Education

Chancellor: UNC-CH academic oversight failed for years

Posted January 23

— 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.

68 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • 1jalapeno Jan 24, 1:49 p.m.

    I'll bet that many North Carolinians would rather have the Tarheels in the top ten in football and basketball and let the academic standards for athletes slide as low as necessary in order to get the required talent. If you don't lower your standards you just can't compete year in and year out in the top echelon.

  • whatelseisnew Jan 24, 1:43 p.m.

    How refreshing to see someone actually admit GUILT.

  • 45ACP Jan 24, 12:00 p.m.

    Are the athletes Illiterate? Just listen to them during an interview and decide for yourself..........

  • mike275132 Jan 24, 10:59 a.m.

    I Shocked , Shocked I tell you !

    Professional Athletes [ er.. I mean students] in the UNC training camps can't do University level work and take fraudulent classes?

    " 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."

  • Objective Scientist Jan 24, 10:52 a.m.

    Addendum to last comment: Two-three-four "bad" courses, including those that did not "meet" and required a paper only, does not "degrade" significantly one's education at any university. Is the education less than what it could have been if all courses were GREAT? Yes... but you still get a good education if all else is as it should be. The main issue with this matter at UNC is not so much a "degradation" of a degree matter as it is a means of keeping athletes eligible! The "hand-wringing" about the degradation of a degree is a means of deflecting attention from the keeping athletes eligible issue!

  • Objective Scientist Jan 24, 10:44 a.m.

    It is so sad that lack of oversight hurt these poor students education.

    — Posted by MrX--

    I was a student at 3 different times for 3 different degrees at UNC. It is very unlikely that anyone's - athlete or not - education was significantly "less" only because they took one or two of those "no meet/paper only" courses. Over the years UNC has required undergrads to complete ~120 credit hours with a 2.0 GPA to earn a degree. In earning an undergrad degree there will always be some courses that were, for all practical purpose due to poor or distracted professors, not very good, you didn't get much out them, some even "worthless". I can think of about 3-4 during my undergrad years I'd categorize as "not very good to worthless"... 3-4 classes out of approximately 40 3-credit, a few 4-credit hour courses. I still got a "very good" education. However, all of my classes met as scheduled. UNC did fail regarding oversight of the Afro-African American courses, but also failed on oversight of "independent studies".

  • MrX-- Jan 24, 9:30 a.m.

    It is so sad that lack of oversight hurt these poor students education.

  • gtcolvin Jan 24, 8:10 a.m.

    Cbuckyoung: “Get rid of woman's studies or African-American studies and such majors and much of the fraud will go away.”

    Does “such majors” also include American studies, Southern studies, and European studies? Because we all know that these groups have a “narrow minded view of history” and that these are “majors based on made up grievances.”

    And what about American Indian studies or Jewish studies? Are these also “identity majors” based on fictitious grievances?

    When I read ill-informed comments such as yours, I am even more convinced of the need for these kinds of majors.

  • Objective Scientist Jan 23, 7:49 p.m.

    I was not impressed with the Board of Trustees' body language during Folt's address.....we shall... View More

    — Posted by dws

    Agreed... I noticed the "body language" also. If I were on the BOT for UNC-CH... or on the BOG for the UNC System... I'd have several questions that the Chancellor and other UNC administrators would definitely NOT like!!!

  • dws Jan 23, 7:23 p.m.

    I was not impressed with the Board of Trustees' body language during Folt's address.....we shall see what we shall see.

More...