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Retired UNC faculty members call for change

In a joint letter , the retired professors criticized the University’s handling of the scandal and called for current faculty to become more involved so current issues do not continue.

“The recent presentation to the trustees by several accomplished student-athletes, whose work as students has not been impugned, was one more embarrassing exercise in avoiding the heart of the issue,” the letter said.

Former history professor Michael Hunt , who spearheaded the campaign with former interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Madeline Levine , at a lunch meeting with other retired faculty, did not sugarcoat his answer when asked about what current faculty should do.

“What they can do is called governance,” he said.

Chancellor Carol Folt responded to the letter with one of her own, saying there has been healthy involvement from the faculty in resolving the issues. She said more than 100 faculty serve on committees that are working on these initiatives.

“I have seen a faculty and administration willing to accept scrutiny, seek answers and devote time and energy toward meaningful change,” Folt said. “The progress we are making today is very real.”

Richard Kohn , a former history professor, also said the effort by the faculty has not been up to par.

“The most disappointing thing is that they have done, as a group, almost nothing,” Kohn said. “Except for a few, the faculty has not addressed a few serious issues in the athletics department and the College of Arts and Sciences.”

After speaking with current faculty members, Levine said she is worried that faculty will not speak up due to a hush-hush atmosphere on campus.

“There is a concern that there is just such a sense of despair over the faculty that they have been quiet, or missing in action,” Levine said.

Hunt spoke about the top-down organizational structure of the University being foreign to students.

“There is a governance issue, and it needs to be brought to the foreground,” Hunt said.

Hunt lamented the lack of information the University has released to the public.

“What’s most frustrating right now is the emphasis on PR,” Hunt said. “There are a set of questions that we spelled out, and they are very briefly put but I think they are the central questions. What happened? And we really don’t have good answers even now, and I think the administration spends too much time trying to avoid those questions.”

Levine agrees with Hunt, adding that there is a lot of skepticism that Julius Nyang’oro was the only one involved in academic misconduct in the former Department of African and Afro-American Studies.

“There still hasn’t been full disclosure of what happened and what the consequences were, and academically, what exactly happened,” Levine said.

Former history professor Donald Mathews said signing this letter was not enjoyable.

“I do not like scolding my colleagues, especially because I suspect we should all have been commenting 20 years ago, or at least 14, merely because I suspect problems stretched back further than 2004 when I retired,” Mathews said in an email.

As harsh as the letter may seem, Hunt said they tried to keep it cordial.

“We wanted to make a much stronger statement, but we didn’t want to be inflammatory.”

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