Faculty review of fraud at UNC-Chapel Hill nearly complete

Panel to urge outside experts study athletic-academic balance

jstancill@newsobserver.comJuly 25, 2012 

— A faculty subcommittee that has reviewed investigations of academic fraud at UNC-Chapel Hill has found no fault with the probes. But it will recommend that the university bring in outside experts to weigh the balance between academics and athletics on campus, the faculty chairwoman said Wednesday.

The full report of the subcommittee is almost complete and will be considered this fall by the full Faculty Council, faculty chairwoman Jan Boxill said.

Meanwhile, the university’s Board of Trustees is interviewing consultants who may be hired to assess whether new rules and procedures are adequate to guard against future problems.

“Our focus at this time should be on assuring that measures are put in place so that if academic fraud occurs in the future, it will be quickly detected,” trustees Chairman Wade Hargrove said.

On Wednesday, Boxill reported to a trustee committee about the work of the faculty group. She said the three-member panel met with 31 people on campus in May and June. The group has looked at the results of an internal investigation that identified dozens of courses in the African and Afro-American Studies department that had little or no faculty supervision. Some of those courses were heavily populated with athletes.

She said faculty have so far been quiet about the situation for a reason. Professors are passionate about the issues, she said, but wanted to conduct a thorough review before speaking out.

“Indeed, critical thinking is central to our mission as educators, researchers and leaders,” Boxill said. “A rush to judgment could not only lead to actions that are ultimately detrimental to this mission, but such a rush is antithetical to what we stand for.”

She said one forthcoming recommendation has caught the eye of Chancellor Holden Thorp: appointing a group of outside experts who can provide “an independent, comprehensive analysis of the complicated relationship between athletics and academics at UNC, and propose recommendations for its management.”

Last week, Thorp sent an e-mail to faculty outlining the work that has been done to overcome the scandal.

“I understand some faculty question the role of intercollegiate athletics at Carolina,” he wrote. “I personally believe we can find the right balance, but I also know that it will be a challenge.”

Stancill: 919-829-4559

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