State News

No reprimand for Thorp after private meeting with UNC board

Posted September 14, 2012

— Overseers of North Carolina's public universities are voicing support for the head of the system's flagship Chapel Hill campus amid investigations into academic fraud, improper travel spending by fundraisers and special treatment for athletes.

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors met privately Friday with Chancellor Holden Thorp for about 50 minutes. He said afterward that the board didn't reprimand him for problems at UNC-Chapel Hill, noting that he's shown he's willing to act forcefully to clean up the problems.

"They were concerned about the situation, but they were very appreciative of the work that I've done," Thorp said.

Vice Chancellor for Advancement Matt Kupec and Tami Hansbrough, a major gifts officer at UNC-Chapel Hill and the mother of former Tar Heels basketball star Tyler Hansbrough, resigned from their jobs this week under suspicion of improper travel spending.

UNC President Tom Ross praised Thorp for acting "quickly (and) decisively in a circumstance that was clearly inappropriate" and said the Board of Governors expressed support for the chancellor.

"The chancellor is performing well by many measurements," Board of Governors Chairman Peter Hans said. "I think every chancellor is to be evaluated as we go along. He clearly has some issues on campus he needs to successfully deal with."

Thorp has ordered an internal audit of the travels by Kupec and Tami Hansbrough after finding evidence that some of the 28 fundraising trips they took together since 2010 might have been "personally driven."

Peter Hans, chairman of the UNC Board of Governors UNC system chairman: Thorp has issues to deal with

"Unfortunately, these are the kinds of things that universities look into from time to time," Thorp said. "We've had a lot of policies that have been around a long time that need to be tighter, and we tighten and tighten and tighten ... but we are still finding things that come from policies that aren't as tight as they should have been."

Board members also talked with Thorp about the review of the Department of African and Afro-American Studies that former Gov. Jim Martin is handling. An internal review found irregularities in 54 courses over four years in the department, including altered grades and classes with little or no instruction.

Thorp said Martin has been on campus a few times and that an outside firm is compiling registrar data for the investigation. He said he told Martin to take as long as he needs to look into the matter.

Hans said problems will always crop up at large institutions such as UNC, and Ross noted that the Chapel Hill campus continues to be ranked highly by a number of measures, including research grants and private fundraising.

"There are a lot of good things that go on at the university," Ross said.

Chancellors in the UNC system have reviews every two years, and an outside consultant is brought in every four years to evaluate their performance. Thorp went through the more thorough evaluation about a year ago.

"(Board members) are frustrated, but you know, one of the things they said is, 'Look, the university, the positives so far outweigh the negatives,'" Thorp said.


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  • lrbrown Sep 17, 2012

    It is probably best that Mr. Thorp is leaving as far as UNC in concerned, but when the study is completed, and if it is indeed deeply detailed then the problems that have surfaced of late will be mere reflections of similar situations that existed long before Mr. Thorp arrived on the scene. Will there be an attempt to use his resignation as the end of the story rather than actually following the story to the end?

  • Wacky_dood Sep 17, 2012

    "And the status of their pension plans??

    Pensions (public or private) are usually untouchable.

  • Nancy Sep 14, 2012

    "Butch Davis was fired. All the coaches tied to this were fired. I don't remember the penalties imposed on the AfAM studies people but I believe they were disciplined. The two people in this week's travel gate quit in lieu of being fired."

    And the status of their pension plans??

  • westernwake1 Sep 14, 2012

    The only thing that Mr. Thorp needs to do is to write his resignation letter.

  • unc70 Sep 14, 2012

    I would include Davidson among the top schools in NC.

    The Rams Club does not run The University, though many alumni leaders are also Rams Club donors. Any of us who are not in the leadership donate to the Educational Foundation in addition to our larger donations to academic departments and programs.

    Holden is doing a good job.

  • balog Sep 14, 2012

    "I can understand the resentment from those who were not gifted enough to get into and graduate from Carolina."
    You mean like the atheletes who coasted through without doing any academic work? Gifted like that? Or the kids who got in because who their parents are and how much those parents donate as alumn (read the admissions application, there is a page and a half dedicated to who you are related to who went to carolina). I took classes with some of these kids. Not impressed. They lack any bit of common sense, are rude, think the world should cater to them because Daddy says so and were anything but gifted.

  • chouseworth Sep 14, 2012

    Honey Badger, you obviously don't understand the resentment from many of those who actually were gifted enough to get into and graduate from Carolina. Your statement regarding silly little incidents in the athletic department speaks to your misunderstanding of the issues. Count me as one of the resenters. I'm Class of 72.

  • Wacky_dood Sep 14, 2012

    "In all this elongated UNC fiasco and corruption, has anyone been fired AND stripped of their pension? No. Since it's a state funded school (to a large degree), we're paying for this mess.

    Ticks me off.

    Butch Davis was fired. All the coaches tied to this were fired. I don't remember the penalties imposed on the AfAM studies people but I believe they were disciplined. The two people in this week's travel gate quit in lieu of being fired.

  • UNCfuturealumi Sep 14, 2012

    the Rams club runs that best believe he bows to them, or he is out of a job

  • balog Sep 14, 2012

    Oh please, holden thorp is anything but honorable. He doesn't take accountablity for anything.