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UNC report reveals widespread problems in Afro-Studies department

Posted May 4, 2012
Updated May 5, 2012

A nine-month internal investigation into the Department of African and Afro-American Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill revealed unauthorized grades, forged signatures and other irregularities according to a 10-page report released Friday.

“While presenting this report in as careful and impartial a manner as possible, we cannot conclude without emphasizing the acute dismay that we, as UNC-Chapel Hill faculty felt as we uncovered the practices summarized here,” reads the report compiled by Jonathan Hartlyn, senior associate dean for social sciences and global programs, and William Andrews, senior associate dean for fine arts and humanities. “… the unprofessional or unethical actions noted in this report risk damaging the professional reputations of the faculty in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies as a whole.”

The internal investigation began in September 2011 following published reports that claimed plagiarism and other discrepancies on a course paper written by former Tar Heels football player Michael McAdoo. The paper, submitted to professor Julius Nyang’oro, was revealed to be largely reproduced from other sources.

According to the report, which covered courses from the start of the summer session in 2007 to the end of the summer session in 2011, 43 taught Nyang’oro "were either aberrant or were taught irregularly." Those courses showed that work was assigned and grades issued, but there was little contact between professor and students. Two other classes led by Nyang’oro may have been taught irregularly.

Between 2007 and 2009, grades for 59 students in nine courses were submitted to the registrar with forged signatures of professors who said they never taught the course. During that same span, “several faculty members” stated that there were unauthorized grade changes and they were not aware of who authorized the adjustments.

Long-time African and Afro-American Studies administrator Debbie Crowder retired in the fall of 2009. There were no reports of unauthorized grade changes in the department following the second summer session of 2009.

Nyang’oro, who had held the position of department chair in the African and Afro-American Studies program, resigned from that position in August. According to the report, Nyang’oro will retire effective July 1.

The report states that Nyang’oro and Crowder are the only two individuals who are directly linked to the irregular courses and grades. It also provides future recommendations to the department that include the implementation of several types of oversight, monitoring and approval procedures.

A second report released Friday by an independent study task force further outlines best practices for how professors should handle independent study courses.

“As a result of these reviews and follow-up actions, the policies of the department and the College have been strengthened to ensure consistent standards for academic excellence and integrity,” said College of Arts and Sciences Dean Karen Gil.

McAdoo was one of seven players forced to sit out all of the 2010 football season while the NCAA investigated the Tar Heel football program. The NCAA ruled McAdoo ineligible for receiving improper assistance from tutor Jennifer Wiley on multiple assignments across several academic terms. In July of 2011, McAdoo filed a lawsuit against both UNC and the NCAA seeking reinstatement to the team. That lawsuit was dismissed in November.

Archive: UNC football investigation

McAdoo has since left UNC and signed last season with the Baltimore Ravens for the league minimum of $270,000.


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  • dukiedon45 May 14, 2012

    A good way to reduce waste at UNC would be to elimi......never mind, they would never do it anyway.

  • tony57 May 14, 2012

    Show some guts UNC- fire the people responsible. Or is there more to the story and that's why these people are being allowed to "retire"?

  • americaneel May 8, 2012

    That program is equivalent to the Basket Weaving program

  • taylor81 May 7, 2012

    "If somebody commited fraud in the private sector the words would be YOUR FIRED not resign or retire." - sunshine1040

    That depends on your definition of "fraud." If by fraud you mean, "steal the pensions of hundreds or thousands of workers in order to give yourself bonuses and a bevy of administrative assistants, company cars, jets, etc..." then I'd say you're not quite accurate. In those cases, you're allowed to "choose to retire" along with the benefit of a multi-million dollar severance package, and in the cases of the banks, all of that came on the backs of the taxpayers who funded a bailout. I think it's poorly stated to make a generalization that this type of concession only occurs in the public sector.

  • kermit60 May 7, 2012

    This goes right along with the state government. Multiple accounts of fraud waste and abuse but no one ever seems to be punished. They are left to retire at taxpayer expense. UNC is no better than a online diploma factory. If you got the money we got the degree.

  • dehowell2 May 4, 2012

    Maybe UNC should be a Jr. College and offer degrees in football violations and misc payoffs. They CERTAINLY have not attained the level of trust that the other schools have but not surprising since they have ALWAYS been overated.

  • davidgnews May 4, 2012

    "Nyang’oro will retire effective July 1."

    No other penalty - just 'float' on out of there ? Right-just add an example for dodging responsibilities to those 'studies,' then.

  • avidreader May 4, 2012

    Both should be dismissed without the option to retire and draw a taxpayer funded pension. What about the students in these courses - their degrees are even more worthless now.

  • FAN72 May 4, 2012

    What? This at the Flagship U. ????!!!

  • mimi1123 May 4, 2012

    It's time people are held accountable for their wrongdoings. Fire all those involved..no retirement. I've always been a Carolina fan but they need to get it on the right track over there.