UNC-CH seeks new outside investigation of academic irregularities

Posted February 21, 2014
Updated February 25, 2014

Old Well at UNC-Chapel Hill

— University of North Carolina officials said Friday that they want another outside investigation of academic irregularities in one department of the flagship Chapel Hill campus.

UNC President Tom Ross and UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt have hired Kenneth Wainstein, a former U.S. Justice Department attorney, to review information uncovered during a State Bureau of Investigation probe of the former Department of African and Afro-American Studies.

A 2012 investigation led by former Gov. Jim Martin found problems in the department, including courses where no classes met and unauthorized grade changes, dating to 1997 and placed blame on former department chairman Julius Nyang'oro and a retired administrator.

The SBI investigation led to a December indictment against Nyang'oro on a charge of obtaining property by false pretense. According to the indictment, he was paid $12,000 to teach one of the no-show classes in the summer of 2011.

Ross and Folt said Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall has told them he can now share some of the information the SBI gathered, which they said might "address any questions left unanswered during previous reviews." There was no timetable for how long Wainstein's review would take.

"We – the UNC Board of Governors, UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees, Chancellor Folt and I – have said all along that we would re-evaluate next steps once the SBI had completed its investigation,” Ross said in a statement.

"We have directed Mr. Wainstein to ask the tough questions, follow the facts wherever they lead and get the job done," Folt said in a statement. "I believe these efforts will accelerate the university's capacity to achieve the meaningful academic and athletic reform that our entire community expects."

Wainstein's law firm plans to bill UNC-Chapel Hill between $450 and $990 an hour, depending on which lawyer is working, for the review.

Last month, Folt apologized to her Board of Trustees for the problems in the department, saying the university had failed its students by not providing adequate oversight.


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  • philipw Feb 25, 2014

    You have to wonder about the judgment of folks who are paying almost $1,000 an hour for lawyers. Anything paid over $200 an hour is going for "influence" and not legal acumen or ability. The chancellor should be ashamed of that decision.

  • sheisacoward Feb 25, 2014

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    LOL....sure....wulf students never take easy electives. good grief.

  • SMAPAEA Feb 25, 2014

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    Fantastic idea!! No state funds for that!!

  • wlbbjb Feb 25, 2014

    Pay for the attorney's fee by taking it out of the athletic budget.

  • unc70 Feb 25, 2014

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    I usually agree with you, but not about Willingham. She is a Special Ed teacher who has deliberately distorted the "record". She has neither the training nor license to be evaluating people with learning disabilities, only to perform the drills. MW cherry picked sub-test scores from a screening test for LDs, and used them in inappropriate and illegal ways in violation of FERPA and the ADA (the strictest rules).

  • mafiamic Feb 25, 2014

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    Sorry to inform you and all the other pre schoolers,but this was and has been going on for years in all colleges.Years ago in the 70s and 60s and since Football players and Basketball players took maybe one or 2 classes and some had private tutoring and Teachers gave them false grades so they would pass and be eligible to play.
    This is nothing new many pro stars barely got by and did not have an education,they wanted to play which is why after they played they went back to school.
    The ways of today were not the same as yesterday when the country was strong and not a wussy nation.They do need and education yes like all children and do need to be educated but by their own ways and nobody elses expectations.

  • ACCFAN1 Feb 25, 2014

    This sounds to me that UNC has hired someone because they didn't like something the SBI found and want some leverage when the stuff hits the fan. I didn't believe at first that the basketball team was involved because basketball teams are smaller and easier to manage and Roy seems like a standup guy. I'm starting to think otherwise now.

  • disgusted2010 Feb 25, 2014

    UNC is smart to hire an attorney. He can dig and find out exactly what happened and it can then be hidden by attorney-client privilege and UNC can only release what they want to release and the consultant can't talk about the rest.

    Its time to admit that college athletics is a for profit business and quit hiding behind academia.

  • Ginger Lynn Feb 25, 2014
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    I took Russian Literature as an English elective and I was a comp sci major taking 2 programming languages and a math at the time. There sometimes is a reason why people don't "get jobs" after getting out of college.

  • outhousecat Feb 25, 2014

    $50/hour for the investigation, $940/hour for the cover-up. Sounds like a bargain to me.