The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday September 21st

Boxill resigns, UNC admits her independent studies in philosophy were irregular

Jan Boxill, the former faculty chairwoman and ethics professor, resigned from the University after the Wainstein report showed that Boxill used her role as the academic counselor for the women’s basketball team to perpetuate the paper classes scandal.

In a letter to Provost Jim Dean dated Feb. 28, Boxill said she will resign from her position as teaching professor of philosophy.

Boxill's role in the academic scandal came as a surprise to her many friends and colleagues at the University. In his letter to Boxill announcing her discharge from the University, Dean said he wrote with "genuine and deep regret."

"You have been a well-regarded teacher, mentor, colleague and leader in the University community for many years," Dean said in the letter, which was dated Oct. 22, the day the Wainstein report was released. "However, your record of outstanding service does not outweigh your profoundly flawed and unethical acts recounted in the Wainstein report."

The Wainstein report said Boxill even went as far as suggesting the grades given to her players to secretary Deborah Crowder as well as writing parts of the papers for her players.

"As a result of your misconduct, and after consultation with your dean, I intend to discharge you from employment as a member of the faculty of the University."

In his letter, Dean also stipulated that Boxill would no longer serve as the director of the Parr Center for Ethics. She was also asked to cease all activities involving student-athletes, meaning she could no longer serve as an announcer for the women's field hockey and women's basketball games.

In a statement to ABC11, Boxill said the Wainstein report's account of her role in the scandal ruined her life.

"Since the Wainstein report, this has left my life in turmoil," Boxill said in a statement. "I've given 30 years of honor and commitment. This has affected me and my family emotionally and financially. This has turned my world upside down."

Boxill's independent studies

An investigation by The Daily Tar Heel revealed that Boxill also offered an irregular amount of independent studies herself while teaching in the philosophy department.

She offered 160 independent studies between 2004 and 2014, and supplementary emails of the Wainstein report show players were encouraged by Boxill to take her classes.

In an email to Crowder in 2006, former football counselor Cynthia Reynolds discussed placing her players in Boxill’s class, according to the supplementary documents of the Wainstein report.

“Nice call on the Phil 30 (Boxill) correspondence course last semester,” the email said. “Didn’t know Jan was doing those.”

In his email to Jan Boxill announcing her discharge from the University, Dean compared these independent studies to those offered by the Department of African and Afro-American Studies.

"In addition to the foregoing activities connected to the AFAM paper classes, it appears that you also allowed students to be enrolled in independent study courses in the Department of Philosophy that involved minimal academic expectations and that were offered at times to accommodate student-athletes," Dean said in his letter to Boxill.

Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, a former chairman of the philosophy department, said in November that 160 independent studies is an unusually large number. Current department chairman Marc Lang said in November that he can count the number of independent studies he has taught at UNC on one hand.

Report: Boxill was fully aware

The Wainstein report said Boxill was fully aware of how the classes were conducted, including Crowder’s role.

Between 1999 and 2009, there were 114 women’s basketball players enrolled in paper classes and the players were encouraged to take these classes by Boxill.

Following secretary Deborah Crowder’s retirement in 2009, Julius Nyang’oro, the former chairman of the African and Afro-American studies department, took a more hands-on role with the paper classes, enrolling athletes and creating classes himself. While enrollment became more difficult for athletes with Nyang’oro in charge, Boxill was still able to place her players in his fake classes, the Wainstein report said.

“In fact, one email chain suggests that Nyang’oro would not consider a women’s basketball player’s request to enroll in one of his paper classes unless Boxill explicitly supports her request,” the report said.

The Wainstein report largely credits Crowder and Nyang'oro with the perpetuation of the paper classes scandal.

Jean DeSaix, a biology professor at UNC and a good friend to Boxill, told The Daily Tar Heel on the day of the Wainstein report’s release she could not believe her friend had a role in the academic fraud.

“Jan is so, so ethical. It just — I don’t know — I can’t even make sense out of it,” she said in October. “It doesn’t feel right to me.”

university@dailytarheel.com

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