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Just happy to be here

N.C. State University Chancellor Randy Woodson was a bit coy Thursday about a report in the Chronicle of Higher Education that said he was "widely considered to be a frontrunner" for the University of Florida presidency.

Perdue "distinguished alum" at University of Florida

Gov. Bev Perdue, who earned two education degrees at the University of Florida, will receive the university's distinguished alumnus award this year.

Perdue earned a master's degree in community college administration in 1974 and a doctorate in educational administration two years later.

“Bev Perdue’s achievements as a long-time public servant, a champion of education and now as governor of North Carolina certainly make her one of our most illustrious and accomplished graduates,” Catherine Emihovich, dean of UF’s College of Education, said in a statement.

The award is usually bestowed at commencement, said college spokesman Larry Lansford, and the university is working with Perdue's office to see if she'll be able to make it to Gainesville in May. The university would like her to give a speech.

"She's solid proof that a teaching degree can get you places in education and also help you along other career paths," he said.

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison nominated Perdue for the award.

Claims Dept: Perdue and the food tax

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beverly Perdue is airing a new ad touting her record in office.

What it says: The ad shows images of Perdue from her early life and her political career. A narrator says, "Bev Perdue. Neither of her parents finished high school, yet she became a teacher and earned a Ph.D. She's spent a lifetime fighting for the middle class — Smart Start for our kids, cutting the sales tax on food, saving our military bases from closure. In these tough times, she'll lead the way — a higher minimum wage, property tax relief for seniors, creating the jobs of the future. Bev Perdue, a governor for us."

The background: Perdue taught in public schools in Georgia and Florida from 1970 to 1974. She received a doctorate in education administration in March 1976 from the University of Florida.

Gov. Jim Hunt and the legislature created Smart Start, a statewide pre-school program, in 1993 when Perdue was in her second term in the state Senate. That year, Hunt appointed her as one of 16 initial members of a board to oversee Smart Start.

Then-Gov. Terry Sanford helped establish a statewide sales tax on food in 1961 to pay higher teacher salaries. It was supposed to be temporary, but it lasted almost four decades. Lawmakers cut it from 4 percent to 3 percent in 1996 and eliminated it two years later.

Perdue was co-chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee when lawmakers eliminated the tax. She voted in favor of doing so, but was not a champion of the cause. An unusual coalition of liberal lawmakers and anti-tax Republicans pushed for eliminating the tax, while the Senate’s leadership was less enthusiastic.

"I have long believed it is the wrong item to tax and there should be a total elimination," Perdue told The Charlotte Observer in August 1997. But, she added, "You have to look at fiscal responsibility. The priority, I believe, in addition to cutting the food tax, is to provide adequate funding for teachers and to clean up the environment."

Gov. Mike Easley appointed Perdue, as lieutenant governor, to lead the state's efforts to protect North Carolina’s military bases from closure by the U.S. Department of Defense. The multi-year process is designed to be insulated from political pressure, and it involved work from a large number of people, including the state's congressional delegation.

Perdue has called for increasing the minimum wage in North Carolina by one dollar to $8.25, from the minimum of $7.25 an hour set to take effect in July 2009.

She also says she favors expanding the state’s homestead exemption and freezing the property tax revaluations for seniors who make less than $50,000 and have lived in their homes for at least 20 years.

Is the ad accurate? Yes, though there is no way to quantify how much Perdue helped the state's military bases.

— David Ingram

Perdue's Ph.D. bio

A two-page autobiography from Beverly Perdue's 1976 Ph.D. thesis.
Download document

Last word on Perdue's thesis

Dome's copy of Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue's thesis is overdue.

But before we return it to the angry librarians at the Cameron Village branch, there were two more interesting trivia we found in it.

One was Appendix C. It's a copy of House Bill 892 from the 1975 session, a bill that authorizes state schools of higher education to allow people above 65 to audit courses without paying tuition.

As you may recall, Perdue's doctoral dissertation was a study of how seniors could benefit from more schooling. Although she earned her degree from the University of Florida, she had already moved to New Bern when she finished her thesis.

Also of note: Perdue's thesis appears to have been pretty well read.

From 1975 to 1985, it was checked out 36 times — no mean feat for a doctoral thesis on gerontological education — according to the "Due Date" stamps on the back page. 

Perdue's change of birthdate

How old is Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue?

In recent years, she's said she was born on Jan. 14, 1947. But older news sources say she was born in 1948.

The most notable is her Ph.D. dissertation, which says in a brief biographical sketch that she was born in 1948. Files at the University of Florida, where she studied in the early '70s, also say 1948.

A Perdue spokesman confirmed she was born in 1947, but he said she changed the year to please her first husband.

At the time she wrote her dissertation, she was married to Gary Perdue, an attorney. He was born on Oct. 6, 1947, making him seven months younger than she.

"At that time, it was the early '70s, it was something that was important to her husband — and to the marriage — not to be married to somebody older than him," said spokesman David Kochman.

The Perdues divorced in 1994. Gary Perdue died in 1997.

Perdue's dissertation

Beverly Perdue got her Ph.D. for studying how seniors could do better in college.

Senior citizens, that is.

The lieutenant governor earned a doctorate in education administration from the University of Florida in 1976. Her thesis was on the then-new field of "educational gerontology."

The 249-page thesis focuses on training teachers to work with the elderly and offering new opportunities for seniors to study at a college level.

"Education should be seen as a lifelong process," she wrote. "Institutions of  higher education in Florida should provide some type of educational experience for adults of all ages, including the elderly."

For her study, Perdue sent a questionnaire to Florida's state universities and community colleges to see what they were doing for seniors. She determined they were not doing enough.

Perdue's resume scrutiny

Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue's resume has come under scrutiny.

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate has said at different times that she has a Ph.D. in education administration, administration and education and aging and health care.

According to the University of Florida, it's in "educational leadership."

The campaign of Perdue's rival, state Treasurer Richard Moore, pointed out the shifts in her resume in e-mails to reporters this week.

"How many resume mulligans does a candidate for governor deserve?" asked Moore campaign manager Jay Reiff in an e-mail.

A Perdue spokesman shot back that this was "Jesse Helms smear tactics." (Char-O)

Bonus: The full title of her Ph.D. dissertation: "Guidelines for Gerontology in Florida's Public Institutions of Higher Education." No wonder she has trouble describing it.

Perdue's new deputy manager

Beverly Perdue's new deputy campaign manager is from Florida.

David Kochman, 36, will speak with the media, direct political strategy and do other work for the lieutenant governor's yet-to-be announced campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

A native of Philadelphia, Kochman has worked in the Sunshine State since graduating with a master's in political science from the University of Florida in 1995.

In Florida, he did constituent service work for Gov. Lawton Chiles, managed several legislative races and worked for Adkins and Associates, a political consulting firm in Coral Gables. In 2006, he worked for state Sen. Rod Smith's unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Kochman, who recently moved to Raleigh, involved in Perdue's campaign through mutual friends. He said he's excited about the strength of state Democrats in North Carolina.

"It's a welcome circumstance where Democrats are able to make a real difference in both policy and politics," he said.

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