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UNC system targets ‘learning differences’

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Tom Ross

Tom Ross

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The University of North Carolina system has been awarded a three-year, $3 million grant from the Oak Foundation in Geneva, Switzerland, to launch an effort to better address the needs of students who learn differently.

The initiative, using the principles of a system developed at East Carolina University in Greenville, will put the program into effect at there and at UNC-Greensboro and a third campus still to be named with the 17-campus UNC system.

A longer-term goal is to expand the program to three more UNC campuses and also partner with campuses within the North Carolina Community College System.

The UNC System aims to become the first public university system in the U.S. to intentionally meet the support   needs of students who learn differently, and the instructional-development needs of the faculty who teach them.

Research suggests 15 percent to 20 percent of current students have what are referred to as “learning differences,” or developmental strengths or weaknesses, or both, that can cause students who are capable of successful college attendance and graduation to struggle academically, UNC says.

“We know that North Carolina’s economic future hinges on our ability to get more of our young people better educated and equipped to compete for the jobs of tomorrow,” Tom Ross, president of the UNC system,  says in a statement.

The grant, he says, “will help us make our campuses places where talented students who learn differently can get the services they need to be successful in college and in life.”

The Oak Foundation, which originated out of an interest in the Duty Free Shoppers business that Alan M. Parker helped to grow, focuses its resources on issues of global social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged.

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