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Media Focus: UNC Academic Scandal

By Ran Northam Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:00 pm

The place and way in which a long-lasting, controversial topic is covered plays a major role in the public’s perception, and UNC Faculty Chair-elect, Bruce Cairns says that’s weighing heavily on the University’s academic scandal.

“Structure and hierarchy is important. There are reporting systems that are in place and then groups that are in charge of unit—various units sit down together and discuss these issues—and then that’s how problems are solved,” Dr. Cairns says. “If, however, that hierarchy and that system is not used and, instead, we discuss this in a very public forum, then it becomes difficult amidst all of that discussion to really get all of that addressed.”

These comments were made during a WCHL News Special with Jim Heavner.

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Dr. Cairns served in the Navy, where he says he learned that hierarchy. He is the Jaycee Burn Center director and John Stackhouse Distinguished Professor of Surgery. He was recently elected as chair of the faculty at UNC and will take over from Jan Boxill at the start of the new academic year on July 1. The faculty chair position holds a three-year term.

Despite all the constant, mostly-negative coverage of the academic scandal, Dr. Cairns says he believes this is a situation that UNC can recover from over time.

“You mentioned things like train wreck and canyon; I know that the focus has been on dealing with the issues we talked about with the budget as well as getting the leadership team in and then trying to create the structural framework for how to address issues like this,” Dr. Cairns says. “As we’ve already admitted, this is one of the most challenging academic issues we have had. So, I think the attempts have really been made to begin that dialogue—or actally have that dialogue; and, in fact, I’ve seen it; I’ve been a part of it.”

The results of another investigation, currently underway by former Assistant Attorney General for National Security and Homeland Security Advisor to President George W. Bush, Kenneth Wainstein, are expected sometime this summer.

The WCHL News Special with Jim Heavner featuring Dr. Bruce Cairns will air Saturday and Sunday at 12:00 noon on 97.9 FM, 1360 AM, and streaming here.

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