UNC Launches "Community" Web Site

In her guest column in yesterday's Chapel Hill News, Nancy Suttenfield announced the creation of Our Community, "a web resource for members of the Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Orange County communities."

As someone who has often found it difficult to locate UNC-generated materials, this is a most welcome resource.

Initial offerings include materials on UNC's position on OI-4 zoning changes to be discussed Wed. night and material on the waste disposal site.



Thank you, Dan, for highlighting our new website. It is definitely a work in progress and I welcome suggestions and ideas for what you would find useful there. You can either post to OP, or contact me at Linda_Convissor@unc.edu.


This is excellent, it allows easy access to UNC documents which may be located in different sections of the larger UNC website. Could a section on the Arts Common be added? A search of the UNC site indicates there is information in the following areas --- Office of the Provost/News, Carolina First, University News Service and the Ackland site. It would be wonderful to easily access all these documents from Our Community.
Thank you for creating a a way to improve communication with citizens of the community.

Mmmmmh. Amazing, some of UNC's biggest detractors may actually consider throwing the institution a complement. Lets log that in to the time capsule.

Oh, yes, by the way, do people realize that the "free" bus service we enjoy in Chapel Hill is funded to the tune of 75% by UNC?

UNC is a responsible corporate citizens, which maybe, just maybe, doesn't like to be jerked around by policy makers over air handling units, sprinkler systems, roadworks that block important access to hospitals and the creation of expanded educational and research facilities as well as employment opportunities here.

Our Town Council has been expert at this in the recent past. Of course, I like things to stay the same, don't you? Change is such a hassle. I long for the days when Franklin Street was a dirt road.

Bobby, that 75% funding includes some money straight from a student fee, voted for by the students. While I'm not a UNC-basher, I do think credit needs to be given to the students themselves, whose advocacy on this issue went a long way towards making free fare happen.

Anyone know the specific numbers? I did a very quick google search and couldn't find the detail I wanted.

Total systen ridership last fiscal year was over 5 million trips. I don't have a figure for trips starting and ending on campus but you can bet it's plenty. After fare free, ridership went up 42% the first year and approx. 20% each of the next two years. Some one could calculate the # of decks and acreage that would be needed to accommodate equivalent parking as well as the cost of the needed road capacity to have thousands more driving to campus. UNC students and staff who use the service are saving hundreds of dollars annually. Although many others take advantage of it, fare free is, as Clapp points out, primarily a benefit UNC provides to those needing to get to campus.

Fare free is a great program and UNC is smart to support it. Sometimes "responsible citizenship" also passes the cost-benefit equation.

"Some one could calculate the # of decks and acreage that would be needed to accommodate equivalent parking as well as the cost of the needed road capacity to have thousands more driving to campus."

uh dan, it doesn't seem like it was that long ago that the bus cost $ and now you make it sound that if we ever went back to that, Chapel Hill would become an overrun concrete jungle?

The University of North Carolina was anticipated by a section of the first state constitution drawn up in 1776 directing the establishing of "one or more universities" in which "all useful learning shall be duly encouraged and promoted." State support, it directed, should be provided so that instruction might be available "at low prices." The American Revolution intervened and it was not until 1789, the year that George Washington became president of the new nation, that the University was chartered by the General Assembly.

UNC was crafted as an institution for we the people, to borrow a contemporary phrase, and has served an institution by the people and for the people (depending on whom the "people" were unfortunately defined as) throughout much of its history.

It wasn't constituted as

a body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person although constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties including the capacity of succession

I've admired the University on the Hill for almost 3 decades, but I don't admire its most recent administrative and BOT leadership and the direction they're taking it.

Somewhere along the way they've seem to come under the misapprehension that they're running a corporation, so Mr. Clapp's confusion about "responsible corporate citizens" is nearly forgivable

But UNC isn't a corporation and it shouldn't answer solely to the needs of the corporate board-like BOT as it seems to have in these last 6 or 7 years. I think many of the posters on orangepolitics.org are troubled by UNC's current direction and, just like the compassion one extends to a favored, loved child that's gone astray, they're reaching out with alternatives. I'm not sure if the current UNC and BOT are amenable to this loving engagement, so maybe we'll have to wait for the next crew. Even so, there's no harm in continuing to try to remind them that this our University also, that we all "own a share" (to use a corporate analogy) in it and that we want the best possible outcomes for all involved.

Will--universities all over this country are being forced by political and financial pressures to act more and more like corporations. You may have noticed that corporations are falling all over themselves to set up for-profit universities (U of Phoenix, Capella, etc.). There's big money in that sector and by that very fact of its existence, the marketplace is changing the character of what you and I grew up thinking a university should be.

There's a lot of criticism of UNC on this board and much of it is warranted. Unfortunately, very little of it is informed as to the external pressures contributing to the administration's actions and attitudes. At a time in history when we have such a high percentage of educated populace, the availability of interactive communications technologies, and the means to share and distribute knowledge widely, the corporatization of education is forcing us into an old framework of knowledge that is inconsistent with modern realities.

The same counting/testing mentality that is killing our public schools is also attacking our institutions of higher education, including UNC. Students (and their parents) today expect to get in and get out, often without making a deep personal commitment to their own learning; they want grades over learning; they want good jobs over a better understanding of the world we live and the history of how we got here. And corporate institutions are responding to (fueling) that attitude by setting up their own institutions that routinize teaching and learning; by ignoring the research mandate; by lowering standards for faculty.

Sorry, I'm on a rant but I'm over-the-top tired of all the ragging on UNC. Nationwide, universities that have an investment in research, in the creation of knowledge, in the molding of scholars, are twisting and turning trying to figure out how to hold on to their visions of academia. I can't envision a world in which academic functions are owned entirely by private interests, but that's what UNC is facing. There are numerous publications, both books and journals, that track the future of higher education.

I'm not suggesting that the town lay down and let themselves be bowled over, we have to find a way to cohabitat in this small space. But I would give much more credence to your arguments and criticism if they showed any kind of understanding of the larger context in which UNC lives and fights for its future. I think there's a lot of power grabbing going on by some UNC officials, but I also think that some/much of it is a reaction to external threat. If you really value the school as much as you say you do, I encourage you to put your prodigious research skills to work and bone up on this crisis. Even if you don't believe me, there's an old adage that says 'know your enemy' so a little research is going to help you anyway you look at it.

I would give more credence to WillR's arguments and criticisms if he had a last name.

Terri, you're dead on to the over-arching problems facing all universities, thank you for making such a great case.

I'm somewhat aware of the crises they face but I'm trying to deal with one University, a University I've personally observed over many years, a University with a grand history, a preeminent position and a continuing, awesome potential. Oh, and a University I support both philosophically and financially.

That's the context I'm dealing with. Like a lot of our country's institutions, UNC has been corrupted, maybe even hijacked, by principles and philosophies counter to its healthy evolution ("What's the Matter with Kansas?"). It concentrates its treasure on bricks-n-mortar, in a day when 'net-based learning is catching on, and undercuts its staff, especially those starting along their academic path (grad students, TAs) and basic support staff (grounds/janitorial/facilities), in favor of its "Centennial Campus envy". Add in what appears to be another boondoggle of Global Transpark proportions, a boondoggle with potentially serious negative consequences to the health and well-being of our community, and you'd think any observor should be troubled.

Somethings gone topsy-turvy.

I'm here, you're here, we're the "johnnies on the spot". What to do, what to do?

Actually Will there are many online learning programs at UNC. The School of Public Health has the largest but all of the other professional schools (except Law) have their own initiatives. Many of the large (non-NC) universities that jumped into online learning early, took huge financial loses so I have no objection to UNC's slower approach. What I am especially proud of UNC for is their philosophy of reaching out to the low SES areas of the state, using a combination of video, online, and face-to-face instructional delivery. The School of Pharmacy is setting up a new program with Elizabeth City State to help meet the needs of one of our neediest sections of the state. The School of Social Work has partnered with 5-6 smaller institutions to help set up SW programs; the School of Public Health trains health workers across the state in partnership with AHEC and regional medical centers. So while the flagship schools in other states are gobbling up out-of-state students as part of their survival strategy, our university is serving the residents of our state.

Terri is one of my OrangePolitics.org "heros" for expressing such a thoughtful viewpoint.

As far as "What's the Matter with Kansas," WillR's reference, it is a tired reference. I've commented on that book in previous postings. I would encourage folks to read it and make their own conclusions, instead of having it referenced as some sort of "proof" of corruption and conspiracy. Very tired, very tired.

Bobby Clapp

I didn't profer "What's the Matter..." as some kind of proof of corruption or conspiracy. I should've inserted an "ala" in there to make it clear I was using it as a metaphor.

The point is that UNC's current leadership are making decisions,
for whatever reasons, that seem counter to the longterm health and welfare of both their institution and of our community.

You suggested that they're running the operation along corporate lines and I agreed. Further, I and others suggest that running this institution like a private corporation is counter to its founding intent, counter to its current charter and detrimental to its future prospects.

I don't understand where your "conspiracy" element came from, but I'd argue that the corrupting influence of a selfish corporate ideology is apparent in UNC's latest dealings.

Lets not get carried away with my reference to a "Good Corporate Citizen." That terminology is routinely used to refer to the Great Harvest Bread Company or the PTA Thrift Shop. It is basically a term which gives kudos to ORGANIZATIONS (of any type) which do responsible things inside the organization or outside for the community. This can be applied to for-profit or not-for profit organizations, businesses...

I did not say that UNC was being run as a business, nor imply it. Terri has sufficiently expressed the pressures UNC is under in terms of how it must deal with certain decisions.

Maybe the reason some of the corperate behavior is obvious is because part of the revolution in American higher education included the creation of corporations associated with in academy and the duel hatted leadership and interlocking board memberships we now see. Likewise, we have strong partnerships between the academy and corporations to bring in the funding that the state and tuition doesn't provide. We also now have faculty "profit centers" in the form of research centers that can fund faculty endeavors and graduate students that might not get funded otherwise. I submit that many of these developments have fundamentally changed the academy and the way it does "business." Thus, in many ways, the leadership is feeling its way as it goes because they didn't develop under this new model.

Remember the old blues song: "The good old days, the good old days, I was there; where were they?"


That makes a lot of sense; I suspect the balance is very hard to maintain, given human behavior regarding money and the sheer fact that educators are trying to do more with less.

Bobby Clapp

Why are "educatiors trying to do more with less"? These are policy decisions that are being made primarily by financial interests. The fact that we acquiesce to them does not make them either inevitable or good. One need only examine the composition of the UNC BOT to see that a very narrow spectrum of interests is represented.

It is worth noting that the same interests that fund the campaigns of their cronies for top state offices then force cuts in tax rates in Raleigh that then lead to lower funding for education. These are then largely the same folks who are so ready to step into the breach to fund and transform our public university into a corporate institution.

Another point worth exploring is Fred's contention that "the leadership is feeling its way as it goes because they didn't develop under this new model." Half true for sure. Moeser etal want to be world class and even #1. Their main strategy for achieving this is to do what many other universities did a decade ago and more (including NCSU!): build a research campus and a fairly conventional one at that. It's sad that the trustees are too blinded by the dollar signs in their eyes and by their own rhetoric to insist on a more visionary approach that would demonstrate real leadership by UNC.

I doubt that Chancellor Moeser's view of Carolina
North as a corporate-funded research park will come
to pass as he projects or as the "strong partnerships
between the academy and corporations" as Fred Black
describes. Rather I think that Carolina North will
develop simply as an extension of the main campus,
with a strong, almost exclusive, emphasis on research funded by the NIH and NSF. I say this for
two reasons, first because by contrast to these agencies,
if you exclude athletics, corporations provide very little
funding to UNC. As long as the NIH budget continues
to increase and as long as UNC continues to employ
faculty sufficiently strong to attract their share of the
research funds, UNC will continue to grow in the area
federally-sponsored research. My second reason
is because UNC badly needs the space in which to do
its sponsored research. They're renting space all over
Chapel Hill and Carrboro and would like to consolidate
it. Remember this -- at the last public hearing about
the Carolina North project at town hall, UNC officials
talked repeatedly about corporate collaborations, but
followed with three pleas for space from a research
investigator in radiology, the director of the Frank Porter Graham center, and the then associate dean of the School of Public Health. I'm not saying the work isn't important, just that it isn't funded by corporations.


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