Chancellor: UNC-CH academic oversight failed for years
Posted January 23, 2014
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Chancellor Carol Folt told University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill trustees Thursday that the school failed its students by not providing adequate oversight of courses that have been at the center of an academic and athletic scandal in recent years.
A 2010 NCAA investigation into the football program and player relationships with agents expanded into a probe of how the nation's first public university provides academic help to athletes and fraud in a department where large numbers of student-athletes were enrolled. Academic violations included a tutor providing improper help on research papers, as well as classes that didn't meet and unauthorized grade changes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies.
"Carolina preceding toward meaningful athletic and academic reform is requiring us to fully acknowledge and accept lessons of our past, and I think that these are messages that I believe have not been made clear enough to the Carolina community and to the public," Folt, who took the reins at UNC-Chapel Hill last July, told trustees.
"Offering courses that are unsupervised was not reflective of the standards that we expect for our university, and many students were involved in those courses. All of those students involved in those courses deserved better from us," she said. "We also accept the fact that there was a failure in academic oversight for years that permitted this to continue. This too was wrong, and it has undermined our integrity and reputation."
At one point during her remarks, Folt took a deep breath, paused and said, "OK, let's breathe."
A 2012 investigation led by former Gov. Jim Martin found problems dating to 1997 and placed blame on Julius Nyang'oro, former chairman of the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, and a retired administrator. No athletic officials were involved, Martin said.
Nyang'oro was indicted last month on a charge of obtaining property by false pretense in connection with the $12,000 he was paid to to teach one of the no-show classes in the summer of 2011.
Nyang'oro had no comment on Folt's remarks, according to his attorney, Bill Thomas.
"Mr. Nyang'oro will reserve any comments about this issue for the courtroom," Thomas said in an email to WRAL News.
UNC-Chapel Hill is still in the early stages of reforms to ensure similar problems don't recur, Folt said, noting that faculty members take the responsibility seriously.
"We will always be changing, always be improving, and when we do it right, we will always be leading," she said.