05/06/05 — Chancellor visits Goldsboro on 'Carolina Connects' tour

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Chancellor visits Goldsboro on 'Carolina Connects' tour

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on May 6, 2005 1:48 PM

The chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, James Moeser, was in Goldsboro on Thursday as part of a campaign to strengthen connections between the university and the people who live across the state.

Through his "Carolina Connects" program, Moeser has been touring the state over the past year, looking for ways that the university can make a difference in the lives of residents in different areas.

Moeser said it is important that people realize what a research university can do for communities.

The way to get that message across, he said, is to meet people face-to-face.

Moeser quoted past UNC president Edward Kidder Graham, saying the borders of the university are the same as the state.

"Send us your problems," Moeser said. "And we think of how we can address the issues"

Moeser said he hits the road once or twice a week, visiting different parts of the state.

On Wednesday he was in Asheboro, visiting a high school and letting students know what's expected of them if they want to get into a four-year university.

"I also tell them that they'll make $1 million more over their lifetime if they get a college degree," Moeser said.

One of the programs that the university has instituted is the Carolina Covenant, which welcomed its first class of students to campus last fall.

Four Wayne County students entered UNC last fall as part of the program, which gives low-income students who are accepted to UNC the opportunity to pursue a baccalaureate degree without having to take on large debt.

UNC was the first major public university in the country to announce plans for such a program, Moeser said.

More than half of the Carolina Covenant Scholars are the first in their family to attend college, Moeser pointed out. The students often haven't had the chance to travel or haven't had the cultural enrichment experiences of students who come from wealthier families. So the university provides them with a mentor by matching them with members of the university's faculty and staff.

Ten percent of freshmen starting classes at UNC in the fall will be through the Carolina Covenant, he said.

Thursday's visit to Goldsboro gave Moeser a chance to talk with local research assistants involved in the Family Life Project.

The project, led by Dr. Lynne Vernon-Feagans, follows the lives of 1,200 children in rural North Carolina from birth to age 7 and documents the effects of poverty on their lives.

"There have been studies done in urban areas, but not in areas where the largest city population was under 50,000," Moeser said.

The research will provide information needed to design effective interventions for families that will be tested in the next phase of the research program, he said.

Carolina's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute is a partner on this initiative, which involves outreach in Wayne, Sampson and Wilson counties, as well as in three rural counties in western Pennsylvania.

Getting out into the communities has a two-fold purpose, Moeser said.

"I find out the work the university is doing in the local community and I get the opportunity to say what a research university means to the community," he said.