The HB2 Economic boycott of North Carolina does not seem to extend to the pharmaceutical industry. Aurobindo Pharma USA has announced 275 new manufacturing jobs will come to Durham. The New Jersey-based company makes generic pharmaceuticals. They’re investing about $32 million in a new research and development facility that will employ production operators and quality-control specialists. The company is part of a conglomerate headquartered in India. They’ll bring an annual payroll of about $17 million to Durham County.
The search for a new dean for the College of Arts and Sciences has concluded. Dr. Jeff Frederick from the Department of History has been appointed to the position, formerly held by Mark Canada, who took a provost job in Indiana. Frederick joined the UNCP faculty in 2003. Chancellor Cummings made the announcement at the April Board of Trustees meeting. Frederick will take over from interim dean Dr. Meredith Storms on June 1. Frederick has chaired the history department for a year, and recently won a UNCP teaching award.
A plan to consolidate the schools in Robeson County has been getting mixed reviews. The proposed plan would close 30 schools and renovate five. The plan also includes construction of 13 new schools, plus a new career and technical high school. County residents who oppose the plan say they want new schools but not by crowding students into fewer schools. Parents are worried about long bus rides and the loss of a sense of community when neighborhood schools are closed.
Absentee voting began last week for the June primary in North Carolina, for 16 congressional districts, including District 9, where Scotland and Robeson Counties now fall. The June primary resulted from a court order to re-draw district lines that had been gerrymandered by race. The State Board of Elections is urging people to vote by mail so that high school graduations and summer vacations don’t keep people from going to the polls. Stand-alone primaries like this one suffer from low voter turnout, yet the state supreme court is another primary race being determined on June 7th.
In light of campus protests and high-profile boycotts of North Carolina, Governor McCrory this week issued Executive Order 93, which makes small concessions to HB2 opponents. In it he affirms the right of local governments to establish non-discrimination policies, but only for their own government employees. He expanded the states’s policy to protect government employment regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, but some states agencies already covered that. In the order he asks the General Assembly to reinstate the right to sue in state court for discrimination. McCrory hasn’t budged on the issue of gendered bathrooms and locker rooms, the most sensational part of HB2. McCrory ended his video message this week by asking God to “continue to bless the great state of North Carolina.”
Dr. Robin Cummings was officially installed as the sixth chancellor of UNCP on Friday April 8, in a two-hour ceremony in Givens Performing Arts Center. Faculty marched from the Jones Center in full academic regalia, joining staff and students for a series of speeches and musical performances that included singing of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” and “Amazing Grace.”
With local politicians and dignitaries from other colleges in attendance, Dr. Cummings was presented by UNC system president Margaret Spellings, although Governor McCrory did not show up as planned. The Cummings family joined the Chancellor on stage for the swearing-in. A video message from friends and previous employers preceded the chancellor’s own remarks. A public reception was held afterwards in the main gym.
At Appalachian State University in Boone, students ended their occupation of the administration building this week. Student activists had been in the building for six days, demanding their chancellor to make a public statement opposing House Bill 2. Previously they marched in the streets, blocked traffic, and demonstrated outside Chancellor Everts’ house. Everts did release a statement against HB2 but did not explicitly offer amnesty to employees who helped the students, which was one of the protestors’ demands.
UNCP had the most wins at the Model United Nations Conference in Charlotte this month. The team of 28 students earned 11 awards, including recognition for individual position papers and for delegations. The team also took home the highest honor–Outstanding Delegation–for their representation of Russia. The Braves made UNCP the most successful school there, in terms of total number of awards. But it was also the only school to win for more than one position paper. Model U.N. is led by Drs. Kevin Freeman and Kirill Bumin in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration. The team has won 29 awards over four conferences this school-year, making them Pembroke’s winningest team ever.
North Carolina has been inappropriately blamed for contributing to air quality problems in the Northeastern part of the U.S. That’s the position of the state’s environmental agency, which has filed a complaint against federal officials. Northeastern states filed a petition in December of 2013 to try to force some other states to control their emissions. The EPA has yet to take action on the petition. A lawyer from North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources says that’s a violation of the Clean Air Act. The agency is suing the EPA and says the Northeastern states failed to demonstrate that North Carolina’s power plants had any impact in the Northeast.