Chapel Hill, N.C. — A former advisor to President Bill Clinton has joined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's public relations effort as the university weathers an investigation into academic impropriety in at least one department.
Doug Sosnik began working as a consultant for the university earlier this month, a UNC spokeswoman said Tuesday. The addition comes about 13 months after UNC hired a Raleigh public relations firm to work on academic issues and two years after the NCAA began a probe into rules violations within the university's football program.
Sosnik served as political director during Clinton's second presidential term and is the co-author of "Applebee's America," a political strategy book about how leaders can connect with everyday Americans. Most recently, he has done consulting work for several Fortune 100 companies and the National Basketball Association.
Details on Sosnik's compensation have not been released. The school has paid nearly $600,000 on academic scandal-related services, but says none of that money came from taxpayers.
Rick French, chairman and CEO of French West Vaughan, a public relations and advertising agency in Raleigh, said he is not surprised that the university is hiring outside help.
"I think UNC is struggling to get control of this situation," he said.
Though his firm is not involved with UNC's public relations efforts, French said such firms and consultants can offer useful outside perspective.
"Sometimes, just like with a corporation, you can become a little insular and myopic in terms of the way you look at things," he said.
Last week, UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp announced that former North Carolina Gov. Jim Martin would lead an investigation into multiple misdeeds in the African and Afro-American Studies Department and conduct a full review of other departments and all athletic programs at the university.