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Sunday March 7th

UNC's African and Afro-American Studies department appoints new chairwoman

The new chairwoman of the African and Afro-American Studies department will play no role in UNC’s ongoing investigation of the department.

But Eunice Sahle, a faculty member since 2001, plans to help shape structural changes to the department, administrators said.

The University announced Thursday the appointment of Sahle to the position. She will succeed Julius Nyang’oro.

The department and Nyang’oro, who remains a professor in the department, came under scrutiny this summer when it was discovered that former defensive end Michael McAdoo had largely plagiarized a paper for Nyang’oro’s class.

The offense was not addressed by Nyang’oro or the honor system.

Sahle, who declined to comment for this article, will not play a part in the investigation of the department prompted by the McAdoo case.

“She will not be involved in any way in that review,” said Jonathan Hartlyn, senior associate dean for social sciences and global programs in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Evelyne Huber, interim chairwoman of the department, said the investigation will be handled by the College.

“To my knowledge, Professor Sahle will have no role whatsoever in the investigation of the past,” she said.

Sahle will deal more with deciding what structure the department will have moving forward, Hartlyn said.

In a meeting with students and professors in the department earlier this month, Huber said that the department lacked a community governance system. She said Sahle is an excellent choice to lead the department.

“She has a deep knowledge of the department and excellent judgment,” she said.

“She has a vision for the department that is inclusive and wants to provide the best possible education for the students and the best intellectual environment for students and faculty.”

Administrators had specific traits in mind when evaluating candidates.

“We were looking for someone who can be a strong advocate for the department and someone who can collaborate with the dean’s office,” Hartlyn said.

Sahle has received several awards during her time at UNC. These include, among others, the Edward Kidder Graham Award in 2006 and a Student Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2011.

Bereket Selassie, a professor in the department, said Sahle is not only an excellent academic but is also gifted in the classroom.

“She’s a good mentor and has good relationships with her students,” he said.

Sahle will begin her five-year term as the department’s chairwoman Jan. 1.

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