Eden Creamer

Eden Creamer was the Editor-in-Chief for the Niner Times from May 2013 through April 2015. She graduated from UNC Charlotte in May 2015, receiving her degree in Communication Studies with minors in English, Journalism and Women's Studies. She now does freelance proofing, copywriting and design in the Charlotte area, and can be reached at edencreamer@gmail.com

Veteran study features UNC Charlotte

Source: “Completing the Mission: A Pilot Study of Veteran Students’ Progress Toward Degree Attainment in the Post 9/11 Era” Graphic by: Eden Creamer

After World War II, high demand for education geared towards veterans sparked in the United States. UNC Charlotte originally opened as one of 14 evening college centers in North Carolina, and was opened with the intention of providing an education to veterans.

The university recently participated in a study called “Completing the Mission: A Pilot Study of Veteran Students’ Progress Toward Degree Attainment in the Post 9/11 Era.” The study focused on the way universities handle veteran affairs after Sept. 11, 2001, and the average achievement of veterans receiving funding through the GI Bill. Operation College Promise and the Pat Tillman Foundation were responsible for the report.

UNC Charlotte was one of seven universities who participated in the study, the others being Mississippi State University, University of South Florida, the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Montclair State University, Texas State University and Arizona State University.

Logan Cason, coordinator for Veteran Students Outreach at UNC Charlotte, says that it is great that UNC Charlotte was included in this study, and administration at the university is interested in looking more closely at this.

“It’s a pretty big deal as veterans are a hot topic and very little has been done previously to measure their success rates,” said Cason. “UNC Charlotte is on the forefront of this type of research and the way we support our veterans.”

The study reports that 523,244 veterans have taken advantage of the GI Bill since August 2009. Currently and estimated 1,000 veterans are enrolled at UNC Charlotte.

Findings were reported for grade point average (GPA), percent of students earning all credits pursued, retention rate and programs facilitated for veterans.

While, according to the study, there is no expected difference between the average GPA of veterans and that of traditional students, there is a notable correlation between the GPA of veterans and their retention rate at the university.  The study concluded that the highest retention rate, 85.6 percent, was found among students whose GPAs were greater than 3.0, while the lowest retention rate, 46.9 percent, matched with students with GPAs less than 2.0.

The study also asserts that the programs available to veteran students at a university affect retention. A 2010 National Survey of Student Engagement found that there is a “need for campuses to adapt [to] the specific needs of a student veteran population,” according to the study.

As more studies such as this are done, it is possible that services at the university will improve for not only veterans but all non-traditional students.

UNC system reviews, consolidates and cuts programs

The UNC system selected former UNC Charlotte chancellor, Dr. Jim Woodward, to review duplications in the programs offered throughout the 17 universities.

Nov. 1, 2011, Woodward released his study, titled “Program Duplication Study.” According to his study, UNC schools provide over 1,900 degree programs to students, only 109 of these being added since the system was restructured in 1972.

Ultimately, Woodward decided, unneeded and excessive duplication of programs did not seem to be an issue in UNC schools.

“This is principally due to a demanding process for the consideration, review, and approval of new programs and a fairly rigorous process for reviewing the productivity of existing programs,” said Woodward in his report.

Joni Worthington, vice president for communications for the system, says that Woodward also made recommendations for other ways that the board can prevent duplication from being a problem.

“What he has begun to do, moving forward, to insure that a problem doesn’t develop, is that the staff at General Administration, and the Board of Governors, evaluate and perhaps strengthen the process for considering and approving new degree programs for the future,” said Worthington. “And that the board also give careful thought to the role that online education should play in the future and the impact that online education may have on unnecessary implication.”

The current distribution of programs allows for 1,000 undergraduate, 700 graduate and 200 doctoral programs in the university system. To help cut down on duplication, Woodward has suggested that the review process done by the board be strengthened. These recommendations include delegation among the Board of Directors and the Office of the President, redefining the missions of universities in the system, reviewing the university missions on a system-wide level and addition and expansion of program should be evaluated on a state-wide level.

“[System president Thomas Ross] asked for Woodward to undertake a study and a careful review…to look for ways that we, our campuses, might collaborate more effectively, or pool and share resources more effectively,” said Worthington.

Schools in the system already are making efforts towards collaboration, says Worthington, although it is unknown how many programs will eventually be combined.

“I wouldn’t begin to speculate [how many programs may be collaborated],” said Worthington. “Just to cite one example, UNC Greensboro and North Carolina A&T State University have developed a joint school of nano science and nano engineering, where they share a facility and they share a faculty from both schools who are teaching in the program.”

While the board works on consolidation, they also are cutting programs, according to both Woodward’s study and Worthington. “They have also done a good job of weeding out programs that are not as effective as they needed to be, and eliminating programs over the years,” said Worthington.

In his study, Woodward says that since 1972, 639 programs have been cut from UNC schools, 533 of which are undergraduate, graduate and doctoral.

While more consolidations and cuts are considered by the Board of Governors and General Administration, other programs are added. Since 1972, says Woodward, 748 programs have been added, outnumbering those which were cut.

Worthington explains the suggestions that Woodward makes in his study for universities before they make proposals for programs.

“He is also recommending that not just at the system level, but at the university level, that the institutions strengthen their own internal reviews of their degree programs and their expectations for productivity so that the number of programs that might ultimately come forward to the board for approval might be less than it would be currently.,” said Worthington.

This internal review process, she says, will not only eliminate unnecessary funds and time wasted by the Board of Governors, but may also improve the academic quality of UNC schools.

Students speak out about proposed fee increases

Last week’s Tuition and Fees Advisory Board meetings have UNC Charlotte students in an uproar over the fees which the board approved Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011.

The board approved an increase of $78 in athletics-related fees, while only approving $25 for education.

The board approved less than half of the original proposed fee for education and technology, while 92 percent of the fees proposed by the combined athletic fees (athletics, football operation, playing field maintenance and recreational services) were approved.

The fee for football operations, $50, makes up the majority of the athletic-related fees increase and also has caused the most uproar among students.

Taylor Bishop, a Ph.D candidate in health psychology, feels that the percent of academic fees approved compared to the athletic fees approved shows the priorities of those on the board.

“The athletic fees are kind of disproportionate, and we pay a substantial amount for athletics compared to other colleges,” said Bishop. “I think that that is kind of ludicrous, because we are an academic institution, you know. We’re not supposed to be paying for entertainment, and if you want entertainment then the Panther stadium is right down the road.”

Bishop, who attended last week’s meeting and only has two years left at UNC Charlotte, has strong opinions about the proposed fees.

“I think that I have a different perspective, kind of because I’m a [graduate] student, because I know that I’m not going to be here to watch the football stadium, and it’s kind of interesting that so many students do support it,” said Bishop. “I just feel like I’m not here for [football]. I don’t see why I should spend so much for football each semester that I’m not going to watch.”

Bishop also heard rumors from others in the audience at the meeting that the football operation fee could be raised to $300 or more in the coming years as football begins to operate.

“I said, ‘Are you serious? That’s crazy.’ And I think part of that is that students are having to fund this program that they don’t really have the money for. I don’t know that that was in the bargain whenever students voiced that they were interested in having a football team,” said Bishop. “I don’t know that anyone was like ‘yeah sure, I’ll pay $300 a semester for football, in addition to the fees that are already in place.’”

Will Styka, a freshman at UNC Charlotte, feels that the fees towards football are a waste of his money, which could be put towards his education instead.

“Football games could be fun and all, but I came to this school to get a degree and a career in the future. I have no reason to be invested with the football team at all,” said Styka. “They should just have an organization to take donations from people who actually do want to be invested with the team.”

A private donor is exactly what the team needs, according to Bishop. “This kind of thing would be best if we had some private donors, instead of hiking up student fees. In this kind of economy, it just doesn’t make sense to make that kind of push for something that’s not really going to have a payout.”

The board also approved a 6.5 percent increase for in-state tuition, which was the maximum tuition increase allowed by the state of North Carolina.

Styka feels that the board did wrong by their fellow students by unanimously approving the tuition increase.

“Aren’t they supposed to be representing the students? What student wants to pay more money? I don’t understand why they approved this,” said Styka. “They should have asked around or something, found out what students really wanted.”

Styka, who did not attend the meeting, says that he feels if he had attended, it would have been a waste of his time. Bishop disagrees, and he feels that a greater student turn-out could have made the board think differently on certain issues.

“In general I thought the meeting was kind of confusing because, you know, it was open to the public but they didn’t exactly do a very good introduction for the public,” said Bishop. “You know, it’s too bad that more people don’t go, because I feel like there could be a larger impact if there were more people. But it’s not really surprising to me.”

Bishop’s confusion at the meeting was prompted by the way the meeting was run, more-so than the content of the meeting. “They were like ‘Does anybody have any comments?’ and I’m thinking ‘No, I don’t actually know very much about this debate yet.’ All I see is that little white board, and it’s not even really clear what it’s saying.”

The white board Bishop saw listed the fee increases the departments had requested during Monday’s meeting. The white board was placed in the back corner of the stage where the advisory board sat and was not addressed until the end of the meeting when they began to vote on the increases, at which point the time for student comments and come and gone.

“[They] should have a school-wide vote to see who all would accept the fees and who wouldn’t, then go by a majority,” said Styka. “There are other ways to [fund departments] than a blanket fee for all students.”

While Styka believes that asking the student body would be an appropriate way to determine the fees, Bishop merely wants to know exactly what the fees make up.

“I guess I don’t really understand where what has already been done comes from. Why is it that we spend so much for athletics already? Maybe if it was more clear, I might either get more upset about it or maybe it would just provide more clarity,” said Bishop. “First, I would like to know what that athletic fee goes to. I would also be interested in understanding what [Dave Craven, student body president] feels about the fees.”

As students across campus search for answers, the fees are not yet set in stone. Chancellor Philip Dubois still needs to approve the fees accepted by the Tuition and Fees Advisory Board, and while students are speaking out about the currently accepted fees, they are still subject to change.

Student Tuition and Fees Advisory Board votes to increase UNC Charlotte tuition and fees

Student Body President DAve Craven and co-chair of the Tuition and Fees Advisory Board Frank Fleming lead the roll call votes on the proposed fees. Photo / Eden Creamer

McKnight Hall of the Cone University Center saw two meetings earlier this week. The Tuition and Fees Advisory Board held these meetings to hear tuition and fee requests made by departments at the university. These meetings took place Monday, Nov. 14, 2011, and Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011.

The first meeting, which began at 1 p.m. Nov. 14, allowed those in attendance to hear proposals for fee increases, and the arguments against these changes, followed by questions from the Advisory Board.

Many of the proposed fees were less than $10 a piece, however added together, the proposed fees totaled to $138. The council is only able to approve $106 worth of increases to the student fees.

The two largest proposed fees are the football operations fee, a proposal of $50, and the education and technology fee, a proposed increase of $49.

Multiple groups did not request any increase in funds, including the Admissions Application Fee, the Cone University Center, the Student Activities Fees Commission, the Student Activity Center and the Student Union.

The second meeting began at 6 p.m. Nov. 15, and during this meeting time was set aside for students to voice their opinions on the proposed increases to their tuition due to fees. After students were given the chance to speak on these fees, the board discussed each fee individually, and then voted on them.

Few students attended the second meeting, and initially no students opted to make comments about the proposed increases and fees.

The board began the meeting by asking questions of those who had presented fees the day before.

Dr. Jay Raja, who had suggested the increase to the education and technology fee on Monday was asked numerous questions about where this $49 increase would go.

“Initial increases will be used to hire faculty,” said Raja to the board. He says that this money could provide 30 to 40 new faculty positions. “It varies depending on salaries.”

Raja also says that it is not set in stone which academic departments receive these new faculty positions. “Some departments are growing. We leave it up to the deans to make us presentations,” he said. “We take a look at their requests. We usually never have enough money to give to them all.”

Phil Jones also answered questions the board had about the proposed infrastructure fee, also referred to as the debt fee. This fee will not be included in the $106 cap that the board can approve, and is a separate fee they will approve.

With the proposed $35, Jones says, they will have $3.5 million to “update Wifi and cellular connectivity around campus.”

Raechel Gutierrez, secretary for student affairs of SGA, proposed an additional $25 be added to the infrastructure fee, which was approved by the board to allocate $60 to this fee.

As the representatives from the departments came up, three students from the audience opted to make comments about the increases in athletic fees compared to increases in academics. Students who spoke seemed unhappy about this proposed increases and where the funds were going.

After discusses were completed, the board voted on the varying issues.

A 6.5 percent increase in tuition was accepted, a $60 increase to the infrastructure fee was accepted, as was the $50 football operation fee. Recreational services proposed fee of $15 was lowered to $13 and approved, the health care service’s proposed fee of $4 was bumped down to $3 before approval, athletics received a $12 increase, apposed to the $13 they requested, playing field maintenance was granted a $3 increase, compared to the $7 they requested and education and technology received $25, a 51 percent decrease from their proposed fee of $49.

All UNC Charlotte students and faculty were invited to attend, and those unable to attend in person were given the opportunity to either watch a live streamed video feed of the meetings, or follow SGA on Facebook or Twitter to receive updates.

UNC Charlotte Teaching Fellows Study New Courage Project

Education has not always been accessible to all prospective students. There was a time in history when those who received an education were the minority.

Now, the UNC Charlotte Teaching Fellows are focusing on the courage individuals had to apply in order to make education an equal opportunity right through the New Courage Project.

The New Courage Project is a part of the New Courage campus forum, which was created by Crossroads Charlotte and Susan Harden, who works with Crossroads Charlotte.

Students began by visiting the Levine Museum of the New South, specifically to learn from the Courage exhibit. Then, the Teaching Fellows broke up into groups, to closely study the social issues that have affected education in the past and how courage played into this history.

Tori Brasher, graduate assistant for the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program, created an assignment for the Teaching Fellows in order to explore the concept of courage in education. The assignment was later adopted by the Levine Museum of the New South, and will be incorporated into a workbook used for Charlotte Mecklenburg School (CMS) teachers who visit the museum with their students.

Brasher believes that there are numerous reasons why it is important for the Teaching Fellows to be involved in this project. As future teachers, these students are expected to have an understanding of what education means and the social implications of being a teacher.

“This project will allow the Fellows creating the project and those who to view their finished product to look at education through a different lens,” said Brasher.

Those who see the finished result will learn a lot about the history of education, according to Brasher. Education, she says, is something that is very dynamic, and changes in education serve as a catalyst for other changes.

“Educational institutions are not isolated from various societal events which involve courageous acts to implement change,” said Brasher. “Sometimes schools are the change agents for legislation that impacts society or societal events dramatically impact school.”

Other students interested in learning about the New Courage Project may contact Susan Harden, or visit the New Courage exhibit at the Levine Museum of the New South.

“People are also welcomed to view our exhibit, Social Issues in Education, November 30, 2011 at the campus forum,” said Brasher.

The Courage exhibit at the Levine Museum of the New South was originally run in 2004, and due to the popularity of the exhibit, it was brought back for another run in 2011. The exhibit also commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Levine Museum.

Crossroads Charlotte is an organization which has developed four hypotheses of Charlotte’s future and presents these possible outcomes to the community. These scenarios were devised in 2003 after Crossroads had begun to compile information for them in 2001.

Retractible Mac and Windows Hybrid comes to UNC Charlotte’s Uptown Campus

Photo / Ciera Choate

UNC Charlotte Center City recently began using two new classrooms equipped with retractable iMac computers.

The computers can be operated by remote or at each individual desk, which moves them in and out of the table style desks.  The professor can also lock the computers so that students cannot use them during a lecture.

“It’s pretty much the ideal classroom.  I described this classroom to [one of my colleagues] three years ago,” said Vincent Ammirato who teaches basic web design in one of the new computer labs.  “For what we need to teach and the fact that it can switch to Windows and Mac and the quality of the projector is just awesome.”

The only thing Ammirato wishes the lab could do is give the professor control over all of the computer for demonstrating different things to his students.

Each computer is estimated to cost about $1,200 to $1,500 each, with 62 computers in each classroom that is $160,800 total.  Due to a deal with Apple the university already receives a discount on technology, and they received additional discounts for ordering in bulk, according to the Office of Classroom Support.

UNC Charlotte does not know whether more classrooms like these will be added, but if these rooms are helpful to professors UNC Charlotte student’s could be seeing more of these style classrooms in the future.

“It kind of depends on the response we get.  I personally see it as a good way for professors to do lectures because it allows them to lower the computers,” said Steve Clark, who works for the Office of Classroom Support.

The computer labs are open labs when class is not being held in the rooms, and the continuing education department and Belk College of Business are currently the only departments that use the rooms currently.  Clark sees this changing in the near future with “utilization picking up in subsequent semesters.”

The Office of Classroom Support had to customize the computers by sawing off the base so that the computers could be raised and lowered into the desks.  This customization did not cost the university additional money because they did the construction themselves.

Without the construction UNC Charlotte would have had to buy a higher quality and higher priced Apple computers that would have cost about $2,000 per computer.

A company called ISE Group that specializes in education, training, healthcare and business furniture manufactured the desks.


Tenth annual biotechnology conference coming to UNC Charlotte

Art Pappas and Mike Luther at 2010 Biotechnology Conference. Photo/Julie Fulton

The Charlotte Biotechnology Conference returns to UNC Charlotte for the tenth year. The conference, which will begin at 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, will be at the Barnhardt Student Activity Center (SAC).

The conference, hosted in conjunction with UNC Charlotte and the Charlotte Research Institute, allows people from all over the university area to learn about advancements and developments within biotechnology.

Clare Faggart, life sciences program manager for the Charlotte Research Institute, is the project manager for the Charlotte Biotechnology Conference. “I’ve been with Charlotte Research Institute for four years, and before that I worked with the biotech conference, so [I have been involved] for really six years,” said Faggart. “This is a conference that started at UNC Charlotte years ago. It actually matriculated out of the Office of Technology Transfer.”

There are no other events such as this readily available for UNC Charlotte students and faculty to attend, says Faggart. “Not in the Charlotte region.” Not only is the event unique to the area, the specific event changes each year, and the agenda is already available online. “It’s ever constantly changing, you know, we always want to make it bigger and better and more interesting for our participants and our attendees. So it is always changing, hopefully all for the better,” said Faggart. “There’s lots going on.”

This year, numerous panel discussions will be available for attendees of the conference to listen in on. These discussions include Biotechnology in the Charlotte Region – Past, Present and Future; Biotechnology Start-up Funding – Where to Find and How to Get It and A New Biology for the 21st Century. “We do several panel sessions for biotech start-ups, anything that might be of interest to life science students, faculty, business partners of the university, community life science organizations and businesses and, of course, any other service provider in that area,” said Faggart.

Speakers in these discussions come from the Hanmer Institute, the David H. Murdock Research Institute, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Silicon Valley Bank and numerous faculty members from UNC Charlotte, among other locations. “The list goes on and on of incredible speakers we have,” said Faggart.

The speaker delivering the keynote speech this year will be Leroy Hood. Hood’s speech, titled “Proactive P4 Medicine (Predictive, Preventive, Personalized and Participatory): The Science behind P4 Medicine and What It Can Do for You and for Society,” will begin directly following the first break in the conference.

Faggart encourages those interested in biotechnology and life sciences attend the event. Everyone is invited to attend, she says, from UNC Charlotte faculty and students to local life science businesses. “It’s a pretty extraordinary opportunity for our UNC Charlotte students and faculty,” said Faggart. “Just simply for them to come and take an opportunity to hear world renowned speakers such as Dr. Hood.”

Leroy Hood focuses his research on molecular immunology, biotechnology,and genomics. He assisted in founding the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle in 2000. He has co-written numerous textbooks on the subjects he specializes inand has won several awards.

Registration for the event is required and price is dependant upon when attendees register. Registration will be accepted at the door the day of the conference.

For more information on registration and the conference, visit www.charlottebiotechnology.com.

Professors discuss RateMyProfessors.com

With registration approaching, students may begin turning to websites such as RateMyProfessors.com to create a schedule with professors they will enjoy. The UNC Charlotte page on RateMyProfessors provides students with ratings for over 2,000 professors, some of which no longer teach here, but others who have been at the university for decades.

RateMyProfessors rates both the university as a whole and individual professors. The university is rated on things such as the library, the reputation of the school, the dining options, organizations and the location of the campus. While students may like looking at how their school compares to other universities, the ratings of individual professors possibly will captivate students more.

Individual professors receive ratings based on overall quality, helpfulness, clarity, easiness, rater interest and attractiveness, which is displayed as a chili pepper on the professor’s main page. Professors can be searched alphabetically or by department and may also be sorted by their individual ratings.

UNC Charlotte has professors with high ratings, and those with low ratings, but there can only be one highest and one lowest. Amy Good, who teaches social studies in the College of Education, is the highest rated professor at UNC Charlotte.

“These make me blush.  They are all very sweet,” said Good after reading her reviews. “I think anybody wants to hear that they’re doing well.”

Good has straight 5.0’s on RateMyProfessors, the highest average possible, and also has a chili pepper.

Her high ratings could come from her relationships with her students, she says. “I truly believe students will not care until they know you care,” said Good. “These comments are nice and everything, but I’m not going to turn around and be friends. I tell my students, it’s not their job to become the friend of their students. It’s their job to teach. I want it to be a powerful experience.”

Students may also appreciate the way she works with them. She is training teachers, she says, so she is teaching students “to grade and how to support teaching.” Good loves this aspect of her job and appreciates that her assessments aren’t “a hidden ‘gotcha’ situation.” These elements of the way she assigns and grades material works in students’ favor.

She works with students one-on-one and by email. She also sets her classes into teams, where they can work together if they have problems. “Since this is social studies, I think the most important part is setting up the classroom community. It’s not just me they can come to, they can come to their team,” said Good. “I can, in the almost 10 years that I have been a professor, count only maybe two people that have failed. And it takes an act of plagiarism, it has to be a rough situation for them to fail my course.”

Ellyn Ritterskamp, the second highest rated professor at UNC Charlotte, also has straight 5.0s. Ritterskamp, who teaches practical issues and philosophy, started at UNC Charlotte in 2002.

Despite her high rating among students, Ritterskamp does not take much stock in RateMyProfessors.com. “I also don’t have a lot of ratings, so it’s not a large statistical category that we can examine. I don’t want to take it real seriously,” she said.

Not many students fail her class either, said Ritterskamp. “I usually flunk about one student out of 40. It’s usually just people who drop or just stop coming to class. It’s usually very few,” she said. “It’s not that the material is hard. I try to contact people who stop attending, try to salvage their grade.”

Ritterskamp describes her class as “conversation-based,” and often puts the students in groups or rearranges the desks so that they are facing each other. She doesn’t like to lecture during class. “Nobody wants to hear that. I don’t want to hear that,” said Ritterskamp.

The lowest rated professor with more than one rating at UNC Charlotte received a 1.4 in overall quality, accumulated over 38 reviews. Gyorgy Revesz, who has been at the university for over a decade, teaches programming courses.

“I do this as a hobby, and I want to do my best to produce quality students,” said Revesz. “I like to educate quality students with essential programming skills and significant abilities.”

Revesz is not surprised by his poor ratings on RateMyProfessors.com. He knows that students will say whatever they want, and he is not concerned by what they post online. “It is a good outlet for frustrated students, but I don’t care. Because it is indeed a very diverse website,” said Revesz. “I get praises from good students, and I get terrible putdowns from poor students. And that is the way it is.”

The praises are something that Revesz is more than willing to share. He has numerous emails he has received from past students, thanking him for a job well done. “Here is one. She says ‘I would like to thank you for a great experience in your class. This being my last semester, I just wanted to let you know that it was a great learning experience. Commencement is Saturday. I am looking forward to it. I already accepted a job, which I look forward to starting. I think that the projects we did in class were very helpful for me getting this great opportunity.’ This is one, but I have more,” said Revesz.

In class, Revesz works with students to show them how to correctly program and code. His lessons are complex, as is the textbook, he says, but students are not without a guide. “Every time I post a homework project, coding project, I also post the results of my solution, which means that they can look at the output which I generated when they do their own program design,” said Revesz. “So that they can compare what they have as a result to what I have posted.”

Despite posting solutions to every assignment, Revesz still has students who struggle, which he says may be because they did not get enough out of prerequisite classes. “In my classes, too many students fail,” said Revesz. “Some students are not up to the task, and I can tell you that I am trying to help them survive. But I don’t give them high grades undeserved. I keep a higher standard than most professors.”

Revesz finds humor when he reads student evaluations and the end of each semester. “My graduate students think that I know my stuff better than the undergraduate students. [The undergraduate students] do not know enough to get a good grade, therefore they think that I don’t know enough about my subject,” he said. “I will probably teach at a higher level than what they expect.”

While some professors may benefit from reading their reviews on RateMyProfessors.com, Ritterskamp does not think that reading these reviews are for everyone. “I remember when it first came out, I had two colleagues who were female, and one of them got very upset because she didn’t get a chili pepper that said she was hot, and that’s just stupid. They need to take that out of the rating system. It was very hurtful to that person, who was young and didn’t know to ignore it,” said Ritterskamp.

Good doesn’t believe that professors should base their teaching performance on their online ratings. “We get peer reviewed here, which is really nice. We have the faculty come in and review us, and the chair comes in and reviews us,” said Good. “And we have the student opinions on instruction. And what I think is the most important, the self-reflective.”

Ritterskamp even prefers the student evaluations at the end of the course. “Each semester I encourage students to write stuff on those evaluations because each semester I learn something from them that I can use to make the next course better,” she said.

Chances are, the ratings on RateMyProfessors.com aren’t a completely accurate depiction of a professor, says Ritterskamp. “I feel like it is like any other statistical survey. If you don’t have enough data points, it shouldn’t be relevant. And some teachers only have three or four ratings. I guess once you have 500 ratings on somebody, you have enough data for it to mean something,” said Ritterskamp.

Good also believes that the online postings on RateMyProfessors.com is skewed, but not because of a lack of ratings. “I wouldn’t use it as the only piece of data. I think when people write online, you know, it’s anonymous so they can write whatever they want,” she said.

Despite the anonymous nature of the ratings, Revesz thinks that the posts on RateMyProfessors.com are valid, because they are public. “It is good, because it can been seen by everybody else. Students can find out whether they want to take this course or not.”

Ritterskamp feels, however, that students shouldn’t select classes based solely on RateMyProfessors.com. “RateMyProfessor is similar to most rating systems, like Amazon, where people purchase products. I think only people who are very excited about a thing, or very upset about a thing, are going to rate. There’s not a ton of middle ratings on [sites like these],” said Ritterskamp.

Good believes that it is important for students to learn a bit about the professor before signing up for their course, but does not think RateMyProfessors.com is the way for them to do that. Instead, she has a suggestion for students.

“Go by [the professor’s] office and knock on the door, say ‘Hi, I’m considering taking your course.’ You know, we’re not big scary monsters. Come, and meet us,” said Good. “And if they turn you away, you probably don’t want to take that class. So I wouldn’t rely only on online data, I would go gather some yourself. Make an informed decision.”

Sustain Charlotte begins new green movement

Sustain Charlotte, a local non-profit organization, released a new brochure titled “Charlotte 2030: A Sustainable Vision for our Region.”

In the brochure, Sustain Charlotte lists the ways they see the Charlotte region changing over the next 20 years in 10 different aspects. These aspects are air, buildings and homes, economy, energy, food, parks and green space, waste, social equity, transportation and water.

Around UNC Charlotte, students and faculty hope to see, and expect to see various changes in the area.

Population growth, among most people on campus, is expected to grow. “I see Charlotte expanding immensely. I see it growing even more,” said political science major Rachel James.

Charlotte-native Ph.D. candidate Joseph Cochran also believes that Charlotte will grow, and has an estimation on how quickly the growth will occur. “That’s pretty much guaranteed,” he said. “What we’re likely to see is Charlotte will expand by about 20 percent, if it fits in with the trends.”

Even those from different parts of the country, who have spent only a few months here, see Charlotte as rapidly growing region. “I’d say a bigger population, [because] it’s a great place to live,” said Josh Scheerer, an information and software systems major. “I’m from Pennsylvania, so it is a little tougher not knowing the history [to predict anything], but Charlotte is a nice area.”

Another common aspect of Charlotte’s growth which both faculty and students readily discuss is the banking industry.

“I hope that the banking sector picks back up again, and I hope that Charlotte becomes prominent,” said W. Keener Hughen, assistant professor of finance UNC Charlotte.

While the problems with Charlotte’s banking sector are not limited to the Charlotte metropolitan area, some believe that Charlotte is faring with the difficulties better than other areas of the country. James believes that Charlotte is doing much better than the nation as a whole.

Some are not as hopeful that banking in Charlotte will recover, and even see other areas of Charlotte’s industry thrive due to the troubles being experienced by the banks. “We’ll probably see the energy sector increase in importance to replace the financial sector,” said Cochran. “And that depends largely on the amount of investment that the federal government, state government and local governments are willing to do, plus the ability of companies to relocate and start up.”

The environment and the push for the green movement is also on student’s minds.

Rumors spreading through the media cause students to see Charlotte’s environmental footprint to be a positively improving one. “I know there have been talks of…cars that don’t impact the environment as much,” said James. She also has heard that the city may begin using these types of cars for public transportation purposes. “The city may become more environmentally friendly than it is today,” she said.

Hughen feels that environmental change may be one of the more difficult changes the region will endure. “There’s a lot of fight [against the green movement] because people fight against everything,” he said. “But I think it will be good and Charlotte will be just like every other city.”

Other efforts that are being made as part of the current green movement may also be improved and continued, says Cochran. “You’ll see a push towards more environmentally friendly technologies, not necessarily solar or wind, but there will be a push towards more efficiency. And that’s what is already occurring in the area.”

While others are optimistic about the environment, Scheerer disagrees that the Charlotte area will improve in the coming years. “Realistically, we’ll be less environmentally friendly,” he said.

While many students and faculty around campus focus on the changes in the size, economy and the environment of Charlotte and the surrounding area, others would like to see other changes made as well. “I would like to see more community programs for kids in school,” said Samantha Carey, a nursing student. “And more outreach programs for the homeless. I think that’s a big problem here.”

Sustain Charlotte focuses on serving as a “catalyst for change,” according to the organization’s website. They strive to enhance the future for the Charlotte area. The director of the organization, Shannon Binns, moved to Charlotte in 2007

The brochure is based on the movement that they launched on Nov. 1, 2010, under the same name as the brochure.

UNC Charlotte professors develop formula to cure cancer

UNC Charlotte professors of mathematics Thomas Lucas and Michael Klibanov worked together over a decade ago to create U.S. Patent number 5,963,658.

This patent, which was accepted by the U.S. Patent Office in October 1999, was for the “Method and Apparatus for Detecting an Abnormality within a Host Medium,” which Lucas and Klibanov had been working on with then-graduate student Robert Frank since around 1995.

The “method and apparatus” that the group worked on was an algorithm that could be used to detect breast cancer, and later a device that implemented the algorithm’s theories in a way to benefit people.

“I would guess [we worked on it] for over two years before submitting it to be patented,” said Lucas. “We were prohibited from publishing or discussing our methods until the patent request was submitted.”  The patent was officially submitted to the patent office Jan. 27, 1997.

The algorithm itself was what is called an inverse problem. “In an inverse problem, you know some parameters of what is happening, but are ignorant of others. Your goal is to find what you don’t know,” said Lucas. “This is the opposite of a forward problem, which is a situation in the physical world where you know the scenario in the present world, and can then determine the future state.”

Submitting their work for a patent was a long shot, according to Lucas. “Normally the U.S. government doesn’t accept patents for mathematical work,” said Lucas. “But they certainly did in this case, because it lead to a useful device for detecting female breast cancer.”

The International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) took an interest in the algorithm. “We presented at special sessions for breast cancer research,” said Lucas. “One developer was interested enough to invite us to fly to Florida. We considered collaborating with him, but decided against it.”

As work on the device went underway, funding from the National Science Foundation, as well as the federal government, was put into the project. “We were well supported. It’s a sad story because people invested a lot of money in the device, and it didn’t follow through,” said Lucas. “I’d say we had about $150,000 or more invested in it.”

The federal government’s involvement in the project was due to the fact that the research being done by the UNC Charlotte professors was “also applicable to the finding of land minds,” said Lucas.

Klibanov and Lucas are not the only people who have attempted something like this and failed. “To my knowledge, none have been successful,” said Lucas.

Lucas has hopes for future developments in this field. “The age of super-computing is upon us, which makes this a super exciting time for computing.”

SPIE is an international organization founded in 1955, and focuses on light-based advancements. Over 170 countries have citizens who are members of SPIE. They organize and hold dozens of events each year and publish the “SPIE Digital Library,” which is a collection of research papers and journals.

University gives back to student organizations

UNC Charlotte will begin the “Giving Green Campaign” Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011, with a kick-off event.  The event, which will be held in the Barnhardt Student Activity Center (SAC), will mark the beginning of the fundraising period.

The Giving Green Campaign is a month-long campaign, during which UNC Charlotte employees and students can donate money to various different organizations, on local, state, national and international levels. These donations will be accepted until Nov. 18, 2011.

Owen Furuseth, associate provost for metropolitan studies and extended academic programs at UNC Charlotte, is a co-chair for the event, along with Kendra Cooks, of the Division for Business Affairs.

The Giving Green event was previously three events, the State Employee Combined Campaign, the Arts and Science Campaign and the UNC Charlotte Faculty and Staff Annual Campaign. The university consolidated these three events into the Giving Green Campaign for a multitude of reasons.

“We had three separate events that took a lot of energy and involved lots of different folks over the course of the year, and the idea was ‘well, why not roll all of these into one?’” said Furuseth. “So we did so we could focus our efforts more precisely on just giving back to the community and do it one time rather than three.”

The kick-off event serves as a chance for people at UNC Charlotte to meet with the various organizations that could benefit from donations, and decide which organizations they believe deserve money.

Some organizations, says Furuseth, are more well-known to the UNC Charlotte community than others. “But there are a lot of smaller organizations that people don’t know about that also part of the campaign, so this is a chance to learn about these smaller organizations,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for folks to find out more about who they’re helping and how they can help out.”

Close to 1,000 organizations may benefit from money donated through the Giving Green Campaign, over 900 of which originally benefited solely from the State Employee Combined Campaign, said Furuseth.

“Last year I met with a group that essentially organizes visits for the children of people who are incarcerated, and arranges visits so that if you’re a child and there’s no way for you to go visit your mom and dad in prison, they help make arrangements for you to do that,” said Furuseth. “They also provide mentoring and support for these kids whose parents are not in the home. I think that’s one that really stands out in my mind, because I didn’t even know they were part of the campaign until then.”

Many of these groups also give money to UNC Charlotte faculty in order to support activities done for the benefit of students. “There are campus organizations and faculty and staff who actually receive funding from the organizations that we are donating to,” said Furuseth. “We, in a sense, are helping ourselves as well as others in the community.”

Those who attend the event will be encouraged to donate as soon as donations are accepted, and those who do so during the first day may win a raffle prize. “There will also be some prizes that are given out for folks who go online right away, and start making donations,” said Furuseth. “So it’s a chance to start participating in some activities where you can actually come away with a nice little present.”

UNC Charlotte employees and students are encouraged to donate to these organizations, and may receive prizes for their donations, not just during the kick-off event, but during the month. “Throughout the month there will be other activities in terms of the opportunity to make donations and to qualify for prizes. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, and there will be a lot of interest around the campaign over the four weeks,” said Furuseth.

Furuseth suggests attending the kick-off event for anyone who is interested in donating. “The kick-off event is going to be really neat. [Everyone on campus] should attend so they can become better familiar with the types of organizations that benefit from the campaign,” said Furuseth. “And I would encourage all employees, faculty, staff and students to consider donating, because this is a chance for us to give back to our community.”

Last year, 765 people donated during the campaigns. Furuseth is confident that UNC Charlotte can exceed these numbers this year.

Student organization hosts movie showing for charity

Members of the UNC Charlotte Guild
Members of the UNC Charlotte Guild meet to discuss science fiction and fantasy

The UNC Charlotte Guild: Science Fiction and Fantasy Club will host a charity event in conjunction with the Charlotte Browncoats from Friday, Sept. 16, 2011, through Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. The event, called Can’t Stop the Serenity (CSTS), is a screening of the movie Serenity, and will benefit Equality Now (EN) and the United Service Organizations of North Carolina (USO – NC). The movie will be shown in the College of Health and Human Services room 155 Friday at 1:45 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday in the Grand Ballroom of the Student Union.

Ticket packages are available, starting at 12 tickets for $10, and tickets will be available the day of the event for $1. Tickets can be purchased through the Charlotte Browncoats at http://charlottebrowncoats.org/purchase.aspx.

CSTS is a worldwide charity organization, founded in 2006, which gathers in numerous locations around the world each year to watch Serenity, and raise money for Equality Now.  Since 2006, they have raised over $600,000 for charity.

Serenity, the 2005 movie directed by Joss Whedon, is about a group of space travelers who need to protect one of their own, a telepathic crew member, from an assassin. Serenity has won several awards, such as the Nebula Award for Best Script in 2005, the Spacey Award for viewer’s favorite movie in 2006 and the Prometheus Special Award in 2006.

Whedon, the writer of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, began the production of Serenity after his television show Firefly was canceled by Fox after being on the air for four months. The series and movie later sparked a comic book series and role-playing game.

Equality Now is an international group that began in 1992 to work for the promotion and maintenance of the rights of women. They focus on eliminating discriminatory laws, sexual violence, female genital mutilation and human trafficking. The nonprofit organization does not accept government funds and relies solely on donations from private parties.

UNC Charlotte students interested in helping the Charlotte Browncoats prepare for the event are welcome to participate with the Guild on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011.

Transgender activist comes to campus

Mara Keisling, one of the founding members of the Trans Rights movement in the United States, will speak at UNC Charlotte on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011, at 7 p.m. in the Cone Center’s McKnight Hall. The Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) is sponsoring the free event.

MRC has been able to bring Keisling to UNC Charlotte through funding from the Chancellor’s Diversity Challenge Fund, according to Ted Lewis, Assistant Director of Sexual and Gender Diversity.

Keisling, the founding director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and a transgender-identified woman, has been involved in the Trans Rights movement since 2003. NCTE is a nonprofit organization, based out of Washington, D.C., and works to grant equality to transgender people by keeping up-to-date with federal activity and spreading political advances to members. Issues they focus on include discrimination, education, immigration and hate crimes.

“[MRC] is always looking for great speakers to come share their perspectives on issues of identity, diversity and social justice,” said Lewis.

Speakers have included Sandra Lang this past Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011, Kate Bornstein, a trans rights activities and performance artist and Jessica Pettitt, a social justice and diversity consultant who goes to different organizations to host programs to help the community.

“College is an opportunity for students to step out of their comfort zone and learn about differences, diversity and multiculturalism,” said Lewis.  “This event is a great opportunity for students to learn more about transgender people and their struggle for equal rights.”

In addition to her seminar on Trans Rights, Keisling also plans to meet with the UNC Charlotte Trans Committee, and lead a student roundtable discussion about transgender equality.

UNC Charlotte students can get involved with the transgender movement by attending MRC events, joining PRIDE, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) organization on campus or by working with programs such as Friendly Peer, said Lewis.

“Students can also get involved with community partners such as the Charlotte Gender Alliance, the Carolina Transgender Society, Time Out Youth or the Trans People of Color Coalition – NC Division,” said Lewis.

MRC has been at UNC Charlotte for over 10 years, starting with student founder Joseph Toomer, and it continues to grow.  Beginning in February 2008, the department added Lewis’ position to the team to fight for LGBTQ rights both on and off campus.

“[MRC] hosts lots of great events from student workshops and roundtable discussions to national speakers and film screenings.  Our programming focuses on diversity, multiculturalism, identity and social justice,” said Lewis.

These programs include meetings during family weekend, participation with the International Festival, many lectures about LGBTQ rights, discussions about violence and many others.

“It’s easy to get involved with the MRC,” said Lewis. “Simply join a student organization such as PRIDE or attend one of our many events.”