The Carolinian interviews Glenwood Neighborhood Association President Elizabeth Keathley
The lives of UNC-Greensboro and the Greater Glenwood Neighborhood Association (GGNA) have become increasingly intertwined with the former’s expansion into the Glenwood neighborhood along Gate City Boulevard.
UNCG views this expansion as accommodation to increased enrollment and an exciting sign that interest in the university is higher than ever.
The neighborhood residents and GGNA, however, are torn on the matter.
Some residents have expressed their enthusiasm for the partnership between the university and the neighborhood.
Resident Liz Gagnon wrote in an email to the GGNA that she is “very pleased about the positive energy the new Chancellor is bringing to the table.”
But not everyone is pleased with the way UNCG has approached the expansion.
Two weeks ago, on Saturday, Jan. 30, Elizabeth Keathley, president of GGNA, spoke with The Carolinian about her grievances.
A main fault she sees with UNCG-GGNA relations is that there has not been enough dialogue and interaction between the neighborhood and the staff at UNCG.
There are several residents, Keathley included, who both live in the neighborhood and are a part of the faculty at UNCG, which complicates the personal level of support for each side of the dialogue.
She informed The Carolinian that although there had been talk of Chancellor Gilliam visiting the neighborhood to meet residents, “he didn’t come to the neighborhood until [The GGNA] called for mediation.”
Chancellor Gilliam’s first opportunity to meet residents was at a meet-and-greet back on Jan. 29 at 4:00 p.m., which many residents found to be an odd time for a meeting as many are still working or are on their way home at that time of day.
Chancellor Gilliam expressed during the meet-and-greet that he hopes to find a more convenient time for meetings in the future.
Keathley noted that she does not yet know Gilliam, saying, “He may be perfectly sincere.”
However, Keathley argued UNCG’s response to the controversy over Glenwood is a troublesome trend. “The minute [UNCG is] in trouble or something looks bad for them,” Keathley said, “then they come out and put on their happy-show.”
She informed The Carolinian that, in the past, UNCG has had a pattern of hosting “hollow rituals of participation,” which she referred to as the forums and meetings offered by UNCG that are advertised as opportunities for students, faculty and neighborhood members to offer their input and ask questions, but that are actually set up to simply promote the interests of UNCG.
Keathley stated that the GGNA has requested “a serious, face-to-face sit-down with the Chancellor” to discuss the issues at hand, which she and the other Board members felt would not be accomplished in a meet-and-greet setting.
According to Gilliam, he is willing to discuss issues with anyone who sends him an email.
“If there are issues, present them in writing to me…then we will have a conversation about it,” Gilliam said.
Gilliam said that “[he has] not been presented with one issue, period.”
He also asserted that the GGNA told him that he had to meet with the Board about the unresolved issues, and that mediation is necessary.
Keathley noted that the Vice Chancellor of Business affairs, Charles Maimone has been a sort of middleman between the GGNA and UNCG.
“[the GGNA] has had many meetings with him,” Keathley said. “He knows what the issues are with the development.”
One goal that all parties can agree on is the hope for a productive and symbiotic relationship for the future.
Disagreements arise over the discussion of how to get there.
As specified by Keathley, with a conflict that expands back over six years, it is important to address trends in communication and interaction that have failed in order to make strides towards more conducive relationships in the future.
Maimone commented on the tensions of the past at the July 9 Design meeting.
“We cannot do anything about the past; we need to move forward,” Maimone said.
Keathley told The Carolinian that “every time there is a conflict between us and UNCG we’re always the ones who have to yield.”
She stated that, over the years, UNCG has “never made a mistake; they never apologize…whatever they did in the past was perfect, and it’s going to be perfect in the future.”
At the meet-and-greet, Chancellor Gilliam expressed that, from his experience, he has learned to appreciate and utilize community knowledge as the university and the neighborhood “[have] a shared fate.”