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North Carolina needs more licensed science and mathematics teachers, and UNC Asheville is responding to the challenge. As one of four University of North Carolina campuses selected to implement a fast-track teacher licensure program, the university will help put 120 teachers in North Carolina classrooms by 2010, thanks to a $5.3 million grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Scholars Program.
Qualifying junior and senior students at UNC Asheville, N.C. Central University, N.C. State University and UNC Chapel Hill receive annual scholarships of $6,500; opportunities for international travel, research and service; $5,000 annual salary supplements for up to five years when employed as licensed math and science teachers; and support in transitioning to the classroom. UNC Asheville will recruit 15 high-quality candidates in the next two years, said Education Department Chair Jeanne McGlinn.
“When people asked me what I wanted to do with my Environmental Science degree, I always said, ‘Save the world.’ Now I think that by teaching young people to respect and care for the earth and to realize that their everyday choices affect our environment, I am doing my small part to save the world,” said Kelsie Nolan ’09, a Burroughs-Wellcome Scholar from Candler, N.C.
Said Katherine Jacobs ’09 (Mathematics) of Columbus, Ohio: “I enjoy helping students discover relevant, useful information. I believe teachers can impact and change this country. The scholarship is extremely helpful with financing my school costs, and it has opened up doors for involvement within the community.”
Last year, UNC’s 15 teacher education programs graduated about 4,000 prospective teachers, yet only about 1,000 were in the high-need licensure areas of science, mathematics, middle-grades education or special education. Of UNC Asheville’s 59 teacher education graduates in 2008, only five were math or science licensure students. “At a time when the world is clamoring for science and engineering talent, about two-thirds of the students in U.S. high schools studying chemistry and physics are taught by teachers who are not certified in the field and didn’t major in the subject,” said UNC President Erskine Bowles, whose UNC Tomorrow Commission aims to produce more teachers in the so-called STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math. “If our children and grandchildren are going to be equipped to compete successfully in a knowledge-based global economy, we just have to do more to increase the pool of qualified science and mathematics teachers for our classrooms and attract the best and the brightest into teaching.” www.unca.edu/education
Consider that nearly 12 percent of Americans—36 million people—are classified as “poor” by the U.S. Census Bureau. In North Carolina, 14 percent (1.2 million of the 8.8 million population) fall into that category, which defines “poor” as a family of four with income below $20,000 a year. “These are not only extremely large numbers, but downright astonishing,” says Economics professor Joe Sulock. “The poor have all sorts of issues to study. They drop out earlier. They score lower on end-of-grade tests. They are less healthy, get less exercise, eat less nutritional food, and are more obese and prone to diabetes.
“Do the poor vote at the same rate as the less poor? Are the poor more likely to be incarcerated? What is the connection between religion and poverty? There’s no end of interesting opportunities for undergraduate research on poverty.”
Sulock will explore these questions as the first Cary Caperton Owen Distinguished Professor in Economics, named for Cary Owen of Asheville, former member of the UNC Board of Governors, UNC Asheville Board of Trustees, Buncombe County Commission and Board of Education, and the N.C. Board of Education. A three-year appointment, the professorship is the first of five similar endowments to be established through a commitment of the C.D. Spangler Foundation, which will provide $26.9 million to create 96 distinguished professorships across the UNC system through the Board of Governors Distinguished Professorship Program.
Faculty in Sociology, Political Science, Economics, Literature, Mathematics, History and other disciplines direct student research on poverty issues, so Sulock also is interested in pursuing the establishment of a Center for Poverty Studies at UNC Asheville.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. And that’s good news for UNC Asheville, which rates as a “Best Buy” in the highly respected Fiske Guide to Colleges for the 16th year. The 2009 edition notes: “This public liberal arts university offers all the perks that are generally associated with pricier private institutions: rigorous academics, small classes and a beautiful setting. And it does it for a fraction of the cost.
“The academic climate is demanding…political science, humanities and literature receive near-unanimous praise, and one student said the math department ‘is undoubtedly the strongest on campus.’ The most popular majors are psychology, literature, environmental studies, history and art. A new major in health and wellness is growing in popularity…Asheville is moving away from its early reputation as a hippie haven, but students still value this individualism—with more ‘geeks than beer-swillers.’”
U.S. News ranked UNC Asheville as an innovator in liberal arts education, as one of 33 schools with highly regarded Undergraduate Research Programs, and as a school whose graduates have little student-loan debt compared to other liberal arts colleges.
“Faculty are your friends: That’s the message for incoming freshmen. In the liberal arts tradition, faculty are considered the experienced students of the culture’s great minds, whose purpose is to assist less experienced students.”
So says U.S. News&World Report writer Carol Frey, whose college road trip to UNC Asheville grabbed headlines and generated a 500-word feature in the high-profile college rankings edition that hit newsstands Aug. 25. UNC Asheville was one of 24 schools nationwide to rate a feature, along with UNC Chapel Hill and Winston-Salem State University. U.S. News ranked UNC Asheville as an innovator in liberal arts education, as one of 33 schools with highly regarded Undergraduate Research Programs, and as a school whose graduates have little student-loan debt compared to other liberal arts colleges.
Class of 2012 by the numbers
38 % males
62 % females
11.9 % minority
3.9 % Black
5.1 % Hispanic
2.9 % other under represented populations
where are they from?
28.7 % from Western North Carolina
9.9 % from Charlotte area
8.4 % from Triad area
12.8 % from Triangle area
17.1 % out of state
0.5 % international
95.2 % freshmen living in university housing
what’s their profile?
Average SAT Reasoning test score, 1158
46.3 % in top 20 % of high school class; average GPA, 3.91
In praise of the liberal arts and undergraduate research—two major thrusts of UNC Asheville’s educational experience—Frey wrote: “In upper-level courses, students are encouraged to follow their interests. David Cox, a senior from Greensboro majoring in political science, researched Asheville’s black community under the guidance of Dwight Mullen, a faculty member with a Fulbright scholarship on his résumé. Among his findings: The proportion of African-Americans in the county jail was almost double their proportion of the local population. Mullen helped Cox organize a conference where he made his report last year.
“Morgan Silverman, now in grad school at the University of Southern California, got time from professors in 24 classes to survey students about their experiences with chronic pain. Two faculty members asked her how she wanted to use the information she had gathered; she opted to share it with university health services before trying for publication in a national journal. ‘You can’t ask for more than to be taken seriously as a researcher if that’s what you want to do,’ says Silverman, of Boulder, Colo. Silverman applied to four small schools that offered research experience. ‘UNC Asheville was the cheapest,’ she says. ‘I won’t be paying back student loans for the rest of my life.’”Frey calls Asheville “a town that rated mention in The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World. Author Eric Weiner traced happiness to relationships with family, friends, strangers and the environment; UNC Asheville stresses the importance of relationships in the teaching of the liberal arts.”
Keep up with campus happenings by subscribing to the university Calendar of Events via e-mail. Visit www.unca.edu and click on calendars. You may choose the types of events you would like to know about—from athletics to cultural events, lectures, concerts, exhibitions, and even conferences and meetings.
Or be completely in the loop by subscribing to the Master Calendar. Also, Highlights on the UNC Asheville home page gives you a quick glance at upcoming public events. Many are free and welcome community participation.
Patrice Mitchell joined UNC Asheville as dean of admissions in June 2008. With two decades of Admissions Office experience at public, private and community colleges in North Carolina, she brings great insight to the job of recruiting and retaining our students. Here’s what she said in a conversation about the challenges ahead.
Q. What do you want to accomplish at UNC Asheville?
A. Meet the enrollment goals as outlined by the mission of UNC Asheville, including continuing the trend of increasing the diversity of the freshman class. I would like the Admissions Office to be a model for other schools. One of my immediate goals is to build the Admissions team.
Q. What is your favorite part of the job?
A. The “aha! moment,” when prospective students and their parents become as passionate about a school’s potential to transform the student as I am.
Q. What is your background in Admissions?
A. I have had the good fortune of working at different types of colleges and universities, and at different points in their history, from a private women’s college (my alma mater, Salem College); a large, public UNC institution (N.C. State); a historically black institution (Winston-Salem State University), and the sixth largest community college in North Carolina (Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem).
Q. What surprised you about Asheville?
A. Asheville is only two hours from Winston-Salem, my hometown, but I had no idea Asheville had undergone such major growth and downtown expansion. I didn’t expect rush hour traffic!
Q. Where do you find your inspiration?
A. My immediate family (parents, three sisters and daughter, Ryanne, 22, of Charlotte). Often students come to the university having faced many challenges and difficulties to get here. Seeing their determination to transform their lives by obtaining a college degree is always inspiring.
Q. What are your interests?
A. I’m a sports enthusiast, and I play volleyball in an adult league. At Salem College, Cathy Whitlock, Math Department lecturer, and I were teammates.
Q. What are you reading now?
A. Research methodology textbooks for an Ed.D. in adult and community college education from N.C. State, and Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s a great book about the power of rapid cognition and how our intuition guides us to conclusions within the blink of an eye.
Q. What are you listening to?
A. Chrisette Michele’s CD “I Am.”
How, when, why and whether Americans will choose to retire is a topic that fills newspaper and magazine columns and TV commentaries. From marketing gurus to economic forecasters, policy makers and academic researchers, we hear that understanding the “reinvention” of retirement means huge changes. With more people deciding to extend their working years or to segue into part-time employment, pursue a socially beneficial post-retirement career, or turn an avocation into a vocation, retirement has become a many-splendored thing. And as the vast and diverse baby boom generation edges up on the time when people generally leave the workforce, predicting retirement trends becomes even more difficult.
Just ask Ron Manheimer, who for 20 years has researched retirement issues as executive director of the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement at UNC Asheville. His work is based in part on studying participants in the center’s nationally acclaimed workshops on life transitions and retirement relocation. “Paths to Creative Retirement” incorporates feedback from more than 500 “graduates” and 2,200 participants in Creative Retirement Exploration Weekend. Conducted at the center for the last 16 Memorial Day weekends, with an average attendance of 150 people from 26 states, CREW helps participants consider relocating in retirement, whether to Western North Carolina or elsewhere.
“We launched CREW after receiving 6,000-plus inquiries in response to a July 1991 Parade magazine cover story about the center. People wanted to know about retiring in Asheville and how to negotiate retirement creatively,” said Manheimer, whose expertise has since been cited in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s Retirement Reports, BusinessWeek and CNN Online.
Manheimer learned that not only did people want information on retirement relocation, but they also wanted guidance on post-retirement career opportunities; how retirement might affect relationships with a spouse, partner, family and friends; how to engage in a new life style that enables them to achieve better balance among recreation, family time, couple time, work, volunteering, personal fitness and so on; how to widen friendship circles; and how to engage in socially and intellectually challenging educational opportunities. “We have been surprised at how few programs like ours exist, and we’re pleased to play a national leadership role,” Manheimer said. His one-day version of “Paths” for the Smithsonian Associates last April, co-led by NCCCR assistant director Denise Snodgrass, had the largest attendance of any spring program.
The “smart” classrooms and high-tech labs of Zeis Science & Multimedia Building are a far cry from where you toiled over a Bunsen burner and memorized the periodic table of the elements. Open this fall for Chemistry, Biology and Multimedia Arts and Sciences classes, Zeis Hall “will be one of the best undergraduate research facilities in the Southeast, if not the country” when fully outfitted in 2009, says Chemistry Department Chair Keith Krumpe.