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The Daily Tar Heel

Deadline set for UNC to reply to commission

UNC’s accreditation body requested explanation of Wainstein report

The University will have until Jan. 7 — the first day of class after the holidays — to send a report to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges explaining how it follows the principle of integrity, 12 of the commission’s “comprehensive standards” for colleges, one of its core requirements and four federal requirements set by the U.S. Department of Education.

The letter illustrates what academic policies the commission will focus on in its review. In addition, the commission asked UNC to defend its adherence to the commission’s first rule, that “the institution operates with integrity in all matters.”

Belle Wheelan, the commission’s president, said the Wainstein report revealed that some UNC staff were not entirely honest when the commission sent a special committee to UNC in April 2013.

“According to the report, there were more people who knew about (the fraud) but were not forthcoming when the last response was made,” Wheelan said.

The letter, signed by Cheryl Cardell, the commission’s vice president, said UNC failed to diligently collect and provide information to the commission when it last reviewed UNC in 2013.

“It appears the that the institution may have had information that was not shared during the course of the Commission’s Special Committee review,” the letter read.

Wheelan, however, commended UNC’s current administration cooperation.

“The University is taking this extremely seriously.”

Wheelan said in light of UNC’s implemented reforms, it’s unlikely that the commission will send another special committee to campus to investigate as it did last time.

The deadline for UNC’s response is after the commission’s winter meetings the first week of December. The commission acts twice a year and will consider the case and decide on any action taken against UNC in June, Wheelan said. If the University loses accreditation, it will lose all federal financial aid — which more than half of UNC students receive.

UNC spokesman Rick White said UNC expected the letter and will cooperate with the commission’s request.

The letter also asked Folt to explain how UNC is following one of its core requirements, that degree programs require a “coherent course of study.” It specifically asked about current program content in the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies, which replaced the Department of African and Afro-American Studies, the center of Wainstein’s report on academic fraud.

“Core Requirements are basic, broad-based, foundational requirements that an institution must meet to be accredited,” the commission’s principles of accreditation reads.

The commission also asked for information including how UNC evaluates faculty, protects confidential student records, protects academic freedom, enforces credit hour requirements and maintains control of its athletics.

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