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A congressional budget session almost as long as Santa's gift list has yielded some early Christmas presents for UNCG: almost $2.7 million for research and programs.

The money, approved late Friday night in an appropriations bill for the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, will allow UNCG to continue a peer-tutoring reading program, as well as to establish a program to prevent abuse involving deaf and hard-of-hearing children and a center for tinnitus research.The bill was expected to be signed by President Clinton on Tuesday.

In all, UNCG received almost$4 million this year in congressional appropriations, said Peter Alfonso, associate provost for research.

``The highest amount we have gotten in a single year was $750,000,' he said. ``We've put a lot more effort in to this year.'

That effort included hiring a private consultant in Washington to lobby for UNCG needs and encouraging faculty members to write more requests for congressional funds, Alfonso said.

The $2.7 million was part of a proposed $1.8 trillion federal budget, held up for months. The Republican-controlled House and Senate seemed especially at odds with the Clinton administration about spending proposals for Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.

As a compromise, Congress cut departments of Labor and Health and Human Services projects across the board by about $4 billion, said Ed McDonald, chief of staff for Rep. Howard Coble of Greensboro.

About $1.8 million of the money UNCG will receive in fiscal year 2001 will go to ``Reading Together,' a national peer-tutoring reading program pairing fifth-graders with second-graders.

The program already is used in 11 states and will be expanded even more with the federal funds, said Dan Farsaci, executive director.

``It's a continuation of an attempt to get seed money to improve the quality of reading for children, not only in North Carolina but the entire United States,' he said.

Farsaci said Tuesday that he had not yet received official notification of the approval.

Another $737,000 will be used for a program called Violence and Abuse Prevention and Education for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and their Caretakers.

UNCG will create the program to prevent abuse as well as increase awareness among deaf children. UNCG also will receive about $184,000 for tinnitus research and to create the UNCG Tinnitus Center for Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. More than 40 million Americans are estimated to suffer from tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.

The center will teach those affected by it how to cope while seeking treatment. Also this year, UNCG received $298,000 for its Children's Health Life Skills Initiative, which includes development of a national healthful life skills model, $500,000 for bioterrorism research on water sources, $198,000 for early detection of crop diseases and $250,000 to help reduce violence in Washington, D.C., public schools. UNCG won't get the $2 million it had hoped to use in preserving historic campus buildings.

That measure, which would have entailed a five-year program to preserve the buildings at seven campuses including UNCG, passed in the House, but was put on hold in the Senate. Coble, a co-sponsor of the bill, will try to get it passed again next year, said McDonald, the congressman's spokesman.

\ Contact Allison Foreman at 373-7064 or at


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