UNC trustees hear update on academic misconduct investigation

Posted July 26, 2012

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees heard Thursday about several efforts underway to ensure that academic misconduct that happened in recent years can never happen again.

A faculty panel has reviewed a recent UNC-Chapel Hill internal investigation into the African and Afro-American Studies Department, independent studies courses and services provided to athletes. The report is expected to be released soon, and leaders say they support the university’s reviews done so far.

UNC’s internal review found problems with 54 classes in the African and Afro-American Studies Department going back to the 2006-07 school year. Members of the Tar Heels football and basketball teams made up nearly 40 percent of the enrollees in those classes; nearly another 20 percent were student-athletes in other sports.

The report is also likely to recommend an outside consultant look at how athletics and academics intersect at UNC.

Chancellor Holden Thorp said the outside consultant will likely be a former chancellor or university president.

"That way, our stakeholders who are concerned that this will happen again, not only do they have our assurance that we addressed it, but they have a third party coming in and reviewing that (to) certify the changes that we are making," said Thorp.

Meanwhile, the UNC Trustees Chairman announced the group is close to hiring a firm to review the controls UNC currently has in place.

"We need to have some external validation that these measures are the best practices to ensure and help us avoid the problems that we encountered during the last year," said Wade Hargrove.

The Board of Trustees is expected to recommend a firm for the review sometime in the next week.

Last Friday, the university went before UNC system leaders to explain the steps they took to detect problems in the troubled department. UNC President Tom Ross appointed a panel of five from the Board of Governors to look into the internal investigation to determine if leaders did enough to detect academic problems and correct them. Friday marked their first meeting.

UNC leaders say that, in some cases, students turned in work with no supervision. In other situations, instructors’ names may have been forged on documents and grades changed.

At the center of the controversy is retired African and Afro-American Studies Department Chairman Julius Nyang’Oro, who is the listed professor for 30 of the classes in question. Nyang’Oro retired this summer but was first forced to repay $12,000 to the school for teaching a 2011 summer course as an independent study rather than a lecture.

Former department administrator Debbie Crowder retired in the fall of 2009. According to the internal investigation done by UNC, they are the only two directly involved with the irregular courses and fraud.

The State Bureau of Investigation is also looking what happened to see if there was any criminal activity going on, such as a possible conspiracy to conceal a crime.


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  • calfol Jul 27, 2012

    Everyone knew those courses were a joke.

  • Capt Mercury Jul 26, 2012

    Commercial athletics (let's call it what it is) and academics do not mix. Never has, never will. Let the schools use athletic games to general funds, but don't call the athlete a student when he spends most of the day (or week) training for his or her sport. Pay them if you want to, but don't try to act like they are some sort of scholar. That is, unless they really are. Then call them superman (or superwoman)!

  • DrJ Jul 26, 2012

    I have a simple solution. Since NC State is perfectly clean on such issues, I would appoint a panel to investigate that school thoroughly, so that UNC could adopt the same exact (successful) policies. Why do we need to reinvent the wheel when a paragon of excellence is waiting to be copied?

  • one Jul 26, 2012

    "According to the internal investigation done by UNC, they are the only two directly involved with the irregular courses and fraud."

    What as their motive?
    Why would they risk their reputation, career, retirement?

  • forautumn Jul 26, 2012

    "They appear to be worried not about the quality of the education but for the schools image. This like Penn State"


  • bstslave2 Jul 26, 2012

    "UNC President Tom Ross appointed a panel of five from the Board of Governors to look into the internal investigation..."

    So the UNC President (a UNC alum) picks 5 of his buddies (most likely UNC alums as well since 2/3 of the Board of Governors have ties to UNC) to make sure that the investigation that UNC did on itself is good enough to not investigate anything futher. And the OUTSIDE consultant that UNC will use to certify it all "will likely be a former chancellor or university president."

    What ever happen to the phrase "conflict of interest"?

  • UpChuck Jul 26, 2012

    "so they were on their way up."

    8-5 and lost to State. When you illegally recruit talent, talent that is NFL caliber, and have all this academic misconduct keeping them in school AND play in the ACC, 8-5 is a pretty lame record.

  • packalum09 Jul 26, 2012

    "Were they previously going uphill? All that cheating under Butch and they still couldn't win? At least at State, when we cheated, we were winning basketball games."

    Actually, the year that all of the cheating came out, Carolina was predicted to be a really good football team; that's why the Chick-Fil-A bowl game vs. LSU was a big game...and they almost won even with all of those players sitting out. I believe they also had the most players drafted that year than any other school as well, so they were on their way up.

  • bppack Jul 26, 2012

    so the faculty investigated themselves and, in a matter of just days, concluded that they had performed their investigation properly. next a former unc-ch official, somehow considered to be a "third party," is going to come in to certify that things are now being done correctly. yeah, that will make us all feel better.

    I don't think that when the Founding Fathers said that the accused should be judged by a jury of their peers, they intended "peers" to mean "fellow perpetrators." honestly, this is just plain laughable.

  • kermit60 Jul 26, 2012

    They appear to be worried not about the quality of the education but for the schools image. This like Penn State. Instead of a sex abuse scandle they have academic/athletic fraud scandle. I hope the NCAA steps in and fines them also.