Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Truth About Linda Brady's UNCG Wreck Center

I met with folks from UNCG and Greensboro College yesterday and was filled in on some little known facts about the UNCG Recreation Center that UNCG Chancellor Linda Brady is credited with. Now bear with me as I'm writing this from memory:

The $90 Million Dollar UNCG recreation Center wasn't Linda Brady's idea. It's even doubtful that she could imagine such a thing. Local developers and contractors first devised a plan to have the areas private colleges and universities build these monstrosities using a combination of municipal funding and private donations. The plan was for Guilford College, Greensboro College, Bennett College, Elon University and High Point College to build and build far beyond their present borders while paying inflated prices for construction.

This is evidenced by the fact that UNCG's recreation center is costing $90 Million to build whereas the high tech, state of the art lab building at the Nanocenter was completed for only $60 Million Dollars. Since when did gyms become more expensive to build than high tech labs?

The recreation center was originally supposed to be built by Greensboro College. The problem is: Greensboro College couldn't keep their own doors open and ended up caught up in financial scandals that almost bankrupted the entire college. A bankrupt college building a $90 Million Dollar recreation center was not going to fly in the press.

There were big plans for Bennett College as well but Bennett also ran into financial difficulties. Dr Johnetta Cole was hired to bring Bennett back to life and did so but judging from my many personal conversations with Dr Cole, she was an educator, not a real estate developer, and had no such interest in perusing such an agenda under her reign.

As has been seen at High Point University, Nido Qubein has followed the developers' plans to a tee. And because High Point University is a private university no one has looked very hard at where the money comes from or how it is spent.

The Elon Law School in downtown Greensboro is another such example of a developer driven university expansion. Does it really make sense to have a campus separated from the rest of the university by 20 miles? It does if the goal is to sell a particular building and funnel money into the pockets of certain contractors and developers over others.

This is troubling because the doners to these causes are getting tax write-offs for contributing to causes that benefit their own financial interests. It's what makes the "public-private" model as it is currently practiced, so dangerous. I mean, think about it, what if you could get tax credits for donating to yourself? This is what Greensboro's foundations are designed to do if you happen to be a developer or contractor. As a matter of fact: most get back more in business than they donate while our real charities struggle to survive.

Linda Brady was hired by Tom Ross and others to build the UNCG recreation center and bring about the gentrification of the Glenwood neighborhood. While using the state university system leaves more trails than using private colleges it also provides more and bigger funding options and when these projects were brought to UNCG they grew in size, scope and cost.

Brady's supporters blindly follow her because they want UNCG to become the #1 school in the UNC system-- something Brady attempted to do in hiring Paul Mason to re-brand the school into the greatest in the system rather than deal with the many academic, employee abuse and structural issues that hold the university back.

I was surprised during our conversation at how many of the same names that I keep turning up when I investigate City of Greensboro political issues kept coming up again and again. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, these people run everything else in Greensboro, why not our colleges and universities as well?

Believe me or not, it's your choice. Unlike my usual blog post I've presented no evidence today. But rest assured, I no longer do this alone, history has shown that is no longer the work of just 1 man and is in-fact the work of many local activists who cross party lines and political ideologies to rid Greensboro of corruption. And we will.

Correction: Tom Ross was hired after Linda Brady was hired and it would be assumed was not responsible for her hiring.

Update: In the comments below, Lex Alexander of Greensboro College clarifies in his official capacity. I appreciate his being forthright and honest in bringing us up to speed.