In 2012, when former Gov. Jim Martin unveiled the last report into academic fraud and no-show classes in African and Afro-American Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, the leader of the faculty, Jan Boxill, called the report “disturbing,” and “astonishing.”
Wednesday’s report from Kenneth Wainstein showed that Boxill, a faculty member who served as a counselor for the UNC women’s basketball program, had little reason to be astonished.
Boxill was directly involved in sending students’ work for the classes, Wainstein’s report said, and went so far as to suggest the grades her players should receive.
In one email exchange Wainstein uncovered, Deborah Crowder, the department secretary and mastermind of the scheme to set up the no-show classes, responded when Boxill forwarded a paper for a women’s basketball player in 2008.
“Did you say a D will do for (the basketball player)?” Crowder wrote to Boxill. “I’m only asking because 1. no sources, 2, it has absolutely nothing to do with the assignments for that class and 3. it seems to be a recycled paper. She took (another class) in spring of 2007 and that was likely for that class.”
According to the report, Boxill replied: “Yes, a D will be fine; that’s all she needs. I didn’t look at the paper but figured it was a recycled one as well, but I couldn’t figure out from where.”
The report said Crowder and Boxill admitted their collusion about the grade but said it was to help a student cross the finish line to graduation, not maintain her eligibility.
Boxill is a senior lecturer in the philosophy department and was chair of the faculty from 2011 to earlier this year. She directs the university’s Parr Center for Ethics. She has written books on race and gender and sports ethics, and she was a radio announcer for UNC women’s basketball games.
Boxill was one of 126 people interviewed by the Wainstein investigators, and her email was examined as part of the investigation.
Wainstein’s report paints Boxill as sympathetic to women’s sports players.
In 2010, she forwarded a paper for another player to Crowder’s successor in the AFAM department. Boxill wrote that the paper “is very good and informative. I would give it an A- or at least a B+.” The department manager replied that the paper seemed worth an A- to her.
Boxill responded: “GREAT!!!”
Adding ‘stuff’ to papers
Boxill also admitted to investigators that she crossed a line when tutoring players, by drafting sentences and paragraphs for their papers, according to the report. The admission came after Wainstein’s team examined email traffic between Boxill and the players. In one case, Boxill emailed a player a revised paper and said she had “add(ed) some stuff for the intro and conclusion.”
Boxill apparently thought such assistance was of no significance, according to the report. She told the investigators that wholesale drafting of a student’s paper would be wrong, but a sentence or two or a conclusion were “minor” and “not substantive.”
“Jan Boxill was fully aware of the lax work requirements and grading standards in the paper classes and that Crowder played a substantive and substantial role in the classes and the grading,” Wainstein’s report said. “In our interview, (Boxill) asserted a belief that (Julius) Nyang’oro was somehow involved in grading the papers, yet acknowledged an understanding that Crowder may have been grading papers with Nyang’oro’s authorization.”
Altered 2012 report
It’s not the first time questions have been raised about Boxill. In 2012, as chairwoman of the faculty, she had encouraged last-minute edits to a faculty report on the scandal. She told her colleagues it would be best to remove Crowder’s name from the report, along with a reference that Crowder was “extremely close” to people in athletics. Boxill said that could raise “further NCAA issues.”
The faculty committee members at the time complained to each other in emails about Boxill’s request. But later they backed Boxill and said they did not view her requests as an attempt to suppress information to protect athletics.
When asked about Boxill’s involvement Wednesday, Chancellor Carol Folt said she would not speak about individual personnel matters. Folt said some personnel changes would be made, but she did not elaborate.