Regarding the Jan. 17 news article “UNC whistle-blower halted”: I was a faculty member at UNC for 35 years, and I came to love the university and what it stood for. It should not be difficult therefore to see how shutting down Mary Willingham’s student athlete literacy investigation would greatly disappoint me, and I suspect many others as well.
The athletic scandals of the last two years were bad enough and significantly tarnished a hard-earned reputation both for academic excellence and athletic prowess. But for Chancellor Carol Folt and Provost Jim Dean to shut down the only part of the investigation based on hard data was not the best way for a new administration to establish its commitment to search for the truth about the scandals.
It is even more disturbing that Willingham points out that UNC shut down her research based on data “outside of her period of study.” This is not how UNC needs to begin restoring its reputation. Shooting the messenger is generally a splendid sign that something seriously bad is going on. A workable strategy for the chancellor is to admit that, begin changing the way things work in the UNC administration and put in place a sensible division between academics and athletics.
She does not appear to be moving in that direction.