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Education
Feds Provide $2 Million In Grants For College Students Impacted By Hurricane Florence PDF Print E-mail
Education
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 03 October 2018 10:44

The U.S. Department of Education will award $2 million in grants to financially needy college students affected by Hurricane Florence:

“These grants are greatly needed and will go a long way in assisting students that can least afford to bear the devastating costs caused by Hurricane Florence,” said UNC President Margaret Spellings. “We will continue to work with state and federal officials to ensure all of our affected students receive the support they need to recover in order to successfully continue their educational pursuits.”

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced earlier today that the supplemental funds are being made available from Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG). The grant money targets 38 institutions located in counties in North and South Carolina designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for individual or public assistance as a result of the hurricane.

UNC System institutions included Fayetteville State University, which received $197,528, the University of North Carolina Wilmington, which received $61,147, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, which received $183,550, and East Carolina University, which received $330,718.

The UNC Board of Governors also approved a process that will allow UNC Wilmington to adjust its academic calendar by waiving up to 200 minutes of instructional time for a typical class. UNC Wilmington’s plan also includes canceling its upcoming fall break, canceling a “reading day” prior to final exams, lengthening classes by five minutes and providing additional interactions between teachers and students via online 

 
UNC System Promoting Two Cost Saving Tuition Programs PDF Print E-mail
Education
By Administrator   
Monday, 01 October 2018 09:13
The University of North Carolina System launched the We Promise campaign today to promote affordable college opportunities for every North Carolinian. 
 
As students navigate college and financial aid applications, We Promise highlights two significant investments in the state’s public university system—the NC Promise Tuition Plan and the Fixed Tuition Program. Though UNC System tuition remains among the very lowest in the nation, it rose substantially in the years following the Great Recession. Putting an end to cost increases has been a priority for University leaders and lawmakers.
 
“We Promise is an ambitious initiative that highlights how we are making college more accessible and affordable for all North Carolinians.” said President Spellings. “North Carolinians believe in the power of higher education to change lives and improve our state. These efforts are easing the burden on North Carolina families and upholding the state’s constitutional mandate to provide affordable higher education.”
 
The NC Promise Tuition Plan, passed in 2016, lowers undergraduate tuition to just $500 per semester for in-state students and just $2,500 per semester for out-of-state students at Elizabeth City State University, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Western Carolina University. Starting this fall, all undergraduate students at these institutions are benefiting from reduced tuition, regardless of when they first enrolled. Every North Carolinian is within 150 miles of a NC Promise university. 
 
The Fixed Tuition Program, also passed in 2016, holds resident undergraduate tuition flat through four years of continuous enrollment at any UNC System university. The program offers students and families much-needed predictability and a powerful incentive for on-time graduation.
 
Affordability is a top concern for the public and policymakers. Although a large majority of North Carolinians believe a four-year degree leads to a better life and better job prospects, too many families feel that higher education remains unaffordable for them. But recent polling from Gallup shows that just 14 percent of North Carolinians know about NC Promise and just 18 percent know that tuition stays the same for a students’ four years. 
 
“To build the college-going culture our state needs, people must know about the affordable options that are available,” said President Spellings.  “That’s exactly what the We Promise campaign will do.”
 
Visit www.northcarolina.edu/wepromise to learn more. 
 
Last Updated on Monday, 01 October 2018 09:23
 
UNC System Awards$4.2 Million In Research Grants PDF Print E-mail
Education
By Administrator   
Monday, 24 September 2018 09:35
UNC System announced the recipients of research grants distributed from the System Office across the University of North Carolina System. In total, the System Office has awarded 15 grants totaling more than 4.2 million dollars, nested in three different categories. Each of these grant initiatives is specifically designed to support inter-institutional research.
 
“These grants harness the incredible wealth of talent across the UNC System for the benefit of North Carolinians in all 100 counties,” said UNC President Margaret Spellings. “I’m especially grateful for the General Assembly’s continued support of the Research Opportunities Initiative, as it funds game-changing research, this year in manufacturing and cancer treatment.”
 
This year’s recipients include:
 
Novel Mentoring Assessment for Undergraduate Research Opportunities. Principal investigator: Stephanie George, ECU. Partnering institution: FSU. The objective of this research is to gather data that will help evaluate and improve mentoring in undergraduate research situations. This first stage of research will develop a comprehensive mentoring instrument tying program features and participant characteristics to the perceived quality of the relationship and program outcomes.
 
Integration of Authentic Research Experiences into Traditional Undergraduate Laboratory Courses Across the UNC System. Principal investigator: Michael E. Taveirne, NCSU. Partnering institutions: FSU, N.C. A&T, NC Central University.  This project aims to incorporate inquiry-guided research into undergraduate microbiology laboratory courses across multiple UNC System institutions. In addition to developing a network of CURE courses, this project will develop an assessment instrument to measure skills-based learning outcomes in research courses. 
 
Empowering Students to Combat Poverty Through Community Action: Undergraduate Research on ‘The Poverty Simulation.’ Callie Schultz, WCU. Partnering institution: Elizabeth City State University. This project will license The Poverty Simulation—a live-action experience where participants navigate the struggles life in poverty—and train facilitators to use this learning tool on campus. Undergraduate students working with the investigators will undertake research projects related to the poverty simulations. 
 
Recognizing the Value and Educational Impact of Research Experiences: Identify and Market the Transformative Skill Development in High Impact Learning Opportunities. Principal investigator: Sarah Shoemaker, NC School of Science and Mathematics. Partnering institution: UNC Pembroke.  This project will provide a framework for communicating the outcomes of a high impact experience and for assessing the impact or value of these experiences. The focus is on the development and documentation of the transformative (soft) skills that students gain in a research experience. The challenge is that these skills are not easily assessed and more importantly often go unnoticed by students.
 
The UNC System Research Opportunities Initiative (ROI) is funded by the North Carolina General Assembly to promote innovative and  important research projects within the UNC System.
 
These awards are designed to build capacity in research areas that are strategically important to North Carolina. Priority research areas for the UNC ROI program are pharmacoengineering, advanced manufacturing, energy, data science, marine sciences as well as the military and other security-related issues.
ROI grants fund collaborative research projects with the intent of providing the needed boost to enhance their national or international profile and to provide a competitive edge in pursuit of large scale research funding. This year’s grant recipients include: 
 
North Carolina Consortium for Self-Aware Machining and Metrology. Principal Investigator:
Dr. Tony Schmitz, UNC Charlotte. Partnering institutions: UNC-Chapel Hill, Fayetteville State University. This project will generate new knowledge in the application of artificial intelligence in manufacturing processes for precision parts, enabling machines to understand their current state and surroundings and respond accordingly.
 
Pharmacoengineering Approaches to Enhance the Immune Response to Neoantigens. Principal Investigators: Andrew Wang, MD, UNC-Chapel Hill; Jonathan Serody, MD, UNC-Chapel Hill; Zhen Gu, PhD, NC State University. Partnering Institution: UNC Charlotte. Personalized cancer vaccines based on neoantigens (tumor-specific peptides) have the potential to revolutionize cancer immunotherapy. But multiple challenges remain before these drugs are ready for clinical adoption, including defining the best approach to inducing immune response to the neoantigens comprising the vaccine. The goal of the research is to use pharmacoengineering approaches to generate a more robust neoantigen vaccine.
 
UNC System Inter-Institutional Planning Grants
 
The UNC System Inter-institutional Planning Grant (IPG) initiative is designed to promote collaboration among UNC Institutions (particularly between larger and smaller institutions) and across disciplinary boundaries. IPG incentivizes innovative and productive relationships within the UNC System and increases the System’s competitiveness in attracting external funds. 
 
This year’s recipients will receive a one-time award to initiate the collaborative effort, with the expectation that the team will use the funding period to position itself to obtain external funding to support continuation of the project:
 
Creating an Interdisciplinary Network to Investigate the Drivers of Urban Biodiversity. Principle investigators: Sara Gagné, UNC Charlotte. Partnering institutions: UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington. This project will organize seminars to establish a national network of interdisciplinary scholars, a workshop, formal group meetings, and informal social events exploring what drives biodiversity in cities.
 
Establishing a State-wide Public Health Entomology Research Consortium: Addressing National Entomological Surveillance Needs by Developing Novel Diagnostic Methods Through Transdisciplinary Collaborations. Principal investigator: Brian D. Byrd, Western Carolina University. Partnering institutions: NC State University, East Carolina University. This planning project will bring together investigators from three UNC System universities to begin establishing a research consortium focused on streamlining mosquito identification and addressing insecticide resistance. The long-term goal is to enhance public health responses to outbreaks and reduce endemic threats posed by mosquito-borne diseases. 
 
Envisioning HeArt. Principal investigator: Carolyn Berry, Winston-Salem State University. Partnering institutions: UNC Asheville, UNC School of the Arts. This project will establish a design studio housed within the Center for Design Innovation that will focus on the intersection of health and art, addressing biases in health care and improving health outcomes.
 
Conceptualization of Data Science in Exploring Business Ecosystems: Big Data and Networks Analytics Challenge. Principal investigator: Kayvan Miri Lavassani, North Carolina Central University. Partnering institutions: N.C. A&T, UNC-Chapel Hill. This project will establish an inter-institutional and cross-disciplinary research team and plan a new center at NCCU's school of business dedicated to the study of the business ecosystems. The long-term objective is to establish a regional hub of research on business ecosystems that conduct regional, nation-wide, and global research.
 
New Focus on a Regional Problem in Eastern NC: What are the Impacts of Increased Salinity on Mercury, Parasite Prevalence in Fish, Fishing Behaviors, and Perceptions of Human Health Risk?
Principal investigators: Martin Tsui, UNC Greensboro; Marcelo Ardón-Sayao, NC State; April Blakeslee, ECU; Cynthia Grace-McCaskey, ECU.  This project will establish an interdisciplinary team to tackle the issue of the increased mercury levels in fish resulting from sea level rise.
 
Exploring the Viability of Small-Scale Forest Carbon Offsets. Principal investigator: Tatyana Ruseva, Appalachian State University. Partnering institutions: NC State, UNC Asheville. The Appalachian Carbon Research Group will expand its multidisciplinary work through an inter-institutional collaboration to develop an innovative accounting protocol for forest carbon offset projects. The goal is to identify and evaluate alternative forest inventory methodologies that could make small-scale forest carbon offset projects viable, and to pursue external funding for testing and refinement.
 
Exploiting Tardigrade Stress Resistance to Develop Novel Therapeutic Delivery Strategies. Principal investigators: Brooke E. Christian, App State; Gary J. Pielak, UNC-Chapel Hill. Protein-based drugs, such as Herceptin for treating breast cancer and insulin for diabetes, are inherently unstable at room temperature and require refrigerated transport and storage. This project will test a novel stabilization strategy for these drugs that exploits the natural stress-resistance abilities of tardigrades.
 
Synchronous Mapping of Coastal Habitat Change Using Multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Principal investigators: Narcisa Pricope, UNCW; Srinivas Akella, UNC Charlotte. This project will develop new strategies for using drone and satellite imagery to develop models for predicting how invasive species will spread into native wetlands. This research will be useful in habitat monitoring across the US and worldwide. 
 
Design of Bio-Inorganic Hydrogels with Nanostructured Components. Principal investigator: Yaroslava G. Yingling, NC State. Partnering institutions: UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro. This project will establish a strong, collaborative, inter-institutional, and interdisciplinary team to address fundamental design aspects of responsive biocompatible gels that could revolutionize many applications in health sciences and pharmacoengineering. It further plans to design a pilot training program for science communication.
 
The UNC System Undergraduate Research Program
The University of North Carolina Undergraduate Research Program Award is a grant mechanism to provide funding to universities or consortia of universities within the UNC System to support undergraduate research.
 
Undergraduate research provides students with intensive, high impact learning opportunities and supports the University’s teaching mission to pursue multiple approaches to student learning while allowing students and faculty to undertake scholarly activities of the highest intellectual caliber. 
 
This year’s grants were awarded to projects related to one or more of the following areas essential to developing, enhancing, and promoting undergraduate research:
 
•         Assessment: Development or expansion of novel or innovative methods to assess UR outcomes. 
 
•         CUREs: Development or expansion of novel or innovative curricula that substantively include UR, recognizing that the goal of CUREs is to enhance research skills and to expand access to UR opportunities. 
 
•         Inclusive Excellence: Development or expansion of novel and/or innovative strategies/methods to expand awareness, access, and participation in UR opportunities to all students, especially students from underrepresented groups. 
 
•         Digital Learning: Development or expansion of novel or innovative methods that include digital learning tools in support of undergraduate research in distance learning environments.
Last Updated on Monday, 24 September 2018 09:38
 
Senate President Pro Tempore Touts Teacher Raises PDF Print E-mail
Education
By Administrator   
Tuesday, 28 August 2018 10:52
This release was issued by Senator Phil Berger's office: 
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Since assuming power in 2011, the Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly reversed years of teacher pay stagnation caused by massive budget deficits and unmanageable spending. Republicans acted quickly to put teacher pay on a sustainable path while still delivering crucial raises.
 
“Providing a high-quality education is critically important for North Carolina’s next generation,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham). “Investments in teachers are key to encouraging the best and brightest to make a long-term commitment to their profession, our students, and our state.”
 
Before Republicans took control of the legislature in 2011, Democrats eliminated thousands of teaching positions, furloughed educators, and froze pay. The recession stressed state budgets throughout the country, but North Carolina’s fiscal situation turned into a crisis because of irresponsible and unsustainable spending levels in the years leading up to the recession. Democrats diverted funding away from teacher pay and schools to plug holes in one of the largest budget deficits in the entire country. Between 2008 and 2010, education spending dropped by 9.1% and teacher pay plummeted from 28th in the country to 41st.
 
Since assuming leadership of the General Assembly in 2011, legislative Republicans followed a sustainable path that significantly increased pay for educators whose hard work and commitment are vital to the success of our children.
 
In the 2012 budget, the Republican-led General Assembly provided public school teachers their first raise since 2008, but that was just the beginning. Legislative Republicans made a promise to dramatically increase teacher pay in North Carolina, and they kept that promise. In 2014, the Republican-led General Assembly invested $282 million in teacher pay –the highest raise in the entire nation.
 
In addition to providing teachers with an average 7% raise in the 2014 budget, Republicans also collapsed the antiquated 33-step pay scale, replacing it with a simpler, evidence-based approach. Republicans also increased the starting teacher salary from $30,800 to $35,000, improving the state’s ability to recruit and retain high-quality educators. 
 
Legislative Republicans have continued delivering on their promise to raise teacher pay, as the raise in 2014 began five consecutive years of salary increases. 
 
“Digging out from the massive cuts was a monumental task, but Republicans established the viable path forward on teacher pay five years ago,” said Sen. Majority Leader Harry Brown (R-Onslow). “We’ve enacted raises each year since, and we were at or near the top in the entire country for three of those years. This is a success story, and we’re going to stay the course moving forward.” 
 
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