Monday, October 29, 2012
I am aware of the public petition being circulated on behalf of a veteran student whom UNC Pembroke denied in-state residency status last spring. First, let me put these residency decisions in context. On average, the UNCP Residency Appeals Committee considers fewer than a dozen petitions in an academic year, the vast majority of which are not military related. Even with such a small number, UNC Pembroke anguishes over all residency decisions, especially those concerning veterans. We pride ourselves on being a military-friendly institution, a designation we have earned for the past six years. Currently we serve more than 800 military personnel annually. We strive to provide services tailored to their needs, as illustrated by our Veteran Education and Transition Assistance Office (http://www.uncp.edu/veterans/), and, as part of our strategic plan, we are expanding our services by creating the Office of Military and Veterans Services.
Chancellor Kyle R. Carter congratulates new graduate CWO Paul Brown who had just returned from the Middle East before Spring Commencement.
I am unable to comment specifically about Ms. Perez’s case because the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act prohibits it. However, as a state institution, UNC Pembroke is required to evaluate residency petitions using a prescribed state process. The UNCP Residency Appeals Committee compares information provided by the student against North Carolina residency statutes. UNC Pembroke followed those procedures and, as reported in the press, determined Ms. Perez to be a non-resident. In keeping with policy, we advise all students, including Ms. Perez, that they may appeal our decision. As related in the press, Ms. Perez appealed to the State Residency Committee, which affirmed our decision as being consistent with current state law.
We are disappointed to read news reports of misleading statements attributed to Ms. Perez that tarnish UNC Pembroke’s excellent reputation and relationship with our military. While I cannot speak to Ms. Perez’s case specifically, I assure the public her case was handled professionally, deliberately and objectively.
We acknowledge that the determination of residency is a very complicated process that follows a set of rules prescribed by the State of North Carolina. It is our understanding that one of our sister institutions made a different determination regarding Ms. Perez’s residency. Different decisions do occur because of changes in an individual’s status and interpretations institutions make about information in the application. In part, this is why the state has an appeals process. As I pointed out before, Ms. Perez appealed UNCP’s decision and the State Residency Committee confirmed UNC Pembroke’s decision.
Ms. Perez’s case has become an emotional issue for those who care about our military personnel. UNC Pembroke cares too. I fully understand the emotion, but ask for your understanding; UNC Pembroke must follow state statutes in determining residency. That being said, as a leader in the UNC System, I acknowledge both state and federal laws are complex and could be modified to better serve our veterans, military personnel and their families. I and my UNCP colleagues look forward to working with all groups to advocate and promote common sense changes to make higher education more accessible to military personnel. In the interim, UNC Pembroke will continue to provide excellent service and support to all of our students, including those who have served our country so bravely and well in the armed forces.
Kyle R. Carter
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