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Chancellor Linda P. Brady talks with students in Elliott University Center.
Chancellor Linda P. Brady talks with students in Elliott University Center.
Maintaining the mandate

After coming home from a recent Spartans basketball game, I tuned in to UNC-TV to watch “An Evening with Five Presidents.” I listened to Bill Friday talk about “the university of all the people.” In a way only he can, the former UNC president passionately described the importance of affordable education for the citizens of North Carolina. President Friday emphasized, “The university … is the engine that produces the people who will lead this state in the next half-century. [We must make] certain that it will continue to draw the talent regardless of the cost.”

As the percentage of state appropriations for higher education continues to decline, UNCG and institutions throughout the UNC system are increasing tuition. Many of our students and their families are worried, and rightfully so. Students count on North Carolina to keep education affordable. At UNCG, we are working hard to cut costs and remain accessible. We have completed academic realignments, realized administrative efficiencies and energy savings, and used technology to cut costs. Last summer, UNCG was recognized by The Education Trust as one of five US universities who do well by low-income students. This year, we welcomed our second cohort of UNCG Guarantee scholars to campus.

As a sophomore UNCG Guarantee student, Jake Neal has a chance to earn a quality undergraduate degree and graduate with little or no debt. Like many of his classmates, Jake balances his studies with several part-time jobs. He grew up in Murphy, a small town in the heart of the North Carolina mountains. Jake's school served students from kindergarten through 12th grade, and his graduating class was small — 48 students. While no one in his immediate family had gone to college, Jake knew a college education was key to living the life he'd dreamed.

Jake's future is full of possibility. He originally considered majoring in biology and pre-pharmacy, but is now eyeing a political science degree with thoughts of attending law school and maybe even pursuing a career in politics. No matter which he chooses, with a college degree, the sky is the limit to the dreams he can achieve.

While we continue to raise private dollars to expand the UNCG Guarantee, the program currently is limited to 35 new students each year. For many other students on our campus, affordable tuition may mean the difference between attending college or not. An affordable education may mean the difference between an early career being burdened by student loans or not.

North Carolina is one of the only states that includes in its constitution a mandate that “the benefits of the University of North Carolina … be extended as far as practicable … to the people of the State free of expense.” As North Carolinians, we need to engage the conversation that higher education is both a private and a public good. Those who earn a college degree are not only more successful in their careers; they are also more likely to vote, volunteer and give back to their communities.

So, while access to an affordable education can make a difference for the individual student, it's also important on a much grander scale. Higher education not only transforms students but entire communities. It affects who we are as a state and will influence our economic competitiveness and the quality of life for North Carolina's citizens in the future.

— Chancellor Linda P. Brady

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Something to talk about
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In the coming months you might notice something different about UNCG communications. A different look. A different feel. And the small words at the bottom — Do something bigger altogether.

UNCG is launching its integrated marketing and strategic communication initiative, and it's one that has come with lots of conversation with alumni, faculty, staff, and current and prospective students as well as thoughtful research on what makes UNCG unique.

It's as simple as this — we prepare students to do something bigger altogether.

Alumni already know — UNCG transforms in countless ways. While students are pushed to excel in the classroom, they're also challenged outside the classroom. Whether it's working side-by-side with a faculty member on research, leading an Outdoor Adventures trip, starting a business or simply joining in on the conversations that happen in living and learning communities, learning is everywhere.

When people leave UNCG, they are different from when they arrived. They make a difference in the world. They do things they never thought they would do.

To get the word out, UNCG is asking members of the UNCG community to post videos about their own Do something bigger altogether experiences on youtube.uncg.edu. Take a minute to look at all the things people at UNCG have accomplished. Then add your own.

After all, you know exactly what we're talking about. You're living proof.

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Small business, big impact

Tim Watson, owner of the Peanut House, a take-out food business in Winston-Salem, considers himself the “little guy.” He wants to grow his business, started by his father in 1961 in Philadelphia, but he needs capital. So when Watson read that Karen Mills, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), would be at UNCG in February, he hit the road.

“I hopped in my old truck and I drove down here,” he told Mills. “I've got to find money to keep my business going and to grow it.”

Watson was one of the small business owners and hopeful entrepreneurs who filled Elliott University Center Auditorium to hear Mills speak. Her visit to UNCG was part of a tour of U.S college campuses.

For Mills, granddaughter of a Russian immigrant who started a textile business, the college visits are a way to enlighten and encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs.

“We find that this next generation really is powerfully interested in entrepreneurship,” she said. “UNCG is a nationally recognized institution in entrepreneurship. It's a model worth seeing firsthand.”

The North Carolina Entrepreneurship Center at UNCG fosters entrepreneurship through co-curricular and outreach programs. The Center's recent Southern Entrepreneurship in the Arts Conference drew roughly 350 people from five states. UNCG's Entrepreneurship Cross-Disciplinary Program, housed in the Bryan School of Business and Economics, was recently recognized by the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship as the Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Program in the nation.

Mills, whose job President Obama has elevated to a cabinet-level position, sees small business as the "foundation stone of the middle class." She said the main problem small business owners like Watson face is the banks' freeze on lending during the current recession.

The nation's 28 million small businesses created two out of every three new jobs over the past 15 years, she said. Those businesses make up about half the nation's private-sector payroll.

The SBA helps small businesses by guaranteeing bank loans, making micro-loans and disaster loans, and offering free counseling to entrepreneurs through 68 field offices, Mills said. The “green revolution” of cleaner, renewable energy sources as well as the push for new technology is creating new jobs, she said. And don't discount the manufacturing sector: “Made in America is hot right now.”

Niveen Kattan '03, who launched the thriving Atlantic Contracting Company in Greensboro, was part of a panel discussion that folllowed Mills' presentation. She spoke about the importance of getting certified through the state's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program for businesses owned by women and minorities.

Mills said determined entrepreneurs like Kattan are part of what makes America great: “We have an economy that's meant to last, and that is because of the entrepreneurship that is America's greatest asset. It's the secret sauce that gives America the competitive advantage.”

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Joseph Hill
Joseph Hill
Learning the language

Joseph Hill speaks ASL (American Sign Language), English, Italian and Italian Sign Language. As a linguist, he can also converse in a waning but historically and culturally significant language that is not widely known: Black ASL.

Hill, born deaf, coordinates UNCG's ASL Teacher Licensure Program. He co-authored a recent book, “The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL: Its History and Structure,” published by Gallaudet University Press.

Black ASL developed among deaf African-American children, especially in the South, as a distinct form of communication because school segregation kept them apart from their deaf white counterparts.

“Black deaf children were in their own world without much contact with white deaf children,” Hill says. “So they had their own signs for words, which were very different.”

After desegregation, following the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, black and white children, both hearing and deaf, began to intermingle.

Although they maintained their culture as black people, supported by groups like National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA), black deaf children eventually stopped using their own sign language, Hill says.

Many younger black deaf people are aware that an earlier sign language exists, but few are familiar enough to use it. Older black deaf people may still use Black ASL when talking to each other.

The differences in ASL and Black ASL are marked, Hill says. For example, while the ASL sign for towel is to make two fists and mime pulling a towel back and forth across the upper body; black ASL speakers would rub their elbows to suggest drying them off with a towel.

Sign language itself is not universal, he points out, with differences around the globe and even among regions within the U.S., and with no direct connection to spoken languages. And signing is difficult to master, dependent not only on hand signs but facial expressions and the position of the hands.

Hill and his co-authors, all part of the Black ASL Research Project spearheaded by Gallaudet University and the University of California-Davis, received NBDA's 2011 Andrew Foster Humanitarian Award for their work.

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The science of healthy living

On any given day, middle school students in the Piedmont Triad bop from health class to PE to science class and may never consider how the subjects intertwine.

Dr. Catherine D. Ennis, a professor of kinesiology and curriculum and instruction in the School of Health and Human Sciences, aims to change that.

Ennis, along with co-investigator Dr. Ang Chen, has been awarded a $1.3 million, five-year grant by the National Institutes of Health to create and test a new curriculum called the Science of Healthful Living. The coursework is designed to increase students' knowledge of healthful living, health education, science education and information and technology. The study could have long term, positive implications if it achieves its goal of encouraging students to be active and to share their knowledge of healthy living standards with friends and family.

“We're concerned with increasing numbers of children and teenagers who are overweight, who are not familiar with healthy eating and the role of physical activity in a healthy lifestyle,” Ennis said. “We have an opportunity to reach a large number of students in middle schools in the Piedmont Triad with a formal curriculum that will integrate across four subject matter areas.”

Work on the multi-year research project is already under way. Last summer, Ennis worked with a team of master educators from Guilford County Schools, Surry County Schools and Thomasville City Schools to look at the natural connections between the four subject areas and to begin to write the curriculum. Pilot testing of those lesson plans began last fall.

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Work under way on Spartan Village

Work is under way on a new mixed-use village that will give UNCG space to grow.

The project, named Spartan Village, is under construction along the West Lee Street corridor in the Glenwood neighborhood. Demolition began mid-January. The first phase, which will include space for 800 beds and mixed-use spaces that will be used for offices and retail, is slated to be complete in time for the start of the 2013-14 academic year.

The university's expansion into the West Lee Street corridor was triggered by UNCG's strategic housing plan, which calls for the university to increase the percentage of undergraduates living in university housing from 30 percent to more than 40 percent over the next decade. The expansion also syncs with Greensboro's revitalization plan for the High Point Road/West Lee Street corridor, a main entry point and thoroughfare in the city.

Future phases of the project call for a new student recreation center and additional student housing and mixed-use space.

University officials have worked with local nonprofits to give new life to buildings and materials in construction's way.

In an ultimate recycling project, the Preservation Greensboro Development Fund purchased three houses from the university that the nonprofit moved and plans to refurbish for future resale. The houses being saved exemplify some of the unique character and aesthetics of the Glenwood neighborhood, said Marsh Prause, chairman of the Board of Preservation Greensboro Development Fund.

Other groups also benefited from UNCG's commitment to salvaging usable material. Volunteers and employees from Architectural Salvage of Greensboro and the Rockingham County-based L.O.T. 2540 reclaimed more than seven tons of windows, flooring, doors, mantles and more from houses scheduled to be razed. The items will be resold in the group's retail stores. “Anything we take out of the houses is something we don't have to put in the landfill,” said Terri Cartner, director of UNCG's Property Acquisition and Leasing Office.

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Seth Parker
Seth Parker
Pumped about bio-diesel

Seth Parker, a junior biology and chemistry major, says it's easy to make bio-diesel from recycled cooking oil — he cooked up his first batch in his parents' home in Winston-Salem. Now he has developed the capacity to brew up about 100 gallons a week to help fuel the diesel trucks in a friend's lawn care business.

There's a lot of chemistry involved in creating the fuel, which is where Parker came into the equation last summer. He was working with his buddy Weston Brown and they started their summertime science project as a potential cost-cutting measure.

“I got the idea from surfing the internet and various YouTube videos,” Seth said. “I was mainly fed up with paying $60 or more every time I pulled up to the pump. I've always been interested in alternative energy, and I knew there had to be a cheaper alternative to getting robbed at the fuel pump.”

The process is called transesterification, the process by which triglycerides can be converted into bio-diesel. “Learning about it was a huge bonus in my organic chemistry class that I took with Professor Bruce Banks. I've let him know how my project is progressing. He's mentioned it in his classes.

“Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to make bio-diesel in the organic lab, and I think they should include it in the curriculum to show how easy and practical the process is. I made my first batch last summer in my kitchen using a two-gallon plastic container. Now I have a 110 gallon home-made processor that can yield around 100 gallons of bio-diesel every 48 hours.”

Helping a friend and economizing are not the only reasons Seth began making bio-diesel. Going green is extremely important to him, he adds, “as it should be for everyone. Making bio-diesel allows me to get the best of both worlds. I'm recycling a product that most restaurants throw out back by converting it into a viable commercial fuel for around 71 cents a gallon.”

In addition to his studies and his bio-diesel brewing, Seth is also a tutor in biology and chemistry in UNCG's Special Support Services program. He's got a 4.0 grade point average and is a university marshal. His long-term plans are to go to medical school and continue his education in science and research.

He's a realist who believes the United States has plenty of clean energy now that needs to be developed. “Bio-diesel made from recycled cooking oil is not the future of energy, but it's certainly a great alternative, in conjunction with other developing technologies.”

Future possibilities, he believes, are cars powered by compressed natural gas, non-petroleum-based fuels like bio-diesel and ethanol, and electric motors powered by hydrogen fuel cells and not batteries.

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A student holds a turtle.
A student holds a turtle.
A warm greeting to our cold-blooded friends

This summer, rural communities across North Carolina will have a chance to get up-close and personal with their reptilian and amphibian neighbors. And add to the scientific record.

A multidisciplinary team from UNCG, Elon University and UNC Pembroke have combined their areas of expertise and shared passions for the natural world in the program Herpetology Education in Rural Places and Spaces (HERPS).

Dr. Catherine Matthews, part of the HERPS team and an education professor at UNCG, says the project is essential for many reasons.

“North Carolina is in a state of transition; our human population is increasing and our natural areas are decreasing,” Matthews says. “Our local parks, state parks, vacant lots and our own backyards harbor animals we don't even know are there. Many of these animals are bio-indicators: they keep us informed about the health of the places where we live.”

The HERPS project aims to trigger and nurture participants' interest in herpetology, while they develop a sense of place and a connection to the local environment as well as a desire to protect ecological habitats. HERPS also has a science education research goal focused on the study of science identity.

Another team member, Dr. Heidi Carlone, a UNCG education associate professor, will study how the project impacts young students' budding identities as scientists. Dr. Benjamin Filene, a HERPS team member and a UNCG history associate professor, will curate the NatureChronicles project, through which participants will record stories, memories and conversations at the celebration events.

A web-based information and networking portal is under development that will connect local community members, organizations, scientists, state agencies and the HERPS program. The web-based portal will also function as a database for citizens to record pertinent information about the reptiles and amphibians they find.

The project is funded by a $2.7 million Informal Science Education grant from the National Science Foundation's Directorate for Education and Human Resources. The HERPS team includes Matthews, Carlone, Filene, their UNCG colleagues Ann Somers (biology), Dr. Lynn Sametz (Youth, Family and Community Partnerships), and Dr. Melony Allen (education); as well as Elon University's Dr. Terry Tomasek (education) and UNC Pembroke's Dr. Andy Ash (biology).

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Looking for a few good men's jackets

Here's a fact that surprised some folks in University Archives recently — men wore class jackets when the university became co-ed in 1963.

The tradition of class jackets, which started in the late 1920s, disappeared by the mid-1970s. Jackets were traditionally either blue, red, green or lavender to correspond to class colors (although lavender was not a popular color and those in that class year always chose a more neutral color such as black, charcoal-gray or camel). The class color rule didn't always hold — in 1941, the women chose to wear white leather jackets.

University Archives has quite an assortment of these jackets but is seeking more to complete its collection.

“The University Archives is always looking for interesting textiles, artifacts and photographs owned by alumni while attending the school,” says Kathelene McCarty Smith, artifacts, textiles and digital projects archivist at the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives. “Specifically, we are in need of men's UNCG class jackets as well as other items which will represent our men students.”

University Archives is also looking for women's jackets for the following years:

  • Pre-1935 — “The earliest jacket in our collection is from the Class of 1935,” Smith notes. “We know that there were class jackets worn by the students as early as 1929 and that there were earlier class sweaters. We do not have any class sweaters in our collection.”
  • Class of 1937
  • Class of 1939
  • Class of 1940
  • Class of 1941
  • Class of 1943
  • Class of 1944
  • Class of 1960
  • Class of 1963
  • Class of 1967
  • Class of 1969
  • Class of 1971
  • Class of 1972

If you would like to donate any jackets from those class years or materials related to UNCG's early male students, contact Kathelene McCarty Smith at kmsmi24@uncg.edu or (336) 334-5648.

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