Former AFAM chairman indicted by grand jury

Former chairman of the African and Afro-American Studies department Julius Nyang’oro has been indicted by a grand jury after a year-and-a-half-long State Bureau of Investigation probe found that he allegedly received $12,000 for teaching a class he never taught.

According to the indictment for obtaining property by false pretenses, Nyang’oro was paid to teach a “face-to-face” lecture course, AFAM 280, during summer session II in 2011, but did not hold class face to face.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said another indictment for a former academic employee might come out in January. He said Nyang’oro will appear in court Tuesday, and that the typical consequence for this charge if he is found guilty is probation.

“We didn’t see a lot of criminal action — academic fraud, impropriety, that’s not illegal,” Woodall said in an interview.

In August of 2012, former Chancellor Holden Thorp announced an outside review to be led by former Gov. Jim Martin that would investigate academic irregularities into the Department of African and Afro-American studies before previously found instances of irregular courses in 2007.

The results of that review were presented four months later, and confirmed several previous reports’ findings that Nyang’oro and former department administrator Deborah Crowder were largely at fault for the irregular courses, but also revealed these types of courses dated back to 1997.

In the 74-page report, it stressed that the scandal was isolated to the one department, implicating no other departments or individuals beyond Nyang’oro and Crowder. And despite a large proportion of students in the irregular courses being athletes, the athletic department was not found to play any role in the irregularities, Martin said.

Woodall said he read the Martin report and academic reports done by the University but mainly worked with the SBI. The SBI had one lead investigator who started work in 2012 and the investigation took so long because of the amount of information that was reviewed.

Scrutiny of the department began in May of 2012, when UNC released a report that detailed academic fraud and irregularities among those African and Afro-American courses primarily between 2007 and 2009.

Chancellor Carol Folt said in a statement Monday that the actions described in the indictment are inconsistent with the standards and aspirations of the University.

“This has been a difficult chapter in the University’s history, and we have learned many lessons,” she said. “I am confident, because of effective processes already put in place, we are moving ahead as a stronger institution with more transparent academic policies, procedures and safeguards.”

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