Indira Eskieva


Elizabeth Hardin honored with 2016 Loy Witherspoon Distinguished Service Award

Elizabeth Hardin serves as Vice Chancellor of Business Affairs. Photo by Indira Eskieva.

Vice Chancellor of Business Affairs at UNC Charlotte Elizabeth Hardin is a busy woman.

And yet she took an hour out of her time on a Friday afternoon to talk with the Niner Times, which might sound surprising at first, given her prestigious title and back-to-back booked schedule, but not so much after you spend an hour in her office talking, getting to know the woman who, after all, is the recipient of the 2016 Loy Witherspoon Distinguished Service Award.

Besides being the Vice Chancellor of Business Affairs, Hardin is also an advisor and board member of the on-campus ministry, Cooperative Christian Ministry.  Through Niner United, she has impacted the lives of many students who have come through the campus ministry, a fact she humbly shrugs off.

“I’m very committed to the mission of higher education and to the development of students, a portion of which is a spiritual form of development,” Hardin said.

One former member of Niner United, Rev. Jacob Pierce, recalls how Hardin loaned him her car so that he and a group of students could drive to the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. to witness the installation of a new bishop.

“It was just a car,” laughs Hardin now.

But Rev. Pierce, who at the time thought he was going to be a lawyer, has since gone on to become a pastor at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Comforter in Charlotte, and it’s difficult to imagine that the experience of watching the installation of a new bishop at the National Cathedral did not influence the change of course in his life.

Hardin works in higher education because of students like Rev. Pierce, and her devotion to public institutions stems from the fact that she is also a product of public education.

“My parents made a very intentional choice for me to remain in public school through high school,” Hardin said, while the rest of her family studied at private or boarding schools.

Hardin’s grandmother, who was born in 1904, attended Vassar College, went to law school and was admitted to the bar.  Her father was, in her words, “very much a feminist.”

“My dad always said, although he was one of three boys, that you really didn’t have a choice in his family about being a feminist.”

Hardin made her family proud, first by attending the University of Georgia, and then by earning her MBA from Harvard University in 1985.

“There were not a lot of Southerners there at the time, and very few Southern women.  Very few,” Hardin said. Pondering it for a few minutes, she could not think of even one, although she insisted that there must have been at least a couple more besides herself.

After graduating from Harvard, Hardin spent some time working at the university before joining the private sector.  In 1995, she returned to working in higher education when she joined UNC Charlotte as a business planning analyst.

In 2003, Hardin moved to the University of Wyoming, only to return back to UNC Charlotte in 2006 for the position she still holds today: vice chancellor of Business Affairs.

Today, Hardin recognizes the profound effects of higher education, and the opportunities that public schooling provides.

“It’s really a profoundly formative experience, and it changes the direction of [students’] lives.  That’s particularly true, I think, of public higher education, or any higher education that is inclusive of people who may not have the resources to go to the most expensive schools in the country.”

She says that her own role models include Loy Witherspoon and UNC Charlotte’s founder, Bonnie Cone.

“When I saw Bonnie Cone in action, I said that I would love to be like her.  She’s just absolutely remarkable, and again, pretty fearless to do what she did at the time that she did.  It would be hard to start a university now, but for this petite single woman to do that at a time she did is truly, truly remarkable,” Hardin said.

Elizabeth Hardin has her own advice to offer young women entering the workforce.

“Passivity, assertiveness and aggression.  Having passivity honors other but not self, and aggression honors self but not other.  Being assertive honors self and other.  Assertive is the healthy place to be,” Hardin said.

But, perhaps, more importantly, Hardin wants students to figure out what their purpose in life is, and use it to serve the world around them.

“Frederick Buechner said that ‘vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.’  You hear a lot about gladness, but what you don’t hear a lot about is the world’s great need,” Hardin said.

“There is a level of pain and challenge that surrounds us but we don’t see.  And we don’t see it because we largely choose not to.  That’s a big deal.  You have to recognize what vocation looks like, and you have to recognize what the world needs.”

Much like she has, serving the students at UNC Charlotte.

UNC Charlotte’s legendary Loy Witherspoon dead

The founder of UNC Charlotte’s Department of Religious Studies and award-winning professor, Loy Witherspoon, died on Sunday, Jan. 15, at age 86.  

After the death of both of his parents, Witherspoon grew up in the Methodist Children’s Home in Winston-Salem.  Later, he became an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.  

After earning his bachelor and divinity degrees from Duke University, Witherspoon received his doctorate from Boston University.  He spent time teaching philosophy and religion at the American University in Cairo, Egypt.

Witherspoon was a close friend of Bonnie Cone, and she invited him to head the Department of Philosophy and Religion in 1964.  Eight years later, in 1972, he played an important role in forming the Department of Religious Studies when it became independent from Philosophy.  

His legacy is alive and is seen in many parts of UNC Charlotte.  In 1984, the Department of Religious Studies established the “Witherspoon Lecture” series, which are considered to be the oldest and most prestigious at UNC Charlotte.

Even though Witherspoon retired in 1995, he continued to teach at UNC Charlotte for the next 10 years and was actively involved with the university’s affairs.  UNC Charlotte professor, James Tabor, recalls his first meeting with Loy Witherspoon.

“It was Loy, back in the year 2000, when I first met archaeologist Dr. Shimon Gibson, now on our faculty, who immediately supported us with in establishing our amazing Biblical archaeology program at UNC Charlotte,” said Tabor.

“When I came to UNC Charlotte in 1989, it was Loy’s slot in New Testament that I was asked to fill, given his retirement,” remembered Tabor. “Talk about filling big shoes. We were very close and I loved him dearly.”

Witherspoon’s legacy includes the establishment of the Greek system at UNC Charlotte, as well as The Loy H. Witherspoon Greek Alumni Scholarship.  But above all else, his greatest accomplishment is the relationships he built with his colleagues and students and the lasting impact he had on their lives.

“Loy was truly a legendary teacher and a mentor to his colleagues and scores of students, and he was one of the most active members of the campus community,” said Chancellor Philip L. Dubois.

“He was a much-loved colleague who always had time and a kind word for anyone. [My wife] Lisa and I will miss him very much,” said Dubois.  

“Rodney King:” A one-man show comes to Belk Theater

UNC Charlotte’s Belk Theater was packed Tuesday night for Roger Guenveur Smith’s award winning one-man show “Rodney King,” which was followed by a panel discussion with Smith and Journalist Steve Crump from WBTV.

The emotional performance, which won the 2015 Bessie Award, was inspired by the life and death of Rodney King.  King survived a brutal police beating in 1991, which was filmed by a bystander and later released to the media.  The video of the beating, as well as the subsequent acquittal of the officers involved, sparked the Los Angeles riots of 1992.  As a result of the riots, which lasted for days, 55 people were killed and thousands were injured.

In 2012, King died from accidental drowning in his backyard pool. Smith, a notable playwright, actor and director, was so moved by King’s life and death, he put together the one-man show titled “Rodney King”.

“I’m trying to take my audience on a journey of discovery,” said Smith. “The same one that I’ve been on since I opened up my laptop on Father’s Day 2012 and saw that Rodney King had drowned in the bottom of his swimming pool.”

The one-hour show, performed without intermission, was full of raw emotions that ranged from anger to forgiveness.  Smith spit, cried and yelled on stage as audience members snapped their fingers in approval.  It examined police brutality and racial divides in America.  After the show, both Smith and Crump got emotional talking about the 2015 Charleston Church shooting.

During the panel, Smith said that the message of the show is tell the truth.  He later added that forgiveness is an important theme in “Rodney King,” saying that forgiveness is what distinguishes a weak person from a strong one.

Audience members, many of whom were fans of Smith’s previous work as well, were given about 30 minutes to ask questions.  Many used the time to thank him for the heartfelt performance.

First Lady of the United States of America in Charlotte

The public, gathered in a ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center Oct. 4, straightened their backs and looked up. More and more secret service agents were coming out from the back, alert and focused, which meant that first lady Michelle Obama would take the stage any minute.

When North Carolina governor nominee Roy Cooper introduced Obama, about 45 minutes behind schedule, she came out to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” which has become like a special anthem for the Obama family.

Obama was in Charlotte to rally on behalf of democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and she described the moment as “nostalgic” because it reminded her of when President Barack Obama was campaigning for president in North Carolina. But things are different now for the Obama family than they were eight, or even four years ago, and Obama says she has mixed emotions.

First lady Michelle Obama shakes hands with crowd members during Charlotte rally. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.
First lady Michelle Obama shakes hands with crowd members during Charlotte rally. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.

“It’s a little bittersweet because we are experiencing a time of great transition,” Obama said. “My husband has got to get a job; somebody’s got to hire that man,” joked Obama, adding, “As Barack says, ‘We’ve got to make sure we get our security deposit back [from the White House], so we’re working on that.”

Obama also took the time to discuss Clinton’s qualifications and made some indirect quips against Republic nominee Donald Trump.

“When making life-or-death, war-or-peace decisions, a president can’t just pop off or lash out irrationally and I think we can all agree that someone who is roaming around at 3 a.m., tweeting, should not have their fingers on the nuclear codes,” said Obama, referencing to the controversy Trump caused when he criticized a former Miss Universe contestant on Twitter at 3 a.m..

One of the most important things Obama wanted to stress to Charlotte residents at the rally was the importance of voting. She shared with the room that Barack won the state of North Carolina when he was running for president in 2008 by just 14,000 votes. When you do the math, Obama explained, that was just two or three votes per precinct.

“So I just want you all to think about everybody in this room who didn’t vote, everybody that didn’t pick up the phone who thought … what does it matter? It matters. Do you hear me? It matters,” Obama said, waving her hands in the air.

UNC Charlotte student Lyazzat Stamgaziyeva, a sophomore studying communication in mass media and business, was in attendance at the rally.

“When my friends told me that the first lady was going to visit Charlotte, I was very happy and excited to see her because I’ve never experienced something that big. The points that she made and talked about were very clever and she really inspired me,” Stamgaziyeva said.

And that was what Obama was there to do: to inspire the people of Charlotte and to get them to vote in November.

After her speech, Obama took the time to shake hands with the crowd. One woman asked for a photo and Obama paused to explain that while technically she wasn’t supposed to, they could take a quick “selfie.”  The woman, whose hands were shaking, couldn’t figure out how to switch the camera on her smartphone so that it was facing her. Obama took it upon herself to show the women how to flip cameras on a smartphone.


UNC Charlotte sets record enrollment

UNC Charlotte broke its own record this academic year for number of students enrolled.  The university expected 28,700 students to be enrolled this semester. In the last ten years, UNC Charlotte experienced the fastest growth of any UNC-system campus.

In 1999, the student body population totaled 16,950.  The university expects a future growth double that number – 32,500 students.  This number includes all students, including those in graduate, undergraduate and doctoral programs.

A UNC system report showed UNC’s 17 campuses saw growth in the minority population.  Last fall, undergraduate Latino enrollment grew by nine percent and undergraduate multi-racial enrollment grew by 10 percent.

To keep up with the growth, UNC Charlotte has multiple construction projects underway.

The design for a 143,500 square foot health and wellness center is being finalized and its newest residential building, Levine Hall, is expected to be finished this fall.  It will house up to 435 students.  With the approval of the Connect NC Bond this past spring, $90 million was allocated for the construction of a new science building.  Since the current science building opened in 1985, enrollment at UNC Charlotte has grown by 142 percent, said Chancellor Philip Dubois.

But there have been some concerns from students with UNC Charlotte’s record breaking population growth.  Crime around the university area has been on the rise and CMPD has extra officers patrolling the area.

“It is [car break-ins] almost 20 percent higher than any crime we have on a weekly basis,” said Captain Brian Foley, the University City Commander of the CMPD.

In June of this year, a federal report showed that UNC Charlotte’s campus, along with Brown and Harvard University, was ranked top ten in the country for reported rapes.  In 2014, there were 32 reported rapes on campus.

Another concern some students have is class size.  With the student body population growing, it is reasonable to assume class size will grow as well.  But Maureen Sanders, a senior Communication studies student, says that larger classes don’t take away from her experience as a student.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing, because larger classes have labs that are a smaller size.  That way, you can get that more intimate setting in the lab,” said Sanders.

SGA update: April 7

The UNC Charlotte Student Government Association (SGA) had their weekly legislative meeting April 7.

Student Body President and Vice President Election results

The SGA welcomed juniors Fahn Darkor as Student Body President and Carrie Nowell as Vice President.

Belk Plaza Forum

The final Belk Plaza Forum will present the final image of what Belk Plaza will look like and will subsequently present it to students as well.

Messages from the senate

Senator Russell announced that the title “chairman” will be replaced with just “chair” to be inclusive of both male and female chairs.

Academic Affairs is still continuing work on college forums.

Publicity and Outreach are in the process of finalizing the list of Niner Perks. It is expected to be printed out by next week and will list all places in the University area where UNC Charlotte students receive perks and discounts.

New Junior Class President

Mackenzie Belton was confirmed as the new junior class president.

New guidelines for grants

New guidelines will permit student organizations two travel grants in a fiscal year. Each travel grant can be up to $2000, for a total of $4000.

Financial Bill

A financial bill of $2,693.10 was approved.

Elections of Officers of the Senate

The SGA nominated and elected officers of the senate to fill nine positions for the 2016-17 academic year.



Student Government candidate profiles: Andre Jefferies, Anthony Rizol

Student Body Presidential candidate Andre Jefferies. Photo courtesy of Jefferies.
Student Body Presidential candidate Andre Jefferies. Photo courtesy of Jefferies

Andre Jefferies, a junior political science major, is in the running to be UNC Charlotte’s Student Body President.

Originally from Wilkesboro, North Carolina, Jefferies has been involved with the Student Government Association (SGA) since he first came to UNC Charlotte.

“Politics, governments and representing people have been important interests to me, so I decided to run as a freshman-at-large senator. After serving a full year, I was committed to student government.” Said Jefferies.

Jefferies has been an at-large senator for almost three years in the Senate at UNC Charlotte. He is also part of the North Carolina Student Legislature and a brother of Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity. He served as chairman of internal affairs, and familiarized himself with the by-laws of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the Student Government Association.

Jefferies said all of these positions honed his decision-making, conflict resolution, time-management, team building and leadership skills. They also helped prepare him for the role he hopes to tackle next – president of the student body.

If elected, his first mission will be to give students their voice back.

“We have seen in previous administrations that students haven’t had a say in administrative decisions, or it has been extremely misrepresented. I would want to advocate on behalf of the student body for any concerns, even if that means upsetting [the] administration,” Jefferies said.

But his ambitions don’t end there. Jefferies is an advocate of increasing school spirit at UNC Charlotte. If elected student body president, he also plans on increasing the time the chancellor and university administration spend interacting with students.

Jefferies also noted that the university is constantly under construction – a problem that he plans to address.

Initially drawn to UNC Charlotte by its diverse campus, Jefferies says that his experience at UNC Charlotte has been great.

“I’ve had the opportunity to make various connections through my fraternity … and have built a vast network that will have some benefit in the future.”

Passionate about law and politics, Jefferies has plans to become an attorney and in the future sees himself with a private practice or working for the U.S. Department of State.

Running alongside Andre Jefferies for the position of vice president of the study body at UNC Charlotte is Anthony Rizol.

Rizol, a sophomore accounting major, was drawn to UNC Charlotte by its beautiful campus and renowned Belk College of Business.

He first decided to get involved with SGA after he heard it was a great way to be informed of news and activities on campus. Rizol is now a part of the Senate.

Besides SGA, Rizol is part of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and has an internship outside of school. Last year he was a member of the business learning community.

Having spent the last year on the internal affairs committee of the Senate, Rizol observed the role of the current student body vice president of UNC Charlotte. It was, in his opinion, the best way to learn.

Just like Jefferies, Rizol’s main goal is to increase school spirit.

“My main point, if elected, would be to always encourage taking pride in our school. It’s time that UNC Charlotte gets the recognition the school has rightfully earned,” Rizol said.

Part of his plan to increase school spirit is to raise student involvement on campus.

“That could mean being an active member of an organization or attending as many sporting events as possible,” said Rizol.

Rizol’s goal for his life in ten years and his life at UNC Charlotte are the same, a goal both he and Jefferies seem to share:

“I want … to have a positive impact on others,” said Rizol.

Rising insurance rates

The cost of Student Health Insurance will increase up to 32 percent for the 2016-17 academic year across all UNC System schools.

The UNC System works with Blue Cross Blue Shield to offer students the Student Blue health insurance program. The last changes to the premium price, or the amount that students must pay on the insurance policy, occurred last year, when the price per semester rose from $802 to the current $863.50.

The price of the premium is anticipated to increase once again because of the steady rise in the number and cost of claims being submitted.  While in previous years there was a 12 percent cap on the claims that could be submitted, this year there was no cap, which means that the number of claims being submitted could grow even more.

The UNC General Administration (UNCGA) has proposed two new options for possible plans. Like the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the plans are designated by the colors gold and silver.

While only one of the plans can be offered under the Student Health Insurance, the UNCGA has asked to hear recommendations as to which plan will benefit students more.

While the Gold Plan has a higher premium cost of $1140 per semester, it has a deductible, or the amount students must pay out of pocket before the insurer will pay for expenses, of only $500.

The Silver Plan has a per semester premium cost of only $1000, but the deductible is $2000.

Students that have to use their insurance if they get hurt could end up paying more with the Silver Plan than with the Gold Plan.

The rates are not final. While the Gold Plan, if chosen, might change by only a slight margin, the Silver Plan will more than likely rise by a considerable amount. This means that the Gold Plan has numbers that are more reliable and less subject to changes.

Rousmaniere met with UNC Charlotte’s Student Government Association (SGA) and with the Graduate and Professional Student Government of UNC Charlotte (GPSG) to discuss the options and hear students’ thoughts. From the latter organization, Rousmaniere got only one response. To get more feedback, Rousmaniere also spoke throughout the campus and with the Student Health Center.

After much thought and deliberation, Rousmaniere recommended the Gold Plan on behalf of UNC Charlotte.

“We currently have more students enrolled in the program than any other campus, even though NC State has more students,” said Rousmaniere.

In Fall of 2015, 5200 students were enrolled in Student Blue. It is anticipated that the number of students enrolled in the program will drop when the cost rises next semester.

Under the North Carolina law, college students are required to have health insurance, those that drop out of the plan will often choose to enroll under their parent’s plan or shop for a plan elsewhere.

UNCGA will make the final decision as to whether the Gold Plan or the Silver Plan will be implemented in the 2016-17 academic year will be made by the UNCGA. The decision will be made in March.

SGA update: Jan. 28

The UNC Charlotte Student Government Association (SGA) had their weekly legislative meeting Jan. 28.

Messages from the Senate

Student body president Mitch Daratony said he is continuously brainstorming and trying to think of ideas to make UNC Charlotte’s campus more inclusive. He is ready to meet and speak with members of the SGA privately if they would like to make a suggestion.

Daratony informed members that the SGA reunion is scheduled for April 8 and 9. All previous student body presidents and SGA members will be invited to attend.

UNC Charlotte is also hosting the Association of Student Governments (ASG) banquet, which will be held on April 15 and 16.

Academic and Student Affairs Committees

The J. Murrey Atkins library will host a new exhibit starting Feb. 8.  The exhibit, titled From DNA to Beer: Harnessing Nature in Medicine and Industry, will run until March 20.

More updates are supposed to be coming on an art project for UNC Charlotte’s Prospector building.

Niner Nation: Different Together

Jasmin Rivers, Secretary for Diversity Affairs and Student Union, Activities & Recreation (SUAR) communications intern, announced a new campaign which is set to launch in the next few weeks.

Niner Nation: Different Together is a 4-month campaign whose aim is to address the lack of unity at UNC Charlotte.  Rivers explained that she wants the campaign to connect students by uniting them over their differences.

The campaign is set to last until late April and will include social media campaigns, pop in events, group and panel discussions.

NC Bond Pack of 2016

Betty Doster, Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Constituent Relations, attended this week’s SGA meeting to discuss the NC Bond Pack of 2016.

She encouraged students to participate in the Statewide Primary Elections in March.

If the Bond Pack is approved, $90 million of the $2 billion appointed to UNC system schools, will go towards the restoration of UNC Charlotte’s Burson building.

UNC Charlotte hosts seventh annual 49ers4life blood drive

On Jan. 28, UNC Charlotte collaborated with the American Red Cross to host the seventh annual 49ers4Life blood drive.

This year, the Blood Drive collected 768 pints of blood, which is enough to save over 2,000 lives in local hospitals.

The blood drive was held in the Barnhardt Student Activity Center and lasted all day, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

It took 15 different student groups, the student health organization and 400 volunteers to pull the event together.

With an original goal of raising 1,000 pints of blood, event organizers placed signs and advertisements all around campus to increase participation.

Students donate blood during the seventh annual 49ers4Life Blood Drive. Photo by Maria Saenz.
Students donate blood during the seventh annual 49ers4Life Blood Drive. Photo by Maria Saenz.

Despite the fact that organizers were unable to meet their goal, American Red Cross account manager Laurie Walker is still satisfied with the turnout.

“We had a great blood drive with a ton of student participation. Faculty and staff also really jumped on board this year and many came out to donate. We are so thankful,” said Walker.

All of the donors Jan. 28 received free T-shirts that read “I Bleed 49ers Green” and ice cream. Food was offered to the donors from various restaurants and, in addition, over $2,000 was given out in prizes and giveaways.

Blood donations help save the lives of cancer patients, heart surgery patients, accident victims suffering from serious injuries and pre-mature babies.

According to the American Red Cross, over 41,000 blood donations are needed every day.

However, only 30 percent of the general population is eligible to donate blood and factors such as current health condition, height, weight and where a person traveled are all considered when deciding if a person would make a good donor.

The blood that was collected at the 49ers4Life Blood Drive was stored in iced coolers and transported to a testing facility near the amusement park Carowinds.

There, it went through multiple tests for safety.  The donated blood must remain iced the entire time.  It will eventually be made into packaged blood products and sent to local hospitals.

Senior Communications student at UNC Charlotte Tori Summers, always tries to donate blood when she has the opportunity.

“It’s important to me because I know it saves lives.  It’s such a great opportunity to give back and help someone in need,” said Summers.

To determine if you are eligible to donate blood, potential donors are encouraged to read the guidelines on

SGA update: Jan. 21

The UNC Charlotte Student Government Association (SGA) had their weekly legislative meeting Jan. 21.

Messages from the Senate

Vice President of the Student Body Jared Dobbertin started off the meeting by reminding SGA members that Betty Dosler, special assistant to the chancellor for constituent relations, will be attending the student senate meeting next week.

She will be addressing questions about the $2 billion Connect NC bond pack.

As a reminder, $980 million dollars of the bond pack is allocated for the University of North Carolina (UNC) system.

Dobbertin also stated that SGA has five empty senate seats that it is looking to fill.

Belk Plaza pulic forum

The first Belk Plaza forum, which is open for participants to share ideas, will be held on Feb. 1 from 4-6 p.m. in Cone University Center’s Lucas Room.    

Academic and Student Affairs Committees

Meetings are being held to plan out the college forums.  Each individual college will be responsible for putting on a forum and all are expected to be done by mid-March.

The Library Student Advisory Board has been formed.  It will meet once a month on Tuesdays.

New student organization

One new student organization, Souls’ Speak, has been approved by the senate.

Approved Grants

A financial bill supporting student organizations has been approved.  Various student organizations received a total of $8,994.89 in grant money.

The Apportionment Act

Internal Affairs Committee Chair Andre Jefferies proposed a new act to create additional senate representation of the student body.  Jefferies said that UNC Charlotte’s student body population has grown in recent years and two additional seats should be added to represent the freshman class.

The act caused a lot of debate, since the senate currently has five empty seats it has yet to fill.

Pharmaceutical companies value marketing over creating new, innovative drugs

Dr. Jennifer Troyer, associate dean for research and graduate programs, partnered with Dr. Denis G. Arnold, professor of management and surtman distinguished professor of business ethics at UNC Charlotte, to write a 23-paged paper on pharmaceutical marketing and innovation.

Troyer and Arnold conducted research that found that pharmaceutical companies are willing to spend more money on marketing drugs that are similar to what is already on the market, rather than spending money on developing and producing innovative drugs that can really help people.

The former also requires considerably less time and effort.

“Many scholars have argued that large pharmaceutical firms have emphasized the marketing of expensive, new drugs that are no better than existing generic or over the counter drugs as a business strategy rather than developing truly innovative new drugs,” said Arnold. “Our study is the first to investigate this issue empirically.”

While this business approach might be financially safer for pharmaceutical companies, it is disadvantageous for the general public.

There are people with many diseases and a slew of health problems who are in dire need of new drugs that will help their ailments.

In their paper, titled “Does Increased Spending on Pharmaceutical Marketing Inhibit Pioneering Innovation?”,  Troyer and Arnold point out that the problem stems from the U.S. patent laws.

An excerpt taken from their paper states, “If the benefits of new drugs with patent protection are negligible in comparison to alternative therapies (e.g., over-the-counter medication, generic prescription medications, or lifestyle changes), then patent protection and the high cost of these drugs, is difficult to justify.”

Instead, pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars marketing the drugs that they already have patent rights over.

Troyer and Arnold note in their research paper, “The pharmaceutical industry has seen an overall rise in expenditures on marketing coincidental with the FDA’s change in policy that permitted direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) on television.”

They add that not all of the marketing methods used by pharmaceutical companies have been legal.

Throughout the course of Troyer and Arnold’s study, the pharmaceutical industry has paid billions of dollars in penalties for using illegal marketing strategies.

Arnold and Troyer list off-label marketing, which is when companies promote uses and benefits of a drug that were not previously approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); as well as physician kick-backs, which is when doctors are paid by pharmaceutical companies to prescribe drugs, as just a few illegal marketing strategies that are being employed.

“The persistent utilization of illegal marketing in the pharmaceutical industry, despite the significant financial and reputational costs, is one indication of the important role of marketing in enhancing revenues,” taken from Troy and Arnold’s research paper.

Troyer and Arnold list five recommendations for policy makers to remedy the issues that are hindering innovations within pharmaceutical companies.

One such recommendation is to modify the Internal Revenue Code to make all marketing expenditures non-tax refundable.

At the moment, most marketing expenditures are.

As for what the general public should be aware of, Arnold says that, “We should all be mindful that many studies have demonstrated that prescription drug advertising is misleading and typically downplays the risk of the drugs while overstating the benefits.”

“Does Increased Spending on Pharmaceutical Marketing Inhibit Pioneering Innovation?” was published in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law Jan. 5.

Students rally in support of Brazil catastrophe

UNC Charlotte senior Hannah Lacombe has started a GoFundMe campaign in an effort to raise money for the contaminated water disaster in Brazil.

A dam eruption in Brazil Nov. 5 and sent toxic mud through towns and villages, killing multiple people and leaving over 600 homeless.

The explosion was caused by multiple safety violations by a Brazilian mining company and an Ango-Australian firm.

The tragedy is being called the worst environmental disaster in the history of Brazil.  The toxic mud is so dangerous, it has killed plants and animals, as well as contaminated an vital source of drinking water.

“The [toxic] mud flowed into one of the region’s main rivers – the Rio Doce – which provides for the livelihood of many cities and towns situation along it. Among those cities is Valadares, [which] relies on the Rio Doce as its sole water supply.  The water from the Rio Doce is no longer able to be treated for human consumption, leaving thousands of people without drinking water,” explains Lacombe.

One of the cities in Brazil that was affected the most is Governador Valadares.

Lacombe heard about the urgency of the situation from a friend who lives in Brazil. He explained to her that the situation was so dire, numerous commercial trucks carrying drinking water were hijacked. This led to the trucks having to be escorted by the police.

“Governador Valadares is a city of more than 260,000 inhabitants.  My friend told me that within 30 minutes of parking the [water] truck, they passed out all of the water that they had brought, but there were still thousands of people waiting to receive some,” said Lacombe.

Before the mining disaster, Hannah Lacombe visited Brazil through UNC Charlotte’s “The Economics of Poverty” study abroad program. It was after this trip that her friend from Brazil helped her make connections with his friends from a church denomination in Governador Valadares.

Lacombe has partnered with this same church, La Igrega Presbiteriana do Brasil de Linhares, to raise money in hopes of helping alleviate the problems caused by the drinking water being contaminated.  The church has been working with citizens to deliver water to the people of Governador Valadares.

“The money that I raise through the GoFundMe campaign will go to that church who, together with the administrative help of a well-known federal prosecutor in Governador Valadares, will buy and deliver drinking water to those in need,” said Lacombe.

The situation in Governador Valadares is getting more strained every single day. Videos are being released on the internet of people overrunning trucks carrying drinking water. Lacombe hopes to start sending out 5-gallon jugs of water as soon as possible.

“I discovered that $5 will buy and cover the delivery costs of a 5-gallow jug of water. Although this is not a long-term solution, it is an appropriate response to an immediate crisis situation where human lives and health are at stake,” saidLacombe.

She views this as a temporary and fast solution, one in which UNC Charlotte’s students and faculty can easily participate in.

If you want to help Lacombe in her efforts to alleviate the suffering in Brazil and provide the residents with clean drinking water, please visit

Dancing for the kids

From Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. until Nov. 8 at 7 a.m., UNC Charlotte hosted its third annual Dance Marathon, a 12-hour event celebrating year-long efforts to raise funds for the Levine Children’s Hospital.

Headed by Executive Director Emily Grassett, a UNC Charlotte senior majoring in Political Science and Philosophy, the leadership team that raises money for the Levine Children’s Hospital and organizes the Dance Marathon consists of 98 members.  It is an organization that is part of a much larger Children’s Miracle Network.

Children’s Miracle Network is a national non-profit organization that aims to raise money for children’s hospitals all across America.  UNC Charlotte is one of many universities, including Duke University and John Hopkins University, which work with the organization.

UNC Charlotte was one of hundreds of universities that held their Dance Marathons on the eve of Nov. 7.

The Dance Marathon is an opportunity to honor those involved in the organization, the members of the community who contributed their time and money for the cause and the families whose lives were changed by the donations made.

“This is our celebration. We’ve worked hard for the last year and this is the point where we celebrate for 12 hours by dancing, eating tons of delicious food and meeting some of the families we have been able to impact,” said Grassett.

The planning stage for the Dance Marathon began back in August of this academic year.  The event organizers faced multiple challenges going into the third year of the fundraiser and dance marathon.

“We weren’t the new kids on the block, but we also weren’t yet a tradition.  It was all about getting people interested in us and reminding them why the previous years were so much fun,” said Grassett.

She adds that the organization had to work at spreading the word and getting the message out on campus without bombarding or become a nuisance.

Another challenge event organizers faced was entertaining the public for 12 straight hours.  The Dance Marathon incorporated a variety of entertaining activities.

Throughout the night, a lip-sync battle and a disc jockey battle were held.  Students performed all kinds of different dances ranging in style and the culture they evolved from.  An example of one such dance was the kizomba, a sensual dance which originated in Angola.

Throughout the night there were different theme hours to change the music up.  Some of these hours were hippie hour, during which people were invited to dress up as a hippie, throwback hour and the popular rave hour, when glow sticks were handed out and the music changed to club music.

At 8 p.m. an hour after the start of the Dance Marathon, Norm the Niner arrived. During that hour the activities centered on Charlotte sports.

As the excitement began wearing down towards the early morning, the

morale team, which also organized the different themed hours, had the important job of hyping everybody up.

What made this year’s Dance Marathon different from the first two years was that the pool of entertainers during the first two years stayed relatively the same, this year that pool expanded.

“We said to ourselves ‘What haven’t we tried before’ and really pushed the limits,” said Grassett.

Over the course of three years, UNC Charlotte’s branch of the organization raised a total of over $100,000.

Grassett hopes to see the Dance Marathon continue on for many years to come. On a visit to Purdue University, where the Dance Marathon has been held for over 20 years, she watched the school raise $100,000 in just one day.

“It was spectacular to see other schools do something like that after such a long period of time. It really makes me want UNC Charlotte to have the Dance Marathon become that one thing one campus that everyone does and owns,” said Grassett

More importantly for Garrett, it is about so much more than 12-hours of dancing, food and entertainment.

“Our slogan is FOR THE KIDS.  That is what it all comes down to.  As much work as this takes, seeing the families we were able to impact come out is a little reminder that everything we do is for the kids.  It feels special to be a part of something big like that,” said Grassett.

Although the UNC Charlotte Dance Marathon has raised over $100,000 over the course of the past three years, there is no actually fundraising taking place at the marathon.

Instead, the event is more in the spirit of celebrating what they have accomplished and how much they have raised for families in need.

Photos by Leysha Caraballo.