are back on campus. Our giant pickaxes are drawing attention --one is set up near our Dickson Gate front entrance, one at Charlotte Douglas International Airport and one at First Citizens Plaza in Uptown. Our billboards have sprouted around town and advertsing is appearing in media all over town. Social media sites are polka dotted with SYC postings.

This week we're pushing hard to get our latest UNC Charlotte magazine into production. When it is posted online in late September, you'll read about amazing faculty and staff who are staking their claim: cancer researcher Pinku Mukhurjee, special education leader and award winner Dianne Browder, Joe Gamez's work with the Charlotte Latino community, our novel Center for Global Public Relations and awesome student entertainers Brandon Kirkley, Jocelyn Ellis and The Sammies.

One of the great film noir movies says, "There are a million stories in the Naked City." Likewise, there are a million stories at the Great University. And the PR team and our many colleagues across campus aim to tell as many of those stories as we can. Let the hair burn!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Big Doings on Campus

The beginning of fall semester is moving fast toward campus like last night's thunderstorm. And like a storm, the coming semester presents challenges in dealing with the deluge of activities on a campus of 24,000 students and 3,000 faculty and staff. But the beginning of an academic year is the lifeblood of a university and the excitement is building in all corners of the campus.

Two events are already capturing the enthusiam of students, even as most of them are off-campus for the summer. First, UNC Charlotte's new 196,000 square foot Student Union is nearing completion. A few tweaks are still in the works on the exterior, which is striking. Inside, the building is even more awesome. Just check out the UNC Charlotte fan page on Facebook or You Tube to see photos and video clips students have posted recently. The union is the new magnet for students -- an Apple computer store; Starbucks; a stunning Barnes & Noble store for books, supplies and branded gear; a hair salon (do they still call it that?); movie theater; an amazing atrium; a massive ballroom; an array of knoshing options and lots more -- this facility rocks. Grand opening officially begins with an Aug. 28 dedication.

Earlier in August, beginning the week of the tenth, UNC Charlotte officially launches its Stake Your Claim brand campaign. It debuts publicly with advertising in The Charlotte Observer, Charlotte Business Journal, Charlotte Post and Charlotte Weekly. Underwriting announcements also will appear on WFAE radio beginning that week. The University will communicate the launch internally using Web-based media such as the Web site, Facebook and Twitter. Visotors to campus can already see the giant SYC pick axe set prominently just inside the Dickson Gate entrance to campus.(In response to the recession and a recent freeze on almost all State of North Carolina spending, no state funds are being spent on this initiative.)

We'll soon complete our imposing Bioinformatics building which embodies what will be one of the leading bioinformatics programs in the nation. We'll also break ground on our Energy Production Infrastructure Center this fall and we will complete the Master Plan that will guide campus development for the next 10 years; wait til see what the future holds -- it is fantastic!

Stay tuned also for a blockbuster academic announcement coming in late August.

The recession has presented many challenges at UNC Charlotte, but it has not stopped our high-velocity blast up the growth curve. The 2009-2010 academic year is going to be one of the best on record. Great things are happening at UNC Charlotte. Come see us.

Monday, July 13, 2009

People create a truly engaged university

A great public university provides all sorts of benefits to its locale. College-educated people, of course. Jobs. Arts, athletics, thought-provoking speakers, research in concert with business to produce solutions to problems in the marketplace. And it also provides engagement with the community.

At UNC Charlotte, examples of community engagement are countless, which is one of the reasons the University was selected for a prestigious 2008 Community Engagement elective classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The designation recognizes institutions that have internalized and sustained their commitment to collaborate with communities through teaching, research, and outreach.

One person, among many, who embodies UNC Charlotte's culture of community engagement is Susan Harden. This month whe was recognized with the 2009 Civic Engagement Professional of the Year Award from Campus Compact. Harden is coordinator for UNC Charlotte’s Crossroads Charlotte initiative.

A national coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents, Campus Compact represents some six million students who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education. The Civic Engagement Professional of the Year Award highlights Harden's critical and valuable role in UNC Charlotte's higher education mission. The award validates the fact that Harden has become a vital link between the community and campus.

During this past year, Harden introduced new Crossroads-themed courses such as UCOL 1200 Freshman Seminar and LBST 2215 Citizenship. More than 600 students participated in the courses, which resulted in almost 2,000 community service hours. Harden also spearheaded the development of a strategic network of Crossroads partners for service learning and event collaboration. These partners include Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Levine Museum of the New South, YWCA and the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

UNC Charlotte is staking its claim as a leading institution for the Charlotte region. It leads through scholarship, research, arts, culture, athletics, global outreach and community engagement. Harden is one of many, many students, faculty and staff who enrich the Charlotte region through their service.

Keep reading UNC Clt_News to meet more students, faculty and staff like Susan Harden.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Students Create Their “Home Away from Home”

The prospect of living on campus can be a challenge for new students. As part of this year’s orientation program, the Office of Housing and Residence Life partnered with three local businesses to provide ideas on how incoming residents can create a “Home Away from Home.”

For this first-time program, designers from Bed Bath & Beyond, IKEA and Target each decorated a lounge in Lynch Hall. They were asked to transform a portion of the lounges to depict a typical 10-by-15-foot bedroom area. The decorators were given a room’s basic furnishings – bed, desk, chair and wardrobe/dresser. They used the remaining space in the selected lounges to give examples of decorating ideas for common spaces (living rooms and bathrooms) that can be found in suite units.

“Students and their parents are always eager to see where their son or daughter is going to be living; our goal was to provide incoming residents with some great ideas on how to accessorize their rooms to not only maximize the space available but to create a home away from home,” said Carla Hines, assistant director of administration for housing and residence life.

According to Hines, parents of incoming students are concerned with their children succeeding academically and socially. Providing students ideas on how to create a comfortable living space is a new initiative that supports these goals.

“Living on campus is one of the best ways for students to excel in college,” said Jackie Simpson, associate vice chancellor and director of housing and residence life. “On-campus residents establish stronger connections to fellow students and faculty; they become more involved in campus life; and they achieve greater academic success.”

Hines, who spearheaded the “Home Away from Home” event, said the University-area businesses were excited to participate. During SOAR sessions (student orientation and registration), up to 10,000 people will view the design concepts. She added that the three retailers donated selected items from the designs for a drawing scheduled for Wednesday, July 22. SOAR sessions, which began recently, are held over two days. Incoming freshmen and their parents reside in Lynch and Witherspoon halls during their visit.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Research to help wounded warriors

I saw a news item today about a group of swimmers ( , who will attempt to break the world record for the longest continuous relay swim, when they venture into the Sea of Cortez off Baja California Sur on June 28. The swim is a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization whose mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors.

That story reminded me of reserach underway at UNC Charlotte that has a similar goal.

Dr. Laura Talbot, the Dean W. Colvard Distinguished Professor of Nursing, is conducting a Department of Defense-funded study which tests two different approaches to prosthetic rehabilitation for “wounded warriors.” Talbot has served in the military for three decades.

Traumatic amputation is one of the major injuries seen among American warriors as a result of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. An intervention that Dr. Talbot is using in her research for amputees returning from the war is a nurse managed neuromuscular electrical stimulation rehabilitation program. The objectives of her research are to test two different approaches to prosthetic rehabilitation as potential treatments for improving muscle strength, pain and function in military personnel with a below-the-knee amputation.

In such amputations, the amputated limb is less active in daily activities of standing and walking, resulting in progressive weakening of the leg muscles.

If successful, Talbot's nurse managed intervention could have an additive effect to the standard of care program with greater improvements in muscle strength. That would enhanced the performance of daily activities, quality of life, and decrease disability. This program may be very important to accelerate the rehabilitation of amputees so they can achieve functional independence and regain lost muscle strength.

UNC Charlotte is a university of collaboration and discovery, where talented people are working hard to do good. Dr. Talbot is one such 49er.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Innovating to Better-Manage Risk

United Educators, a higher-education insurance company, and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges have released the results of a survey that shows "less than a quarter of colleges regularly assess how they could prevent or respond to threats such as criminal acts, environmental catastrophes, and financial misconduct. And half of colleges plan for such risks only after receiving an audit, experiencing a campus crime, or seeing the fallout from such a problem on another campus."

United Educators' chief executive was quoted in a news release saying, "This data is certainly a wake-up call for higher-education leaders that they need to make enterprise risk management a priority now so they can avoid such pitfalls.”

Why should you care? You should care because how a university plans and prepares to manage risk can affect the people who live, work and visit campus, and people in the surrounding community. Risk management also affects the financial standing of the university and the university's reputation.

Several people responded to an online posting of the story. Some of them felt risk management only adds to a university's bureaucracy while others understand the potential value in planning and preparation.

Earlier this year, UNC Charlotte formed the Risk Management Department, which combined the offices of Business Continuity Planning, Police and Public Safety, Environmental Health and Safety and Risk Management and Insurance.
Bringing these four areas under one umbrella is a relatively new model, though Cornell University has utilized this structure for many years.

UNC Charlotte is adopting a model that is visionary by combining four operating units together in an umbrella organization to assist in the ERM initiative.”

The areas represented by the Risk Management Department have contact with virtually every operating unit across campus. By bringing them into one unit, the University will benefit from improved communication and strategic planning. Because large research universities such as UNC Charlotte operate as small cities, they are subject to adverse situations that can impact students, faculty, staff and visitors.

There are many scenarios that could affect operations or the University’s reputation, including a pandemic, such as swine flu; a residence hall or laboratory fire; severe weather; or sanctions resulting from failure to comply with federal, state or local regulations.

Risk won't go away, and occasionally adverse thigs happen. But the Enterprise Risk Management approach will help plan for and manage the risks inherent in operating a public research university.

Friday, June 19, 2009

We DO talk about religion in public

They used to say that you should never talk about politics, religion or sex in polite company; no longer. There's an amazing series of community conversations going on monthly at the Levine Museum of the New South that serves as a complement to the museum's exhibit “Changing Places: From Black and White to Technicolor.”

Last week's topic was “Keeping the Faith: Making Room in the Pews," a panel discussion. As education sponsor for the exhibit, UNC Charlotte is hosting a community conversation every third Wednesday of the month through February 2010. The conversations are designed to take a deeper look at issues raised by the exhibit.

Panelists for “Keeping the Faith” were Sean McCloud, associate professor at UNC Charlotte; Jorge Prado, pastor of Spanish and Caring Ministries, Calvary Church; and Bruce Marcey, lead pastor of Warehouse 242. Maria Hanlin, executive director of Mecklenburg Ministries, moderated the talk.

Some of what we learned:

* Charlotte has a much more diverse faith community that many realize. Once homogeneous churches such as Calvary are now heavily integrated yet also tailor services to peopel from other cultures and with other first languages
* Non-traditional churches such as Warehouse 242 and Watershed are serving congregations that draw heavily from young people; these churches are typically less focused on building up the "kingdom on earth" -- large capital projects and such -- and more focused on outreach.

McCloud, who teaches courses in American religions and religion and culture, is the author of “Making the American Religious Fringe: Exotics, Subversives and Journalists, 1955-93” and “Divine Hierarchies: Class in American Religion and Religious Studies.”

Prado is responsible for preaching, teaching and guiding the Spanish-speaking members of Calvary Church and develops cross-cultural ministries for international members.

Marcey is leader of a vibrant church community that meets in a warehouse on Wilkinson Boulevard. Not afraid to think outside the box, this community of people engages the arts, music and small groups in a bold and nontraditional way in order to better explore faith.

Community Conversations are free and open to the public.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Smart, dedicated people respond to budget crisis

The State of North Carolina is up to its nostrils in an economic crisis. Our legislature is working hard to come up with a state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Yet, a budget is only a plan, a structure that people and organizations use to invest/allocate/spend money.

More specifically, NC is in a cash crunch. A budget without the cash to make it work, gets you nowhere. All agencies of the State of North Carolina are being affected by this cash crunch. This includes the UNC system -- all 17 educational institutions -- of which UNC Charlotte is one.

(For updates on how this crisis is affecting UNC Charlotte, check out

During the last several months, I've had the privilege of participating in UNC Charlotte's Budget Council. I am not a number cruncher -- I'm a communications guy. But the other 15-20 folks on this council are numbers people. They are the ones responsible for managing the money of various divisions and other organizations that comprise UNC Charlotte. And they are an impressive group.

If, perchance, you are one of those who disparage the "government," or one of those who choose to believe that "working for the state" is a cushy, no-pressure gig, I'm here to tell you that the people on this Budget Council are awesome -- smart, proactive, tireless, effective people. They are led by Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Beth Hardin. Next month she'll be among the 25 outstanding women from the Charlotte area honored at the 13th annual Women in Business event presented by the Charlotte Business Journal.

The Budget Council, like all of us, is grappling with the effects of a severe economic challenge. The council often meets twice a week, with some of the members meeting daily to respond to conditions that are changing constantly. Yet the council members remain upbeat and focused on solutions. The work of the Budget Council is grinding work that the team is handling with characteristic 49er qualities: collaboration, improvisation, tenacity and fearlessness. These are fine people doing a great job.

Choice of Woodward reflects on UNC Charlotte

When UNC President Erskine Bowles chose Jim Woodward as interim chancellor at NC State this week he did so in the midst of a crisis. The crisis is that the ongoing controversy about former NC first lady Mary Easley's position at NC State had led directly to the resignation of NC State Chancellor James Oblinger -- whose stepping down followed those of the provost and the chairman of the NC State board of trustees. This regretable saga is a blow to NC State's heretofore sterling reputation. State is a fine school and a great asset to North Carolina. But, bad things happen and this one happened to State.

So when Bowles needed someone to help the school recovery from this stunning chain of events, he acted decisively and with wisdom. He looked to someone who is has an unassailable history of integrity, effectiveness and wisdom -- Jim Woodward. UNC Charlotte's chancellor from 1989-2005, he led UNC Charlotte firmly into its current era as a doctoral, urban research university. Among numerous other achievements, he methodically built up the facilities to support our expanidng academic prowess. Simply put, he's a giant among UNC Charlotte's constellation of incredible servant-leaders.

So, how does this reflect well on UNC Charlotte? It validates that this school has been led by outstanding leaders of vision and capability -- and of course, that description fits our current chancellor, Philip L. Dubois, as well. But not only are we a well-run instituion, we are -- and have been -- perhaps the very best run UNC school for years. UNC Charlotte has had to scrap and scrape to get by, perenially short-changed in terms of state funding-per-student. We're a relatively new school, growing in the shadow of long-hallowed counterparts like Chapel Hill and State. Our alumni base is still young and relatively less affluent. Yet we are an efficiently and cost-effectively run campus. We're a university of opportunity, collaboration and discovery -- you'll find no ivory towers at UNC Charlotte. We are moving fast on an upward trajectory, thanks to people like Dr. Woodward, Dr. Dubois, and former chancellors E. K. Fretwell and Dean Colvard.

So, out of all the stellar leaders he could have chosen from, Pres. Bowles tapped someone from little ol' UNC Charlotte. He chose a great man from a great school. Those of us invested in UNC Charlotte should be very, very proud.