The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

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School of the small starts big
Congressman Brad Miller, on a tour, looks out at new JSSN building under construction.

Congressman Brad Miller, on a tour, looks out at new JSSN building under construction.

The Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering welcomed its first group of students this fall.

With the opening of classes, the JSNN became one of fewer than 10 schools nationally to offer degree programs in nanotechnology, according to the National Nanotechnology Initiative. And what is nanotechnology? The science and engineering of the small.

In addition to being one of a few schools offering this type of study, it's the only one created and operated collaboratively by two universities. The school was created by UNCG and North Carolina A&T State University.

The school opened with 18 students in two degree programs — 17 in the doctoral program in nanoscience, and one in the professional master's degree program in nanoscience.

Enrollment is remarkably strong, considering that the nanoscience program was approved around the time many schools were closing their acceptance programs for the upcoming academic year. “We didn't have a chance to advertise the programs,” said Dr. James Ryan, dean of the school. “All (of the recruitment) was by word of mouth. Some people were waiting for the program, some heard about the program through friends or mentors and decided to apply.”

Ryan met with every student accepted into the program personally. The inaugural class includes students with backgrounds in a variety of fields, including physics, chemistry, biology systems and mathematics. “Two-thirds have advanced degrees or degree credits,” Ryan said.

“The hallmark of the students — what made them a good fit — is that they're interested in interdisciplinary research,” he said. “When the conversation would start, they'd say, ‘My degree is in this, but I'm also interested in this.’”

The JSNN is located at the South Campus of the Gateway University Research Park on East Lee Street near Interstate 40-85. Gateway is also a joint venture between N.C. A&T and UNCG.

The school's $56.3 million building is under construction, with completion scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2011. For now, classes are being held in JSNN's conference room in its temporary quarters in Gateway's Research building number 1.

In addition to the two nanoscience degrees, which are offered by UNCG, N.C. A&T will submit proposals to the UNC General Administration this fall to offer master's and doctoral programs in nanoengineering at the JSNN.

How do nanoscience and nanoengineering differ? “Science is about the development of knowledge,” Ryan explained. “Engineering is about the application of knowledge.” But don't get caught up in those definitions, he cautioned. “There is a lot of engineering in science and a lot of science in engineering.”

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Tom Ross, leading a UNCG Board of Trustees meeting several years ago
Tom Ross, leading a UNCG Board of Trustees meeting several years ago
Tom Ross to lead UNC system

Soon-to-be UNC system President Thomas W. Ross has several UNCG ties.

Ross, a Greensboro native who is currently serving as president of Davidson College, was unanimously elected president of the 17-campus University of North Carolina by the UNC Board of Governors in August.

He will take office Jan. 1, succeeding Erskine Bowles, who announced in February that he would retire this December after five years in the post.

Before his presidency at Davidson, Ross was chairman of the UNCG Board of Trustees from 2005 to 2007. His tenure as a trustee had begun in 2003.

During his years of service, UNCG achieved the Carnegie Classification of High-Research Activity University; numerous higher education bond projects started, including the renovation of Aycock Auditorium and Petty Science Building; construction of Spring Garden Apartments began; and the public phase of the Students First Campaign was launched.

He and his wife established the Tom and Susan Ross Civic Engagement Internship Scholarship and he served as honorary chair of the Individual Advance Leadership Committee for the Students First Campaign, 2004-09.

He has also served on the Board of Visitors for UNCG, as well as for UNC Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University. He received an honorary doctorate from UNCG in May 2008, when he delivered the commencement address and spoke about leadership.

Following his election, he told the Board of Governors: “To accept this job will require that I leave a job and place I love dearly,” referring to Davidson College. “It has been an emotional struggle for me to come to the decision to leave, but I do so feeling called to this position and to this University. I love this state of ours, and there is no institution more important to North Carolina and her future than the University of North Carolina.”

To read his 2008 UNCG commencement address, visit

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Nutrition professor Dr. Wei Jia
Nutrition professor Dr. Wei Jia
Study offers hope for colorectal cancer urine test

A urine test could one day offer a cheaper, less invasive alternative to a colonoscopy for diagnosing and monitoring colorectal cancer, a new study suggests.

A team of researchers, including UNCG nutrition professor Dr. Wei Jia, analyzed urine samples from 123 people — 60 with colon cancer and 63 without. They looked at about 500 different metabolites, the byproducts of the chemical reactions within the body, and found unusual levels of 16 in the samples from cancer patients.

“We believe these metabolites can be further developed as biomarkers to identify cancer as well as to evaluate the stage of the cancer, which could help guide treatment,” says Jia, co-director of UNCG's Center for Research Excellence in Bioactive Food Components.

About 150,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer last year, according to estimates from the National Cancer Institute. The diseases killed roughly 50,000.

The study, part of a larger research project that started two years ago and continues today, was published in the Journal of Proteome Research. The researchers now are analyzing tissue from the cancerous tumors.

“We are profiling the metabolites within the tumor tissue,” Wei says. “Are they significantly different from the metabolites found in adjacent normal tissues? Are the changes consistent with what we've found in the urine and blood samples?”

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Chancellor Linda P. Brady delivers address.
Chancellor Linda P. Brady delivers address.
A new normal

In her Aug. 18 State of the Campus Address, Chancellor Linda P. Brady described a “new normal,” an era in which UNCG must continue to improve despite scarce public funds. She outlined a grim budget picture for the near future and a bold vision of what UNCG must do to thrive.

“Colleges and universities across this country are examining their missions and reinventing themselves to position their institutions for the future,” she said. “There has been much talk of how we will ‘get through” the current economic crisis, as if when the crisis ends we will return to a previous, normal state of affairs. I am convinced we must prepare for a ‘new normal,’ a future that will demand we recommit this university to academic quality and student success.”


Despite legislators' strong support for the UNC system, a flagging economy has led to another budget cut. This year's $6.4 million reduction comes on the heels of last year's permanent $6.9 million cut, which primarily affected administrative, non-classroom functions.

To offset that budget cut, and to increase the amount available for need-based financial aid, student success programming, and faculty recruitment and retention, tuition has been raised $653 for full-time undergraduates and $683 for full-time graduate students.

“While we are sensitive to the additional burden this tuition increase imposes on students and their families, we must protect the quality of a UNCG education, and our ability to provide students with the classes and support they need to keep on track. … And despite this increase, UNCG's tuition and fees remain well below our national peers. Only one of our 17 peer institutions has lower tuition and fees for in-state students.”

North Carolina anticipates more budget trouble ahead: The deficit in the next biennial budget could exceed $3 billion, a shortfall of about 16 percent. UNC General Administration has instructed the individual campuses to prepare draft plans for cuts of 5 percent and 10 percent in 2011-12. A 10 percent cut for UNCG translates into more than $17 million.

Academic quality

UNCG has long been known for educating bright and talented individuals whose personal and professional accomplishments as students and as graduates make us all very proud. At the same time, during the past decade the quality of first-time freshmen at UNCG has declined vis-a-vis our sister institutions within the UNC system.”

At nine UNC campuses, average SAT scores of the freshman class rose in 2009. UNCG was among seven campuses where the average SAT scores dropped.

“This summer the Deans Council considered the impact of several proposals to raise the minimum SATs required for admission to UNCG in fall 2011. Following extensive review of the impact of a change on our student profile, the decision was made to raise significantly the minimum SATs required for admission to UNCG.”

The minimum SAT required for admission for fall 2011 will be 900, a move expected to shrink the freshman class by about 350 students compared to fall 2010.


Brady also spoke about a planned academic restructuring to create a single, larger academic unit (school or college) focused on health and human development.

“While faculty, staff and students in the schools of Human Environmental Sciences and Health and Human Performance have a special interest in this discussion, so do faculty, staff and students in Nursing and other disciplines and programs. These conversations must, and will, engage any and all groups on the campus who want to contribute to building a more visible and successful academic unit focused on health and human development.

“The goal is to engage UNCG's restructuring process in the fall and act on recommendations by this time next year. The outcome should result in one fewer major academic division, producing significant financial savings and efficiencies over time. I commit to you that this process will occur in the context of the values of collaboration, transparency, inclusiveness and shared governance for which our campus is known.”

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Structural shift

The academic restructuring on campus has a number of people curious about what it will mean for the future for various units and for the university. Below, Provost David H. Perrin explains the process and timetable as he addresses a few questions.

Why is UNCG engaging in academic restructuring?
Institutions across the country are reorganizing to meet changes in the academic marketplace and current economic conditions. Between April 1 and June 1, 2010, the Chronicle of Higher Education listed restructuring plans by more than 50 universities and colleges in the United States. UNCG has an opportunity to build on its historic strengths in health and human development, to respond to emerging disciplines/fields and the changing needs of the state and nation.

Which academic units at UNCG will be involved in the restructuring?
UNCG's strengths in health and human development are primarily in the School of Health and Human Performance and the School of Human Environmental Sciences, but also exist in other academic units. The restructuring process will create a single academic unit that builds on existing strengths in health and human development in HHP, HES and possibly other academic units, departments and/or programs.

How much money will be saved with the restructuring?
The exact amount of money to be saved will not be known until the final structure of the new academic unit is determined. At the least, it is expected that substantial savings will be realized from the elimination of one complete administrative structure with the creation of a single academic unit from two existing units.

What is the schedule for the restructuring?
A committee of faculty, staff and students will meet during the 2010-11 academic year to recommend a structure that would create a single academic unit (school or college) building on strengths around health and human development, including the proposed name of the new unit. Implementation of the new unit will begin during the fall of 2011, in part to help UNCG prepare for budget reductions that are projected to be very challenging during the 2011-2013 biennium.

Who is on the committee?
The membership includes faculty representation from HHP and HES (one from each department in each unit), the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Education, School of Nursing, Genetic Counseling, Gerontology, Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, one staff member each from HHP and HES and one student each from HES and HHP. For a full list, visit

Will any departments or programs be eliminated as part of the restructuring?
No departments or programs will be eliminated as part of this restructuring process. The Restructuring Committee will recommend an academic home for all existing departments either within the restructured unit or other existing academic units. Should continuing budget deficits force UNCG to consider program curtailment or elimination, criteria for program evaluation will be developed and all programs and degrees will be reviewed.

How will UNCG know if the restructuring is meeting its goals?
UNCG will monitor metrics with respect to students, faculty and external constituents. Sample metrics for students will include selectivity and yield of applications, retention and graduation rates, and number of degrees conferred as a percent of majors; for faculty, successful faculty searches, retention and interdisciplinary collaborations; and for external constituents, maintenance of program accreditations, increase/decrease in alumni giving and increase in positive media coverage.

How will the restructuring impact past gifts made to the involved academic units?
In all cases the wishes of donors will be honored. Endowments established within programs or departments will follow those programs and departments. For endowments established for the School of Health and Human Performance or School of Human Environmental Sciences, donors will be provided the option of modifying Statements of Establishment to designate funds to specific programs or departments, or to the new academic unit (school or college).

To what extent is history important to UNCG?
History matters at UNCG. Since its founding, the institution has made many key structural and organizational changes in response to the changing needs of society. As with past restructuring, institutional memory, traditions and UNCG's rich cultures will be preserved and enfolded into the process of creating new ones.

Is there a communication plan for the restructuring process?
The Restructuring Committee is developing a plan for multiple forms of communication to all stakeholders (students, alumni, faculty, staff, external community groups, trustees and advisory boards, etc.). A restructuring web site is being developed that will provide frequent updates and an opportunity to ask questions about the process.

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Newly renovated North Spencer
Newly renovated North Spencer
New from the inside out

A renovated North Spencer Residence Hall reopened in August as home to 194 students in Lloyd International Honors College.

The $250,000-plus renovation, funded primarily through housing receipts, took a year and a half to complete. Changes include a touch-screen computer portal linking students to University Libraries, a computer lab, a new classroom for use as a global teleconferencing center, refurbished bathroom and laundry facilities, office space for faculty and a refurbished parlor and north end porch.

While only a portion of UNCG's 1,000 honors college students will live in North Spencer, the residence hall will serve as “an intellectual and social hub” for honors students, said Dr. Jerry Pubantz, professor of political science and newly-appointed dean of the honors college.

North Spencer, located along College Avenue, was built in 1904. It is named for Cornelia Phillips Spencer, a poet, social historian and journalist.

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Award-winning Alumni House
Award-winning Alumni House
Well preserved

The Alumni House has always been lovely. Now it's award-winning.

The 2007-08 renovation of the 1930s house has netted UNCG a 2010 Gertrude S. Carraway Award of Merit from Preservation North Carolina. Twelve Carraway awards are presented each year to people and organizations demonstrating genuine commitment through extraordinary leadership, research, philanthropy, promotion and/or personal participation in historic preservation.

UNCG worked with Winston-Salem architect David E. Gall and interior designers Anne Bowers '71 and Linda Higgins '72 of One Design Center Inc. to bring the Alumni House back to her former splendor. In addition to a face-lift of sorts, with repainted walls, reupholstered furniture and new lighting in some areas, the house also underwent extensive renovations — from adding bathrooms and reconfiguring walls to replacing the heating and air conditioning system.

Great care was taken to maintain the character of the house. Many original pieces were restored. Of the 2,400 items from the house that went into storage, fewer than a dozen pieces were not retained.

Now that the Alumni House renovation has received a preservation award, here's another look at the beautiful renovation.

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Students board a HEAT bus.
Students board a HEAT bus.
No car? No problem.

Parking may be the headache of universities everywhere, but UNCG is making strides to offer greater transportation options.

“We have been working on changing the culture at UNCG so people no longer feel they have to come to school with a car,” said Scott Milman, director of auxiliary services, who oversees the university's parking and transportation operations.

That work is gaining attention. The university was recently named one of the Best Workplaces for Commuters by the National Center for Transit Research.

With choices ranging from on-campus car sharing services to fare-free public transportation, more and more Spartans are choosing to try alternative means of getting to and from campus.

UNCG's ridership numbers on Greensboro Transit Authority (GTA) buses, especially the Higher Education Area Transit (HEAT) service, continue to grow. For the 2009-10 academic year, Spartans took 197,061 rides on HEAT buses, a 44 percent increase over the previous year.

UNCG also introduced two new services this fall — Zipcar and Zimride — designed to reduce the need for individually owned cars on campus. Zipcar is a car-sharing service that allows members to reserve cars by the hour or the day. It's estimated that every Zipcar takes 15-20 personal cars off the road.

Zimride is a free rideshare matching network that helps connect drivers and riders interested in carpooling.

Spartan Cycles is another initiative that launched this fall. The program allows UNCG students and employees to check out bicycles from the Housing & Residence Life office.

“Sending a car to school adds to the cost of attendance,” Milman said. “We want students and parents to know they can save money by coming to UNCG without a car.”

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SaQuang Lam distributes one of many soccer balls from UNCG.
SaQuang Lam distributes one of many soccer balls from UNCG.
Send soccer balls

The sign hanging in Student Health Services said it all. “Welcome Home, SaQuang!”

SaQuang Lam '04X, a Student Health systems administrator, returned this year from his second tour of duty in Iraq. A platoon leader, he says the military was noticeably more proactive in helping his platoon transition back to civilian life, compared to his first deployment to Iraq. He was one of several UNCG staff members who attended the Military and Veterans Expo in September.

While deployed, mail call was always a highlight of the day — on days they got mail. He recalls UNCG's Information Technology Services sending him a package. “All our guys' eyes lit up.” When Student Health Services workmates last fall asked him what he and his platoon wanted for the holidays, his reply was, “Nothing except soccer balls for the kids.”

He and his platoon saw many poor children without soccer balls. You couldn't find them in stores where they were deployed near Baghdad.

Nurses in Student Health got things rolling. Individuals from ITS made contributions. Athletics pitched in. Forty-five balls were shipped to the unit. And the platoon gave out every one in the weeks before they came home.

SaQuang escaped South Vietnam as a child, finally making his way to America. He is known for taking discarded computer parts and fixing up computers for refugee children in Greensboro who are being assisted by Lutheran Family Services. He hasn't forgotten his past.

Or his future. He believes he'll be deployed again. Just doesn't know where exactly. “I stay in contact with all my guys.”

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For the troops

Joshua Green '04 feels lucky. Although he spent five years as a military policeman, he was never deployed.

When he left the military, he earned an undergraduate degree from UNCG. Since 2006, he has worked in the Dean of Students Office, and he is on track to receive his master's degree in May.

And Green is not alone. Nationwide, 270,666 students used the new G.I. Bill benefits in 2009-10, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“I'm very fortunate to be where I'm at,” says Green, whose mother served in the first Gulf War and whose brother was deployed to Afghanistan.

With the idea of helping other veterans get their bearings after completing their military service, Green worked with U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and others at UNCG to organize the first annual Veterans and Military Expo in September. It was the first such event to take place on a UNC system campus, Green says.

The Expo included a panel discussion and a resource fair. Hagan introduced the four-person panel to talk about education, job readiness and other issues affecting veterans.

Green wants to make the Expo a yearly happening and wants to see the idea spread to other campuses. “It's just a really good thing to let our community, and our campus, know we really care.”

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Is less privacy the elephant in the waiting room?

As more doctors and health care providers move toward electronic medical records and ultimately become part of a health information exchange network, who will have access to these records?

“The biggest problem is loss of privacy,” said Dr. Hadley Callaway, keynote speaker at the Bryan School's Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Implementation Conference in May. A past president of the North Carolina Medical Society, the surgeon is a board member of the NC Health Information Exchange.

The tension over privacy concerns vs. better health care was just one of the many topics discussed during the conference titled “Demystifying EMR Implementation.”

Dr. Edward Robinson Jr. '10 MPH noted in his talk that many EMRs allow the use of “free text.” That may allow for nuances, for opinions, full explanation, etc. — but that is “the death knell” of a relational database. With scanned documents and fields of free text, the utility of having an electronic medical database is lost, he said. Robinson is medical director of the Guilford County Department of Public Health.

The conference was hosted by the Bryan School's McDowell Research Center for Global IT Management, the nation's first center to explore the worldwide applications of information technology. The center chose the topic because of the pressing interest in the subject of electronic medical records. As Dr. Prashant Palvia, director of the center, said in introducing Callaway, “It's very timely.”

Callaway envisions certain scenarios arising, as standardized health care information exchange — providing for the sharing of records between health care providers — moves forward in coming years. For example, some patients will want to go in and make corrections — or what they believe are corrections. The “art” of medicine will go away, as doctors stick closely to protocols, knowing every move may be scrutinized. Records will be less candid, with fewer doctors' opinions and judgments. The ease with which patients could move to another practice for elective procedures or second opinions will ramp up the use of advertising and marketing. He presented these scenarios as part of his keynote remarks, “Unexpected Consequences of Health Info Exchange on Medical Practice.”

Health information exchange holds many promises: more accurate records, better communication and coordination among providers, better and less expensive health care. But patients have a question: Who can see my records? The doctor's clerical staff? Insurance company? All providers? Google?

“We won't have the level of privacy we have now,” Callaway said.

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The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Location: 1000 Spring Garden Street, Greensboro, NC 27403
Mailing Address: PO Box 26170, Greensboro, NC 27402-6170
Telephone: 336.334.5000
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Last updated: Tuesday, 04 October 2011
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