New UNC president asks students to ‘give her a chance’

(Dedrick Russell | WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – University of North Carolina (UNC) system’s new president Margaret Spellings came to Charlotte on Monday for a visit. She started in this new role on March 1 and she is on a listening tour.

Students are preparing to protest the president’s visit when she tours UNC Charlotte. Some believe Spellings’ past work at a for-profit college proves she will eventually raise tuition. Spellings tells WBTV that’s not true, she is for affordable tuition.

“We do not take tuition increases or increased resources for granted,” Spellings said.

Other critics believe some of her documented decisions as former Secretary of Education show she is not as inclusive as some may want her to be. She tells the students to give her a chance before judging her.

“I think once people get to know me and understand my longtime commitment and passion for public education in our country, and at the state level, they’ll see I put my money where my mouth is,” Spellings said.

Spellings is also in town to drum up support for Connect NC $2 billion bond referendum. Some of the money will go toward improving buildings on college campuses.

If approved, UNC Charlotte would get a $90 million new science building. Educators claim that the current UNC Charlotte science building doesn’t have enough space and the building can’t handle the new technology needed to help students stay competitive.

“If we are going to have best in class research labs, partnerships with the private sector, places that these students can work on the very best equipment and so forth, we need physical places and the best quality equipment to make that happen,” the president said.

Spellings will continue her visit in Charlotte Tuesday. She will meet with students and protesters. The president told WBTV how she will treat students who have criticized her.

“Go see them in their home institution and begin a dialogue. I don’t expect to agree with everyone all the time obviously, but I think we will find out we have a lot in common, particularly when it comes to garnering support and resources from the legislature over the months and years,” Spellings said.

Copyright 2016 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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