UNC faculty discuss preventing scandal
Administrators have said they want to do everything they can to prevent another academic scandal.
And in order to move past the questions surrounding the University’s Department of African and Afro-American Studies, Chancellor Holden Thorp said the relationship between academics and athletics must improve.
“No one is more upset about all of this than I am,” Thorp said at the Faculty Council meeting Friday. “No one is more determined than I am.
“We’re going to use this as a learning experience, and we’re going to become a stronger University as a result, as painful as it feels right now.”
Thorp said the University is strengthening cooperation among the Faculty Advisory Committee of the Academic Support Program, the Faculty Athletics Committee and the faculty representative to the ACC and NCAA.
Joy Renner, chairwoman of the Faculty Athletics Committee, said each committee member will be assigned to an athletics team and serve as a primary liaison between coaches and academic advising.
She added that one of the committee’s goals is ensuring that athletes receive a quality education in a friendly academic environment.
Thorp said he is confident that the multiple reviews of the scandal he has organized will provide solid recommendations for moving forward.
Former Gov. Jim Martin is currently leading an independent review and will attempt to trace the scandal’s origin alongside consulting firm Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLC.
“We want to be sure our internal controls are strong so we can avoid this happening again, and we need external validation from a group like Baker Tilly,” Thorp said.
Jay Smith, a history professor who has been at the forefront of faculty discussion about how to address the scandal, expressed his frustration with the University’s handling of the situation.
He said he is concerned UNC has been withholding information about the scandal.
“Indeed, for the last year the University community has been repeatedly blindsided by new revelations that left us scrambling to understand and explain evidence that might have been dealt with openly much sooner,” Smith said.
Smith also criticized the faculty report conducted by Jonathan Hartlyn and William Andrews, which stated that there is no evidence student athletes taking courses in the department received special treatment.
Smith said he believes the results of the report conflict with facts previously reported about AFAM 280, a course he said enrolled 19 students — all football players.
“The existence of that course alone provides very powerful evidence that the Nyang’oro scandal was all about athletics.”
“Even a simple public acknowledgment of previous misjudgments or misstatements would have helped to repair the damage, but no such acknowledgment has been forthcoming.”
Thorp said he did not agree with all of Smith’s statements.
Jan Boxill, chairwoman of the Faculty Council, said the scandal should not overshadow UNC’s accomplishments.
“Our problems are not unique, but with the faculty, staff and resources, and the support of the administration, we have the ability to address the complexity of athletics,” Boxill said.
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