Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Campus Police help educate about drunk driving

The UNC Charlotte Police and Public Safety Department, along with representatives from Mecklenburg Safe Communities, recently held an event to raise awareness around the dangers of drunk driving.
Students planted 117 red flags near the Belk Tower as a memorial to people who have lost their lives in Mecklenburg County during the last five years to driving-while-intoxicated crashes. The flags were placed around a crashed car to reinforce visually the implications for those who drink and drive; the goal was to increase awareness especially among young adults.
Event speakers included Officer Jerry Lecomte from PPS, Elizabeth Aguliera with Mecklenburg Safe Communities Coordinator and students.
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Monday, December 1, 2014

UNC Charlotte Supports Giving Tuesday

Arts + Business = D3DanceStudio

By Larissa Kern
Pop music plays over the stereo as young dancers stretch on the studio floor. Christmas lights flash around the mirror of the darkened studio. Instructor Dedrick Perkins has turned off the lights while his students stretch in preparation for their jazz class at his Concord-based D3DanceStudio.

 A 21-year-old dance major at UNC Charlotte, Perkins opened the dance studio last spring with business partner Keyon Baker, 29, a Winthrop University graduate and operational risk manager at Wells Fargo. Their act of artistic entrepreneurship defies conventional wisdom: “workforce development” advocates rarely consider the arts to be a practical career choice. And as a college student, an African-American, and a male, Perkins definitely breaks the mold of the typical dance studio owner – white, female, and middle-aged.

Dedrick Perkins (right) and dance studio partner Keyon Baker
Perkins, a Charlotte native, had no interest in the arts until his junior year in high school, when he participated in a hip-hop dance class at the studio where his little sister studied. His senior year he took dance classes at Garinger High School. Enrolling at UNC Charlotte, he began teaching at two dance studios, one in Matthews and one in Concord. It was then that he began dreaming of his own studio. “I realized I valued the teaching aspect a lot more than performing,” he says.

Perkins met Baker his sophomore year in college and decided they would be a good business pair, with Baker overseeing operations and Perkins in charge of the artistic development. They created a business plan, but with Perkins still in school, had no immediate plans to launch the business. But one day last spring, Perkins saw a space for lease and contacted the owner. The location and layout were perfect, and the owner was eager for a tenant. Perkins had been saving money from his teaching; Baker also had capital to contribute. The two took their chance. “It all fell together,” says Perkins. “I didn’t know if I would have the opportunity again within five years, so I took it.”  They opened the studio in April 2014.

Perkins and Baker were financially prepared to survive the first year with only one student, but several students followed Perkins from other studios to D3. Realizing that there was no dance summer camp in Concord, they quickly launched one. They now have 15 students enrolled and have hired two teachers, in addition to Perkins.

The past nine months have been a learning experience. While balancing both studying and teaching, Perkins has had to handle issues like broken toilets in the girls’ bathroom and a leaking roof after heavy rain. “It’s a tedious process, but I love it,” he says, referring to all the practical problems owning a studio brings.

Perkins believes the dance curriculum at UNC Charlotte has prepared him for this new role. His choreography training not only allows him to choreograph all the dances his students will perform at recital and competition, but also to guide them to create their own dances. He credits his ballet pedagogy teacher and mentor, Associate Professor of Dance Delia Neil, with teaching him how to communicate clearly with his students, in tone and body language. “Their responses changed when I changed my methods because of that class. It helped me enhance and adjust my way of teaching.”  And his dance writing and history courses have helped his writing improve – a key element, Perkins says, in establishing professional credibility as he writes grants, creates his website and markets his studio. “Everything I have learned has prepared me for where I am and am going to be.”

Neil says Perkins has a great approach with kids: “He is so affable and endearing, that I think the students will adore him.” D3 student Bekah O’Reilly says Perkins “makes me feel comfortable to make mistakes.” Her step-sister Andrea Martinez agrees, adding, “He’ll let you keep trying.” Perkins demands excellence and proper dance etiquette from his students but still keeps it fun. “I have a very professional relationship with my kids,” he says, adding that they also “view me as a big brother, and don’t hesitate to ask questions.”

Perkins graduates in May and can then turn his full attention to D3DanceStudio. He and Baker hope that in the next few years they will be able to hire more full time teachers and buy the rest of the building complex to create more studio space. Ultimately, they hope to have as many 300 students.

“One day I would hope that the community will see my community as a valuable place for dance education,” Perkins says, “to see my kids progress in whatever they want to do.”

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Larissa Kern graduated from UNC Charlotte in December with a BA in dance and a minor in journalism.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Musical luncheon feted "Wayfaring Strangers" authors

By Phillip Brown

Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr.
The UNC Charlotte Alumni Association and Jim Woodward, chancellor emeritus, hosted “Wayfaring Strangers: A Musical Luncheon with Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr” on  Nov. 14, at Byron’s South End in Charlotte.

Authors Ritchie and Orr guide the reader on a musical voyage across oceans to capture the stories of the people, the times and the music that many Scots-Irish immigrants brought to the United States.

Born and raised in Scotland, Ritchie attended the University of Stirling. In the 1980s, she accepted an invitation to spend a semester at UNC Charlotte to work as a teaching assistant in the Psychology Department. During her time in Charlotte, she volunteered at WFAE-FM. At the time, the University held the license for the station. She approached station managers with an idea for a new show featuring traditional Celtic and folk music from her native Scotland, Ireland and the rest of the British Isles. More than 30 years later, one can still find her National Public Radio weekly show “The Thistle & Shamrock” on nearly 400 stations around the world.

Orr (with guitar) and Ritchie (middle) perform at a luncheon in the honor.

Orr, a vice chancellor at UNC Charlotte when Ritchie was here, later became president of Warren Wilson College near Asheville; he also founded the Swannanoa Gathering music workshops. Orr, who shared a passion for Celtic and folk music, remained close friends with Ritchie during the years, and the two collaborated on “Wayfaring Strangers.”

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Education major Jameka Parker honored for community service

UNC Charlotte senior Jameka Parker has been recognized for outstanding leadership and service by North Carolina Campus Compact, a statewide network of colleges and universities that are committed to community engagement. Parker is a recipient of the network’s Community Impact Student Award, which honors one student leader at each member school.

Parker is one of 18 students across the state to receive the 2014 award, joining more than 200 college students honored by the organization since the award was first presented in 2006.

A pre-service teacher majoring in Middle Grades Education with a minor in Urban Youth and Communities, Parker believes deeply in service learning, both as a civic obligation and as meaningful pedagogy. As a part of her Community Engagement Capstone, Parker started a girls dance troupe in a high poverty middle school with a curriculum focused on academic achievement, mentoring, and self-esteem.  Using the fundamentals of participatory action research, she conducted a needs assessment with students and teachers. The resulting program couples dance, academic support, and mentoring during a special period in the school day. Parker recruited fellow UNC Charlotte students to implement the curriculum, which improved student attitudes and school success. Parker is from Fayetteville, N.C.

Dr. Susan Harden, an assistant professor of Education at UNC Charlotte, nominated Parker for the award. “Jameka really ‘gets’ service learning,” Harden says. “She will make a wonderful teacher who knows how to use this pedagogy in her own classroom.”

Parker and other award winners will be honored at North Carolina Campus Compact’s annual student conference on November 8 at N.C. State University in Raleigh. Now in its 21st year, the 2014 conference will convene 180 student leaders from 25 campuses in 5 states, offering participants a slate of workshops focused on leadership best practices and community issues.

North Carolina Campus Compact is a collaborative network of colleges and universities with a shared commitment to educating engaged citizens and strengthening communities. Guided by an executive board of presidents and chancellors, the Compact supports member schools through professional development and resources related to civic and community engagement. The Compact was founded in 2002 and is hosted by Elon University.


Monday, October 6, 2014

39th International Festival live streamed to the world

By Jared Moon

New audiences became aware of UNC Charlotte’s International Festival through a collaborative effort between the Office of International Programs and the Office of University Communications.
A live webcast, portions of which were viewed by roughly 825 people in the United States and more than 150 internationally, highlighted the festival activities, and a segment produced by professionals from the Office of University Communications aired on UNC-TV’s “N.C. Now” prior to the festival. The office also promoted the festival through Inside UNC Charlotte, the University’s home page and the marquee at the front entrance to campus.
In addition, University communications broadcast and public relations staff pre-produced a number of segments involving UNC Charlotte’s international students that were aired during the five-hour live webcast of the International Festival. Faculty members from the Department of Languages and Culture Studies also provided translated verbiage for the webcast that was appropriate for audiences in target countries.
 “The festival serves as a representation of the larger and broader internationalization efforts of our campus,” said Joël Gallegos, assistant provost for International Programs. “It’s really our opportunity to highlight our students coming from around the world and to highlight the various cultures that are represented not only on our campus but in the Charlotte community.”
The coordinated efforts of the University Communications Office enabled greater numbers of people in the Charlotte region and around the state to learn more about UNC Charlotte’s globalization efforts, which was a goal for the collaboration.
University Communications’ Web communications staff utilized social media to distribute festival information to a number of nations; posts received from around the world during the festival were incorporated into the webcast.
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Jared Moon is the communications coordinator in the Office of Public Relations.

Early college high school gets ribbon-cutting

By Jared Moon
UNC Charlotte recently hosted a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Charlotte Engineering Early College (CEEC); the event coincided with on-campus meetings by the N.C. State Board of Education.
University, local and state leaders talked about how the CEEC was an example of innovative, educational concepts that have increased in popularity across North Carolina.
Chancellor Philip L. Dubois, who spoke at the ribbon cutting, noted, “Like most things in Charlotte, great ideas come about as the result of collaboration and teamwork. The idea for a high school with a focus on engineering and energy came to us from Jeff Corbett of Duke Energy. He brought the folks from North Carolina New Schools into the picture, and, soon, we were on our way with an exciting collaborative concept, coupled with commitment, enthusiasm and energy.”
Bill Cobey, chairman of the State Board of Educations, and Heath Morrison, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendent, also gave remarks at the ceremony.
The N.C. State Board of Education held its fall planning retreat Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at UNC Charlotte, along with monthly meeting Thursday, Oct. 2; the Office of University Communications provide a streaming webcast of the meeting.
The board holds monthly meetings in various settings across the state in order to engage and interact with the communities and projects it supports and oversees, according to officials. After its Thursday meeting, education board members toured CEEC.
CEEC’s first class is comprised of 100 ninth-graders, and as Dubois noted, “We want these students to benefit from the school’s proximity to and engagement with UNC Charlotte. Namely the students in the William States Lee College of Engineering, our teacher education candidates in the College of Education, our Center from STEM Education, as well as faculty, research centers and industry partners.”
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Jared Moon is the communications coordinator in the Office of Public Relations.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Kyle White: A Hero Among Us

By Stephen Ward

On one hand, Kyle White, '13, has taken his place among the hundreds of returning military veterans who have advanced their futures at UNC Charlotte.  That's in our university's DNA since its post-World War II founding to serve vets under the GI Bill. 
Kyle White at UNC Charlotte Center City

UNC Charlotte's founder, Bonnie Cone, would proudly call Kyle one of her 'Bonnie's Boys' for achieving his degree in finance in the Belk College of Business and beginning his career in financial services here in Charlotte with the Royal Bank of Canada. 

But Kyle also recently received a distinction that stands out from nearly all other men and women who have served in our armed forces. He was  awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama. He became just the seventh living recipient of this, the nation's highest military honor, from the war in Afghanistan.

You can see photos, maps and read the story of the ambush near Aranas, Afghanistan, at the official MOH Web site. You can also watch Kyle on the video below.

Moving forward, Kyle says he wants to be an advocate for the men and women in uniform who will continue to come home from the Middle East and elsewhere, to help them understand the opportunities the current GI Bill provides them, and to urge them to pursue the best possible university educations. In Kyle's case, that was what he found at UNC Charlotte. A Seattle-native turned Charlottean. An American hero who is also a Niner.

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Stephen Ward is executive director of university communications.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Medal of Honor recipient is UNC Charlotte graduate

By Phillip Brown
Edited by John Bland

On June 20, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors recognized Kyle White (’13) on his being awarded the Medal of Honor.

During the BOG’s regular monthly meeting, White was presented a special commendation from the board. UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois gave White a 49ers football signed by head coach Brad Lambert.

Kyle White accepts a 49ers football from Chancellor Dubois
According to White, his goal as a Medal of Honor recipient is to work with returning service members to inform them of their educational opportunities through the GI bill.

“I’m still trying to figure out how I’m going to work on this… Maybe I can go to bases and start talking to people about their benefits,” said White, who completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Currently, he is an investment analyst with RBC (Royal Canadian Bank) in Charlotte.

White  was awarded the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony on May 13, becoming the seventh living recipient to be awarded the medal for service in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Kyle White (center) accepts a resolution from the
 UNC Board of Governors. He is pictured with Chancellor Dubois
(far left), UNC Pres. Tom Ross (far right) and other UNC officials.
White, of Bonney Lake, Wash., earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University in fall 2013; he entered UNC Charlotte in fall 2011 after separating from the U.S. Army. Currently, he works as a financial analyst with RBC (Royal Canadian Bank) in Charlotte.

According to the Seattle Times, in 2007 White was as serving as a radiotelephone operator when his team of 14 U.S. soldiers, along with Afghan National Army soldiers, was ambushed at a meeting with village elders in Aranas, Afghanistan.

 During the attack, White was knocked unconscious by a rocket-propelled grenade that landed near him, according to the Stars and Stripes. “When he woke up, 10 of the 14-man American element and the ANA soldiers were gone. To avoid the enemy fire, they had been forced to slide 150 feet down the side of a rocky cliff.

“White noticed that his teammate, Spc. Kain Schilling, had been shot in the arm. After White and Schilling found cover under a tree, White put a tourniquet on Schilling and stopped the bleeding. Then White saw Marine Sgt. Phillip Bocks lying out in the open, badly wounded.

“White sprinted 30 feet across open ground under a hail of bullets to reach Bocks. White made four runs out in to the open to drag Bocks out of the line of fire. He succeeded, but Bocks eventually succumbed to his wounds. Soon afterward, Schilling got hit in the leg by small-arms fire. White again saved his life, using his belt as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.

“Then White noticed his platoon leader, 1st Lt. Matthew C. Ferrara, lying face-down on the trail, motionless. White again exposed himself to fire and crawled to Ferrara's position. After he realized Ferrara was already dead, White returned to Schilling’s side and began using his radio, until an enemy round blew the hand-mic out of his hand and disabled the radio. White grabbed Bocks’ radio and used it to bring in mortars, artillery, air strikes and helicopter gun runs to keep the enemy at bay. Friendly fire gave him his second concussion of the day when a mortar round landed too close and knocked him off his feet.

“After nightfall, White marked the landing zone and assisted the flight medic in hoisting the wounded Americans and Afghans into the helicopter. White would not allow himself to be evacuated until everyone else was in a position to leave.”

The Seattle Times printed a 2008 statement from White’s battalion commander Lt. Col. William Ostlund that stated “During a long dark night, Spc. White’s uncommon valor and perseverance saved lives… Extraordinary and consistently selfless actions by a young paratrooper.”

White has been a guest on the UNC Charlotte campus and a television and video segment produced during his visit will appear on an upcoming edition of UNC TV's "North Carolina Now" show.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Russian-speaking student learns lessons of humanity

Lauren Klein, a UNC Charlotte student, Department of Languages and Culture Studies, has been chosen as a winner of the United Nations Academic Impact “Many Languages, One World” contest. 

From among 1,500 contests, 60 students were chosen to represent each of the six official languages of the United Nations—Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.  Together with the other contest winners, Klein will travel to New York to participate in a four-day Global Youth Forum and present her work to the United Nations. 

Lauren Klein
Lauren, who has just completed her fourth semester of Russian language, was selected as one of 10 representatives of Russian.  In order to be selected, she had to first demonstrate written proficiency in Russian in the form of a 1,000 word essay and then demonstrate spoken proficiency by undergoing an oral interview in Russian.  In her essay, Lauren addresses the question of the relationship of multilingualism to global citizenship by drawing on her family’s history and her own personal experiences with languages learning.  

Compelled by a love of Russian literature, particularly the works of Vladimir Nabokov, whom she quotes in her essay, Klein began to study Russian independently at the age of 16.  To her dismay, however, she encountered adverse attitudes towards Russian in her family, which stemmed from events of the past.  Unbeknownst to her until recently, Lauren’s maternal great-grandparents fled the Russian Empire for Canada as Jewish refugees at the beginning of the 20th century.  Yet these harrowing circumstances only amplified the importance of Russian for Klein. 

In her view, studying another language increases humanity, respect, and understanding between people of different cultural backgrounds.  The United Nations contest has been a great opportunity for Klein to connect with native speakers of Russian, from her UNC Charlotte professor Yuliya Baldwin, who worked closely with Klein throughout the process, to other teachers and students in the United States and in Russia who generously helped her improve her Russian language skills.  

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Korean Governors Visit EPIC

By Mike Hermann

UNC Charlotte's Energy Production & Infrastructure Center continues to draw admirers form around the world. 

As part of its tour of the southeastern United States, the Governors Association of Korea visited the EPIC building on the UNC Charlotte campus April 16 to learn about energy collaboration at the city and state levels here. 

The visit was arranged by E4 Carolinas and the UNC Charlotte Energy Production and Infrastructure Center. Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter welcomed the group, and other local energy leaders spoke about how Charlotte defines and enacts energy regulations and policy, the creation of EPIC and its role in the industry, and the emergence of the Charlotte region as an energy hub.

Representatives on the Governors Association of Korea included city managers, policy planners, public service officers, executive directors and other civic leaders from a number of Korean town and cities.
Charlotte Mayor Clodfelter addresses Korean governors.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

O.A.S. Visitors See EPIC Innovation

By Paul Nowell

A delegation from the Organization of American States (OAS) recently toured UNC Charlotte’s Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) as part of a program sponsored by the Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
The program’s overall focus was to provide the delegates insight into Charlotte’s emergence as a global energy capital, which is why city leaders wanted the delegation to visit EPIC. Alexis Gordon, international relations manager for the city of Charlotte, led the tour.
OAS delegation
Visitors from Central and South American get a briefing
 from Prof. David Young.

EPIC was created by UNC Charlotte to prepare highly trained engineers who would be qualified to meet the demands of the energy industry, through traditional and continuing education. In addition EPIC provides sustainable assistance for the Carolinas energy industry by increasing capacity and support for applied research. 
OAS delegates spent time in two of EPIC’s high-tech laboratories. One was the high-bay lab, an advanced testing facility where faculty and students design and test resilient infrastructure systems. They also visited EPIC’s Smart Grid Lab.
“The average age of the engineers working in the field right now is 55 and that means they are getting close to retirement,” he said. “In addition, it takes a different skill set to work in the new technology than what was being taught 20 years ago.”
EPIC is a highly collaborative industry/education partnership that produces a technical workforce, advancements in technology for the global energy industry while supporting the Carolinas’ multi-state economic and energy security.
The U.S. Department of Commerce through the International Trade Administration and the Economic Development Administration in collaboration with the Inter-American Competitiveness network arranged for the OAS visit, which included about 51 delegates from several OAS countries.
The delegates are considered “gatekeepers” in their home countries who can make economic development happen. They included vice ministers, private sector leaders, mayors, heads of major universities and leaders of regional economic development partnership groups.
Chip Yensan, associate director for infrastructure at the Charlotte Research Institute, briefed the delegation on UNC Charlotte’s latest facility, PORTAL.  Both EPIC and the PORTAL building are located on the University’s Charlotte Research Institute campus.
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Paul Nowell is media relations manager in the Office of Public Relations.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Campus Visits are Better than Ever

Students may notice a new set of wheels traveling on campus roads this spring. Two new shuttle buses, wrapped with the UNC Charlotte logo and "VISIT. LIVE IT. LOVE IT." now tour campus daily, as the undergraduate admissions campus visit program expands its daily tours of campus.
New buses augment walking tours for prospective students, families.
Each year, about 9,000 students and their families tour the UNC Charlotte campus, and this visit experience is the primary decision-making factor that influences the student’s decision to apply or enroll. "As the campus has grown, so has our visit program," says Claire Kirby, director of undergraduate admissions. "We wanted to be able to show our visiting prospective students and their families more of the campus, which we were unable to do with a walking-only tour."
The two new buses, which seat 48 people and one which offers handicapped accessibility, will allow our visitors to complete their campus tour to include a view of the football stadium and CRI, then to South Village to view residence halls.
Students who sign up for a campus visit will begin their experience with a 30-minute presentation about admission requirements from an admissions counselor. After the presentation, groups of families are paired up with "Niner Guides," student volunteers who walk the families through the central part of campus to the Student Union. "The Niner Guides add their personal student experiences on this portion of the tour while they explain what classes or programs are held in each of the campus buildings," adds Kirby. "This current student perspective adds a personal touch to the campus tour, and helps prospective students and their families gain a real understanding of whether UNC Charlotte would be a good fit for them."
After the walking portion of the tour, these families will hop aboard the new shuttle buses and tour the outskirts of campus, giving them a more complete view of our growing campus.
The daily campus visit program is offered Monday through Friday, and select Saturday mornings. Reservations are required and can be made online.
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Health & Human Services Study: Housing Program Helps Save Lives, Money

By Latricia Boone

A Charlotte-based permanent supportive housing program is finding success in its efforts to improve stability for chronically homeless individuals while also helping the community to save money, according to a report from  UNC Charlotte’s College of Health and Human Services.
The report “Moore Place Permanent Support Housing Evaluation Study” examined the Moore Place housing program and how it is supporting individuals struggling with the devastating effects of homelessness, especially those suffering from disabling conditions such as mental illness, addiction and physical health issues. 
Moore Place
Social work assistant professor Lori Thomas led the evaluation team that studied the impact of the Moore Place program on the housing, clinical and social stability of its tenants and on their emergency room and jail utilization. The team, which included experts from the UNC Greensboro, N.C. A&T State University and the University of South Carolina, concluded that Moore Place has succeeded in maintaining a high housing stability rate for its clients. The report also found that the program helped to reduce inappropriate service utilization in hospitals and jails among its tenants -- alleviating a burden on law enforcement and emergency health services.
With 85 apartments, Moore Place is the centerpiece of the Urban Ministry Center’s HousingWorks program. It is based on a philosophy that housing homeless individuals first stabilizes their lives and provides the foundation for successful outcomes.  Since opening in early 2012, Moore Place has provided permanent housing and comprehensive support services to individuals with extensive histories of homelessness and a disabling condition, such as behavioral health disorders, chronic health conditions, physical disabilities and developmental disabilities. Moore Place is the first in the Charlotte area to operate using the “Housing First” philosophy.
Lori Thomas
 “’Housing First’ is ending homelessness for some of Charlotte’s most vulnerable,” Thomas said. “This study adds to a growing body of research that suggests that even the hardest to serve in our communities can be successfully housed and that housing with necessary supportive services not only leads to better outcomes for individuals but is cheaper for the community.”
Overall, the study found:
  • Moore Place tenants are dealing with challenges that surpass the vulnerability of those in comparable programs nationally
  • Moore Place is demonstrating high housing stability rates after one year of housing
  • Area hospital bills, emergency room visits, and lengths of hospitalizations have decreased during tenants’ first year of housing at Moore Place.  There was a 78% reduction in emergency room visits and a 79% reduction in in-patient hospitalizations, resulting in a 70% reduction ($1.8 million) in hospital bills in just one year
  • Arrests and jail stays of Moore Place tenants decreased during their first year in the program. There was a 78% reduction in arrests and 84% reduction in jail stays
Another outcome reported by Moore Place tenants was greater social support among friends, as compared to their circumstances prior to entering the program.
According to the evaluation team, the newly released findings are part of an intermediate phase of the research project. The final phase will continue to document the housing stability of tenants, as well as clinical, social and community impact that may be further associated with the program in tenants’ second year of residency.
Moore Place is owned and operated by the Urban Ministry Center, an interfaith organization that provides an array of services to meet the needs of Charlotte’s homeless population. Later this year, the Moore Place project is slated to expand by an additional 35 units of housing for the chronically homeless.
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Latricia Boone is communications director for the College of Health & Human Services.

Monday, February 24, 2014

UNC Charlotte Honored for Long-Standing, International Partnership

By Latricia Boone

UNC Charlotte has received the University of Cantabria (UniCan) Gold Medal award in recognition of the success of its long-standing partnership with the university. The ceremony was held in Spain on January 27, where the UNC Charlotte Provost Joan Lorden, along with a small delegation, traveled to accept the award on behalf of the University.

“I would like to express our sincere appreciation for this wonderful recognition,” said Provost Lorden. “Campus internationalization and exchange partnerships contribute significantly to our mission and to be recognized in this way from one of our oldest exchange partners is a special honor.”

Provost Joan Lorden accepts a Gold Medal in Spain.
The Gold Medal award is an honor of distinction, which UniCan gives to only one group or individual annually, recognizing an entity that has had an enormous impact on their campus. The award was presented by Teresa Susinos Rada, Vice Rector for Internationalization of the University of Cantabria. The Gold Medal awarded to the University  of North Carolina at  Charlotte  is to show  recognition  of the values of responsibility, solidarity and partnership in International  Relations, allowing a fruitful exchange between  geographically  and culturally  distant institutions, but institutions which are close in their interests and objectives,” said Rada. “This medal symbolizes these principles and it does so by embodying them in this institution, with which we have been maintaining long and invaluable bilateral relations.”

Provost Lorden was joined by Robert Johnson, Dean of the College of Engineering; Sheri Spaine Long, Language and Culture Studies; and Joël Gallegos, Assistant Provost for International Programs. Gallegos, who is very proud of the successful relationship that has been established between UNC Charlotte and UniCan, says the partnership underscores the importance of building strong international linkages. “Our international partnerships play such a critical role in the comprehensive internationalization of UNC Charlotte,” he said. “This special recognition highlights the value of our network abroad as well as our institutional footprint.”          

The University of Cantabria is one of UNC Charlotte’s oldest exchange partners, with more than 25 years of collaboration between the two institutions. Over the life of the partnership, more than 500 students from North Carolina have enjoyed the opportunity to study on the campus of UniCan, while also exploring the rich cultural heritage of Spain.

The University of Cantabria is a long-standing exchange partner.
Early on, the institutional exchange focused primarily on the semester in Spain program, which enables students at institutions across the UNC system to travel to Spain and study. Past engagement has included a successful collaboration between UniCan and the UNC Charlotte Colleges of Engineering and Arts + Architecture whereby students from Civil Engineering and Architecture would spend a summer in Spain working on a collaborative project.  UNC Charlotte faculty have also enjoyed the benefits of the Universities’ collaboration, serving as resident directors and spending an academic year at UniCan.

Today, the partnership is celebrated through bilateral exchanges between academic disciplines with a goal to proactively pursue engagement and research in areas such as Business Administration, Civil Engineering, Education, and Languages and Culture Studies.

Currently, there are a total of 18 students from six UNC system schools -- six from UNC Charlotte -- studying in Spain, as part of the exchange. According to Gallegos, UNC Charlotte is in discussion with UniCan about the possible expansion of the partnership.
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Latricia Boone, a member of the Office of Public Relations, is communications director for the colleges of Education and Health and Human Services.

Friday, February 21, 2014

PORTAL Harnesses the Power of UNC Charlotte

By Jared Moon

With the doors to the University’s newest building officially open, local media was invited to tour the newly minted PORTAL building for a first-hand look at the building and what it has to offer.

A marriage of vision and practicality, PORTAL—an acronym for Partnership, Outreach and Research to Accelerate Learning—is a $35 million facility designed to be a central hub for industry, academia and research, providing a place to connect the campus and the community for economic development. Robert Wilhelm, vice chancellor for research and economic development, and Paul Wetenhall, president of Ventureprise, UNC Charlotte’s business incubator, spoke with a cohort of journalists (representing the Charlotte Observer, Charlotte Business Journal, WSOC-TV, TWC News 14 and Fox Carolinas) about the University’s commitment to economic development through collaboration with the business community and how PORTAL is a visible embodiment of that commitment.

Vice Chancellor Robert Wilhelm briefs media on the research and collaboration attributes of PORTAL.
The media tour got started in the building’s vast, contemporary atrium that possesses a more business friendly atmosphere, rather than academic. 

The space is designed to promote interaction and collaboration among tenants and visitors, and innovate by enabling academic, corporate and entrepreneurial communities to interact.

The atrium is surrounded by offices and meeting rooms, and features two conference rooms with floor-to-ceiling glass walls that serve as bridges spanning the upper levels of the atrium.

Driving MBA is a PORTAL tenant whose technology teaches safe driving.
Winding through the four-story, 96,000-square-foot building, the tour showcased the ample conference and seminar space available to tenants; a café that stimulates connections and eliminates the need to leave for lunch; roughly 25,000 square feet of office space for 20-24 young companies within Ventureprise (also housed in PORTAL), which also includes a student business incubator; and roughly 20,000 square feet on the fourth floor for corporate partners with substantive research and training collaborations.

Also calling PORTAL home is the Office of Technology Transfer, the University entity that identifies, protects and commercializes University research and intellectual property.  The office is one of the country’s best in putting intellectual capital to work. Considering the external orientation of PORTAL, the Office of Technology Transfer is a natural fit.

PORTAL will be officially dedicated Friday, Feb. 28.

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Jared Moon is communications coordinator in the Office of Public Relations.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Student Enjoys White House Internship

Edited by Paul Nowell

UNC Charlotte student Michael Higgins recently completed an internship through The Washington Center working as a student volunteer in the Office of Presidential Correspondence in Washington D.C. He took some time from his duties in November to describe his experiences with Media Relations Manager Paul Nowell:

Tell us about yourself and why you decided to attend UNC Charlotte.
Michael Higgins at the White House
“I am a 22 year-old undergraduate planning to graduate in May 2014 with a B.A. in political science, a B.S. in economics, and a minor in Islamic studies concentrated in Mideast and South Asian affairs.  My studies are geared towards a future career in policy and/or government affairs.  Being from Raleigh, most people might expect that I attended State, Duke, or Chapel Hill, but I never found myself inclined to attend any of those schools.  I was so impressed with Charlotte’s state of the art campus and facilities that I made a pretty quick decision about where I would study after I graduated high school.  It was a smart move.  My curriculum overlapped enough for me to get two degrees and a minor in just four years and I was awarded the opportunity to work in our nation’s capital.”

·         Did you do anything at the Democratic National Convention when it came to Charlotte in 2012?
“I wish I had.  At the time I was apathetic toward the upcoming Presidential Election, so I failed to get on board with volunteer opportunities at the DNC.  I regret that now.  After watching President Obama speak I realized how important this particular election would be, so I registered to vote for the first time and watched every single debate.  The issues brought to the table were so compelling that I became more interested than ever to explore opportunities to work for the Executive.”

·       Tell me about the job at the White House.
“After gaining acceptance to the Washington Center, I adamantly pursued a chance to volunteer for the White House.  A representative from headquarters forwarded me information about student volunteer opportunities in the Office of Presidential Correspondence (OPC) and I applied without hesitation.  The student volunteer program I participate in is offered by OPC and is separate from the White House Internship Program.”

·       What is a typical day like?
“I primarily help sort letters addressed to President Obama, Vice President Biden, the First Lady, and White House Staff.  I also answer calls from constituents who have policy concerns and submit their comments to the Executive Office of the President.  The most rewarding part of my experience was being exposed to various issues that our country faces.  It has built my awareness and inspired me to conduct more research on topics I knew little about and others I once thought I understood. Reading or listening to personal stories of Americans will make anyone consider answering John F. Kennedy’s infamous question regarding what you can do for your country! 

·         Any anecdotes you can share about being in the White House during such an intense period, with government shutdowns, battles over Obamacare, Syria, and other major events?
“It was certainly an eventful few months.  I felt so alive being in our nation’s capital where all of the action was happening!  Work got busier as each of these events unfolded and I began to realize how hard the president’s job actually is.”

During the shutdown, my program was also closed, but I made the most of my time.  I researched the issue, visited several privately-owned museums, toured George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, and witnessed live press coverage on Capitol Hill.”

·         What do you hope to get out of this experience?
“Fond memories, a taste of professional life, but most importantly I hope that it will help me get my foot in the door somewhere I truly desire to be.  When I first started, I thought I might be able to gain employment at the White House if I successfully demonstrated my skills, commitment, and work ethic.  I began to realize that perhaps it would be best for me to start smaller and build up my qualifications first.  I am sure I will make it in one day if I still desire to be there.”

·         Do you think it’s worthwhile for other students to spend a semester/year/period in this sort of work? What do you get from being in this environment?
“Of course!  All students should get a taste of their particular career interest through an internship, volunteer opportunity and/or semester program if it is feasible.  It will enhance their professional development, give them networking opportunities, and influence their career decisions.  That last point is the most important.  It is better to realize whether you love or hate something before you graduate and get hired.”

·         What are your aspirations and future plans? Do you plan to work in politics?
Right now I am not entirely sure.  I have always been interested in national security and advising policymakers on what priorities to set for America’s best interests at home and abroad to protect our citizens.  I am confident that my passion for such a career would drive me to accomplish great things.  However, it is quite a competitive field that seeks some of the brightest minds in the country, so I need to keep my options open.  I have also considered working in government affairs in the private sector, which might give me a greater opportunity to pursue higher education and open the door to an important job in government down the road.  In either case, being a volunteer at the White House was certainly worthwhile and I was proud to serve there.  I am sure including that experience on my resume will make me more marketable.  The fear of what will come next intensifies as graduation approaches, but I think that everything will work out for those who hit the ground running early on.”

·         Do you plan to come back to UNC Charlotte, or does this finish up your studies?
“Yes, I will be wrapping up my final semester in the spring (2014).  It seems bittersweet, but I feel ready to move on to the next chapter of my life.  I look forward to sharing my experience with my classmates and the Charlotte City Council.”


 Paul Nowell is media relations manager in the Office of Public Relations.