The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday May 31st

Q&A with Louis Bissette

Louis Bissette is a member of the UNC-system Board of Governors. He will be chairing a five-member panel that is reviewing UNC-Chapel Hill’s investigation of academic fraud in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies.

The panel was announced by former board chairwoman Hannah Gage and UNC-system President Thomas Ross at the board’s June meeting.

At its first meeting, the panel was charged with reviewing the University’s investigation and evaluating subsequent policy changes.

The panel is expected to meet in August and issue a report to the full board by October.

Daily Tar Heel: What prompted the establishment of this panel?

Louis Bissette: There had been a lot of questions to Ross from the Board of Governors about what was taking place and going on. I think that everybody felt that the board needed to take up a more detailed look, because it is a major interest to the state and to the UNC system that this be done correctly.

DTH: What is your impression of the University’s handling of the situation?

LB: The people handling the investigation are very good and competent people, and I think they’ve done a pretty good job. Now one of the things we’ll be looking at is to see some of the areas that they missed and that they look back and look a little deeper into it.

DTH: What questions do you still have after the first panel meeting?

LB: One question that came up is why did they restrict their investigation to essentially 2007 to 2011. Is there any reason to go back any further and take a look at that? One other question was that a number of athletes in that department were interviewed in that process, but no non-athletes were interviewed.

DTH: UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp said in his remarks Friday that student athletes were not treated differently from non-athletes in the problem classes. Do you believe this is true?

LB: That may well be the case, but in a lot of classes, there were a lot of athletes. Their study indicated that everybody in the classes were treated alike, there was no favoritism to athletes. We want to look at that a little closer.

DTH: What do you believe the University needs to do to restore its reputation going forward?

LB: I think it is important that we do a detailed and thorough job in this review. If people believe that there was some type of cover up, then the reputation of the University will suffer even further.

DTH: Now that you have heard from various UNC-CH officials about actions taken as a result of the fraud, what does the panel intend to do at its next meeting?

LB: At that point we will be reviewing documents, grade transcripts, interview transcripts, things of this nature.

Then after than we will see where we are.

DTH: Gage said that the athletic culture is to blame for the academic fraud at UNC-CH. What do you believe needs to happen to change this culture?

LB: This is a huge question in the U.S. today. People love college athletics, but so much money is generated by it that it has led to some problems. I am hoping that the university presidents throughout the country and NCAA are doing their best to deal with that. The money is bound to cause some problems, as it is just human nature.

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