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News Release

For immediate use

Feb. 4, 2005 -- No. 41

Photo note: To download photos of Edwards, see end of the release.

UNC-Chapel Hill creates Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity;
names former Sen. John Edwards as director

CHAPEL HILL -- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is launching a Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity that will be led by former U.S. Senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards.

The Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity will be a nonpartisan initiative, bringing together UNC-Chapel Hill faculty and other national public policy experts to examine innovative and practical ideas for moving more Americans out of poverty and into the middle class. The center will have an advisory committee of senior faculty representing multiple disciplines across campus. In addition to leading the center, Edwards also will serve as a guest lecturer on campus.

"John Edwards is a distinguished Carolina alumnus, and we are delighted that he will return to campus to bring together todayís best minds to focus on issues that affect us all," Chancellor James Moeser said.

Edwards spent six years in the U.S. Senate. In that time, he championed policy initiatives such as raising the minimum wage, expanding the earned income tax credit, creating matching savings accounts for low-income families, and providing incentives for teachers to teach in low-income schools. Edwards also focused on poverty during last yearís presidential campaign.

"The time I spent at Chapel Hill gave me many of the tools I have used all my life to help those who are struggling, and I am so proud that I will be able to continue this work and also give something back to UNC-Chapel Hill," Edwards said. "As director of the center, I will work to explore creative approaches to the difficulties that families in poverty face every day."

"John Edwards will be a marvelous resource for faculty and students across campus," said Law School Dean Gene Nichol. "His life experiences as well as his time as senator and vice presidential candidate make him ideally suited to lead this new center."

At UNC-Chapel Hill, Edwards will hold a part-time, two-year, fixed-term faculty position. He will be designated a University Professor and hold an Alumni Distinguished Professorship, which is funded by private gifts to the University. It takes effect Feb. 14.

Edwards is a 1977 graduate of the School of Law. His wife, Elizabeth Edwards, earned her bachelorís degree in English and a law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. She has served on the Universityís Board of Visitors since 2001. The Edwards family plans to move to Chapel Hill this spring.

Through its teaching, research and public service, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an educational and economic beacon for the people of North Carolina and beyond. Carolina was the nationís first state university to open its doors and the only public university to award degrees in the 18th century. Today, UNC-Chapel Hill ranks among the nation's leading public universities and belongs to the select group of 61 American and two Canadian campuses forming the Association of American Universities.


Photo URLs:

John Edwards

Edwards at Carolinaís 2002 Spring Commencement

Contact: News Services contact: Lisa Katz, 919-962-2093 or

Note: To contact poverty center staff, email