UNC-CH seeks new outside investigation of academic irregularities
Posted February 21, 2014
Updated February 25, 2014
Chapel Hill, N.C. — 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.