UNC Scandal

Wainstein probe of UNC-Chapel Hill academic scandal goes beyond previous investigation

Nearly two years ago, UNC-Chapel Hill trustees and the UNC Board of Governors listened to what was supposed to be the definitive report into the long-running academic scandal.

“The hard questions have been asked, and today we have the answers,” Chancellor Holden Thorp said before former Gov. Jim Martin stepped up to the lectern to deliver his report.

Martin’s 74-page report found that the no-show classes stretched back to the 1990s. But Martin didn’t review student transcripts or emails among the various parties connected to the fraud, nor did he have cooperation from the two people at its center.

On Wednesday, the two top panels governing the university will gather again. This time they will be hearing a report from a former top U.S. Justice Department official, Kenneth Wainstein. His team has gone where Martin hadn’t, and it has the cooperation of former African studies chairman Julius Nyang’oro and his longtime department manager Deborah Crowder.

After the meeting, Chancellor Carol Folt will spend much of the day reaching out to the university community. She will take questions at a news conference, conduct a town hall meeting with students, staff and faculty and finish the day with a video conference for members of the Board of Visitors and former trustees.

Aiding her is a high-powered public relations firm, Edelman, a Washington, D.C., group that has at least 14 people working to getting out the university’s message.

Spokesman Joel Curran said the firm began helping the university improve its communications in May. He couldn’t immediately say how much they are being paid.

He said the overall effort Wednesday reflects a “strong statement for how the university intends to behave and communicate.”

“It’s very important for people to understand that this is an important part of our DNA as Carolina,” Curran said. “That we’re open and we’re communicating.”

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