Thursday, January 26, 2012

UNC Charlotte Plays a Role in the "State of the Economy"

On Jan. 25, Provost Joan Lorden appeared on Bloomberg News' live State of the Economy special report with host Trish Regan. The show was part of all-day coverage of a visit by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The segment with Lorden also included business leaders Mark Pringle, director of operations for Siemens Energy -- which is thriving and has announced a $350 million expansion in Charlotte -- and Bruton Smith, automotive mogul who owns motor speedways and automobile retailers nationwide.

They talked about the state of the economy in Charlotte and nationally, using Charlotte as a micrcosm of the United States overall. North Carolina is still mired with 9.9 percent unemployment -- worse than the national average of 8.5 percent but better than some states. One of the key issues of the show was the prospects for manufacturing in Charlotte and North Carolina.

So, why invite an "academic" to a conversation about manufacturing? Here's why:

UNC Charlotte is North Carolina's urban research university. We're committed to research and development that helps solve the challeneges facing Charlotte as an urban city. One challenge is improving the level of employment, which is partly tied, long-term, to the condition of local and regional manufacturing. UNC Charlotte also has a bias for applied research -- research in which we partner in some way with businesses, industry and related organizations. That research, whatever it may be, will be linked toward refining ideas, and eventually commercializing technology and products that may be made and sold in this region. In many cases that means jobs -- not always directly, but eventually. That's one way UNC Charlotte acts as a vital cog in the economic development chain. And by affecting the local and regional economy, we augment our urban research on social and cultural issues.

UNC Charlotte, like leading businesses and non-profits, is a key cultivator of this region's quality of life. And lest we forget, we educate the workforce that will manage and lead the economy, in sectors as diverse as high-tech precision manufacturing, financial services, energy production and the creative class.

When you watch the clip below, remember, there's a lot more there than meets the eye. One brief appearance is part of a larger whole. Step by step, through TV interviews, campus visits by dignitaries, community volunteership projects, research in league with local organizations, interactions with business leaders, UNC Charlotte is helping make life better for all of us; that's our mission and we're sticking to it.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cake boss keeps campus life sweet

With 25,000 students on the roster at UNC Charlotte, and more people visiting day and night for events and activities, someone on campus is always thinking about their next meal.

People often anticipate cakes, pastries and other treats as much as the main course. So you'll find Executive Pastry Chef Joseph Torcasso working his way through 600 pounds of flour, 300 pounds of sugar and 75 quarts of liquid eggs every week to keep up with demand for sweets and breads for multiple campus dining halls and snack shops. Read more about the central bakery ...

Cake boss keeps campus life sweet

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Artist Marek Ranis Features Sublime Aspects of "Cold and Icy" Spaces

Giving Green Partnership with Schools Shares Hope, Inspiration

Many people have heard the adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.” This year, the University is putting that proverb into action.

In August 2011, TIAA-CREF, a leading financial services provider, and UNC Charlotte announced a partnership to provide educational to over 4,700 students and 500 faculty members at Governor’s Village schools. Governor’s Village is comprised of four Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS): John M. Morehead STEM Academy, Nathaniel Alexander Elementary, James Martin Middle, and Zebulon B. Vance High.

“We have been working with CMS and the principals at each school to identify specific needs and areas in which we can help,” said Ashley Oster, director of community affairs at UNC Charlotte. “These schools are in our backyard, and as a university, we have access to a multitude of resources that can help the students and teachers at these schools.

TIAA-CREF and UNC Charlotte have looked for strategic ways to create excitement for this partnership. “We have created a theme for each month and designed activities around it. For example, the theme for December was literacy, and it was quite exciting to come up with a fun way to encourage reading,” added Oster.

For the literacy event, UNC Charlotte and Penguin Publishing donated 300 copies of Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact to students at Morehead STEM Academy and James Martin Middle School. Dr. Andrew Hartley, author of the book and Robinson Professor of Shakespeare Studies at UNC Charlotte, signed each copy and read portions of his book to the students at Morehead STEM.

“It was a special moment to see the children’s faces light up when they were given a brand-new book, signed by an author, to keep,” said Oster.

The teachers at the schools were pleased too. AnStarie Sessoms McKinnon, a seventh-grade teacher at Morehead STEM Academy said,”Several of my students, who are reluctant readers, began reading Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact at lunch the day they received it, and I am so proud to say they finished it the same day!”

In addition to the literacy event, a number of programs and initiatives will take place throughout the school year including a professional development conference, a job shadow event at TIAA-CREF offices, a financial literacy employee volunteer program, and various athletics, arts, and cultural events. Moreover, volunteers from both TIAA-CREF and UNC Charlotte have been serving as mentors, tutors, and lunch buddies since September and will continue with these volunteer efforts throughout the year.

Although the events have created excitement among all involved in the partnership, Katie Suggs, assistant director of community affairs at UNC Charlotte, thinks the project represents something even bigger: Hope. “I keep thinking that at least one child is being inspired to do something more with their life. Maybe they heard Dr. Hartley speak and thought, ‘I want to write a book’ or ‘I want to be an author.’ Maybe they work with one of our volunteers in the Levine Scholars program and think, ‘I can go to college too.’ This partnership is about education, but it is also about giving hope, inspiring kids to be the best they can be, and introducing them to some of the opportunities that await them.”

To get involved with the Governor’s Village Project, please visit:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Cash Crop" Examines Dynamics of Slavery, Race

“Cash Crop,” an exhibition related to American slavery, will be displayed through June 30 at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture. As part of this event, core and affiliated faculty members from the Department of Africana Studies will participate in public presentations on slavery, labor and globalization.

The first event, “The Artist as Story Teller: Conversation with Stephen Hayes,” will be at 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 14. Tanure Ojaide will moderate.

English Department faculty members Janaka Lewis and Malin Pereira will participate in the discussion “Bearing Witness, Redeeming Memory – Biographies and other Representations of Enslavement in African-American Literature” on Thursday, Feb. 2.

Christopher Cameron and Gregory Mixon, history, and Erika Edwards, Africana studies, will discuss “Pioneers of Freedom: Slave Revolt, Rebellion and Revolution in the Atlantic World” on Thursday, March 22.

College of Education faculty members Charles Hutchison and Greg Wiggan will talk about “From Slavery to the Prison Industrial Complex: Race and the African-American Experience” on Thursday, April 19.

Eddy Souffrant, philosophy, will lead the panel “Capitalism, Globalization and Human Rights” on Thursday, May 24.

With the exception of the first event, forums will be at 6 p.m. in the Gantt Center, 551 South Tryon Street.

“Cash Crop” artist Stephen Hayes is a native of Durham. He completed a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from North Carolina Central University and an MFA from the Savannah College of Arts and Design. Comprised of 15 life-size relief sculptures, “Cash Crop” is a symbolic representation of Africans imported to the New World between 1540 to 1850. Atkins Library Special Collections contributed additional images for the exhibit.
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Phillip Brown is internal communication manager at UNC Charlotte.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Spotlight: The 49er Democracy Experience

This is a rare and novel initiative by a public university, in collaboration with other colleges and universities in the Charlotte area, as well as local and national organizations -- a truly value-added, experiential civic learning opportunity.

Spotlight: The 49er Democracy Experience

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

49ers-Logo License Plates Help Fund Scholarships

You don't have to be an alum to purchase a 49ers-logo North Carolina automobile license plate. For every 49ers license plate sold and renewed, $15 of the fee goes to fund scholarships at UNC Charlotte. Paying a few extra dollars for one of these plates shows your support of the 49ers but also of UNC Charlotte itself -- its deep committment to community engagement, urban research, applied research with business and industry, its positon as the leading higher education institution in the southern piedmont -- and its timeless contribution to bettering the quality of life for its students and this region.

Poet Tanure Ojaide Gets Cadbury Book Award

In another indication of how UNC Charlotte affects arts and culture on a global scale, Tanure Ojaide, Frank Porter Graham Professor in the Department of Africana Studies, recently received the Cadbury Prize for Poetry awarded by the Association of Nigerian Authors for the book “The Beauty I Have Seen.”

According to the association, “The extensive range, experimentation and maturity of voice in this collection enhance the density and rich texture of the text giving it a wholesome aperture. This marvelous collection of poems coherently presents the poetic experience as a movement in three interconnected configurations – the poet as a public commentator, as one who observes and sees what others do not see (or what they see but do not assign significance) and one united with and standing in symbolic relation with the land or culture.”

Fifteen books of poetry were nominated for the Cadbury Prize; Abubakar Othman’s “The Passions of Cupid” won second prize, and third place went to “Ode on Lagos and Other Poetic Portraits” by Jeff Unaegbu.

Department chair Akin Ogundiran, in congratulating Ojaide, stated this honor consolidates the professor’s position as the preeminent poet of Africa with transnational range.

Signcryption Standard Can Help Protect Confidential Digital Info, Worldwide

A new international standard is now available for protecting confidential digital information -- thanks to a UNC Charlotte professor regarded as the father of such technology.

After nearly a three-year process, the research efforts of College of Computing and Informatics’ professor Yuliang Zheng have been formally recognized as an international standard by the International Organization of Standardization (ISO).
Zheng invented the revolutionary new technology signcryption and continues his research in the college’s Department of Software and Information Systems.

Signcryption is a data security technology by which confidentiality is protected and authenticity is achieved seamlessly at the same time. When logging in to an online bank account, signcryption prevents a person’s username and password from being seen by unauthorized individuals and, at the same time, confirms that person’s identity for the bank. More traditional means of cyber security make this a more time-consuming, two-step process.

News of the adoption by the ISO of signcryption as an international standard comes amidst daily reports of cyber attack and cyber crime around the world. Zheng adds that the application will also enhance the security and privacy of cloud computing.
“The adoption of signryption as an international standard is significant in several ways,” said Zheng. “It will now be the standard worldwide for protecting confidentiality and authenticity during transmissions of digital information.”

Known as the father of the signcryption technology, Zheng is internationally recognized as an authority in cryptography and network security. He has published more than 200 scholarly articles and books on security and holds several patents in cyber security. His most recent publication “Practical Signcryption” is currently on sale worldwide.

“This will also allow smaller devices, such as smartphones and PDAs, 3G and 4G mobile communications, as well as emerging technologies, such as radio frequency identifiers (RFID) and wireless sensor networks, to perform high-level security functions,” he said. “And, by performing these two functions simultaneously, we can save resources, be it an individual’s time or be it energy, as it will take less time to perform the task.”

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National Finalist Soccer Team Gets New Coach -- From the Inside

Charlotte 49ers Director of Athletics Judy Rose announced Jan. 3 the hiring of associate head coach Kevin Langan as the 49ers’ new head men’s soccer coach. As a member of the coaching staff, Langan played an integral role in helping the 49ers reach the College Cup Finals this past season. During Langan’s three years as a member of the 49ers coaching staff, Charlotte won 40 games, reached the College Cup Finals, captured an Atlantic 10 regular-season title and made two NCAA Tournament appearances. Langan will be the seventh head coach in the 36-year history of the 49ers’ men’s soccer program.

“Kevin has been an integral part of the success of our soccer program,” Rose said. “We are thrilled that he has decided to take over the reigns as head coach. I am confident that the continuity of his leadership along with his strong knowledge of soccer will provide a smooth transition for our returning players and will be extremely attractive to prospective players.”

Langan just completed his third season with the Charlotte 49ers and his first season as associate head coach. He was promoted from his role as assistant coach last July.

“I am extremely excited and honored to become the head coach of the Charlotte 49ers soccer team,” Langan said. “I would like to thank Athletic Director Judy Rose, Senior Associate Athletic Director Kim Whitestone and the University for giving me the opportunity to lead the program onwards. I would also like to thank the current players, alumni and the Charlotte Soccer Community for the fantastic support I have received over the past few weeks; it has all been quite humbling to be honest.”

Since Langan has come to Charlotte, the 49ers’ wins totals have increased each season from 11 wins in 2009 to 13 wins in 2010 to 16 wins this past season. In 2009, the 49ers made their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1997. Charlotte ended #3 Wake Forest’s nation’s-best 46-game unbeaten streak against non-conference opponents. In 2010, Charlotte captured the program’s first-ever Atlantic 10 regular-season title. In 2011, Charlotte reached the College Cup for the second time in school history and advanced to the College Cup finals for the first time. The 49ers won 16 games which ties for the second most wins in the program’s history.

Before moving to Charlotte, Langan spent four years as the head boys' coach of the Classics Elite Soccer Academy in San Antonio, Texas. He also coached the Classics Elite Soccer Academy's U-18 United States Soccer Federation Academy team in 2008.

As a collegiate player, Langan was a standout player for the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas for the 2004-05 seasons. He captained them to a #1 national ranking and the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in 2004. In his two seasons at Incarnate Word, he was named Regional Defensive Player of the Year, Student Athlete of the Year and the International Graduate Student of the Year.

The Jersey, United Kingdom native also represented Great Britain at two World University Games; in 2001 in Beijing, China and then captaining the team in Daegu, South Korea in 2003. He was also selected to play for the England National Futsal Team on a Tour of Portugal in 2003. In England, Langan played professionally with Bristol City FC for six seasons, making his league and cup debut as an 18 year old. He was a member of the team that won promotion to the Championship in 1998.

Langan graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Coaching Education and Sports Development from the University of Bath (England) in 2004 and with a Master's Degree in Sports Management from the University of the Incarnate Word in 2006. He also holds his USSF Coaching "A" License.

Langan replaces Jeremy Gunn, who resigned a couple of weeks ago after five years at the helm of the 49ers men’s soccer program.


For more information, contact Brent Stastny, 704-687-6313,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Art in the City -- and Much More to Come

Since opening in August, the new UNC Charlotte Center City Gallery has become a vibrant venue for creative action. In September, muralists Antoine Williams and John Hairston came to the gallery night after night with buckets of bright paint to create “Here’s Hoping It Rhymes for a Reason,” a mural 30 feet wide and 12 feet tall that the artists completed right before viewers’ eyes during the Center City Building Community Day.

In late October, UNC Charlotte faculty Maja Godlewska and Mary Tuma hung clouds and tricycles throughout the space to create “Playground,” a performative installation that on occasion becomes a stage for improvisational dance by Department of Dance professor E.E. Balcos. And in January, projectors installed inside the gallery will create a visual spectacle by international artist Anna von Gwinner that will only be seen from outside the building.

Like the mission for the Center City building as a whole, the mission for the gallery includes a commitment to integrating the University into the Charlotte community in new and exciting ways.

Doing Less with Less? Not Hardly.

As the new year begins, we mark the midpoint in the University’s fiscal year. This is the fourth consecutive year of substantial budget cuts, based on reduced funding from the state. This year, UNC Charlotte is working through a $34 million dollar allocation cut, in addition to other reductions.

In stories that have been developed for this blog, the University magazine, and other channels — which represent the teaching, learning, research, engagement and accomplishments of our UNC Charlotte community — I recall something that was said last year about how we would deal with the shrinking budget. Someone very smart observed that we had been doing more with less funding during the preceding years of cuts, but that we had reached the point where the University was compelled to do exercise even greater focus and efficiency. We would be having more impact because efforts are more relevant, focused, and better executed.

How many times in the roller coaster lives of organizations are the people of those organizations actually allowed or compelled to do “less.” In my experience, never. Somehow we become more productive, more selective and oftentimes more efficient -- yet still effective based on our organization's mission.That is because good people — skilled, motivated, creative, determined people — never stop pushing, thinking, innovating and rebounding.

Check out the link to the latest edition of the UNC Charlotte magazine: Look through these pages. Read the articles. Look at the faces of the people in the photos. These are people pushing onward, doing more and better things for UNC Charlotte and the entire community it serves. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, volunteer advisory board members, and other friends of the University are ensuring that we deliver a net gain to the community. Tough times? For Sure. Delivering less to the community? Not hardly.

In Memoriam: Dorrie Fretwell, former University First Lady

In Memoriam: Dorrie Fretwell
Former UNC Charlotte First Lady

The following obituary was published Jan. 1, 2012 in The Charlotte Observer. The UNC Charlotte community extends its condolences to the Fretwell family.

Dorrie Shearer Fretwell

Dorrie S. Fretwell, of The Stewart Center, The Cypress, Charlotte, born January 2, 1927 to Alice Hassinger and Frederic Shearer, passed away peacefully on December 30, 2011.

Raised in Evanston, Illinois, Dorrie completed her B. Mus. and M. Mus. in music at Drake University in Iowa. At Drake she taught voice and piano and was president of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. Following voice study at the American School of Music in Fontainebleau, France, Dorrie began her career as a professional soprano, performing as a soloist with choral societies, musical clubs and in opera productions on stage and television.

In 1951, she married E.K. Fretwell, Jr., with whom she recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. She and E.K. raised their four children in New York City, Albany, Chappaqua, and Buffalo, NY during her husband's career as a leader in higher education. In each locale Dorrie was an active volunteer and served as an officer on numerous civic and professional boards including the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Society, The Community Music School (Buffalo), and the Girl Scouts of America. While in New York City, as President of the Columbia University Dames, she hosted Eleanor Roosevelt's visit to that university's campus. The couple moved to Charlotte in 1979 when E.K. became the Chancellor of UNC Charlotte.

Dorrie continued her civic activities in Charlotte with the Symphony, the Opera and The Literacy Council. During her husband's presidency at Buffalo State College, chancellorship at UNCC, and interim presidencies at The University of Massachusetts system and The University of North Florida, Dorrie was widely known for her trademark gracious hospitality and modesty as the First Lady. In 1985, Dorrie was among the first graduates of UNC Charlotte's MA in Psychology and shortly thereafter began her career as a practicing psychologist and published a number of articles related to depression and headache management. Dorrie received special recognition during the dedication of a new building being named in honor of E.K.'s service at UNC Charlotte when she learned, in a surprise announcement, that her name would also be included in the building's official name. After her retirement, Dorrie remained active with Charlotte's Myers Park Presbyterian Church, including singing with the church choir, and was a regular attendee at the Charlotte Symphony and Opera.

She and E.K. traveled extensively, including visits to universities in China, Australia, England, Brazil, Italy, and Germany. She was an avid reader and crossword devotee, and enjoyed her seven grandchildren. She is predeceased by her sister, Margie Parcell, and is survived by her loving family: her husband, E.K. Fretwell Jr.; four children, Barbara Fretwell, MD (Peter Cooke, MD), Peggy Cross (John), Jim Fretwell, and Katie Fretwell (Bob Saul); seven grandchildren; and her brother, Gary Shearer (Jane).

Dorrie's family would like publicly to extend its gratitude to the staff at The Stewart Center of The Cypress and the Hospice and Palliative Care Charlotte Region for their support and care, particularly during Dorrie's last months.

A celebration of life service is scheduled for Saturday, January 7, at 11 a.m. at Myers Park Presbyterian Church, Charlotte. The family will receive friends at a reception at the Clubhouse of The Cypress of Charlotte, 3442 Cypress Club Drive, Charlotte on Friday, January 6, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and then again following the service on Saturday at the church. An interment committal will be held privately. In lieu of flowers, donations in Dorrie's memory may be sent to The Dorrie Fretwell Professional Development Fund (a scholarship for Ph.D candidates in health/psychology), c/o UNC Charlotte Foundation, Office of University Development, 9201 University City Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28223-0001 or to The Charlotte Symphony at

Arrangements are in the care of T. H. Robertson Funeral Service Lic.; friends are welcome to share condolences online at