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birky last won the day on March 8 2014

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Whistle-Stop (3/14)



  1. Any updates on the roll out of either Google or AT&T? Feels like there's been near complete silence, and I can't find info on which areas will see service soon.
  2. I'm going to dispute some of what you mentioned in part 2. There are certainly some graduate programs which rank somewhat well at the national level. And there are some faculty are well established in their fields. But the reason why international students make up more than a fifth of all graduate enrollment isn't because of the school's reputation abroad. First, there is limited interest in computing and engineering disciplines among domestic students in the US, especially when it comes to computer science, information technology, and certain engineering fields (electrical and mechanical being the primary ones). Schools like UNC Charlotte have to rely on international enrollment in order to keep these programs alive for domestic students and to attract and keep quality researchers. Every single one of the programs mentioned above would prefer to decrease international enrollment if it meant greater representation by domestic students. And that's not speculation on my part. That's not to say, in any terms, that international students aren't great students (they are) or that they don't do great work (they do). But they aren't coming here because of UNC Charlotte's reputation. They often come here because they know someone else, either through family or through school, that also came here. It's still largely word of mouth. But take Indian students, who make up the majority of the international students at UNCC - they are not coming from IITs or NITs, which are considered the top public institutions in India. Those students to go Carnegie Mellon or other high-ranking schools. Instead, they are coming from second-tier institutions, which often lack the resources of US schools. I can also say that for many international students, UNCC was not their first choice. So make of that what you will. A big part of what drives university prestige is both the quality and volume of research. While UNCC does produce some quality research, it's not at the same volume of NCSU or UNC. That's probably the bigger difference between the schools at this point. UNCC is classified as a Tier II research institution based on the number of doctoral research degrees it awards annually. They just recently jumped from III to II. UNC and NCSU are classified as Tier I. And there are some big hurdles in closing that gap. First, schools tend to be very territorial about who can offer what programs. If you want to be classified as Tier I, you have to graduate more PhDs and that means offering more programs. UNC, NCSU, ECU, and UNCG will all fight UNCC if they already offer a competing program in the same discipline. Second is that you have to be able to adequately fund these research programs. UNCC's small endowment is a major issue in this regard. The gap between UNC and NCSU is massive, but the gap between NCSU and UNCC or ECU is equally as massive (roughly $1 billion). That's such an advantage in terms of what you can offer faculty and graduate students (some schools can afford to fund master's students similar to PhD students; UNCC can't). As a research institution, UNC Charlotte fills a space ahead of non-research schools like App State or Asheville. It's roughly on par with ECU and UNCG. But the likelihood of it closing the research gap on UNC or NCSU in our lifetimes is, frankly, remote.
  3. Ok, maybe I am seeing this incorrectly, but it looks like the gold line has ROW in those images. No?
  4. CO article on Bardo and Yume: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/business/biz-columns-blogs/whats-in-store/article162536028.html
  5. At the rate this is going, I expect my neighborhood will see Google Fiber sometime in the early 2200s.
  6. UNCC is terminating their on-campus transit agreement with CATS and moving to run the service in-house, starting this fall. Name is tentatively "Niner Transit". The university is purchasing a number of new buses that will carry UNC Charlotte branding, but those won't be ready until 2018. The new service will include 3 lines (silver, green, gold) serving more of campus than the current arrangement with CATS, and will include extended operating hours and greater route frequency. The University is also launching a bike sharing system called "Charlotte Wheels", with 10 rack locations & 100 bikes. The bikes are through Gotcha. Starting this fall as well.
  7. Heard from a trusted source: 5 stories, stick-built with podium parking. Quick Trip out front.
  8. It's a thought, I guess. Although I'm not sure why you argue that a city can't have both great urbanism and an efficient public transportation system that offers access to lower-middle class and working-class individuals. Your argument, and correct me if I'm wrong, seems to be based on the premise that such a system isn't cheap. I'm just basing that on the fact that both of the articles you link focus on cost. But is cost necessarily a problem? Look, I think we all agree that government waste is a concern; we all want government to be run as efficiently as possible. But don't we also want government to be run well? And do we acknowledge that doing something well doesn't necessarily mean doing it cheaply? Neither of the articles you supplied actually reference a real-world study of a privatized public transportation system. The first is pure speculation, and the second is based on a working paper which argues that most cost savings of a private transit system would come from the elimination of collective bargaining with public sector unions. Neither of these articles actually suggest that such an option would increase urbanism or in any way better serve the lower-middle or working-class. It certainly might cut costs at the expense of public workers, and I guess shave off [literally] a few dollars in taxes for you and I every year. But we collectively invest in things like public transportation as a social good: to improve the standard of living and spur economic development (by the same principles we invest in things like clean drinking water and libraries). We invest in things publicly for different reasons than private companies do. We recognize that not all workers have access to reliable personal transportation, and these individuals play important roles in the local economy. I think it's highly questionable that markets can do (and would do) a better job than the city/state in providing infrastructure, including transportation. They may be able to do it more cheaply, but they may not be able to provide the same social good. There's just far too much focus here on $ and not enough focus on people. With regards to urbanism, Charlotte continues to face a big problem with its extreme socioeconomic segregation. While I'm obviously in favor of investing in public transportation, the big question facing the city this century is how to address gentrification. We've already seen it in south Charlotte. We're seeing it now in Belmont, Villa Heights, etc. We will see it in Biddleville and other neighborhoods along the Gold Line. Urbanism relies on more than just connectivity provided by public transportation; it also needs mixed-use and diverse neighborhoods, including socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods. Unless Charlotte starts to require more affordable housing in new developments in the city core, we won't get the type of urban environment we all want to see.
  9. Just FYI: this degree planning stuff isn't secret information. It's published on the University's website: http://provost.uncc.edu/curriculum/planning "Request to plan" means given the green-light for the academic department to plan out what that degree program would look like, and obviously the request to establish is the actual OK to create the program.
  10. It's not as toasty if you enter through the center field gate.
  11. Thanks. I now have a subtitle for my forthcoming coffee table book, "The Parking Decks of Charlotte: Uptown Stunners"
  12. That's no pond, it's a reservoir of beige paint for all of uptown.
  13. The CO article once again mentioned CATS' plan for a $6 billion splurge on additional light rail lines. Given extremely low interest rates, and that bonds are typically fairly easy to pay off over time due to inflation (not to mention expected future tax revenue as the city grows), would a bond referendum make sense as opposed to another tax hike? I'm sure the annual debt service would be significant, but could the city afford that in order to fund the full build-out?
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