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Athletes' academics, online learning main topics at BOG committee meeting

The Committee on Educational Planning, Policies and Programs of the Board of Governors discussed academics and admissions for UNC-system athletics at the end of its Thursday meeting.

The number of student-athletes who met minimum admissions standards across the system fell slightly in 2014-15, and the changes for specific standards varied by sport. Men's basketball increased for both incoming GPA and SAT, football increased for GPA but decreased for SAT and women's basketball decreased on both measures.

Board member Marty Kotis said he was worried about a large gap in SAT scores between athletes and non-athletes, especially at UNC-Chapel Hill.

"I'm finding it pretty challenging to understand," he said referring to how athletes can keep up with hours of practice per week along with school if they're starting out with low scores.

Chancellor Carol Folt urged him to look at the broader picture.

"SATs are notoriously biased," she said.

Kate Henz, associate vice president for academic policy, planning and analysis for the UNC system, said every system school met the NCAA's academic progress rate in 2014-15 for the first time in more than five years. 

Online learning across state lines

Timothy Gallimore, assistant vice president for academic planning and state authorization for the UNC system, discussed the possibility of North Carolina joining the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements program.

Thirty-five states have already joined the program, which simplifies licensing and review for online and distance learning programs across state lines, he said.

“A lot of it is monitoring institutions that are domiciled in your own state. SARA shifts the burden to the state in which the institution is located to do the vetting, the licensing, the data gathering,” Gallimore said.

Gallimore said people in distance and online learning offices who have reviewed the possibility think it’s a great idea.

“It will indeed be a great advantage to them and relieve them from the regulatory burden and also allow them to expand their online offerings if they so choose,” he said.

Kotis said he gets emails from students who can’t take the classes they want to take and this program would resolve some issues almost immediately.

“This is increasing consumer choice … This reduces barriers to entry, this benefits from economy of scale,” he said.

Anna Nelson, chairperson of the Committee on Educational Planning, Policies and Programs, said a vote on whether North Carolina should join the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements program may happen in January.

Other developments

  • The committee voted to approve the establishment of Appalachian State University's Master of Health Administration program. Nelson said she particularly liked the program's focus on rural health.
  • Henz said every system school met the board's teaching load requirements. The requirements vary across campuses based on school type. UNC and N.C. State University, as the two research-intensive universities in the system, have the lowest minimum teaching loads at two classes per semester.
  • Christopher Brown, system vice president for research and graduate education, said the system's research funding in fiscal year 2015 increased less than one percent from the year before. The system pulled in more than $1.3 billion in funding.

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