Letters to the Editor

Here’s how to ensure academic quality at UNC and other universities

Former NBA star calls UNC case "most disappointing thing" he's seen in sports

Former NBA star David Robinson, a member of the Knight Commission and the Rice commission, said the UNC academic fraud case "undermines" what college basketball should be about. Robinson was speaking at a meeting of the Knight Commission.
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Former NBA star David Robinson, a member of the Knight Commission and the Rice commission, said the UNC academic fraud case "undermines" what college basketball should be about. Robinson was speaking at a meeting of the Knight Commission.

Former NBA star speaks up on the UNC case” (May 13) clearly hit the nail on the head. Of particular importance was NBA great David Robinson’s point of view; it was unequivocal. His central theme was that UNC manifestly cheated, not only student-athletes, who enrolled in those fraudulent classes, but all the other 1500 non-athletes who enrolled. He claims by providing those bogus courses, the institution clearly failed to enhance its core mission, the learning process. The article further discusses the recent “Rice Commission on College Basketball.” It describes that the Rice report as unsure as to how to define academic quality and who has the right to make a judgment about academic quality.

I submit it is extremely easy to embark on the academic quality debate and I offer four suggestions.

For starters, the development of any course begins with faculty involvement. A faculty member or members creates a course, it is then reviewed by a departmental courses and curriculum committee, signed by the department chair, forwarded to the school or college-wide committee, and finally, for it to be deemed appropriate for implementation, it must be approved by the faculty at large. That’s the obligatory manifestation of academic quality.

Second, the most important faculty member is the student’s major adviser. He or she is legally obligated to oversee and ensure the academic integrity of any course or program in which the student might enroll. This is the essence of academic oversight.

Third, though the academic counseling service within athletic departments have gotten much better in recent years, it often oversteps its boundaries. No one in that sphere should designate course approval status. I believe that’s what got UNC in trouble in the first place.

Fourth, the academic progress rule should be clearly defined and must remain the prerogative of each institution, whose responsibility is to designate minimal GPA standards for graduation. Additionally, each student-athlete must adhere to an approved individual course of study and can only enroll in those courses monitored by faculty oversight.

David N. Camaione Ph. D.


The writer is a professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut.

Adjust education spending

I am a retired teacher educator from Pennsylvania who has been concerned when my student teachers have moved to right-to-work states. Recent marches in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and now North Carolina, all right-to-work states, support my worry.

North Carolina has proved to be particularly onerous for my former students. Not one who has moved to your state earns a living wage on a teaching salary. All have additional jobs. Test scores take precedence over learning through current textbooks, effective class sizes, and well-maintained school buildings. Support staff – nurses, counselors, aides – are insufficient. The value of graduate degrees and years of experience go unrecognized in the salary scale.

Here are some important facts: Across the U.S. 30 percent percent of new teachers leave the profession within five years. At Title I schools turnover is closer to 50 percent. Over the past five years enrollment in teacher education programs has dropped by 30 percent. Working conditions like those in North Carolina explain why.

Were I still working with student teachers, I would be urging them not to seek jobs in your state. Legislators, now is the time to adjust spending on education.

Helen C. Sitler, Ph.D.

Professor Emerita

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

‘Missed opportunity’

Regarding “ Few teeth in Trump’s prescription to reduce drug prices” (May 11): Having a keen interest in healthcare payment reform (proven quality at lower costs), I was eager to hear President Trump announce measures to use Medicare’s purchasing power to lower drug costs. It’s a bipartisan concept which makes good sense for all of us.

Instead, we got a watered down version of incremental changes which simply nip around the edges of the problem – with an added punch at those nasty foreign countries who already extracted these lower drug costs for their citizens under Medicare-like programs.

Trump once again caved in to special interests; gun lobby first, now big pharma. A missed opportunity indeed.

Gino Pazzaglini, MSW, LFACHE