Back to October 2008 home page

Triangle

Educators learn tough lesson 

In Durham, N.C. Central University lives up to its name — sitting just one county away from the geographic center of the state. So what would you call its campus outside Atlanta? Trouble.

Four years ago, N.C. Central set up a small satellite campus in Lithonia, Ga., at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, which claims more than 25,000 members. Its pastor, Eddie Long, graduated from N.C. Central in 1976 and joined the board of trustees in 2002. Problem was, N.C. Central hadn’t gotten the approval of the UNC system or its accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Officials belatedly sought approval earlier this year, says Belle Wheelan, president of the accrediting association’s Commission on Colleges. When it was denied in June, N.C. Central shut down the Lithonia campus. Now it must come up with a plan to help students finish work in an approved program.

UNC President Erskine Bowles said in a statement that he was disappointed the school had ignored UNC policy and that the system was working with Chancellor Charlie Nelms to fix the problem. “This circumstance is one of many problems Chancellor Nelms inherited when he arrived last year,” Bowles wrote. Former Chancellor James Ammons, now president of Florida A&M University, didn’t return phone calls. In a letter to the Raleigh News & Observer he blames the problem on a “grave oversight,” not an attempt to circumvent the approval process.

It’s not the first time N.C. Central has had accreditation problems. Three years ago, its business school’s accreditation was yanked for failing to submit a self-evaluation form on time. Upon getting it back, university officials vowed to improve how they handled accreditation issues.

Spokeswoman Miji Bell declines to comment beyond a prepared statement that concludes: “The university accepts full responsibility for the situation and is working with UNC system officials to make a determination on how best to proceed.” Long, for one, hopes the campus can be resurrected. “We are confident that the accreditation issues will be resolved soon and that NCCU can once again offer their distance education program at New Birth.”

Lab fails pols’ tests

In a region proud of its life-sciences industry, a lab employing hundreds might seem like a good fit — the kind of economic-development project that politicians would salivate over. But many in the Triangle have turned their backs on one proposed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to research biological threats. In mid-August, Durham County became the latest local government to oppose it — commissioners cited fears of disease outbreak — joining Raleigh and would-be host county, Granville. It also got a thumbs-down from U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, a Raleigh Democrat whose district includes Granville. The county is still one of five on the department’s short list, but all that pushback can’t help its case.

 

MONCURE Performance Fibers plans to lay off about a third of its 400 local employees by early next year. The Richmond, Va.-based company, which makes polyester to reinforce tires and for industrial fabric, blamed slumping sales, foreign competition and higher costs.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARKTalecris Biotherapeutics, which makes drugs and other products from blood plasma, agreed to be acquired by Australian rival CSL for about $3.1 billion. It employs about 2,100 at its headquarters and a plant in Clayton. No layoffs have been announced.

DURHAM — The Durham Bulls minor-league baseball franchise is the nation’s 17th most valuable, according to Forbes magazine, which estimated its worth at $17.2 million.

CARY — Software maker SAS Institute purchased IDeaS Revenue Optimization of Minneapolis, which makes software for hotel chains. Customers include Hilton, Hyatt International, Mandarin Oriental, Intercontinental Hotels Group and Fairmont Hotels. It employs about 200. Terms were not disclosed.

CARYEpic Games is working with Redwood, Calif.-based Electronic Arts to develop a video game. They wouldn’t say what kind. Epic, which employs more than 100, developed the hit Gears of War and is preparing to release a sequel next month. EA’s lineup includes the popular Madden football series.

MORRISVILLERaleigh-Durham International Airport will open a $570 million terminal late this month. It will replace a smaller one built in the 1980s for an American Airlines hub and be used by passengers on American, American Eagle, United, Air Canada and Charter Express flights.

DURHAMTrueBridge Capital Partners began operations after raising $310 million, exceeding its goal of $250 million. TrueBridge plans to invest primarily in venture-capital funds.

RALEIGH — Three hospitals are competing for 41 beds state regulators say will be approved in Wake County this year. WakeMed wants to build a women’s hospital in north Raleigh. Winston-Salem-based Novant Health proposes a community hospital in Holly Springs. Rex Healthcare hopes to expand its main Raleigh campus.

DURHAMDow Reichhold Specialty Latex, which makes products used in textiles and construction, will shut down by the end of the year. It employs more than 200, with more than 50 jobs at the headquarters here. It is a joint venture between Midland, Mich.-based Dow Chemical and Durham-based Reichhold.

RALEIGHN.C. State University raised $1.4 billion in a seven-year fundraising campaign, more than double its goal of $600 million. The money will be used, among other things, for construction, faculty research and more professors.

CHAPEL HILL — New UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp cut ties with Durham-based Hatteras Venture Partners and put his equity stake into a blind trust. His brother, Clay, is general partner.

DURHAMQuintiles Transnational sued a former vice president for breach of a noncompete agreement. The drug researcher wants a court to prevent Elaine C. Messa from working for Washington-based competitor Becker & Associates for six months and to award it more than $75,000 plus unspecified punitive damages. It also wants to bar her from contacting Quintiles customers.

CARYQimonda, a German maker of computer memory chips, cut about 20 jobs at its North American headquarters, leaving it 280. It blamed a glut of chips.

DURHAMInnerPulse, which is developing a new defibrillator, laid off 18 of its 50 workers after the device suffered a testing setback. Engineers are trying to redesign a faulty part.

DURHAMMechanics & Farmers Bank laid off 10 employees, leaving it with 90. It also closed two branches in Durham and one in Charlotte. All of those it acquired from Mutual Community Savings Bank in March remain open.