Bowles Brings 'Listening Forum' to ECU
By John Durham
Erskine Bowles says the state’s public universities “haven’t been very good at listening.” He intends to change that.
Bowles, president of the
University of North Carolina system, was part of statewide series of “listening forums” that made its debut on the East Carolina University campus Sept. 10.
About 200 people attended the event in the Murphy Center to give advice and input to the UNC Tomorrow Commission, which is conducting the forums.
The commission has been charged by the UNC Board of Governors with determining how the UNC system can be more responsive to the needs of the state.
“I promise you that we will not leave your good advice on the shelf,” Bowles said.
“We will change. We will become more demand driven. We will serve the people of North Carolina.”
Individuals addressed the commission from the floor about concerns ranging from neighborhoods around the campuses to the education of Latinos.
Lawrence Davenport, a member of the Board of Directors of the Golden Leaf Foundation, said, “The best thing the UNC system can do is address the needs of rural North Carolina.”
Tom Taft, a lawyer, cited the need for increased science and math education and the UNC public schools. He urged the creation of a major scholarship program for science and math majors.
Susanne Sartelle, president of the Pitt Greenville Chamber of Commerce, said the well-being of eastern North Carolina depends on the UNC system, ECU and the health care system.
David Brody, a member of the ECU Board of Trustees, said ECU should be a partner with UNC-Chapel Hill in developing a health care vision for the state of North Carolina.
Mildred Council, a member of the Greenville City Council, said the UNC system can do a better job with historically black colleges and universities. “We need to celebrate all our institutions equally,” she said.
Inez Fridley, a former Greenville city councilwoman expressed concerns about neighborhoods that surround UNC campuses. Bowles acknowledged those and other recommendations, saying they included:
• The importance of educating more teachers, especially more teachers of science and mathematics.
• The need for more nurses, doctors and health-care providers.
• The importance of students working in the community.
• The need to address the large number of dropouts from the public schools.
• The need to spread investments in technology beyond Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill to the rural areas.