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May 3 UNC-TV Program Explores The University of North Carolina Facility Needs

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK–Some East Carolina University students take classes on a loading dock. Fayetteville State University has students living in a hotel and worrying about transportation to campus. UNC Charlotte has a cap on enrollment because there is no room for more students. These are not isolated cases. Campuses throughout the UNC system daily hold classes in outmoded, deteriorating, potentially dangerous buildings.

From science labs to residence halls, the University system’s infrastructure is in great need and so far, no long-term solution has been found. The Klein Report, a recent facilities study, found $6.9 billion in repair and renovation needs for the system’s 16 campuses. Meanwhile, UNC is bracing to accommodate an additional 50,000 students by the year 2008.

A Building Crisis, premiering Wednesday, May 3 at 8 p.m. on UNC-TV, takes a

comprehensive look at the University of North Carolina’s facilities needs. UNC-TV producer Shannon Vickery visited each campus and interviewed chancellors, legislators, professors, students, economic experts, policymakers, and other officials. What she found was a true crisis. UNC President Molly Corbett Broad, Senators Howard Lee and Tony Rand, Rep. Art Pope, UNC Board of Governors Chairman Ben Ruffin and N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry Chairman Phil Kirk are among the interview subjects.

The program will be rebroadcast Friday, May 5, at 10 p.m., Sunday, May 7, at 1 p.m. and Sunday, May 21, at 6 p.m.

The hour-long program shows crowded classrooms, dilapidated buildings, poor ventilation, inadequate storage space, exposed lead paint, leaky roofs, moldy walls, and other problems that the campuses face. Science labs are not properly configured for safe experiments and are ill equipped for current research. Classrooms, study areas and other educational spaces cannot host computers or connect to the Internet because of old wiring. Modern, donated equipment cannot be used due to lack of space. Interviews with professors and chancellors show a growing concern that, because of these problems, North Carolina students will fall behind or increasingly elect to attend school out of state.

But these facilities needs did not occur overnight. Long-term state policies and a swelling student population helped to lead to today’s problems. A Building Crisis explores how the Legislature has traditionally funded building needs and capital improvement, and how UNC’s percentage share of state funding has decreased over the last few years. Graphics from the Klein Report provide cost breakdowns for the needs. Vickery includes several interviews with legislators on the Joint Select Commission on Higher Education Facilities Needs as they tour ECU.

There is also the larger question of how the needs of the University’s campuses shape the larger community, including the North Carolina economy. Policymakers reveal how the problem could adversely affect the workforce, including growth and technological development in Charlotte and Research Triangle Park. Will a solution be found in time? “We face a serious problem, and it’s a problem of such magnitude that only together will we be able to solve it,” says UNC President Molly Corbett Broad in A Building Crisis.

UNC-TV is North Carolina’s only statewide broadcasting system, made possible through a unique partnership of public investment and private support. UNC-TV is committed to producing and broadcasting programs for and about North Carolina, making it one of the state’s most important sources of information.

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