Roses and raspberries, May 8

May 7, 2013 

Roses to Chancellor Holden Thorp for not going gently into the night.

At a time when many departing leaders might have one foot out the door, Thorp has been speaking candidly about his experience and offering suggestions for change.

Many of the suggestions – divorcing athletics from South Building, chief among them – fly in the face of some who came before, such as the venerated Bill Friday, who called for athletic reform a generation ago.

But Thorp’s perspective gives weight to his proposal. On many scores, the chancellor excelled. Under his leadership, UNC joined the top 10 campuses for federal research and development dollars. Applications for admission soared.

But athletics brought him down, and if some don’t want to hear Thorp’s recommendation to put athletics wholly under the athletics director, perhaps it is because they don’t want to acknowledge that big-time college sports has outmuscled academics and the job has become too big for one person.

Similarly, in a provocative interview with WCHL’s Jim Heavner, the chancellor says if he had his druthers, he’d have the flagship campus answer to one set of leaders, rather than two elected boards at the whim of whatever political winds are blowing.

Thorp will be missed, and he has had his critics. But in all the struggles there was never a doubt where his heart lay. He remained accessible and frank. As the chancellor prepares to send off his last graduating class this weekend, we say congratulations and thank you.

Roses from special services teacher Dawn C. Jackson to the Culbreth Middle School PTSA.

In observance of Teacher Appreciation Week, the PTSA announced it would have food for faculty and staff.

“That was a huge understatement!” Jackson writes. “They didn’t have food for us, they had a FEAST for us every single day! The tables seemed to sag from all the weight of the food: salads, meats, pasta, fresh fruit, brownies, cakes, bagels, pizza, casseroles, veggies, barbecue, etc. We were as excited as little kids having five surprise birthday parties in a row!”

In addition, every faculty and staff member received a gift card of their choice from a variety of restaurants and stores.

“You have never seen a happier bunch of teachers, cafeteria staff, counselors, custodians and office staff,” Jackson writes. “Culbreth’s PTSA goes above and beyond! All of us at Culbreth say THANK YOU to the best PTSA ever! It was a wonderful week and well worth the extra 10 pounds we all gained!”

Raspberries to the organizers of a forum on rural transportation for not providing a way for people who need it most to get to the meeting.

As staff writer Tammy Grubb reported last Wednesday, Orange, Chatham and regional leaders are mapping out goals for the next four years of rural public transportation funding.

The focus is primarily on the elderly, disabled and low-income residentrs who count on public transit.

But in a room full of people last month, only three fit that bill.

Even residents who use Triangle Transit or Orange Public Transportation would have had to find a way to get to downtown Chapel Hill to pick up a Chapel Hill Transit bus to get to the Southern Human Services Center on Homestead Road for the meeting.

Still with us?

Grubb’s transportation series last year and reader Nancy Watkins’ recent three-part commentary on her own exeriences as a person with disabilities outside the Chapel Hill Transit’s EZ-Rider service boundaries trying to get groceries have well laid out the dichotomy here.

As the regional inches closer to a billion dollar light rail line, we continue to strand rural people in need.

The least that forum organizers could have done was to try to hear from a few more of them.

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