JRE's Future, Pt 2
CHAPEL HILL -- The whole vice president thing didn't quite work out, and the "senator" title will only apply for another month.So how does "Professor John Edwards" sound?
It sounds pretty good to officials at UNC, who would love to bring the soon-to-be unemployed Edwards back to the Chapel Hill campus, where he and his wife earned their law degrees.And, in fact, Edwards has made at least one somewhat indirect mention of his interest in returning to UNC's law school in some capacity.
Law School Dean Gene Nichol started discussions with Edwards several weeks ago by writing to the U.S. senator. Since then, the two have discussed the possibility of Edwards teaching in some capacity at the law school, Nichol said this week."I have indicated to John that we would love to have him be a part of our program," Nichol said. "I'm sure he's considering a million different things.
This might be one of them. He's indicated he's interested."UNC Chancellor James Moeser said this week he has had no direct contact with Edwards about a possible faculty appointment or other role in the law school. But like Nichol, he welcomes the idea."This university would be very interested," Moeser said. "It's something we'd like to pursue."
Edwards, 51, just concluded a three-day farewell tour of North Carolina. According to a report in The Charlotte Observer earlier this week, he said working at UNC's law school or at another prestigious university "would be on the list that I'd want to think about."His press secretary, Mike Briggs, said Thursday that Edwards thus far has been noncommittal about his future. He has plenty of options but is most concerned with helping his wife through cancer treatment.Elizabeth Edwards recently was diagnosed with breast cancer and is being treated at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.
"He's had a lot of interesting offers," Briggs said. "He has said the most important thing is to get Elizabeth well. He's concentrating on that."Edwards will complete his six-year term in the U.S. Senate on Jan. 2. He chose not to seek re-election, opting instead to serve as John Kerry's No. 2 in the Democrats' unsuccessful bid for the White House.
Elizabeth and John Edwards each received law degrees from Carolina in 1977 and have been involved with the school ever since. The couple has donated money to the school, and John Edwards has spoken there as well.Though Sen. Edwards hasn't yet decided what his professional future holds, it likely will include work on a few of his pet issues, which include terrorism, national security, health care and poverty, Briggs said.At UNC's law school, Edwards pretty much could do what he wants, Nichol said.
He said he wouldn't expect the senator to seek a full-time faculty position.But with Edwards' reputation and experience as a trial lawyer, his contribution as a part-time professor, guest lecturer or in some other capacity could be valuable, Nichol said."He's a great lawyer, a pretty powerful communicator, and a strong expert in a number of fields," he said. "I've told him we would be extraordinarily interested, whether it be for a lifetime or for whatever period."
Ed Turlington, a Raleigh attorney who led Edwards' unsuccessful presidential campaign before the senator became Kerry's running mate, said he has heard no indication that Edwards is interested in working for UNC.Then again, Turlington said, he wouldn't rule it out, either."Both Sen. Edwards and Elizabeth have a warm place in their hearts for the Carolina law school," said Turlington, himself a 1982 UNC law graduate. "I would not be surprised if he spent time on the Carolina campus and at the law school when he leaves the Senate."
The family soon will be local. They recently bought a 102-acre land plot in Orange County with plans to build a home there where the couple will raise their two young children, Emma Claire, 6, and Jack, 4.The couple paid $1.3 million for the land, which is on the northern side of Old Greensboro Road. They plan to continue living in Washington, D.C., until early next year, when Elizabeth's cancer treatments end, Briggs said. They then plan to move back to North Carolina and likely will live in their house in Raleigh while the new home is built in Orange County."He definitely wanted to come back to North Carolina," he said. "He just wants somewhere where the kids can breathe some fresh air, run around and have fun."The Edwards' land is within the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district.
Pat Neville and her husband, Gordon, live near the Edwards land on Old Greensboro Road, and gave Elizabeth Edwards a tour of their land last summer before the family decided to buy the property.Workers have been busy clearing trees and putting in a rough road on the heavily wooded property for an apparent home site, Pat Neville said Thursday.But Neville said she had spoken to no one representing the family and didn't know their exact plans.Workers "are definitely working on the lot," she said. "There's somebody down there all the time."Orange County has received permit applications for a well and septic system on the property, but not for a building permit, said Craig Benedict, the county's planning director.
Herald-Sun staff reporter Rob Shapard contributed to this article.JOHN EDWARDS BIOBorn: Seneca, S.C. (raised in Robbins, N.C.)College: N.C. State University, graduated with high honors in 1974Law school: UNC, graduated with honors in 1977Career: Edwards spent 20 years after law school representing families and children allegedly hurt through others' negligence. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998, serving on the Select Committee on Intelligence. This year, he ran president this year, eventually being tapped as John Kerry's running mate on the Democratic ticket.Family: Edwards met his wife Elizabeth when both were law students at Chapel Hill. They were married in 1977 and have had four children, including their eldest daughter, Catharine, a student at Princeton University; another daughter, 5-year-old Emma Claire; and a son, 3-year-old Jack. Their first child, Wade, died in 1996.
Interesting, EC is 6, Jack is 4..