UNC Provost To Speak On Ath/Academic Reforms Weds

By Rachel Nash Posted January 21, 2014 at 5:19 pm

CHAPEL HILL - UNC Provost Jim Dean, who led the conversation in which University leaders refuted data and collection methods behind the claims that read at a level no higher than eighth grade, will give an update on the progress of the Student-Athlete Academic Initiatives Working Group to a Board of Trustees committee Wednesday.

The Working Group is examining current practices and policies that govern the approximately 800 student-athletes. The goal is to document student-athletes from recruitment to graduation. Members include Dean; Steve Farmer, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, and Bubba Cunningham Director of Athletics.

Dean has said in the past that this is not a “casual effort” to improve the connection between athletics and academics, an area that has been the source of scandals and controversies for Carolina.

At a packed Faculty Council meeting last Friday, Dean, Farmer and UNC Chancellor Carol Folt dismissed the research of former UNC athletic tutor Mary Willingham, who told CNN that a majority of Carolina’s student-athletes read at a level no higher than the eighth grade.

Dean said that her research was based on the Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SATA), a vocabulary test that the University used to screen some student-athletes for potential learning differences/learning disabilities until the 2012-2013 school year. The SATA is not affiliated with the SAT administered by the College Board. Dean said it is not intended to measure reading competency.

Willingham stated publicly that she had repeatedly tried to share the data with University officials to raise awareness about the literacy problems she said she had observed as an athletic tutor.

Dean said UNC’s top leaders had not been given the full data set until January 13.

Last Thursday, University officials revoked Willingham’s research privileges. UNC said the suspension was due to violations of federal and University policies regarding the identification of individual students.

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At Wednesday’s Committee meeting, Farmer will present several amendments to the University’s undergraduate admissions policies. One of the proposed changes would eliminate that an applicant’s predicted grade average for the first year can be a factor that helps them gain admittance.

UNC Faculty Chair Jan Boxill will also give a presentation about open access to academic research.

The BoT’s University Affair Committee meets Wednesday from 2:00-4:00 p.m. at the Carolina Inn.

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