Q4 2010, UNC Charlotte Magazine

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UNC Charlotte The magazine of The University of North Carolina at Charlotte for Alumni and Friends • v17 q4 • 2010

Urban Sleuths Researchers investigate “green” mystery


c h a n c e l l o r ’s l e t te r

A University with a Plan

Clearly defined campus-wide priorities and objectives will help us make the difficult decisions over the next few months to ensure our progress as a university in this era of fiscal constraint.


North Carolina’s looming fiscal crisis is old news to anyone who followed the recent elections or read the headlines in the newspapers in the past few weeks. A projected $3.7 billion deficit in FY12 against a total state budget of approximately $19 billion is sobering and, most assuredly, will have an impact on us at the University. Notwithstanding what we expect will be tougher times ahead, we’ve enjoyed terrific progress in the past few years toward establishing UNC Charlotte as North Carolina’s urban research university. Total enrollment crossed the 25,000 mark, we awarded a record number of 95 doctoral degrees last year and, in just two-and-a-half years, we will play the first intercollegiate football game in our history. These are great times to be a Niner. We cannot afford to allow the State’s fiscal issues to slow our momentum. Since July 1, 2008, the permanent reductions to our State appropriations have totaled over $15 million and undoubtedly, further cuts are looming. Clearly defined campus-wide priorities and objectives will help us make the difficult decisions over the next few months to ensure our progress as a university in this era of fiscal constraint. For that reason, we are mid-way through a 12-month planning cycle aimed at producing an institutional plan that will guide the University through 2016. We’ll use this planning process to restate our institutional goals so they more clearly reinforce our revised Mission Statement, identify key strategies to pursue over the next five years in a constrained economic environment, and revise assumptions about our overall planning process. We expect the final plan to be reviewed and approved by the Board of Trustees by early summer, 2011. Two other external factors make the development of this plan especially timely. “UNC Tomorrow,” the ambitious effort by

President Erskine Bowles and the system Board of Governors to aggregate and focus local campus planning to meet the needs of the State, will be continued through the transition from the Bowles administration to that of President Tom Ross. Second, UNC Charlotte’s reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is scheduled for 2013. Our plans for the future will form an important element of that examination. The University has already launched a revision of the campus Academic Plan, the college academic plans, and the plans of academic support units. My Cabinet will similarly assess each administrative division within the University. Several goals and major implementation strategies have already been approved for discussion with faculty, staff, students, and off-campus constituents, including alumni. A draft of our planning assumptions as well as our draft institutional goals and strategies are available in the Chancellor’s Outbox at http://administration.uncc.edu/ chancellor/outbox.html. Your comments are welcome and can be sent directly to me via e-mail or letter. Resolutions are useful. As we begin a New Year at UNC Charlotte — one that will surely be full of unknown challenges and opportunities — we will do so with a new plan for the future and the resolve to fulfill goals established collaboratively with our growing community of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends. Cordially,

hilip L. Dubois P Chancellor





12 features 8 Urban Sleuths

In Charlotte, wooded lots and remnant farm plots are nestled nearby the gleaming structures of the nation’s second largest financial center. UNC Charlotte researchers are studying how these green spaces remain untouched within the boundaries of a rapidly growing metropolis.

12 Not Fade Away

Alzheimer’s disease remains incurable, its cause unknown. But UNC Charlotte professors Jim and Sarah Laditka say the evidence is strong that simple behaviors might reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

24 Harambee!

What do you get when you bring 50-plus elementary- and middleschool-aged, at-risk students onto a university campus for a unique literacy enrichment experience? Results. UNC Charlotte hosted the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School program last summer, and researchers have collected evidence of the national program’s success.

30 Honoring Our Own

UNC Charlotte will honor American service men and women who have lost their lives in military service with a special memorial; we need your help to gather the names of UNC Charlotte Fallen Heroes, including students, alumni, faculty or staff.

32 Food Deserts

Access to fruits, vegetables and high-quality meats and the nutrients they provide is not a right recognized by the law, but the lack of these basic food stuffs in areas researchers deem “Food Deserts” can greatly reduce the quality of life within a community.

36 Giving Women a Voice

The economic and social stability of the Charlotte region is directly tied to the well-being of women. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Women’s Summit at UNC Charlotte is changing the way issues that directly affect women and families are addressed by policy makers.

On the cover: Forest and farm lands persist within Charlotte’s urban boundaries, creating the possibility of alternative future scenarios for growth. The ULTRA exploratory project, spearheaded by UNC Charlotte researchers, will delve deeply into Charlotte’s “green mystery.” Illustration by SPARK Publications.


16 departments 3

News Briefs

20 49ers Notebook 22 Center Stage 38 Class Notes 40 Building Blocks 41


stake your claim profiles 16

nabashed and Loving It: U Gene Johnson, ’73 The first UNC Charlotte alumnus to lead the Board of Trustees opens up about where his alma mater has been, it’s future, his role as a University leader, and the joys of cycling.

28 Coming Home to UNC Charlotte: Marc Horgan, ’93 When First Citizens Bank area executive Marc Horgan attended UNC Charlotte, the campus was home to 14,000 students. The University enrolled 25,000 students this fall. Horgan shares his enthusiasm over what’s to come. Q410 | UNC CHARLOTTE magazine



| e d i to r ’s d e s k

A Giving Institution UNC Charlotte is North Carolina’s urban research university. It leverages its location in the state’s largest city to offer internationally competitive programs of research and creative activity, exemplary undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, and a focused set of community engagement initiatives. UNC Charlotte maintains a particular commitment to addressing the cultural, economic, educational, environmental, health, and social needs of the greater Charlotte region. What you have just read is the mission statement of UNC Charlotte. What it promises is that our University is committed to making the Charlotte region a better place. Ours is a public university and thus it must give back to the public value that validates the public’s investment in UNC Charlotte. In challenging economic times such as these, with new leadership taking the helm in our state, it’s important to remember that the University adds incredible value to our community; it is a giving institution. In this edition, you’ll see prime examples of how the people of UNC Charlotte are addressing the needs of the Charlotte community. Ross Meentemeyer and his associates are studying how a fast-growing metropolis like Charlotte still retains some of the pastoral spaces of bygone days – and what that means for future development. You’ll read a moving account of how a husband-wife team of researchers are engaged in the fight against a heartbreaking disease – Alzheimer’s. Also in these pages are articles about UNC Charlotte’s Freedom School and our work in presenting the Women’s Summit. The Freedom Schools program provides summer enrichment that helps CMS scholars fall in love with reading, increases their self-esteem, and generates more positive attitudes toward learning. The Women’s Summit provides a forum and concerted effort for local women to help solve the region’s challenges and ensure that women leaders stay engaged in leading our community. There’s much more in this edition that shows how invaluable UNC Charlotte is to the Charlotte region. Read on and find out. Thanks for your investment in UNC Charlotte and your continuing support. And never hesitate to stake your claim to your share of a great urban research university. Regards,

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Volume 17, Number 4 Philip L. Dubois Chancellor Gene Johnson Chair of the Board of Trustees Niles Sorensen Interim Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Community Affairs Editor Director of Public Relations John D. Bland Creative Director Fabi Preslar Contributing Writers James Hathaway Arthur Murray Paul Nowell Lisa A. Patterson Buffie Stephens Jane Lee Watson Staff Photographer Wade Bruton Circulation Manager Cathy Brown Design & Production SPARK Publications

UNC Charlotte is published four times a year by The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28223-0001 ISSN 10771913 Editorial offices: Reese Building, 2nd floor The University of North Carolina at Charlotte 9201 University City Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28223 704.687.5825; Fax: 704.687.6379

John D. Bland, Editor Director of Public Relations

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The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is open to people of all races and is committed to equality of educational opportunity and does not discriminate against applicants, students or employees based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability.

17,500 copies of this publication were printed at a cost of $.52 per piece, for a total cost of $9,210. 2





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Doster to Lead Constituent Relations Elizabeth M. “Betty” Doster will serve as special assistant to the chancellor for constituent relations at UNC Charlotte. Doster assumed her new role, which will include serving as the University’s governmental liaison to the North Carolina General Assembly, in December. Doster previously served as senior vice president, public policy, at Bank of America in Charlotte. In her new role, she will have primary responsibility for fostering and expanding the University’s relationships with the state, regional and local governmental and non-governmental organizations that can strengthen the University in its ability to deliver educational and research programs in support of its mission. The position reports jointly to Chancellor Philip L. Dubois and Niles Sorensen, vice chancellor of development and alumni affairs and interim vice chancellor for university relations and community affairs. Doster will serve as a member of the Chancellor’s Cabinet. “I’m absolutely thrilled that UNC Charlotte has been able to attract one of the top government and community relations professionals in North Carolina,” Dubois said. “With a 28 year professional career in this state, she has developed excellent relationships with key leaders across the region and state, and across party lines. She’s just the right person to strengthen our relationships with governmental agencies at all levels and, in collaboration with the UNC President and his staff, to advocate effectively for the University even in these most challenging times.”


“UNC Charlotte has attracted one of the top government and community relations professionals in North Carolina.”

“Having grown-up in this region, I have seen firsthand the significant and important impact UNC Charlotte has had in education, economic development and quality of life for all of our citizens,” Doster said. “This new role with UNC Charlotte presents a great opportunity to cultivate new and deeper relationships with leaders throughout the state, and nationally.” Before joining the bank in 2001, she served for several years as senior vice president for public affairs at Springs Industries, in Ft. Mill, S.C., and before that as public affairs director with Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Consolidated in Charlotte. Among many professional associations, Doster has served as a member of the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Council, member of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee and as a director of the North Carolina Center for Public Policy. In 2009, she was the recipient of the Charlotte Business Journal Women in Business Award. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from UNC Chapel Hill. She is recently married to Simms Doster; they reside in Charlotte. Doster has a 20-year record of involvement with UNC Charlotte. In the early 1990s she helped advocate to the General Assembly in seeking doctoral programs for the University, and later the bioinformatics program, Energy Production and Infrastructure Center, Center City Building and funding for lateral entry for teachers. She joined the University’s Athletic Foundation Board in 1990.

Q410 | UNC CHARLOTTE magazine




news briefs English Professor Organizes “A Tribute to Novello” Mark West, a faculty member in the English Department, staked a claim to community engagement by organizing “A Tribute to Novello” in October. Novello, a popular literary Mark West festival normally produced by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, is on hiatus due to budget cuts. “I felt like the community had benefited from Novello for all these years, and maybe

it was time for the community to show its appreciation to the library for what the festival has come to mean,” West explained. Instead of a week’s worth of events, “A Tribute to Novello” took place during two weekends. The first weekend featured adult authors, and the final day featured young adult and children’s authors. UNC Charlotte faculty members Aaron Gwyn and Aimee Parkison, English, and Andrew Hartley, theatre, participated in panel discussions. University

librarian Stanley Wilder moderated a panel on mystery writing, and students from a number of classes served as volunteers. University Volunteers Help Middle School Kids UNC Charlotte is staking its claim to community outreach through a new educational partnership with Hands On Charlotte. Through the Hands On Schools initiative, University volunteers will be able to assist students at James Martin Middle School. “Hands On Schools is part of a national effort to increase academic achievement in elementary, middle and high schools,” said

Laboratory Honors Racing Trailblazer Friends and family of 1992 Winston Cup Champion Alan Kulwicki gathered with members of the N.C. Motorsports and Automotive Research Center Advisory Board and UNC Charlotte representatives to dedicate the Alan D. Kulwicki Motorsports Laboratory on Oct. 13. In the fall of 2009, Thelma Kulwicki made a gift to support the Motorsports Engineering Program in The William States Lee College of Engineering. The University’s existing motorsports research laboratory has now been named in memory of Alan

The Alan D. Kulwicki Motorsports Laboratory was named in honor of deceased Winston Cup Champion Alan Kulwicki. His mother, Thelma Kulwicki, whose philanthropic efforts have bolstered motorsports engineering programs in both Charlotte and Wisconsin, attended the dedication ceremony.





Kulwicki, whose promising career was cut short when he died in a plane crash. “Thelma’s philanthropy in honor of her son provides resources for future motorsports engineers and is already helping reinforce classroom instruction with hands-on experience,” said Robert Johnson, dean of Alan Kulwicki The William States Lee College of Engineering. “Her generous gift will lead to innovations in motorsports safety and advancements in vehicle performance.” The first college graduate to win stock car racing’s premier title and the first person to both own and drive for his own team, Kulwicki was a trailblazer in the modern era of NASCAR racing. The University’s connection with the legacy of Alan Kulwicki began in 1994 when R.J. Reynolds and Kulwicki’s fans helped establish the Alan Kulwicki Memorial Scholarship. In addition, with contributions from Felix Sabates, a wing of the athletic complex located adjacent to the softball field was named in Kulwicki’s honor. The Kulwicki family has also agreed to donate racing memorabilia for display in UNC Charlotte’s new motorsports facility, which is currently in the planning stages. UNC Charlotte’s Motorsports and Automotive Engineering program was created in 1998 with the formation of a motorsports concentration within the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science. The program offers one of the most innovative, hands‐on educational experiences in the country. As a result, roughly 10 percent of all NASCAR engineers are UNC Charlotte graduates.


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Edna Dash in the Division for University Relations and Community Affairs who is coordinating the University’s involvement. “The Cougars of James Martin Middle School number more than 1,300 students in sixth through eighth grades. Last year, only 54 percent of the attendees performed at or above grade level, so the need is great,” she said. “With the efforts of UNC Charlotte faculty, staff and students, we can increase student achievement and make a difference in the students’ lives.” According to Dash, members of the campus community can choose from a variety of volunteer opportunities. “Not only will faculty and staff help students with their academic needs, but they will provide students with a positive role model,” Dash noted. Located three miles from campus, James Martin Middle School has a student population of which 65 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch, a common indicator of need. UNC Charlotte Eliminates Graduation Rate Gap Nationwide, significant gaps exist between six-year graduation rates of white students and graduation rates of African-American and Hispanic students. Recent reports by the Education Trust list UNC Charlotte among a handful of public and private institutions that have systematically closed the race gap. According to the Education Trust, 60 percent of whites but just 40 percent of African Americans and 49 percent of Latinos who start college earn bachelor’s degrees six years later. The organization’s researchers reviewed graduation data from four-year colleges and universities across the country and compiled a list of schools that have eliminated graduation-rate disparities. The researchers then published their findings in two reports. One examines African-American student graduation rates, and the other focuses on Hispanic students. UNC Charlotte joins the University of California-Riverside and UNC Greensboro on the list of institutions that have eliminated white-black graduation disparities. Continued on p. 6 www.UNCC.edu


Jeffrey Price, associate professor of music, accepts the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence from Chancellor Philip L. Dubois and Robert Qutub, managing director of finance for global banking and markets, Bank of America. Also pictured are provost Joan Lorden and selection committee chair Meg Morgan.

Price Wins University’s Top Teaching Award Associate Professor of Music Jeffrey Price was selected as the 2010 recipient of the highest teaching honor bestowed by UNC Charlotte – the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence. In announcing the winner, Meg Morgan, associate professor of English, 2008 winner and chair of the selection committee noted, “Dr. Price’s students are encouraged to apply what they learn in the classroom in a performance setting, and throughout the process they know Dr. Price will support their efforts.” According to one student, “Dr. Price is a very approachable teacher, knowledgeable, articulate, positive and caring. Students respond very positively to his instructions and achieve success in their efforts.” Another student said: “He brings out the best in all his students and sees qualities of goodness that we did not know existed. He’s always cheerful and will present all of your positive attributes to you before explaining what needs to be worked on. He’s a talented vocalist and makes you believe you will sing like him one day if you apply yourself.” For Price, the essence of his teaching philosophy and activities is rooted in a love and pursuit to help others attain knowledge, successfully apply information and experience wholeness. “I adopt my students in such a way that, when I am with them, they are the most important thing in the world to me at that particular point in time,” he said. “I do not teach music; I do not teach voices; I teach people.” Price joined UNC Charlotte in 1992. After completing bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNC Greensboro, he earned a Ph.D. in 1989 from Florida State University. Prior to joining UNC Charlotte, he served on the faculty of Marshall University. Price was selected from a prestigious list of finalists for the award. The other nominees were: Matthew Davies, associate professor, mechanical engineering and engineering science; Janos Gergely, associate professor, civil and environmental engineering; Jeanneine Jones, professor, middle, secondary and K-12 education; and Beth Whitaker, associate professor, political science. The five finalists were honored during an September ceremony and gala attended by UNC Charlotte faculty members and their guests at Bank of America’s Founder’s Hall. Q410 | UNC CHARLOTTE magazine




news briefs Continued from p. 5

In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, UNC Charlotte Associate Provost for Academic Services Cynthia Wolf Johnson discussed the University’s summer bridge program, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary, and the Student Advising for Freshman Excellence program, which provides intensive advising and support for between a third and half of firstCynthia Wolf Johnson year students. Wolf credits the University’s “longstanding commitment to retention and graduation of minority students” for a black student graduation rate that mirrors white students’ six-year rate of 50.1 percent. Overall graduation rates are significantly higher for participants in the University’s bridge and advising programs. That commitment could factor into prospective students’ decision making. This year’s freshman class is more diverse than last year’s with 7.7 percent more AfricanAmerican and 22.3 percent more Hispanic students. Those percentages don’t include students who identify themselves as belonging to two or more ethnic or racial groups. University/Industry Partnerships Critical to Economy UNC Charlotte welcomed representatives from industry, public and private universities, foundations and government agencies for the fall meeting of the University-Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP) group on the Charlotte Research Institute campus. According to the UIDP, successful university-industry partnerships result in benefits to society such as economic growth and increased public accessibility to scientific discovery and development through commercialization. However, issues such as intellectual property and conflicting views on 6




Schley Lyons 1933-2010 A service in memory of former College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean Schley Lyons was held on campus Oct. 25. Lyons, whose service to UNC Charlotte spanned more than two decades, was remembered by colleagues, friends and family for his leadership, competitive spirit and grace. Lyons served as the first chairman of UNC Charlotte’s political science department and later became the first dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Lyons passed away July 17, 2010. the dissemination of information often lead to a break down of negotiations. The UIDP aims to identify and produce solutions for the major roadblocks to productive university-industry partnerships. “Industries and universities represent starkly different cultures, making collaboration difficult at times. And yet we must collaborate effectively if we’re going to move university ideas into the marketplace,” said Stephen Mosier, UNC Charlotte Vice Chancellor of Research and Federal Relations. “UIDP was convened by the National Academies for this very reason, namely to bridge these disparate cultures, and Executive Director Tony Boccanfuso has done an absolutely remarkable job of bringing us together to find common ground for tackling important issues.” UNC Charlotte is among select institutions piloting an Steve Mosier effort launched a year ago as part of the UNC General Administration’s strategic vision for the university system, known as UNC Tomorrow. With guidance and analysis from leadership at IBM, the Innovation and Technology Development Initiative was created to “leverage our intellectual capital and private partnerships to create and transfer university discoveries

to the marketplace, and ultimately to the public, and to do it better than any other university in the world,” as noted by outgoing UNC President Erskine Bowles. The idea behind this initiative — that university research can and should find its way to the marketplace — is as old as the modern university itself. As early as the 18th century, research discoveries made at universities began to trickle into the mainstream. The initiative provides a road map for UNC institutions to approach technology innovation and transfer in a modern, collaborative way. Conference participants learned more about the successful initiative in a workshop led by representatives from the pilot campuses. “UNC Charlotte has a strong record of partnering with industry, and so when we were asked if we’d like to host a meeting, we quickly said yes,” Mosier said. “We’re very proud to be a member of UIDP.” The meeting, organized around the theme, “Accelerating Innovation: System-level Strategies for UniversityIndustry Collaboration,” was sponsored by UNC Charlotte, the UNC General Administration and IBM. www.UNCC.edu

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Runners and walkers enjoyed a beautiful fall morning on UNC Charlotte’s campus at the second annual 4.NINER K run/walk. Funds raised at the event will provide need-based scholarship support to students.

2nd Annual 4.NINER K Draws Over 600 Participants UNC Charlotte now has a record enrollment of more than 25,000 students. A significant number of these students may not have the resources to continue their studies without financial assistance in the spring. The 4.NINER K community run/walk for need-based scholarships was created in 2009 to help these students remain in school. Now in its second year, roughly 620 people joined UNC Charlotte men’s and women’s basketball coaches, Alan Major and Karen Aston, on Oct. 23 to kick off the race. The race began at 8:49 a.m. at the Student Union on Craver Road. Ashley Oster, director of community affairs in the Division for University Relations and Community Affairs, noted that the beautiful day “was full of energy and hope and a great chance to come together for students. We appreciated the opportunity to host alumni and the community on campus and know they left feeling positive and with a renewed appreciation for our changing campus landscape.” All race proceeds will be used to fund need-based scholarships for current students. Last year’s race raised $27,000


in scholarship support. This year, the number of financial-aid applications has increased by almost 30 percent over last year’s numbers. Prizes went to the overall top three male and female participants, top three teams, and top three men and women in each age group. UNC Charlotte Assistant Track Coach Ed Schlichter was the overall race winner. His finishing time of 16 minutes, 10 seconds, trumped last year’s winning time by two minutes. In addition, this year marked the first for team signups; 14 teams competed. A number of faculty and staff members participated in the event, including Chancellor Philip L. Dubois and his wife Lisa Lewis Dubois; Art Jackson, vice chancellor for student affairs; Niles Sorensen, vice chancellor for development and alumni affairs and interim vice chancellor for university relations and community affairs; and Judy Rose, director of athletics. Major sponsors for the event were the UNC Charlotte Alumni Association, OrthoCarolina, Carolinas Medical Center University and Fifth Third Bank.

Q410 | UNC CHARLOTTE magazine


Researchers investigate “green” mystery By James Hathaway





Urban Sleuths


fe a t u re Charlotte is a rapidly growing city. It is also a green city. Some people might see that as a contradiction. In Charlotte, wooded lots and remnant farms plots are almost in the shadow of the towers of the nation’s second largest financial center. There are also many sizable tracts of undeveloped land within the city’s boundaries. Social scientists find the co-existence of strong urban growth and persistent green areas puzzling. The National Science Foundation (NSF) thinks that Charlotte’s complex environment might make an interesting site for long-term research in urban growth and sustainability. After more than 12,000 years of civilization, more people now live in cities than in any other environment, yet our understanding of urban dynamics is still incomplete. Cities’ paths to prosperity or failure, sustainability or decay are still mysterious to us because, like the humans that created them, urban systems are extremely complicated. For this reason, the NSF has been funding innovative, interdisciplinary research aimed at studying the phenomenon of how cities grow and function as ecosystems, beginning with the 1998 establishment of two urban Long-term Ecological Research sites in Phoenix and Baltimore. Some important things have been learned, but now the NSF is considering establishing new study sites, and is looking at 17 different cities as possible locations. Charlotte is one of them. Researchers at UNC Charlotte have already been awarded $300,000 by NSF’s Urban Long-Term Research Areas Exploratory Research Projects (ULTRAEX) competition — one of the 17 national awards given for pilot urban research projects. The exploratory projects are research trials that may lead to the later award of an ULTRA site, which would be a long-term study site with major NSF funding for urban-environment research. Charlotte, which has experienced dynamic urban growth without losing all the pastoral charms of the North Carolina piedmont, may offer scientists an ideal living laboratory to study what makes a “human-dominated ecosystem” tick. “We have the opportunity to track and understand what is going on because we are catching Charlotte early enough in its growth trajectory,” said Ross www.UNCC.edu


Meentemeyer, UNC Charlotte professor of geography and earth sciences and the ULTRA-EX grant’s principal investigator. ‘OPPORTUNITY TO WATCH DEVELOPMENT’ “Because of that we have a chance to determine if there are possibilities for alternative futures for Charlotte,” he continued. “Charlotte might be one of the best examples of a city projected to grow so fast and so big — we have a unique opportunity here to watch development.” If Charlotte’s “city-in-transition” status makes it an attractive site to observe urban social and environmental dynamics, its conditions are also ideal for performing laboratory-like experiments in how the research findings might be applied and how urban change might be managed. “The beauty of the situation is that if, working with public officials, we find a

The Charlotte ULTRA exploratory project will focus on the issue of the “persistence” of forest and farmlands within urban boundaries.

different course of action that can be followed, it could be very informative to the local stakeholders,” Meentemeyer noted. According to NSF, the grant will “provide support to enable teams of scientists and practitioners to conduct interdisciplinary research on the dynamic interactions between people and natural ecosystems in urban settings in ways that will advance both fundamental and applied knowledge.” Meentemeyer, a landscape ecologist and director of UNC Charlotte’s Center for Applied Geographic Information Science, heads the inter-disciplinary research team. Other members of the group are Jean-Claude Thill, Knight Distinguished Professor of Geography and Earth Sciences at UNC Charlotte, who is an authority on urban systems and modeling; William Ribarsky, chair of the Department of Computer Science and director of the Charlotte Visualization Center; Chunhua Wang, an environmental economist in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences; and Todd BenDor, assistant professor in the Department of City & Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill and an authority on land-use planning and public policy. Meentemeyer, Thill and Ribarsky are affiliated with the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) at UNC Charlotte, part of a statewide network of engagement sites that bring academic expertise and computing technology to bear on realworld problems. So, while the project will perform basic research on urban dynamics and links between Q410 | UNC CHARLOTTE magazine


UNC CHARLOTTE | fe a t u re

economic and environmental sustainability, the science will be tied to real-life issues and will closely involve the ongoing work of local agencies and land-management professionals. The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, another RENCI partner, will lead the project’s community engagement efforts, convening stakeholder meetings to gather feedback from community partners on research design, landowner recruitment, interpretation and application of results. Community partners currently include the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, the Catawba Lands Conservancy, the North Carolina State University Forestry Department Extension, Gaston County Cooperative Extension, Catawba Regional Council of Governments, Centralia Council of Governments, Land Trust for Central North Carolina and Nations Ford Land Trust. The Charlotte ULTRA exploratory project will focus particularly on the issue of the “persistence” of forest and farm lands within the urban boundaries. In Meentemeyer’s words, the project aims to answer the essential question: “Hidden in Charlotte’s current dynamic urban environment, are there alternative futures for growth where urbanization, forest and working lands can co-exist in an economic and environmentally sustainable fashion?”

Ross Meentemeyer

At the heart of the project is a two-year plan to develop a complex and sophisticated computer model that will allow the researchers and land-planning partners to examine “alternative futures” that might result from a wide variety of new variables — new laws and regulations, changing economic, political or environmental conditions or emerging social and cultural forces. BETTER DATA, BETTER MODELS Charlotte already presents a mystery the researchers will need the model to understand: 10 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine



according to researchers’ and planners’ basic theories of how economic forces drive land use, the city’s many pastoral areas should have already been swallowed up by the surrounding development. Curiously, they have not been. “There’s a top-down hierarchy of factors that should influence landowners’ decisions to develop,” Meentemeyer said. “Yet we often see locations where the development value far exceeds the human or ecological intrinsic value of the land, but the forest or agricultural area still persists. Why is that? There is something going on there that we don’t understand.” www.UNCC.edu

fe a t u re “It is really well studied why things change,” agreed Douglas Shoemaker, UNC Charlotte Center for Applied GIScience associate director, “yet we are seeing an unexpected pattern. Why doesn’t everything go? In principle, urbanization and agriculture and forestry cannot co-exist but, despite that, we see it in Charlotte. ‘Why’ is a great research question.” A casual observer driving around greater Charlotte can see what the researchers are talking about: The occasional still-wooded lot found amid the lawns and willow oaklined streets of Myers Park, one of Charlotte’s oldest suburbs. Small tracts of farmland nestled among luxury home developments, high density housing and golf courses in the SouthPark area. Sizable fields and farms in University City (including UNC Charlotte’s considerable tracts of still undeveloped woodland) adjacent to apartment complexes and business parks. Finally, there is the fact that the Charlotte urban area extends significantly beyond Mecklenburg County, though quite large pieces of open land lie between developments. As the city continues to grow, the boundaries between what is urban and what is countryside become confused. The researchers believe the secret to developing a model that can help analyze such complex urban development issues is to incorporate into the calculations not only all the complicated interconnected variables of regulations, economics and physical or environmental conditions, but also something equally intricate and far more elusive — the values, attitudes and preferences of the people who currently own and occupy the city’s landscape. To get a realistic version of these personal factors into the model, a major part of the research involves the sophisticated surveying of a large sample of the city’s current landowners to get detailed information on their attitudes and values, which, when added with all the other data, will help the computer model predict how they would react in any number of hypothetical situations. In essence, the culture and attitudes of real people will become a critical part of an abstract, analytical system. “We will use a set of methods that will get at people’s motivations, not on the basis of actual choices, but to reveal their preferences with respect to hypothetical future situations,” Thill explained. “That’s pretty innovative, and www.UNCC.edu

we’ll try to feed that into some of the modeling later on. Once the model is put in place, we can try to look at some policies hypothetically.” Thill pointed out that both individual choices and larger, impersonal forces control changes in urban land. “When you make the decision to develop your own land, that is a personal decision, but your action is also within the context of what is going on within the municipality, which has inferences as well from what is going on at the regional level, political and cultural influences, the tradition of the community and so on,” Thill said, illustrating the human complexity of creating an accurate model. “It is novel that we are using a surveybased analysis to guide the parameters of the agent-based model,” Meentemeyer agreed. “Agent-based models are trendy, but they are not always that well guided — they are often very hypothetical. We want to ground ours with real data.” INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH CRITICAL Such a complex research project is possible because unusual connections have developed at UNC Charlotte under the aegis of RENCI. Connections across academic disciplines in natural, social and technological sciences allow an interdisciplinary approach to the mindboggling intricacies of interacting human and natural systems. A UNC Charlotte research specialty that comes into play is the university’s Charlotte Visualization Center, a multi-disciplinary unit that studies advanced data analysis through developing visualization tools. “A project like this involves tens, if not hundreds of variables,” explained Charlotte Visualization Center Director and coprincipal investigator Ribarsky. “We will need to look at the behavior of those variables as they interact — things like pressure to develop, which is influenced by a variety of conditions, combined with the effects of open land, the effects of resources like water and transportation and power… economic and social and cultural details also come into play. There are all of these ‘dimensions,’ as we call them in visualization research — they can all change the development pattern.” Ribarsky noted that the problem with complex interactions that involve a multitude of variables is that it is often very difficult to


see and understand what the nature of the interaction is. “We need to see how the dimensions behave with respect to one another and also how a growth pattern in one area correlates with a growth pattern in another area,” he said. “Using visualization techniques, we will develop tools changes in urban lands are controlled by ‘probes’ that will allow us to see how the variables are changing and developing and compare them to find differences for any regions we choose. “The tools are highly interactive and can be used in an exploratory way to help the researchers see the dynamics of the system they are studying,” he continued. “Their use can reveal the detailed behavior of the model in a way that had not been revealed before.”

In the end, the team hopes to develop a sophisticated model that will give land planners a valuable and versatile tool to look into the future and to see with greater clarity the effects of a multitude of potential future conditions and policy decisions. “It’s a simulation,” Meentemeyer said. “We can change the parameters any number of possible ways and then see what kind of human and ecological landscape gets created. This will allow us to understand what policies will actually work to build a more sustainable city. “Decision makers can make policies, but no one knows right now if they are going to work,” he added. “It’s a tricky thing to try to figure it out. If we can help a bit, it will be an important contribution.” James Hathaway is research communications manager at UNC Charlotte. Q410 | UNC CHARLOTTE magazine


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AWAY By Lisa A. Patterson

12 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine



Simple Behaviors Can Improve Brain Health

Illustrated by Myron Macklin



fe a t u re On a beautiful October day in 2008, Greg and Laura Mercer left Duke Medical Center to visit their adult children, one a student at UNC Chapel Hill, the other a student at UNC Asheville. Their road trip had a distinct purpose — to tell their daughter and son that they had finally received a diagnosis for the mysterious, frustrating medical condition that had been plaguing Laura for at least two years: early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. While rare, it is possible for someone as young as Laura (she was 48 at the time of diagnosis) to develop Alzheimer’s, a progressive brain disease affecting memory, personality and cognitive abilities. From that day forward, the Mercers committed to live life to the fullest. For Laura, then a high-powered public relations executive, jet-setting around the world held no appeal. Rather, she longed to spend as much time as possible at home, surrounded by the people and possessions she loves. Since the diagnosis, the Mercers have become steadfast supporters of the Alzheimer’s Association and vocal advocates for research to find a cure as well as services to help the millions of families touched by the disease. After all, Laura emphasized, every 70 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for loss of memory and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. “Dementia is more widespread than people may think — it’s a broad spectrum illness,” said Jim Laditka, UNC Charlotte associate professor of public health sciences. “People think about memory loss when they think of Alzheimer’s and dementia. But dementias also involve all sorts of brain and behavior changes — loss of language and loss of executive functions, such as the ability to plan, evaluate, and make judgments.” Alzheimer’s accounts for 50 to 70 percent of dementia cases. According to the recently released “Shriver Report,” it is a disease that disproportionately affects women. Nearly two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women, and it is the second most prevalent disease among women in Mecklenburg County. Alzheimer’s cases are expected to rise to as high as 16 million by 2050 as baby boomers age. The report said there currently are an estimated 5.3 www.UNCC.edu

“Alzheimer’s cases are expected to rise to as high as 16 million by 2050.” million people with Alzheimer’s in the United States, and 10.9 million unpaid caregivers. “Alzheimer’s has the potential to bankrupt the American healthcare system — it’s a huge policy issue and much needs to be done to raise awareness with our public officials and the general public,” Greg Mercer said. “On a local level, we’re trying to get the word out about resources available through the Alzheimer’s Association which can make a real difference to those affected by this devastating disease.” Lori Walker, executive director of the Western N.C. chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, said the Mercers’ experience encapsulates the experience of many families before a diagnosis is granted. “You never really get a diagnosis the minute the disease process starts. The family has been dealing with something for years before they can really put their finger on what the problem is,” Walker noted. The Alzheimer’s Association lists 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s on their Web site (www.alz. org). The first is memory loss that disrupts daily life. But microscopic changes in the brain begin long before the first signs of memory loss. Signs of Illness Looking back, the Mercers recognize that incidents they thought might be products of the stress and fatigue brought about by Laura’s job were actually signs of illness. “One of my specialties was media interview training in crisis communications,” Laura said. A trip to Houston to administer training to executives at a forestry company was an early


indicator something was amiss. “It was near the end of the second day — I assumed I was tired — I asked a question, the client answered, and it occurred to me that I didn’t remember what that person said, so I turned to my colleague and asked him how he would answer the question. I did that three or four times.” Not long after the Houston trip, Greg and Laura met at a restaurant for dinner. As they were driving home in separate cars, Laura missed the turnoff to their street. That night, she began to hallucinate. “She had the phone and had it turned upside down, and she was saying words I recognized, but they made no sense,” Greg said. Laura’s journey to a diagnosis began with an internist who sent her to a psychiatrist. Two years and several different ineffective medications later, she went to a neurologist for a battery of cognitive tests. More extensive testing at Duke Medical Center followed. Laura, who was accustomed to working 60- to 80-hour weeks, has had to adapt to a new, more self-focused life. She exercises daily, eats healthy “brain rich” foods, works jigsaw puzzles and writes a blog. “All these activities are designed to maintain cognitive abilities while we pray for a medical breakthrough,” Greg said. Alzheimer’s disease was first recognized and described in 1906 when Dr. Alois Alzheimer performed an autopsy on a patient who died after years of severe memory problems, confusion and difficulty understanding questions. The doctor discovered dense deposits, known as plaques, surrounding the nerve cells, and twisted bands of fibers, or tangles, inside the nerve cells. Today, the plaques and tangles identified by Alzheimer are considered definitive markers of the disease. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that Alzheimer’s was formally recognized as a disease and not a normal part of aging, when scientists discovered a link between cognitive decline and the number of plaques and tangles in the brain. In the ensuing decades, scientists have identified potential environmental, genetic and other risk factors for the disease and several drugs have been approved to treat the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s. However, Alzheimer’s remains incurable, its cause unknown. The available drugs only slow the progression of cognitive decline. Q410 | UNC CHARLOTTE magazine 13

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Promoting Health to Reduce Risk Like the Mercers, the Laditkas are partners in every sense of the word. But unlike Laura and Greg, Jim and Sarah Laditka, both of whom are UNC Charlotte associate professors of public health sciences, made the choice to battle Alzheimer’s disease through academia. The weapons in their arsenal are trained on information, research and education. In 2005, Congress appropriated money for the first time to study the possibility of promoting health to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and more generally to promote brain health. Jim was tapped to lead a national research effort funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with support from the Alzheimer’s Association, known as the “Healthy Brain Study.” One of the largest qualitative research studies to be conducted in the United States, the project involved nine universities and took four years to complete. Researchers held 85 focus groups and many extended interviews in four different languages at multiple locations. “We collected data to understand people’s views, thoughts, beliefs and concerns about brain health generally, to better understand how they view the role of brain health in aging well,” Jim said. “That allowed us to gain data from various population groups that would help us identify differences in the way people thought about these issues, as well as differences in their views about the behaviors now thought to be associated with brain health.” Sarah led the massive task of analyzing the Healthy Brain Study data, managing and coding thousands of pages of transcripts. The data has been used in nearly 20 peer-reviewed papers, published in premier academic journals. Ultimately, the Laditkas hope the information will reach policy makers and researchers. “There were relatively few publications in this area prior to this work; we helped to establish the field through this publication stream,” Jim said. The Laditkas see a chasm between the information resulting from the study and widespread understanding of cognitive health. They are hoping to bridge the divide by crafting public health interventions and communications that help people understand the potential that exists in maintaining and promoting cognitive health through healthy behaviors. 14 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine



Jim and Sarah Laditka led a national research effort funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with support from the Alzheimer’s Association, known as the “Healthy Brain Study.”

‘Desperately Concerned About Brain Health’ National surveys indicate that among people ages 50 and older, cognitive health is the primary health concern. “They are desperately concerned about their brain health. When they learn there is the possibility to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and increase the likelihood of maintaining their brain function over time through relatively simple behaviors, that’s a motivator we haven’t had before. That’s a motivator for good health habits that are associated with all sorts of tremendously positive health outcomes,” Jim explained. Sometimes even the most clear-cut health messages — for instance, being physically active, eating a heart healthy diet and staying socially involved will reduce one’s risk of cognitive decline — get convoluted by competing messages in the media. For example, Sarah noted that a recent New York Times article presented a confusing picture of the evidence about the relationship between healthy behaviors and brain health. “That data was being promoted through the lens of popular communication, and it gave the impression that it doesn’t matter what you do — that there’s no way to reduce your

risk of cognitive decline,” Sarah said. “I can say from my reading of the literature in the last five or six years that the evidence in terms of epidemiology is very compelling to me that being physically active reduces cardiovascular risk and is directly tied to reducing risk of cognitive decline.” Working in concert with confusing media messages are cultural norms that conflict with healthy behaviors, community environments that inhibit behavior change and the all-too-human tendency to seek a simple solution for complex problems — taking a pill is far more convenient than changing one’s health behaviors. Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) seem to have gained a foothold in the vacuum of pharmaceutical solutions. A research study conducted by the Laditkas and two UNC Charlotte health services research doctoral students found that approximately 10 percent of older people are using CAM specifically with the expectation that it will improve their cognitive health. “Gingko biloba is one of the most widely used herbal supplements for cognitive health, and that’s one area where we have very strong science that there’s probably no benefit, and it can have a negative www.UNCC.edu

fe a t u re interaction with drugs older people commonly take,” Sarah said. To combat misinformation, the Laditkas emphasize the importance of healthy behavior modification, chiefly exercise, to anyone who will listen. “The most wonderful thing about the physical activity results is they are very easily attainable by large numbers of people,” Jim said. There is no generally accepted amount of physical activity that might protect the brain. Sarah and Jim agreed that the best current advice is to meet the CDC’s recommended physical activity level. For adults, that’s 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking every week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity such as jogging or running every week. Jim stressed that even people with perfectly healthy behaviors may develop cognitive problems, including Alzheimer’s. “The evidence from epidemiology and animal studies increasingly suggests that we may be able to dramatically increase our chances of staying sharp through healthy behaviors,” Jim said. “This is extremely positive news. But some individuals with healthy behaviors will still develop Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder.” Living Independently, Changing Roles At the heart of the burgeoning interest in cognitive health is the desire to maintain independence. The degree of an individual’s cognitive health equates to the degree to which he or she can live independently. While some cultures embrace caregiving as a natural part of the lifecycle, economic and medical issues sometimes preclude even those who relish the role from doing it well. Whatever the cultural context of the situation, individuals who find themselves in the caregiver role often experience tremendous stress. “I will tell you that Greg is a wonderful caregiver,” Laura said. “He does get frustrated, and I try not to frustrate him…I do the best I can…” Since Laura got sick, Greg’s role in the marital relationship has changed. The couple jokes about Laura’s “husbandapproved driving zone,” and Laura’s propensity to move around the medicines Greg sets up each day. “It’s in Laura’s nature www.UNCC.edu

to mess with the medicine,” Greg said with a laugh. Thus far, Greg explains, the transition to caregiver has been less onerous than taking on many of the tasks Laura used to handle with aplomb — the family’s taxes, for example. Among the attributes that define the Mercers’ 28-year marriage is shared decisionmaking. Alzheimer’s has drastically changed that aspect of their lives. “I miss a partner in that more than anything else,” Greg said.


The Mercers have learned to take life day-byday. They use their experience to educate others and to raise awareness of the resources that are available through the Alzheimer’s Association. Most recently, the couple served as honorary chairpersons for the Charlotte Memory Walk, an annual fundraiser for Alzheimer’s research, and Laura was selected as a member of the Early-Stage Alzheimer’s Advisory Group, which provides feedback to the national organization. “The kids are grown, we’re not ready to retire,

Laura Mercer was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2008. Now Laura and her husband, Greg, advocate for awareness and research of the disease, which affects more than 5 million people in the United States.

“My dad passed away two years ago, and if Laura had been well, she would have taken on a lot of the tasks that had to be done with settling the estate.” “Taking care of Laura is not hard,” he continued. “I don’t know what it’s going to be like five or 10 years down the road. …Right now I get frustrated with bureaucracies and the things Laura used to insulate me from,” Greg said. “My frustration has come from having to handle these chores, more than making sure she gets her medicine or gets to the doctor.” Greg, an advertising executive by day, confronted bureaucracy in its many forms during the long journey to diagnosis, as well as throughout the treatment process. “I don’t know how people with ‘regular’ jobs can do this — I would be on the phone for well over an hour at times trying to get the right forms, and the right information,” he said, noting that his schedule is relatively flexible.

and this is our mission in life,” Greg said. The Laditkas have adopted a similar mission in the hope of raising awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, while also providing research-based approaches to reducing risk of cognitive decline. “Many people don’t give much thought to how long they might live. If an individual reaches 65, their life expectancy is roughly to live to an average of 85,” Jim said. “Roughly half of people who make it to 65 will live beyond 85. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s-related disorders rises dramatically from 85 onward.” All the more reason to invest in brain health: “Brain health is a continuum. Even though there may be some decline with age, you want to slow it or delay it. The idea is to maintain brain health at its optimum throughout the lifespan,” Jim said. Lisa A. Patterson is senior writer in the Office of Public Relations. Q410 | UNC CHARLOTTE magazine 15

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Unabashed and Loving it Gene Johnson, first alumnus to lead Board of Trustees

By Paul Nowell

Gene Johnson recently was installed as the chairman of the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees, taking over from Ruth Shaw. Making it an even more historical event is the fact that Johnson is the first alumnus to lead the University’s governing board. While Johnson is retired, he is far from retiring in his affection and dedication to his alma mater. Unabashed in his fanatic support for 49ers sports, his personal mission statement also features a goal to improve the academic reputation of UNC Charlotte. Johnson has been involved with UNC Charlotte for most of his life as a member of several boards and committees and as a generous supporter. The former chairman and chief executive officer at FairPoint Communications Inc., Johnson has served on the Belk College of Business Advisory Council, the Alumni Board of Governors and the board of directors of the 49ers Athletic Foundation. He was inducted into the UNC Charlotte Alumni Hall of Fame in 1997 and was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 2000. Media Relations Manager Paul Nowell recently caught up with Johnson after his morning workout at the Dowd YMCA. An avid cyclist, Johnson recently completed a ride from Asheville to Ocean Isle Beach.

Q: What brought you to UNC Charlotte in the first place?

I was in the Army stationed at West Point and my wife Vickie had gone for two years to Campbell University (then Campbell College). I was given the chance to transfer anywhere I wanted and I picked Charlotte because of the University and the fact that there were military installations here. I started in night school and ended up going full-time when I got out of the service. 16 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine




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Johnson makes an observation at a recent board meeting, flanked by fellow trustees Karen Popp and Dale Halton.

I was a captain in the Army at the time and I remember I wore my uniform to class the night of the Kent State shootings. People were very respectful, but you also need to remember that a huge percentage of the students had military backgrounds at that time.

Q: Did you have any mentors or favorite professors?

Tom Turner was the chairman of the Accounting Department, and every student thought he was just the most remarkable teacher you could ever find. I worked for him as a teacher’s assistant my senior year. I remember making something like a 32 on a test and I came back to his office and told him. He said: “Gene, that’s terrible. I could have guessed and done better.”

Q: It’s obvious you are a big UNC Charlotte sports fan. Were you just as fanatic back in the early 1970s when you attended the University?

There wasn’t much to be a sports fan about back then. It wasn’t until after I graduated that the basketball team started excelling. We went to the Final Four in 1977 and in 1976 we went to the NIT Finals. Vickie and I were members of the Grubstake Club, which is a predecessor to the athletic association. We were very active and we would sell things like poms poms and buttons at games. I remember when we went to the Final Four we had items on every UNC Charlotte fan’s seat. www.UNCC.edu

Q: What is your greatest athletic memory at UNC Charlotte?

That’s a great question. I can think of a lot of things. Certainly going to the Final Four was a huge thing for the athletic program. It really made the basketball program. I think football is right up there. Football is going to be so important to the long-term future of the University. It sort of puts you on the map. You’ve heard statistics about us being the largest university that does not have football. And this adds so much to the experience of the students. They really rallied for this and made it happen. I’m really proud of the student body.

Q: Can you picture the Gene Johnson in 1973 and envision that he would someday become chairman of the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees?

No, I had no concept at that age what I might become. I had a mother who told me once you can do anything you want if you made your mind up. She always put a lot of positive thoughts in my head and I’ve always been a positive, upbeat kind of person. I also was active all my life at the University. I’ve been fortunate to have done so much, but I never would believe I’d one day be on the board of trustees, let alone the chairman.

Q: Your mother was a huge influence on your life?


A 1973 graduate, Johnson is pictured “back in the day” along side an icon of the era — an AMC Gremlin.

She was a very unusual person. I have a brother and sister, and they used to kid me, saying: “You’re special.” But I do know she would be very upset if I underperformed. She said, “You know you can do so much better, but it’s up to you.”

Q: What significance do you attach to being the first alumnus to become chairman of the Board of Trustees?

I think it says the University has come of age. There has been a concerted effort by (former Chancellor) Jim (Woodward) and then by Phil (Dubois) to add more alums to the Board of Trustees. During my tenure on the board, I believe we now have a majority of alums. There has been concerted effort to do this, as more alums have achieved positions of importance or careers have ascended. It says a lot about the University.

Q: Does it instill a feeling of accomplishment?

I think one has to feel a tremendous sense of pride to serve on the Board of Trustees at the University you attended. Being the first alumni chairman is a huge sense of pride for me. And to see what the University has accomplished and how the University has changed. Much of it comes from unbelievably talented and perfectly situated lineage of chancellors. We seemed to have had the right person at the right time, and when you see that, you can’t help but have a sense of pride. Q410 | UNC CHARLOTTE magazine 17

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Q: What do you see as your biggest challenges the next couple of years as chairman of the board?

One of the greatest challenges facing the entire University system, and we are no different, is the funding crisis. It looks as if it is going to continue for some time. We’re OK now, and we’ve been extremely lucky and been treated very well by the state legislature. We will continue to try to build new buildings to meet the demands, we have the most rapidly growing campus in the UNC System and that is intentional. But in order to grow, we have to hire more faculty and we need to put up new buildings to provide places for our campus community to work and teach and learn. It’s going be a real challenge moving forward. Our faculty is doing a superb job, but we are just not bringing in as many new faculty members as we once did. We need their vitality and experience.

Q: Are you confident in the University’s capacity to meet these challenges?

We’ve been extraordinarily blessed with great leadership at the University. All of our leaders, starting with Bonnie Cone to Phil Dubois, have been not only the right person for the time but just tremendous people. And I’ve been blessed to know all of them personally.

Q: You have big shoes to fill in Ruth Shaw?

Ruth and I are different people. She is an intellectual, exceptionally talented and full of energy and vitality. She ran the board with such passion and uncommon good sense. What we share is we are both really sincere about what we are doing and doing it from the heart.

Q: So how would you describe Gene Johnson’s leadership style?

The thing about me stylistically is I’m kind of laid back and relaxed on the surface; although, I churn like crazy on the inside and I have an exceptionally high level of energy. I like to be around people. The only reason I’m where I am is that I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I’m willing to do things a little differently. 18 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine



“I think one has to feel a tremendous sense of pride to serve on the Board of Trustees at the university you attended.” Gene Johnson, Chairman, UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees Let me describe it this way: You’re in a small North Carolina town. It’s the Fourth of July and there’s a parade going on. Here comes the high school band on the back of a flatbed truck, pulling the proverbial bandwagon. Most people watch the bandwagon go by, but I just jump on it. I’m a bit of a risk taker, but I do think that people are what make the world go round.

Q: Why do you continue to work so hard when you could be playing golf or lounging by the pool?

I think it is really important to give back. Everyone has to do it in a different way. No one person can do it the way the next person does it.

Q: OK, now I need to go back to the topic of football. Do you think UNC Charlotte might surprise some people?

(Laughs). Some of us are already talking about next year, when (Athletics Director) Judy (Rose) starts hiring the staff. We’ll get our head coach and some assistants and start recruiting and practicing. The facilities need to be ready. Yes, I hope to surprise someone. If we can have the kind of success South Florida has had, it would be a lot of fun. I think we might do very well. I can’t wait!

Q: Now that you have a little more time on your hands, do you enjoy different activities and hobbies?

I have the best life in the world. Most of the time I spend that is structured in any way involves the University. One of the other trustees told me being chairman is significantly more involved than simply being on the board. And it is exponentially more work. I do play a little golf, but recently not nearly enough. But the reason is that Vickie and I spend the summer in the mountains

and I was training for a long bike ride. I just got back from taking a bike ride from Asheville to Ocean Isle. I put in more than 1,700 miles this summer. We also like to hike and kayak and play golf, and I have a few business interests. I’m having the best life and the stress is gone. You can tell by looking in my vehicle. The back seats are folded down most of the time and there’s stuff in there like bikes and hiking boots and golf clubs.

Q: So how did you get involved in serious biking?

Back in 2001, I did a bike ride in the mountains of Colorado. We went 500 miles over seven days, and we climbed 33,000 feet. I decided I needed to get back into it. I did a lot of riding this summer and I entered the Cycle North Carolina event from the mountains to the coast. I can tell you, there is never a better feeling in the world than to crest the top of that bridge and see the ocean and the finish line.

Q: Other than health, are there other benefits you get from biking?

There’s a great life lesson in cycling. These things are very hard to finish when you have to ride some 83 miles one day and get up the next day and do another 75 miles. You need to remember it’s just like anything else; you get it done one pedal at a time. You start out with 83 miles to go and then its 80 miles and then 30 and then 10 and then you are done. It’s just a great lesson. The hardest journey begins with a single step and you keep stepping and pretty soon you’ll be there. Paul Nowell is media relations manager in the Office of Public Relations. www.UNCC.edu

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Levine Scholars Back from High Country Westward bound — that’s where UNC Charlotte’s first class of 15 Levine Scholars headed before the fall semester for a challenging and inspirational 25-day leadership expedition in Wyoming’s magnificent Absaroka Range. “The Levine Scholars Leadership Expedition to Wyoming was a wonderful way to begin the scholars’ UNC Charlotte experience,” said Diane Zablotsky, director of the Levine Scholars Program. “They discovered and experienced the rugged beauty of a new place while getting to know each other, develop leadership skills and begin to feel like a group.”

The Levine Scholars hike in Wyoming’s Absaroka Range during a 25-day leadership expedition.

The wilderness expedition kicked off the academic year for the students. The first class of Levine Scholars includes 10 young leaders from North Carolina and five other states. “At this important time of transition, each of the students grew individually while contributing to the mission and success of the whole,” said Zablotsky. “The insight and awareness they brought back from Wyoming www.UNCC.edu

will help them to be poised and ready for the challenges and opportunities they will discover in their college experiences.” On July 11, the group traveled to Wyoming’s spectacular Absaroka Range, a vast wilderness region with some of the most remote territory in the nation. The Absarokas are near Yellowstone National Park. The area features broad river valleys surrounded by sheer glacier-carved cliffs,

where the students camped under towering conifers and hiked across alpine plateaus where the tallest plants are only a few inches high. Along with grizzlies, other wildlife in the region includes eagles, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, coyote and gray wolves. The area also is famous for fishing and climbing, and the students learned new leadership and teamwork skills over a 25-day period. The program is run by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), which has taught leadership, wilderness skills and environmental studies to more than 120,000 students since its inception in 1965. The scholarships were made possible by philanthropists Leon and Sandra Levine, who committed $9.3 million to UNC Charlotte for the scholarship program to develop community service leaders. Leon Levine is the founder and chair emeritus of Matthews-based Family Dollar Stores Inc. The scholarships cover the cost of all tuition and fees, housing and meals, books, a laptop computer and summer experiences, including the Wyoming trip. The value of the scholarship is about $90,000 for each in-state student and $140,000 for each out-of-state student. Q410 | UNC CHARLOTTE magazine 19


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Gunn, Cuero Oversee Men’s Soccer Resurgence By Carmen Matos With victories over Clemson and Wake Forest preceding an eight-game win streak, the Charlotte 49ers men’s soccer team returned to the national rankings, peaking at No. 16 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll. In addition, the 49ers found themselves atop the Atlantic 10 Conference standings heading into the final week of the season. Since head coach Jeremy Gunn and senior standout Andres Cuero arrived at Charlotte four years ago, the Charlotte 49ers men’s soccer team has resurged onto the national scene. Since 2006, the Niners earned their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1997, tallied 46 wins, compiled a home-winning percentage of over 80 percent at Transamerica Field and returned to the national rankings. Coming to the 49ers in December 2006, Gunn was excited about his transition from Fort Lewis College in Colorado. He faced a new city, a new team and a lot of work. With most of the team’s starters graduating, Gunn quickly put together a program. “It was a great situation, one that I could really see myself going forward with and having an exciting future,” Gunn said. “The first two seasons it was really about bringing the group together, creating a culture and environment for everybody within the program.” Since Gunn’s first season, several 49ers have earned national awards as the team returned to the national rankings, reaching as high as ninth in the country. No one knows the growth and change of the team since Gunn’s arrival better than lone senior, Andres Cuero. “It’s been great here,” Cuero said. “Being here for four years I have had the best times in soccer I have ever had in my life. And a lot is because of Coach Gunn. I’m lucky that Coach Gunn took the job when he did. He’s a very good coach and has taught me a lot over the last four years.” 20 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine



The UNC Charlotte men’s soccer team celebrates victory after earning the top seed in the A-10 championships.

Cuero came to the 49ers in 2007 from Austin, Texas. Since his arrival, Cuero has earned NSCAA All-Mid-Atlantic Region honors as well as notching Atlantic 10 AllTournament honors and A-10 Player of the Week awards. “He’s one of those guys you look forward to seeing every day — he is hard working and dedicated — and an outstanding young man,” Gunn said of Cuero. “As a player he’s got wonderful skill and vision and can make some of those really intelligent plays that other players do not see.” Cuero is a team captain this season, and with such a position comes responsibility and

leadership. In previous seasons there were multiple seniors and multiple captains. Being the only senior, Cuero carries a load that was spread among several players in previous years. “As team captain, I am accountable for everyone and making sure they are doing what they are supposed to do,” Cuero said. “It would be a lot easier if I had somebody else. There were five guys that graduated before me and they all took part in leadership and took the load off each other’s shoulders. All of the guys are good and take care of what they’re supposed to for the most part. So they make my job a lot easier.” www.UNCC.edu

49 e r s n o te b o o k

Women’s Soccer Claims Share of A-10 Crown The 49ers women’s soccer team reeled off six straight conference wins to close the regular season and claim a share of the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship. During the six wins, they outscored opponents 18-1. On the season’s final weekend, they locked up the top seed for the A-10 tournament based on their goal differential over fellow co-champion Dayton. To clinch the top berth, the 49ers defeated Saint Joseph’s 5-1 and Temple 7-0 on the road. The outstanding regular season brought other honors as well. All-time leading scorer Whitney Weinraub, senior defender Megan Minnix and senior midfielder Sam Huecker all earned first team All-Atlantic 10 honors. In addition, Minnix became the fourth straight 49er to be named the A-10 Women’s Soccer Student-Athlete of the Year. She follows in the footsteps of Hailey Beam (2008, 2009) and Lindsey Ozimek (2007).

Plan to Attend 49ers Home Basketball Games

Coach Alan Major

The 49ers 2010-11 basketball season includes some great home contests in the nonconference season before getting ready for Atlantic 10 play. Head coach Alan Major takes over the helm of the men’s team as the 49ers celebrate the 15th year of Halton Arena. Meanwhile head coach Karen Aston looks to lead the women to their school-record ninth straight post-season appearance. For full schedules, including TV listings, go to www.charlotte49ers.com.

2010-11 Men’s Home Basketball Games Dec. 22 — Wright State Jan. 15 — Fordham Jan. 19 — Massachusetts Jan. 29 — La Salle Feb. 2 — Xavier Feb. 5 — George Washington (Homecoming) Feb. 16 — Dayton Feb. 26 — Richmond Mar. 5 — Saint Joseph’s

home. She scored two goals in the 5-1 win at Saint Joseph’s to take sole possession of the 49ers all-time scoring record. Whitney Weinraub

Weinraub Becomes All-Time Leading Scorer Senior Whitney Weinraub, a two-time Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year, became Charlotte’s all-time leading scorer in women’s soccer this season. After tying the mark of 36 held by both Hailey Beam and Courtney Cook, the Philadelphia-area native headed into the final weekend of the regular season, playing on the road at Saint Joseph’s, close to her www.UNCC.edu


Wingo Named National Player of the Week Junior Macky Wingo earned National Player of the Week honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association Nov. 2. She scored five goals in a pair of road wins on the final weekend of the regular season to help the Charlotte 49ers claim a share of the Atlantic 10 regular season title. She netted her first career hat trick with three goals in a 5-1 win at Saint Joseph’s and added two more goals in a 7-0 route at Temple.

2010-11 Women’s Home Basketball Games Dec. 22 — Maryland-Eastern Shore Jan. 2 — Virginia Tech Jan. 7 — Temple Jan. 12 — Fordham Jan. 22 — Xavier Feb. 9 — George Washington Feb. 12 — Dayton Feb. 19 — Saint Louis Feb. 23 — Duquesne

Volleyball Raises $10,000 for Breast Cancer Research With the help of the community, the Charlotte 49ers volleyball program’s fundraising efforts for this year’s Dig Pink campaign reached the team’s goal of $10,000. Since the 2002 season under head coach Lisa Marston, Charlotte has been raising money for breast cancer research via an October home match, coinciding with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, The team has raised money by soliciting donations for each dig recorded the match. Fellow conference teams joined the cause a year later and soon teams around the Continued on p. 39 Q410 | UNC CHARLOTTE magazine 21

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This Is Your Brain on Music The Charlotte Symphony appeared in concert to a sold out crowd in the Anne R. Belk Theater. But this was no ordinary concert — the performance doubled as a neuroscience experiment. Dr. Joan Lorden, provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs and a neuroscientist by training, spoke from the stage about how the human brain perceives sound. Ken Lambla, dean of the College of Arts + Architecture, had his heart rate, blood pressure and temperature measured on stage during part of the concert to explore the physiological affect of music on the human body. The diverse audience consisted of faculty, staff, students and community members.


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Harambee! By Lisa A. Patterson

Freedom School program a proven success

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It’s the day of the grand finale celebration for a very special class of UNC Charlotte scholars. A woman in a yellow dress is rushing around the large room in the Student Activities Center, herding cats, er, children. Parents begin to file in, small siblings tagging along. Children recognize their family members; they are giddy and can’t wait to strut their stuff. When the program finally gets under way, Sherell Fuller, the energetic woman in yellow, continues a tradition the scholars have repeated every day of their summer instruction. She exclaims into the microphone: “Freedom School, how are you feeling?” “Fantastic, terrific, great all day long!” the children shout. Normally, this exchange would mark the start of a full day of song, dance, learning and sharing called “Harambee,” a Swahili word meaning “all pull together.” Today it

marks the culmination of six weeks of an unconventional literacy program birthed by the Civil Rights movement. The 50 elementary and middle school students are enrolled in Freedom Schools, developed by the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) in 1995 to help close the equality gap in the U.S. education system. The free program is modeled after efforts in Southern states in the 1960s to educate African Americans in sub-par schools. Organizers designed the curriculum to “help children fall in love with reading, increase their self-esteem and generate more positive attitudes toward learning,” according to the CDF website. The program also seeks to prevent the learning loss that students often experience during summer months. In 2010, nearly 10,000 children participated in Freedom Schools at more than 140 sites


fe a t u re around the country. The program costs a total of about $60,000 for six weeks, according to the CDF. Each site pays for books, food, field trips and stipends for staff. The schools, usually hosted by churches, have been in the Charlotte region for more than six years. This year, with funding assistance from the Chancellor’s Diversity Challenge Fund, UNC Charlotte was chosen as one of two new Charlotte sites, and became one of few sites in the country housed on a university campus. Fuller, a clinical assistant professor of education, has been at this a long time. For her first service project as a faculty member, Fuller sent student interns to the Seigle Avenue Freedom School and volunteered as a reader. For six years Fuller has served as a volunteer as new sites crop up in the Charlotte region. When the idea to bring Freedom Schools to UNC Charlotte came to fruition, Fuller accepted the site coordinator position by default, and with characteristic enthusiasm. “I happened to be the faculty member who’d done it, and knew it and wouldn’t have to start from scratch,” Fuller said. “We waded through the parking problems and space issues — we made it work for us.” Freedom School scholars are selected from schools with high percentages of students receiving free and reduced lunch. On a typical day, the scholars were bused to the University, ate breakfast, started instruction with


The exposure to the UNC Charlotte campus made a big impression on the 50-plus Freedom School scholars. Harambee chants and cheers and delved into the proscribed integrated reading curriculum. A presentation by an outside speaker, field trip or other activity occupied the afternoon, until 3 p.m. when the scholars departed for home. Fuller explained that the scholars benefit from and enjoy the exposure to new and different activities. They went swimming at the YMCA, visited the Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville and historic Cane Creek Park and participated in scavenger hunts in Uptown Charlotte.


But, she noted, the exposure they received to the University campus might have made the biggest impression. “We got into a discussion about what a college degree looks like, so I brought them to my office,” she said. Fuller explained to the scholars that she isn’t the kind of doctor that gives shots; a second grader then declared that she was going to be a doctor, possibly one that gives shots, or maybe one that doesn’t. UNC Charlotte faculty from various disciplines volunteered to host workshops for the scholars, including goal setting and neuroscience workshops for the older students. “We talked about junior college and community college, and we talked about trades because everyone might not want to go to college — we talked about the importance of education,” Fuller said. “They were asking questions about what it’s like to stay on a college campus. This is a powerful, unintended consequence of having UNC Charlotte as a site.” When representatives from the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the CDF visited the new site, they were fascinated that a large public university was able to cut through the red tape and partner with the local public school system to make it work. They intend to use UNC Charlotte as a model for future sites, Fuller said. At a time when test scores show a persistent achievement gap between white students and

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black and Latino students, proponents say literacy efforts like Freedom Schools can improve outcomes. A 2009 pilot study of two Freedom Schools’ programs in the Charlotte region, conducted by UNC Charlotte’s Institute for Social Capital (ISC), lends credence to this assertion. Bruce Taylor, one of the researchers behind the ISC study and director of the Center for Adolescent Literacies at UNC Charlotte, said the findings from the evaluation indicate the Freedom Schools’ model positively impacted children in grades two through five, increasing their ability to read. More than 60 percent of the 52 children in the study showed moderate to significant improvement, while 27 percent “maintained,” meaning they did not experience summer learning loss. For 2010, Taylor spearheaded a similar study of 11 Freedom Schools and more than 200 scholars in the Charlotte region. The researchers are in the process of preparing the new report for publication, but Taylor said initial data analysis mirrors the findings of the pilot study. “This is a group of kids we’re most concerned about — they’re struggling, and we’re struggling to meet their needs,” Taylor said. “If Freedom Schools have found a way to effectively engage them, I’d like to see what elements of the Freedom Schools’ experience can be brought into their regular classrooms.” For Fuller, the message behind the program is simple: Words have power. “Semantics are very important to the CDF,” she said. That’s why Freedom School participants are referred to as scholars, not as students. It’s amazing when you start calling yourself a scholar, that self-fulfilling prophecy.” But, she said, sometimes the scholars find overcoming the words others have hurled at them to be more of a challenge than reading a new text. “A lot of what we do is about building self-esteem — I had a first grader say ‘I’m

26 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine



UNC Charlotte became one of the first public universities in the nation to host a Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School. College of Education faculty Sherell Fuller and Bruce Taylor were involved in coordinating and assessing the program.

dumb,’ and they know when to use it, so you know they’ve heard it from someone and have internalized this idea of themselves,” Fuller explained. “More than anything I look at this as a program to build the esteem of these students.” The research bears out that in order to build self-esteem and get the students engaged, they have to read books that reflect their experience, tell their stories and feature characters who look like them. The scholars read several carefully chosen books each week in groups, with their teachers, with guest readers and silently. And, they get to keep the books they read — some took extra copies home to siblings. As important as reading about characters that look like them might be, the scholars benefit as much or more from interacting with college students who become role models. At the UNC Charlotte site, five of the six instructors were UNC Charlotte students, and half were education majors. Seventeen UNC Charlotte students taught at Freedom School sites in the region last summer. Another interesting aspect of the Freedom Schools’ experience is required parental participation. Parents attended nine

hours of meetings through the CharlotteMecklenburg Schools’ Parent University and assisted in classroom activities, chaperoned field trips, provided snacks — whatever they were able to do. As the finale celebration continued, the students performed with gusto. Their heads were held high, their voices rang out loudly, proudly. They stomped, they sang, they read poetry they’d composed. They smiled broadly at the faculty and staff who served as readers and at the instructors who became mentors and role models. Most of all, though, they beamed out at their loved ones, and the parents and siblings smiled back and cheered. Their scholars had expanded their knowledge and horizons in six short, full weeks. It’s not a stretch to imagine the same scene, with some of the same scholars, playing out years from now at a UNC Charlotte commencement ceremony. But wherever the scholars go, they will carry with them a new attitude toward learning and a new way of being in the world — the Freedom School way. Lisa A. Patterson is senior writer in the Office of Public Relations. www.UNCC.edu

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Coming Home to UNC Charlotte Marc Horgan active in building long-term value

By Arthur Murray

UNC Charlotte literally had Marc Horgan at hello. And the University still has Horgan, area executive for Raleigh-based First Citizens Bank. That makes him the bank’s top executive in the Queen City. Founded in 1898, First Citizens is the state’s third largest bank by assets and deposits, and it has extended its presence nationally in recent years. The bank has not been hit with some of the problems peers have faced during the financial crisis. As a result, its parent company, First Citizens BancShares, has grown to one of the top 50 financial institutions in the country. 28 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine



As for Horgan, the 1993 graduate continues his love affair with the University since his return to Charlotte. He believes in the University and its continuing role in shaping Charlotte as it expands both its student population and its academic reputation. His first contact with the state, however, wasn’t in its largest city. He was born in Cincinnati, the son of a Hewlett-Packard executive and a nurse. He stayed there through junior high, when the family — including a brother and twin sisters — moved to Damascus, Md., not quite midway between Frederick and Baltimore. The family enjoyed

vacationing at North Carolina’s beaches, particularly Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach in Brunswick County. His parents, in fact, now have a home at Sunset Beach. “North Carolina had always been very intriguing to us,” Horgan said from his office downtown Charlotte. When it came time to look for a college, he decided to look at the state, including UNC Charlotte. “I still remember the day we did the campus tour,” he said. “Something just grabbed me.” He can’t put his finger on exactly what, but he was hooked. “First impressions are lasting impressions.” www.UNCC.edu

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More 49ers helping lead First Citizens Bank Marc Horgan isn’t the only UNC Charlotte alum to be staking his claim at First Citizens Bank. Several other senior managers in the Charlotte area also are proud 49ers. Robertette “Robbie” Adams-Padgett Year graduated, degree: 1995, bachelor of arts (triple major) in English, political science and history (AA) Hometown: New London, N.C. Years with First Citizens: 7 Current job title/description: vice president/manager of retail banking About UNC Charlotte: Both my parents were teachers. With that said, I grew up with education as a mainstay. As a younger adult, I needed exposure to more genres of literature, political philosophies and history from varying viewpoints. I got that opportunity during my undergrad years at UNC Charlotte. The diverse perspective I gained has allowed me grow and thrive both personally and professionally. John Ager Year graduated, degree: 1992, bachelor of science in accounting Hometown: Charlotte Years with First Citizens: 10 Current job title/description: senior vice president/ client advisor in the private wealth advisory service group. About UNC Charlotte: UNC Charlotte is a wonderful university. It has been great to watch it grow over the last decade. Over the last six years (until rolling off the board a year ago), I have been involved with the UNC Charlotte

When he moved on campus in the fall of 1989, he found a vibrant University that was in the middle of change, much as he was. “I’d played high-school golf, but I quickly learned that I wasn’t as talented as the others,” he said. “I had to buckle down with the books.” The university, meanwhile was just starting a growth spurt that was to take it from about 14,000 students when he got there to more www.UNCC.edu

the program with tools that I could put to use immediately in my profession. It was not just theoretical learning but practical information and skills that I could use in the real world of work. And the professional relationships that began at UNCC have lasted.

Alumni board. Here, we were very active in helping to set up a needsbased scholarship. I also had the privilege of meeting potential students and helping to determine academic scholarships. It was nice to see such a high caliber of new talent want to join my alma mater. From playing soccer on the front fields years ago to seeing all the new developments – it’s an exciting time to be a UNCC grad. Angela A. Broome Year graduated, degree: 1997, master of business administration Hometown: Charlotte Years with First Citizens: 14 Current job title/description: senior vice president/commercial banking About UNC Charlotte: Getting my MBA through UNC Charlotte was a wonderful experience. I was exposed to so many different schools of thought from my professors, fellow students and the cases we studied and all of these views have made me a more rounded individual in my career. I left

than 25,000 now. “It was a community in transit, with a lot of buzz.” The hustle and bustle appealed to him — and to his now wife, Catherine. Despite all the changes, he said, “UNC Charlotte helped us establish roots. Once I got in business school, I loved it.” He won’t pinpoint particular favorite professors, he said, noting that many helped him develop his skills. He’s particularly

Phil Hains Year graduated, degree: 1985, bachelor of arts in business administration Hometown: Pittsboro Years with First Citizens: 18 years Current job title/description: senior vice president and regional business executive for the Central region of North Carolina (Charlotte to Fayetteville, including Triad and Triangle). My role focuses on the management of the credit quality of the business and commercial portfolio, providing development opportunities for business and commercial bankers, and enhancing operational efficiency in the region and the bank. About UNC Charlotte: My adviser at UNC Charlotte was Daryl Kerr, who gave me some advice in my first weeks that I have used since. He told me that my diploma would not specify a skill set that I would be able to put to use when I left UNCC, rather it would tell a potential employer about my ability to learn and grow. It changed my perspective from one of getting through a class and moving on to connecting all of my classes, and it set me on a course of life-long learning that has served me very well in my career and my personal relationships.

thankful for an institutional push that valued getting hands-on experience. “The University assisted me with connecting education with a business career through internships and networking,” he said, recalling an internship at a brokerage house as one of the highlights of his college career. Continued on p. 37 Q410 | UNC CHARLOTTE magazine 29

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Do You Know a UNC Charlotte ‘Fallen Hero’?


Our Own

By Jane Lee Watson

“The importance that the University has placed on this project displays the resolve and support the community has for those who have served and are still serving today,” said Maj. Scott Siegfried, assistant professor of military science, Army ROTC. “This new memorial plaque will remind us of what composer and lyricist Randy Vader once wrote, ‘The story of America’s quest for freedom is inscribed on her history in the blood of her patriots.’” Maj. Scott Siegfried, assistant professor of military science, Army ROTC 30 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine



Our American service men and women defend our basic freedoms, and we, as a University, want to show our gratitude for our UNC Charlotte “Fallen Heroes.” And we need your help. We are looking for the names of any UNC Charlotte students, alumni, faculty or staff members who have lost their lives in military service to our country. A Fallen Heroes memorial plaque is being designed and will be installed in the Main Lobby of Memorial Hall, which now houses the Air Force and Army ROTC programs. Special citations will be displayed with the plaque, individually honoring each of UNC Charlotte’s www.UNCC.edu

Freitag Leads Governing Board A newly established Fallen Heroes Governing Board will formally approve each nominee’s inclusion in the memorial. This board may make exceptions to the above criteria in the case of extraordinary circumstances. Chancellor Phillip L. Dubois has appointed the UNC Charlotte faculty and staff members to the inaugural governing board. Alan R. Freitag, associate chair and associate professor of communication studies, will chair of the Fallen Heroes Governing Board. Freitag, prior to joining Alan R. Freitag UNC Charlotte in 1998, served 22 years active duty in the U.S. Air Force. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1995. Other governing board members are Capt. Brent M. Moore, Air Force ROTC; Maj. Thomas Pangborn, Army ROTC; Lt. Col. Christopher Rogers, Air Force ROTC; and Maj. Scott Siegfried, Army ROTC.

Fallen Heroes. Chancellor Philip L. Dubois will host a special ceremony in late spring of 2011 to unveil and formally dedicate the new Fallen Heroes Memorial. In the meantime, we want to identify as many of our Fallen Heroes as possible. The criteria for inclusion on the memorial are: • Must have served honorably on active duty or in the reserves of any branch of the United States armed forces — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard. • Must have lost his or her life while in military service, including a determination of “killed in action” or “missing in action.” www.UNCC.edu

• Must have attended courses at UNC Charlotte. (This may include, but is not limited to, courses in Military or Aerospace Science.) • Or must have served in a full-time capacity on the faculty or staff of UNC Charlotte. • Must be nominated for inclusion by an immediate family member or other appropriate individual such as a fellow service member or commander. • The time frame can be as far back as 1946, the year that the University was founded as the Charlotte Center. If you know of someone who fits the above criteria (even if you are not a family

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“Among the faculty, staff and alumni of UNC Charlotte is a substantial representation of those serving, or have served, in this country’s great armed forces,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Rogers, Commander of Detachment 592, Air Force ROTC, UNC Charlotte. “It is therefore fitting that this memorial will be dedicated to recognizing those who walked along our campus pathways, studied among us in our classrooms, but later went out to confront our country’s enemies, and gave their life in its defense. This memorial will forever remind us that this nation’s greatest treasure is its people.“ Lt. Col. Christopher Rogers, Commander of Detachment 592, Air Force ROTC, UNC Charlotte

member), please send his or her name and military service information to det592@ uncc.edu, 704-687-8100. If you have information about any surviving family members of the Fallen Hero, please send that information also. And be sure you send your contact information in case we have questions. For questions about the Fallen Heroes Memorial, please contact Maj. Scott Siegfried, Army ROTC, ssiegfr1@uncc.edu, 704-687-8698. Jane Lee Watson is senior director of events and special projects at UNC Charlotte. Q410 | UNC CHARLOTTE magazine 31

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Researchers Find 60 Such Neighborhoods in Mecklenburg County

Deserts’ By Lisa A. Patterson

Shirley, a loquacious woman in her 70s, seems to speak for the group when she discusses her experience living in a Charlotte area food desert. When she is able to get a ride to the closest grocery store, she finds the quality and price of the food to be disappointing, prohibitive and on one occasion detrimental to her health. She describes a recent hospital stay that she blames on store bought, out-of-date chicken livers. Shirley is one of 10 individuals taking part in a focus group organized by UNC Charlotte researchers. All of the participants receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, formerly known as Food Stamps. The group describes what it’s like to try to juggle bags of groceries on the bus, and how they sometimes travel to multiple stores to get the quality meats and produce people living in high income communities can find in one stop. Lorenzo, another focus group participant, grows his own vegetables and distributes the excess to his elderly neighbors. But you have to have access to land to grow food. The focus group participants say they relish the opportunity to eat fresh fruits, and the majority enjoy cooking from scratch. When asked what their ideal grocery store would include, they enthusiastically chime in that it should be clean, the foods should be fresh and appealing, the staff should be welcoming; most of all, they say, they want equal opportunity.

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Scarcity in the Land of Plenty Americans are plagued by high rates of obesity and related chronic diseases. In fact, the adult obesity rate in two-thirds of states tops 25 percent, while 20 percent of children in the United States are obese. The profound social and economic impact of these health concerns has prompted researchers to study the causes of what has become a national crisis. Even in the land of plenty, access to fruits and vegetables and other nonprocessed food items varies significantly across communities. UNC Charlotte Assistant Professor of Public Health Sciences Elizabeth Racine has studied incentives and disincentives to healthy eating, as well as the neighborhood environment as it relates to food access. According to Racine, many studies have found that residents in low income and Beth Racine minority neighborhoods have poor access to grocery stores and healthy food products. Residents of these areas, known as “food deserts,” are less food secure and suffer from diet-related diseases. Time, energy and resources are needed to identify the food deserts within an urban area. In 2009, the Mecklenburg County Health


fe a t u re Department approached Racine to lead phase one of the process — a thorough food assessment study. “A food assessment is a powerful way to tell the story of what is happening with food in a community,” Racine said. UNC Charlotte researchers, including Racine, Associate Professor of Geography Qingfang Wang and public health major Christina Wilson, worked with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Qingfang Wang Council, the county’s GIS department and the health department to collect and analyze data for the assessment. Surprising Results The study yielded surprising results. The team counted 721 food stores in the county. After verifying the stores were open for business, the stores were classified as nonfull-service or full-service based on their inventories. Stores were considered full-service when their inventories included fresh meat, dairy, at least 10 fruits and vegetable varieties, and processed foods. Of the 721 stores, 186 were considered full-service food stores. The numbers alone were telling, but the deserts clearly emerged when Wang divided the county into census block groups and plotted the stores on a map; the map revealed that 60 neighborhoods in Mecklenburg County qualified as food deserts. The vast majority of the deserts are located in and around Charlotte, mainly to the northeast and west of the city.


“Our original objective was to see whether availability of fullservice stores was related to race, income, ethnicity and population density,” Racine said. The majority of food deserts were found in mostly Black neighborhoods. In high-income communities that lack fullservice stores, researchers presume residents have access to reliable transportation, allowing them to travel to full-service stores. The assessment also revealed that Mecklenburg County’s Asians and Hispanics live in more densely populated areas and have access to high numbers of both full-service and non-full service stores. We Are What We Eat The relationship between nutrition and chronic disease is well-established. In Mecklenburg County, nearly 73,000 people in low-income neighborhoods are at a greater health risk because they have little to no access to foods that promote health, and too much access to foods that are detrimental to health. Racine, who has extensively studied food assistance programs, including SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), used the county food-assessment data to examine the relationship between chronic disease and food access. “We didn’t have information on obesity rates by census block group, but we do know how many people died in each census block group,” Racine said. The researchers calculated the rate of death due to heart disease and diabetes for the last five years in individuals ages 65 and younger. Continued on next page

Food Recovery Program Going Strong The UNC Charlotte Food Recovery Program has come a long way since 1991, when undergraduate and University Honors student Glenn Hutchinson noticed that cafeteria staff were throwing away leftover food. By spring of 1992, the program was up and running, bringing high quality food to Charlotte soup kitchens. After one successful semester, the program was shut down by a new campus food manager but quickly resumed after petitions, protests, media attention and involvement from the Student Government Association. The program has since been going strong and, with help from Chancellor Philip L. Dubois and Hutchinson, recently celebrated the start of its 18th year with the unveiling of a new van. www.UNCC.edu

Volunteers and donations remain the lifeblood of the program, which provides an estimated 60 pans of food per week to local organizations. NationsBank, now Bank of America, donated the program’s initial van in 1994. Prior to that time, volunteers transported food in their own vehicles. Other organizations, including Hunter Dairy Farms and Coleman Company have donated containers for transporting food and coolers. In addition, the program received a grant from the North Carolina Office of Waste Reduction to buy a refrigeration unit for the first van. “UNC Charlotte is not only able to employ students out to the work force, we’re able to give back to the community, as well,” said Sean

Langley, the assistant director for off campus and volunteer outreach. “A lot of times people see UNC Charlotte as an economic hub and that we produce qualified candidates out in the work force, but it’s also us really staking our claim in the community.” The new van bears UNC Charlotte’s bold Stake Your Claim message and imagery, which is exactly what volunteers have done in the fight against hunger. The Food Recovery Program is organized through the Dean of Students Office in the Office of Volunteer Outreach. Food runs are made Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2 p.m. Q410 | UNC CHARLOTTE magazine 33

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Continued from p. 33

According to Racine, significant health implications follow from the dearth of full-service stores. “Each additional full-service food store is associated with a decrease in premature deaths to heart disease,” she said. The decrease amounts to 23 deaths per 100,000 residents. Research also suggests a phenomenon that, at first glance, seems contradictory — areas with a high concentration of food stores are associated with poor health. In this instance, the distinction between nonfull-service and full-service stores is critical. ‘Food Swamps’ “Each time the ratio of non-full-service stores to full-service in a census block group went up by one, the number of heart disease deaths increased by 18.5 per 100,000,” Racine said. These areas are referred to as “food swamps,” rather than deserts. Lower-income residents are less likely to have reliable transportation and as a result they may spend their dollars and SNAP benefits at stores that do not offer a variety of healthy choices, such as small corner grocers or drug stores. “Right now, if you are SNAP approved, you can spend your benefits on just about any food product other than alcohol. You can buy Hawaiian Punch, chips, fake cheese,” Racine said. “The government is looking at how to encourage people receiving SNAP to choose more healthy options.” In a draft version of the federal government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines, obesity is identified as the nation’s greatest public health threat. The report points to fast food and physical inactivity as precursors to unhealthy weight gain, as well as to the benefits of a diet rich in plant-based foods. As the personal and economic costs of obesity have garnered national attention, local policy makers have taken note. In August, the UNC Charlotte researchers were asked to present their findings at a meeting of the Mecklenburg County Commissioners. The team, in conjunction with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council, has recommended that commissioners work with developers and planners to consider bringing in full-service food stores and food stands when redeveloping a community. Second Phase While not a final step, the food assessment has proven a positive first step in the monumental task of improving community health. The researchers are about to embark on the second phase of their work, which includes a new study and a different set of questions. One component of the second study was developed at the behest of the county commissioners. The team gathered fast-food restaurant data during Phase 1, and commissioners have asked the team to analyze the data to determine where these restaurants are concentrated. In addition, the researchers continue to conduct focus groups in the food-desert communities to find out what types of perceived barriers to getting healthy food exist. “We might say ‘from a location perspective it looks like you don’t have any healthy food in your neighborhood, and is that a concern for you? And how do you get to the store because clearly you have to drive to get food — is that a problem for you? If you’re on food stamps what makes you choose which stores you go to?’” Racine said. “We’d like to interview individuals from different ethnic groups, and I 34 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine



UNC Charlotte researchers produced this map to illustrate the findings of Mecklenburg County’s first food assessment. The dark areas on the map indicate that nearly 73,000 people in Mecklenburg County live in “food deserts,” or low-income areas where there is a scarcity of healthy food.

hope we can talk to the person in the family who does the shopping,” Wang said. “More research into family structure related to consuming/ cooking styles is needed.” Big Challenge Even with improved access to healthy food, Racine acknowledged that influencing behavioral change can be an uphill battle. Some research has shown that when you give people access to healthy food the intake of that food increases by about 30 percent but, Racine explained, other studies have indicated that even after healthier food options are more widely available in food deserts, many consumers continue to make unhealthy choices based on personal preferences. “It’s important to have the nutrition knowledge, but you have to take it a step further to figure out what incentives are going to lead to changes in behavior,” she said. Education alone won’t result in behavior change, but it’s in the public’s best interest to make the effort, Racine said. “Even if residents of these communities are happy with the way they are eating, it could be resulting in shorter lifespans or higher medical costs for the community, which is devastating to the affected families and the community,” she added. Lisa A. Patterson is senior writer in the Office of Public Relations. www.UNCC.edu



ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAN. MUST BE A 49ER. UNC Charlotte is home to the spirited. The tenacious. Can-do kind of pioneers who raise eyebrows and leave a mark. Whether it’s academics, athletics, or the arts, we’re home to world-class achievers and leaders. 25,000 students strong and growing, UNC Charlotte boasts an award-winning faculty, notable alumni, and a student body of winners. Stake your claim to a university that doesn’t just try – we succeed.

Lindsey Ozimek Women’s Soccer MVP B.A. Special Education Class of 2008

UNC CHARLOTTE | fe a t u re

Giving Women a Voice By Buffie Stephens On average, women in the CharlotteMecklenburg region earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. For women of color, the pay disparity is greater. The loss of earning affects a family’s ability to secure the essentials — shelter, food, and healthcare; it affects a family’s ability to ensure that children are safe, secure and in quality childcare environments; it affects retirement prospects and is multiplied through lost social security and pensions. Statistics like this were the impetus for the Women’s Summit. Founded in 2006, the CharlotteMecklenburg Women’s Summit was established to develop a data-driven strategic action plan that would provide benchmarks and measure how women and families were faring in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region. The original areas of research included dependent care, health, housing, political leadership, work and violence against women. While striving to be a catalyst for change to improve the lives of women through research, education and civic engagement, the Women’s Summit works to ensure that women’s perspectives are represented in research, public policy, leadership development and education. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Women’s Summit is now celebrating its fourth anniversary and its official integration with UNC Charlotte. The partnership pairs the

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Women’s Summit has partnered with UNC Charlotte to measure how women and families are faring in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region and focus on policy initiatives to improve their lives. Pictured are (from left to right) Women’s Summit co-chair Becka Tait, director Lisa Yarrow, and co-chair Deborah Bosley.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Women’s Summit with North Carolina’s urban research university, extending the research capacity, opportunity for education and leadership development of women across the region. “That UNC Charlotte and the CharlotteMecklenburg Women’s Summit should come together to create a focused approach

“The Women’s Summit has transformed into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Women’s Summit at UNC Charlotte.” Lisa Yarrow, Director 36 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine



to the study of public policy and how it impacts women on a local basis illustrates the University’s commitment to this community and to its women in particular,” said summit director Lisa Yarrow. During the past four years, the summit has shifted the conversation about women’s issues to include and illustrate how the disparities experienced by women negatively impact the economic stability of our community. Lost earnings represent lost tax revenue and in some cases, reliance on public services. Together with state and local agencies, the summit is working to address these issues. In November, a Women’s Agenda Assembly www.UNCC.edu

fe a t u re was held. Participants prioritized areas of concern for women and a report was delivered to state and local officials to help shape public policy during the legislative session. Recently, the Women’s Summit received a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation to develop programs to address the under-representation of women on appointed boards and commissions in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The needs of women can be met when their voices are heard at the policy-making table so workshops are being organized to assist women who are interested in participating on local boards and commissions. In addition, campaigns are being developed to raise awareness of issues women encounter in the workplace including salary discrimination and work-life balance. Housed in UNC Charlotte’s department of Metropolitan Studies and Extended Academic Programs, the Women’s Summit is also making a difference in the university community. Working across campus and disciplines, the summit is partnering with the Women’s and Gender Studies program, the Urban Institute and the Public Policy program in the department of Political Science to expand dialogue of women’s issues. In partnership with UNC Charlotte’s Alumni Board, the summit is organizing a panel to discuss dependent care issues for alumnae and they have begun work with the Counseling Center on a campuswide campaign about violence against women students. “The Women’s Summit has transformed into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Women’s Summit at UNC Charlotte,” Yarrow said. “Integration with the University provides novel opportunities for funding research and educational activities — opportunities that were unavailable previously. We now have a broader constituency and we embrace the opportunity to be partners with students, faculty, staff and the greater community as we all work together to improve the lives of women and their families in our region.” Buffie Stephens, a UNC Charlotte alumna, is media relations manager in the Office of Public Relations. www.UNCC.edu

Continued from p. 29

“I worked all through college,” he said, notably as a resident adviser, which gave him a free room on campus. “That’s why I’m involved with the UNC Charlotte Foundation. Increasingly, the cost of an education is becoming a barrier to getting one.” The foundation, the fund-raising arm of the university, works with alumni, corporations, charitable foundations to raise money for scholarships and programs. It is run by a 32-member board of directors. After graduating with his bachelor’s in finance in 1993, Horgan weighed a couple of job offers from banks before accepting a position at Whiteville-based United Carolina Bank. After a brief training period in banking development, he was placed in Raleigh, where he stayed until 2007. However, he didn’t stay with UCB. In 1999, on the heels of UCB’s acquisition by Winston-Salem-based BB&T, he switched to First Citizens. He quickly found the surroundings comfortable. “It’s a unique story. We’re one of the largest family-controlled banks in the country. There are a lot of characteristics from our workplace that we can translate to our clients. We take a long-term view. In fact, when folks ask me why they should bank at First Citizens, I end up explaining it to them by telling them why I work there.” In 2007, he returned to Charlotte as area executive, the job that had been held by Frank Holding, now the chairman and CEO of the First Citizens BancShares, the bank’s parent company. When he got back to the Queen City, he found that UNC Charlotte was different. He cited the Barnhardt Student Activity Center, which he calls a “game-changer.” He also cited expansion of the university library and construction of the Student Union and the Energy Production & Infrastructure Center (EPIC). “Those will have lasting impressions, like the Belk School of Business when I was going through. It’s still happening, and it’s creating longterm value.” He said EPIC, in particular, represents a big step for the university and the city. Many Charlotte leaders have called for the city to diversify its economy, and the energy-sector expertise that EPIC will generate could be key to that effort. “Power is the way to diversity, and EPIC will lead that transformation,” Horgan said. “What’s happening today we will see at an established reputation level 10 years from now.”


Getting back to the Queen City inspired a new interest in his alma mater. “I was involved but on the perimeter when I lived in Raleigh.” One thing that helped him renew ties was the First Citizens Bank Scholar’s Medal, which the bank has been awarding for 23 years in recognition of faculty scholarship and intellectual inquiry at UNC Charlotte. “I was able to get involved again. I realized the ties were still strong.” He supplemented that by describing his experience to his children, often taking son Michael, 10, to a baseball game or daughter Samantha, 7, to another function. “The university is a catalyst for our community. One in eight workers in the Charlotte metro with a college degree has one from UNC Charlotte. We will have more and more alumni in our community that were touched by the university. It’s the output of the college putting people in places that can have an impact. As time continues, the impact that UNC Charlotte will have on the workforce will be substantial.” It’s having a substantial impact on First Citizens’ already. Several key officers at the Charlotte office are UNC Charlotte graduates. He’s looking forward to Aug. 31, 2013, when the school launches its football program by hosting Campbell University. “It’s the next step in the evolution of our university,” he said. While some may quibble about the expense, particularly during an economic downturn, he believes it will be worth the cost. “I don’t know of any time when we could say, ‘This is the time to start football.’” But, he said, “It’ll be a great part of the college experience.” He compares it to basketball. “When I was at UNC Charlotte, we played in the old Charlotte coliseum. Then we moved to the new coliseum, where the Hornets played, and now we’re playing on campus at Halton Arena. In 20 years, look at how that experience has changed. I think we’ll say the same thing about football 20 years from now.” That interest in the future isn’t confined to sports. Horgan is a member of a group developing a strategic plan for the university, which is expected to grow to 35,000 students by 2020. “It has become a grassroots effort, bubbled up through board members. The effort will figure out how to connect alumni with university resources. With all of us working together, the University will be better because of it.” Arthur Murray is an Indian Trail-based writer with a background covering North Carolina business. Q410 | UNC CHARLOTTE magazine 37

UNC CHARLOTTE | c l a s s

n o te s

1980s Sue Coleman, ’89, received the American Nuclear Society’s Mary Jane Oestmann Professional Women’s Achievement Award. Coleman serves as an engineer and principal project manager with Areva. The award was established to recognize outstanding personal dedication and technical achievement by a woman for work she has performed in the fields of nuclear science, engineering, research, or education. Coleman graduated from UNC Charlotte with bachelor and master’s degrees in electrical engineering and has worked with Areva for 18 years.

1990s Bernie Lee Thompson, ’97, has accepted a position as a Career Technical Education Teacher at Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte. He will be teaching grades 6 -12.

2000s Erik Northrop, ’09, recently began a position with UNC Charlotte’s College of Health and Human Services. Cameron French, ’06, was recently appointed Congressman John Hall’s (NY-19) communications director, where he acts as Hall’s official spokesman in Washington, and is responsible for message development, media strategy and outreach. Cherry Owens, ’03, was recently promoted to 4K coordinator at Northside Academy for Early Learning.

What are you doing? It is time to share what you’ve been up to lately and let other alums help you toot your horn or spread the word on small or large achievements. We want to hear from you. Visit the Alumni Affairs Web site at www.unccharlottealumni.org and tell us what you’ve been doing. Or write Alumni Affairs, UNC Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28223-0001

38 UNC CHARLOTTE magazine



Proceeds from the annual TIAA-CREF Alumni Golf Classic fund student scholarships. Save the date for next year’s tournament, Monday, Oct. 10 at Pine Island Country Club. First place honors went to Curtis Kyles, Jim Ashford, Kevin Silva and Robert Newkirk.

Alumni Notes TIAA-CREF Alumni Golf Classic Raises Over $5,000

The Alumni Association raised more than $5,000 for scholarships through the 12th Annual TIAA-CREF Alumni Golf Classic Oct. 11 at Pine Island Country Club. Proceeds benefitted the Greg Davis needbased scholarship fund. The Alumni Board of Directors established the scholarship in 2008 and named it in honor of UNC Charlotte professor Greg Davis. “We are thrilled that along with alumni and friends of the University, we were able to raise $5,000 for student scholarships,” said Chip Rossi, director of Alumni Affairs. “Many students rely on scholarship money in order to attend school, and we are proud that we can help them with their educational expenses.” In addition to raising money for scholarships, the tournament honored the top teams. Taking first-place honors were Robert Newkirk, Curtis Kyles, Jim Ashford and Kevin Silva. David Coble, Henry Coble, Keith Warren and Josh Dalton won

second; and Todd Graden, Greg Baber, Thomas Eatmon and Fate Ferrell came in third. Over 60 people participated in the event. “This has become an event that our alumni anticipate each year. It’s a lot of fun, and it supports a great cause,” said Scott Plunkett, assistant director of Alumni Affairs. “I am very grateful to all of the people, especially our alumni and corporate sponsors, who make this event possible.” The Alumni Association would like to thank the tournament’s corporate sponsors including TIAA-CREF, the Charlotte 49ers Athletic Foundation, Belk College of Business, Belk College of Business Alumni, Charlotte 49er Women’s Basketball, Liberty Mutual, Dilworth Grill, Bank of America, Griffin Brothers, Food Lion, 49er Fanatics, 4.Niner K, Performance Logo, University Bookstore, PromoLogic and the Hilton Corporation. Next year’s tournament is Monday, October 10 at Pine Island Country Club. For more information, contact the Office of Alumni Affairs at 704-687-7799 or visit www.unccharlottealumni.org www.UNCC.edu

49 e r n o te b o o k

area. The short-game practice area opened in 2006 with 22,000 square feet of practicetee space, chipping areas, greenside and fairway bunkers and an 8,500-square-foot putting green. The 49ers golf team, which posted NCAA Top 10 finishes in 2007 (tied for third) and 2008 (tie for eighth), have won five straight Atlantic 10 Championships and advanced to a school-record six consecutive NCAA Tournaments.

Continued from p. 21

country were following suit. Three seasons ago, Chris Redding took over as Charlotte’s head coach and continued the efforts. The Side Out Foundation established a national charity that college and high school teams joined to combine their efforts. Charlotte became part of the group last year and was the top fundraising single team in 2009. Planning began last spring for this year’s Charlotte effort, beginning with a donation collection on a rainy pregame tailgate at a Carolina Panthers home game in late September. October brought media attention with website and television appearances. News14 Carolina in Charlotte and Fox News Rising on WCCB spent time with the players before events leading up to the match. “Penny Wars” were held among the 49ers’ other athletic programs to help the cause. Donations also were solicited at the University Chic-fil-A and raised through its first “Jail and Bail,” which involved notable campus figures to help raise money in a mock public cell outside the Student Union. In addition, the team sold specially made T-shirts to aid fundraising efforts. The team gave away pink T-shirts to the first 1,000 fans at the Dig Pink match on October 15, which attracted a record crowd of 1,803 fans to see the 49ers five-set victory over Temple.



For nearly a decade the Charlotte 49ers volleyball team has participated in the fight against breast cancer.

Donations can still be made at the team’s web page. See links posted on the 49ers volleyball page at www.charlotte49ers.com. Golf Team Gets New Facility In November UNC Charlotte dedicated the Charlotte 49ers Rocky River Golf Club at Concord Golf Training Center. The all-purpose field house includes coaches’ offices, meeting rooms and locker areas, an indoor putting surface and two hitting bays that are equipped with swing-analysis computer technology. The field house is located just off the secondhole tee of Rocky River Golf Club. The facility overlooks the existing short-game practice

Let Me Play Luncheon Benefits Women’s Athletics The Charlotte 49ers Athletic Foundation hosted the 7th Annual “Let Me Play” Luncheon Nov. 16 at the Charlotte Convention Center, in an effort to illustrate the importance that athletics can play in the development of young women. Organizers raised more than $90,000 in support of women’s athletics, far surpassing their goal of $75,000. Both a fundraiser and a friendraiser, the luncheon seeks to mobilize female leaders in support of athletics. Presbyterian Hospital Chief Operating Officer Amy Vance served as the keynote speaker and UNC Charlotte women’s basketball stand-out Shannon McCallum shared her inspirational story. This year’s event co-chairs were Lisa Lewis Dubois and Samara Foxx.

Q410 | UNC CHARLOTTE magazine 39

UNC CHARLOTTE | b u i l d i n g


In 2009 and 2010, the now-iconic Stake Your Claim pickaxes adorned

Photo cour

tesy of Ch ar

lotte Rese arch



popular locations on campus and in Uptown Charlotte, proudly proclaiming UNC Charlotte’s claim on the community. The sculptures were located in the First Citizens building lobby, the Barnhardt Student Activity Center, the traffic circle at the campus’s front entrance and here, at the west campus entrance. Grigg Hall is shown in the background. The pickaxe sculptures have been retired due to wear and tear but the Stake Your Claim spirit and brand lives on. 40 40 UNC UNCCHARLOTTE CHARLOTTEmagazine magazine | | Q410 Q410

www.UNCC.edu www.UNCC.edu



University creates virtual public policy journal By Jeff Michael Director, UNC Charlotte Urban Institute One of the bedrocks of American democracy is the role that public education plays in ensuring an informed public. To this end, the early leaders of North Carolina established a university system that today is nationally respected for its commitment to a quality but affordable public education. Over the years, that commitment of service to the state’s citizens has expanded to include a wide range of applied research activities addressing public policy issues such as economic development, health care, and the environment. As heirs to this rich tradition of public service and outreach, UNC Charlotte’s founders – people such as Bonnie Cone and Dean Colvard – understood that if they were to build a great “urban university” within the UNC system, it would require a similar commitment to what is sometimes referred to today as “engaged scholarship.” To serve the Charlotte region, and in turn, to be embraced and supported by its citizens and leaders as their public university, would require taking UNC Charlotte into their communities. Out of this philosophy the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute was established forty years ago, since emerging as one of the University’s most important outreach arms. In the seven years I have been at the Institute, the public’s interest in University engagement has never waned. If anything, as public policy issues have become ever more complex and interconnected, and as the depth of the University’s intellectual talent around those

issues has grown, the interest in getting UNC Charlotte more involved in the community seems greater than ever. But while this continued demand for civic engagement may affirm the ongoing relevancy of our mission of service and outreach, it doesn’t necessarily assure the continued relevancy of our work, particularly if we are unable to find effective communication strategies to engage citizens in this digital era. Another pillar of American democracy has learned this lesson the hard way. Long hailed as trusted sources of information and civic dialogue, newspapers today are struggling to adapt to an era where online media sources are siphoning away their readership. While it would be easy to dismiss this transition as just another inevitable shift in the long history of the news industry, just as television eclipsed radio over fifty years ago, what is most disconcerting for those who value the role of a vigorous print media is the loss in many communities of a trusted source of information – a shared “information commons” where we turn not only for facts, but for commentary that, even when we disagree with it, helps us make sense of the issues we face collectively as a community. The internet has forever changed the way in which people seek to understand the world around them, and with the advent of social networking media, it has

also dramatically altered the ways in which people engage with one another about the issues that impact them most. Recognizing this, the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute recently redesigned its website to function less like an “electronic brochure” and more like an on-line public policy journal, providing an outlet for university-based research on the economic, environmental and social issues facing the Charlotte region, but equally important, providing a place where thoughtful commentary and dialogue can take place about those issues. As non-journalists, this is uncharted territory for us. However, our mission has always been about providing objective data and research to the public, and then creating space for civic dialogue about that work. In this sense, our new digital communications strategy is just another chapter in UNC Charlotte’s, and indeed the entire UNC system’s, long tradition of providing relevant and meaningful “engaged scholarship.”

Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Charlotte, NC Permit No. 949

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte 9201 University Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28223-0001

Autumn presents a riot of color along a pathway near the Student Union.

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