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210 Pittsboro Street, Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
(919) 962-2091   FAX: (919) 962-2279


Not for publication

May 22, 2000 -- No. 299

Local angles: Greensboro, Seagrove, Morrisville

Tar Heel Bus Tour faculty to visit school, pottery mecca, high-tech dry cleaners

Friday, May 26

Participants on the fifth day of the Tar Heel Bus Tour will visit Dudley High School in Greensboro, Luck’s Ware, part of the famous Seagrove pottery trail, and Hangers, a brand new high-tech dry cleaners that just opened in Morrisville.

The privately funded classroom on wheels starts Monday (May 22) and will stop in Greensboro, Seagrove and Morrisville on Friday (May 26) before returning to Chapel Hill. In a weeklong road trip spanning more than 1,000 miles, 30 new faculty and officials new to North Carolina will visit a dozen sites across the state aimed at enhancing how their teaching, research and public service work can help improve the state.

Carolina is among a handful of major public universities that take newcomers to the far reaches of their states. Since the inaugural tour in 1997, almost 100 participants have journeyed from Beaufort on the coast to Chimney Rock in the mountains and points in between. They have held tobacco leaves, trawled in fishing boats and had breakfast with the chief executive officer of the Bank of America. They have leapt from a 34-foot paratrooper tower, sped around a motor speedway in an official pace car, observed a father and son making pottery in Seagrove and visited a Civil War fort. And they have square-danced to bluegrass music and nibbled on North Carolina barbecue and soft-shell crabs.

After five intense days on the road, participants come home to Chapel Hill with an awareness of the state’s culture, economy, history and new friends from departments across campus. They see some of the places 82 percent of Carolina’s undergraduate students call home. And, organizers hope, they are inspired to develop projects and research that address the challenges facing the state.

Fridays schedule includes these stops:

7:30 a.m. Dudley High School, Greensboro.

10 a.m. Luck’s Ware, Seagrove

3 p.m. Hangers, Morrisville

In Greensboro, the group will learn about the Partnership for Minority Advancement in the Biomolecular Sciences, a consortium begun more than a decade ago by UNC-CH that includes seven historically minority universities.

The consortium introduces biomolecular science into public school and college classrooms across the state in response to growing concerns about a science teacher shortage, a decline in the number of Americans pursuing graduate degrees in science and a lack of diversity within the sciences. Principal Ken Thompson will discuss Dudley’s role as a magnet school, followed by discussion of the partnership program by Dr. Walter Bollenbacher, who directs the effort and is a UNC-CH biology professor. Teachers LaToy Kennedy and Betty Brown will help demonstrate the partnership’s biomolecular science curriculum and hands-on experiments through "The Mystery of the Crooked Cell," a module that involves determining if a hypothetical patient has sickle cell anemia.

In Seagrove, the group will stop at Luck’s Ware, where Phillip Woodhall, executive director of the N.C. Pottery Center will speak. The private non-profit foundation promotes public awareness and appreciation of the history, heritage and ongoing tradition of pottery-making in North Carolina. The group also will visit with Sid Luck, a fifth-generation potter who began turning pots at age 12. He opened Luck’s Ware in 1987. His oldest son, Jason, graduates from UNC-CH this spring. Also joining the group will be Terry Zug, chair of the Curriculum in Folklore at UNC-CH.

In Morrisville, bus tour participants will learn how research conducted by a faculty colleague and students has created a spin-off company called Micell Technologies Inc. that led to a new dry-cleaning store empire based on environmentally friendly technology. The faculty member is Dr. Joseph DeSimone, the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished professor of chemistry at UNC-CH and chemical engineering at N.C. State University.

In 1995, DeSimone and two of his UNC-CH students founded Micell Technologies, which commercialized a heat-free dry cleaning process that is better for the environment and easier on clothes. The company’s patented system uses detergents that dissolve in liquid carbon dioxide – the same natural substance used to carbonate soft drinks. This process eliminates the need for conventional dry cleaning solvents such as perchloroethylene (perc) and frees dry cleaners from regulatory burdens linked with such solvents. In North Carolina, Micell’s dry cleaning stores, called Hangers Cleaners, just opened in Morrisville. Other locations include Wilmington and the Triad. In all, development of the Hangers brand is underway in more than 20 states.

DeSimone is co-director of the Kenan Center for the Utilization of Carbon Dioxide in Manufacturing – a not-for-profit research organization sponsored by 16 corporations worldwide. In July, DeSimone became director of the Science and Technology Center for Environmentally Responsible Carbon Dioxide Processes, established by the National Science Board under the auspices of the National Science Foundation. The center will study environmentally safe solvents. DeSimone’s research, conducted at UNC-CH, also formed the foundation for DuPont’s plans to expand its Bladen County facility into a world-scale Teflon facility. DuPont is currently building a $40 million pilot facility at this site. If the technology proves successful, DuPont plans to build a larger facility, representing a potential $275 million investment.

Interviews: Tour hosts and participants are available for print and broadcast interviews at stops or by cellular phone by making arrangements through News Services, (919) 962-2091, or University Relations staff members Scott Ragland or Gary Moss on site. For additional information about the university, the Tar Heel Bus Tour, tour participants, directions or site visits, call News Services. Additional background about the bus tour can be found at:


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