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Committee Not Giving up on UNC-Rocky Mount

Posted March 29, 2007

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— A committee in favor of creating a University of North Carolina campus in Rocky Mount says it is not giving up its fight, despite a recent commission study advising against the proposal.

The study, out this week, suggests not enough students in the area meet the academic requirements to attend what would become the University of North Carolina at Rocky Mount.

In part, the report highlights that "a significant portion of the lowest-performing high schools in the state are in the Rocky Mount area" and that to attract students from surrounding counties, admission standards would need to be set "quite low."

The report also suggests that "too few students in the area leave high school well prepared to pursue a college degree."

Members of the community have lobbied for months to turn private North Carolina Wesleyan College into the 17th campus in the UNC system. They believe the incentive of a local university campus will help fix education problems.

"It's an awful indictment to say to a kid, 'You (aren't) smart enough to go to college,'" said UNC-Rocky Mount Ad-Hoc Committee Chairman Tom Betts.

Betts proposes a mentoring program in local schools to help fill a local UNC school with qualified students.

"It is an insult to the student," Betts said. "That educational system they are part of clearly needs improving."

The report points to an 8 percent drop in students attending UNC schools from the Rocky Mount area from 2000 to 2005. The commission also says the estimated $200 million cost to get UNC-Rocky Mount started may be not be practical for the state.

Members are already working on a formal detailed response to the feasibility study report.

The commission -- led by UNC-Wilmington Chancellor James Leutze -- did recommend investments in the Rocky Mount area, such as learning centers and visiting professor programs.

The UNC Board of Governors will make the ultimate decision on whether to add a Rocky Mount campus. It is expected to take up the issue at its next regular meeting in May.

WRAL tried contacting Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools for this story, but no one would comment on the study.

3 Comments

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  • ladyconnigget Mar 30, 2007

    I think this is very unfair. I am from Rocky Mount. I graduated from Rocky Mount Highschool and now I am number 1 in my class at North Carolina State University. I was accepted into the Engineering program and have excelled. I am not the only one from Rocky Mount to be successful in my academic career. Many of my friends have also succeeded in college.

  • rangerchef Mar 29, 2007

    Just saw this story on TV. Some free information for ya - pick another spokesperson. That guy was a disgrace....prime example of not enough qualified people in the area.

  • Ladybug Mar 29, 2007

    I don't think this is reported fairly. The board is not saying that students shouldn't go to college. They just said that SAT scores are low in and around Rocky Mount and ECU is only 40 miles away. This area is not known to be very acdemic, but I'm sure there are very smart students in the area, there just aren't enough to endorse Weslyn to become a University.

    There also seems to be some very narrow minded people in the area such as the man that couldn't speak good English when he was interviewed for the TV news cast.