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TV Program Spotlights Bond Referendum’s Benefits to Western North Carolina

rankin.jpgBOONE–If voters fail to pass the $3.1-billion bond referendum Nov. 7 for the UNC system and community colleges, the state’s educational and economic future will be shortchanged, according to university leaders.

“We’re going to have to limit enrollment, because it’s not fair to the people you bring in to give them a second-, third- or fourth-rate education. The question we’re really facing is, do we want to limit the educational future of the state of North Carolina?” says Chancellor John Bardo on the cable television program “Appalachian Perspective.”

“Appalachian Perspective” is a program of Appalachian State University. The 30-minute episode “Funding Higher Education in 2000″ airs throughout September in Watauga County, weeknights at 6 on cable Channel 39 and Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. on cable Channel 2.

This episode also airs on cable outlets in Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Raleigh, Newport, Kannapolis and Asheville.

Hosted by Appalachian’s Chancellor Francis T. Borkowski, the program features Bardo and UNC Asheville Chancellor Jim Mullen. They discuss how the bond package will affect the educational and economic future of Western North Carolina.

A “yes” vote on the bonds will provide the funding mechanism for the most urgent repairs and renovations needed on UNC’s 16 campuses and the state’s 59 community colleges. The bonds also will provide additional facilities needed to accommodate the surge of new students projected to enroll in the North Carolina’s public colleges and universities during the next decade. In the past, the state has financed projects on a pay-as-you-go basis.

In particular, science labs built in the 1950s and ’60s at Appalachian, UNCA and Western will be repaired and upgraded so students can perform experiments using up-to-date technological and safety standards.

Additionally, Appalachian will construct a new information commons to replace its aging library designed for only half the number of students the university now enrolls. UNCA will upgrade its student union, also built for far fewer students than the campus enrolls. Western will upgrade several older buildings on its campus.

According to the chancellors, if North Carolina wants to provide the best education possible for tomorrow’s citizens and leaders, institutions must have appropriate facilities in which to educate them.

“The need is more critical than at any time in the history of the university,” says Mullen. “What we’re talking about here is opportunities for students to compete in the world. I don’t think there’s a more important decision that voters of North Carolina could make right now.”

“Appalachian Perspective” is produced by Appalachian’s Office of Public Affairs. Private contributions to the Appalachian State University Foundation Inc. funded this episode.

For more information, call Producer Linda Coutant at (828) 262-2342.

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Picture Caption: Science labs built in the 1950s and ’60s, like this one in Appalachian State University’s Rankin Science Building, are among critical areas needing upgrades at Appalachian, Western Carolina University and UNC Asheville. Overcrowding and out-of-date technology and safety standards are common traits in the three institutions’ science facilities.