In the midst of ongoing investigations into academic fraud at UNC, the University community has pledged its support for Chancellor Holden Thorp ahead of this week’s Board of Trustees meeting.
The discussion of academic integrity and controversy stemming from the 2010 NCAA investigation of the football team will be a small part of the board’s agenda.
Thorp said the board will focus heavily on 21st Century Vision — a planning and fundraising initiative announced in May.
He said despite the negative attention the University has gotten in recent months, it had the second most successful fundraising year in fiscal year 2012.
“This shows people believe in the University and our ability to be on top of these issues,” Thorp said.
In May, Thorp released the University’s report that cited irregularities in record keeping and teaching practices in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies.
The State Bureau of Investigation and the UNC-system Board of Governors are conducting their own probes into the department, but UNC administrators have made policy changes in hopes of preventing further issues.
Thorp said trustees are in the process of identifying an outside audit firm to certify the effectiveness of controls and policy changes. He said he wants to be able to ensure donors that the University is on the right track.
Board chairman Wade Hargrove and member Don Curtis said they are supportive of UNC officials and their efforts to get to the bottom of the academic misconduct brought to light during the 2010 NCAA investigation of the football program.
“Based on everything we’ve seen, we believe the administration has been very responsible in the way it has conducted the investigation,” Hargrove said.
Former UNC-system president and long-time proponent of reform in collegiate athletics William Friday said in the wake of recent controversy at UNC and scandal at Penn State University, it’s time for institutions to find a balance between academics and athletics.
“The Penn State disaster makes clear that the time is at hand for institutions to take a good hard look at all institutional practices — academics, salaries, commercial television, outside control and every aspect of intercollegiate sports,” Friday said.
“I commend Chancellor Thorp for setting in motion all the internal steps necessary to make absolutely certain that there will be no further issue of academic fraud or form of practice not in the tradition of Chapel Hill.”
Last week, Thorp sent a letter to faculty members assuring them that administrators are taking preventative measures to restore faith in UNC’s mission.
Andrew Perrin, a member of the Faculty Athletic Committee, said the University’s findings should have been released sooner.
Perrin said Thorp has led UNC through a difficult time, and academic fraud in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies involving former department chair Julius Nyang’oro is the result of a culture that values athletic success more than academic integrity.
“I think it’s extremely likely that either formal, or more likely, informal pressure from athletics was why professor Nyang’oro felt the need to offer fraudulent classes.”
Friday said UNC officials are leading the institution in the right direction to ensure that academic fraud is never again an issue.
He said the key to getting to the bottom of the allegations is separating fact from rumor.
“It is time for all who care about this dear place to unite in our determination to see that these kinds of things never happen again.”
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