UNC Appoints New Cabinet Position in Result of Scandal

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt announced at last Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting that Dr. Kim Strom-Gottfried has been appointed as the Director of Ethics Education and Policy Management.

This cabinet-level position in the Chancellor’s Office was created in the wake of the Weinstein report in addition to the recently launched Ethics and Integrity website.

The Policy and Procedure and Ethics and Integrity working groups proposed the idea of the new position back in February. Folt said she is pleased with the hard work the committees have done to fill this position.

Strom-Gottfried has been with the university since 1999 as a faculty member of the School of Social Work. Folt described her as well-qualified.

“She has perfect qualifications for this position and she has been active in so many ways across the faculty, and we’re really excited that she’s going to be joining,” Folt said.

Strom-Gottfried’s new position will begin August 1. The Ethics and Integrity website is up and running with 1,600 policies and procedures.  Visit the website to report a complaint or an idea for a change.


UNC Breaks Ties With Hunt Institute

UNC has formally ended its association with the James B. Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy. The Board of Governors approved the split at their Thursday meeting.

The center, which opened in 2001, focuses on education strategy, policy and educational improvements on a state and national level. Originally, the institute was not affiliated with UNC-Chapel Hill, only the UNC system, which gave it a greater level of autonomy.

The decision for UNC and the Hunt Institute to split was mutual, said UNC Provost Jim Dean.

“I think everybody on both sides thinks that this is a reasonable outcome, although it probably sounds odd to talk about it that way, but I think it does make sense for the institute to be able to go its own way,” said Dean.

The Hunt Foundation Board, the institute’s support organization, approved the split in February. Former Governor James Hunt, chairman of the organization, said the split would allow the institute to have a “more ambitious agenda” in the future.

Dean said they gave the institute the option of aligning their work more closely with the university, something they were not interested in doing.

“I think it’s pretty clear from reading the report that the institute’s work was never really that closely related to the work of this university,” said Dean.

The decision comes after the Board of Governors ordered a review of centers and institutes in the UNC system last fall.

UNC also conducted reviews of the Carolina Center Public Service, Carolina’s Women’s Center, Center for Civil Rights, and Center Faculty Excellence per request of the Board of Governors. All of these centers will remain open.

“I think it’s fair to say, somewhat informally, I’m pretty impressed by the work these centers are doing. They are doing important work and they are doing it well,” said Dean.

The Board of Governors also ordered the closing of the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity last February. Opponents accused the Board of Governors of making a partisan decision to close the center but members of the BOG have refuted such accusations.


Task Force Taking ‘Deep Dives’ Into UNC History

The UNC Board of Trustees discussed the progress of the History Task Force at Wednesday’s committee meeting.

The History Task Force was created after the renaming of Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall in August of last year, with the propose of examining race and the history of the university.

There were tensions on campus when Carolina Hall was not renamed Hurston Hall, a name many students and faculty wanted, but this only gave the task force more of a purpose.

The task force is made up of facility and students, with a variety of views, said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp.

“I had a number of people ask me, ahead of the first meeting, was I really nervous about it and was it going to stressful and even pugilistic but it hasn’t turn out to be that way at all,” said Crisp.

The Board of Trustee made the decision to rename Carolina Hall as well as create the task force and trustee Charles Duckett reaffirmed their commitment.

“This is something that is vitally important to this university, so that we understand every aspect of why and the history of, that’s inside and outside, and it’s going to take a long time and it’s going to take commitments by a lot of people and that’s what we are going to do,” said Duckett.

Their first big project is an exhibit inside Carolina Hall. The task force is currently considering design teams and deciding on content for the exhibit, which UNC history professor Jim Leloudis said requires some serious research.

“That’s meant a very deep dive into the university archives. We’ve tried to understand the full story of the naming of what’s now Carolina Hall,” said Leloudis.

The task force is also working on an inventory of everything that has been memorialized on campus, like monuments, buildings and scholarships.

“The important take away there is that this is the most heavily memorialized landscape in the state of North Carolina,” said Leloudis.

Working to tell a story about UNC that is over 200 years old; the History Task Force certainly has its work cut out for it.


Board of Trustees Discuss Student Stores Privatization

Matt Fajack, vice chancellor for finance and administration, told members of the Board of Trustees why the university was investigating the possibility of privatizing the Student Stores in a committee meeting Wednesday afternoon.

“It appears that most bookstores of our size and prestige should have a profit of two to four million dollars,” he said. “So it looked like there was an opportunity to at least explore other models.”

All profits from the Student Stores go directly to scholarships and last year the stores made around 425,000 dollars in profit.

“Our primary goal for this is to raise money for need-based aid,” he said. “We’ve also asked the people that work in the Student Stores to put together a business plan that they could increase profits.”

Student Stores employees have raised concerns about the effect a potential change would have on their job security, but Fajack said he doesn’t think this is how the private companies would increase profits.

“A lot of people say ‘well we’re going to cut employees or cut employee pay,'” Fajack said. “At least in my discussions with them that’s not where the addition contribution to scholarships would come from.”

The university started looking into privatization after Fallett approached UNC with an unsolicited offer this summer. In order to investigate the matter more thoroughly, the university is currently accepting applications to privatize the stores.

Fallett and Barnes and Noble are the largest campus bookstore companies, running nearly 2,000 across the United States between the two of them.

Fajack said this experience might make the Student Stores more profitable.

“Since they manage so many stores they have retail gurus who know where to place things, how to place things, what to look at, when to do sales,” he said. “Another place they can dramatically increase revenues is it appears they are much better than us at online sales.”

Interested businesses have until February 18 to submit their proposals to UNC, which is trying to have this resolved by the beginning of July.


UNC History Task Force Presents to Trustees

The Task Force on UNC-Chapel Hill’s History presented their plans further discussion about race on campus to members of the Board of Trustees on Wednesday.

“We want to make sure this exercise teaches our community and any other interested people about our complete past, including things people might consider good and bad,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp

Crisp is a member of the task force, which was created after the renaming of Saunders hall to examine race and history at the university.

To start, a plaque will be placed on Carolina Hall, formerly Saunders Hall, on November 23.

The plaque will read, “We honor and remember all of those who have suffered injustices at the hands of those who denied them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The committee is also working to place an exhibit inside the building.

“It’s a rough concept at the moment, but the general idea is it will have three points of focus,” said task force member and UNC history professor James Leloudis. “The first is reconstruction and Williams Saunders’ role in that tumultuous time. The second on the 1920s and the social, political and racial context in which the trustees in 1922 decided to name the building for William Saunders. And then finally a discussion of the contemporary era.”

He said the timeline for the creation of the exhibit will be around 7 months and estimated the budget will be 10 to 15 thousand dollars.

There is no specific design for the exhibit and Leloudis said the task force was unsure where exactly it would be placed within the building.

In the spring the board requested an audit of all buildings, monuments, memorials and landscapes, in order to get a better understanding of the historical context of the campus.

“I don’t have at the moment a real ability to tell you how long it’s going to be before we finish that,” Crisp said. “But that is underway.”

The task force is also working on historical markers to put in McCorkle place and is still in the early stages of developing ideas for the markers.

Crisp said the task force is looking for input from the community and is creating a website to make more information available to the public.

He encouraged the public to reach out to the task force via email at historytaskforce@unc.edu


UNC Receives Second-Highest Fundraising Total

UNC was given its second-highest fundraising total through gifts and grants in fiscal year 2014, despite a complete change in leadership.

Chancellor Carol Folt began her tenure as the 11th chancellor of the University. In her first year, she developed and hired her executive staff, completing the process with the hiring of Matthew Fajack as the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration beginning this fall.

The University received $297.5 million last year, which is a nine-percent increase from the previous year.

Chancellor Carol Folt says that speaks a great deal about the supporters of the University that continued giving through a time that was mired in an academic scandal.

“When I look at those numbers, I think it tells me that, first of all, there’s an amazing commitment to Carolina,” Chancellor Folts says. “To be raising at that level before you go into a campaign is unusual. That means people really care.”

Commitments, which include pledges as well as gifts, also rose by nine percent, from $248.3 million to $310 million. The commitments helped create five endowed professorships in addition to 58 undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships.

Board of Trustees Chair Lowry Caudill says the numbers speak for themselves.

“I think it’s an absolutely fantastic thing,” Caudill said. “We had a transition in leadership last year. The fact that we were able to move through that year and have one of the highest fundraising years we’ve had in University history—that tells you something about the good things that are happening at Carolina and how people really think about Carolina.”

To see the complete breakdown of last year’s fundraising at Carolina, click here.


Former Scholarship Athletes Invited To “Complete Carolina”

Updated 1:12 p.m., July 24, 2014

Chancellor Carol Folt and UNC are offering scholarships for life to all student athletes.

“We’re all thinking about improving the athletic experience; it’s part of the national dialogue,” Chancellor Folt said announcing the program titled “Complete Carolina” at Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting. “What’s exciting about this program for us is it’s allowing us to build on what we’ve already been doing. We have this real thrust in improving our advising and improving all of our counseling, but also, we’ve always wanted to bring our athletes back, and quite a few have come back, but we really decided that it was time to make sure we could formalize it, make it easier, and ensure the funding so that we could increase the number of students that do come back.”

She said the timing of the announcement was critical so the reapplication process can begin for the upcoming semester.

Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said this solidifies UNC’s commitment to providing everyone with an education.

“Part of the national discussion is, ‘what do we provide for students’,” Cunningham said. “We provide them an education; that’s what the collegiate model is. So, we want to fulfill that obligation to all of our students.”

In addition to providing financial support, the University will provide student-athletes who left the University in good academic standing with free room, board, and books. They will also be placed in a new, “enhanced” advising program.

“We added two additional advisors last year,” Cunningham said. “Now, we’re trying to get all the students to meet with advisors in the College of Arts and Sciences each semester. So, we’ve already added some staff. If we need to add more as we move forward, we will.”

Cunningham said Complete Carolina will be funded completely by the Ram’s Club. He added that UNC averages about a 90-percent graduation rate among student-athletes.

UNC Faculty Council Chair Bruce Cairns said the faculty is completely behind this initiative.

“There’s a commitment on the faculty’s part to ensure that all of the students who have attended Carolina have the opportunity to complete their degree and be leaders in their community,” Dr. Cairns said. “So, we’re very excited about it.”

He says, regardless of the national conversation, this was something that was crucial for the University.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Dr. Cairns said. “It always starts with that. If that helps that ongoing conversation, then that’s great. Carolina has always led. Clearly we’ve had some challenges. We need to address those challenges, and I think that this is a major step forward.”


UNC BoT To Hear $180 Million MEASURE Plan Thursday

The UNC Board of Trustees will hear just how a $180 million grant will be spent Thursday morning.

The Board held its regular committee meetings Wednesday and will be presented with reports from each on Thursday. Those committees include Finance and Infrastructure, Innovation and Impact, External Relations, and University Affairs.

At the start of this month, UNC announced it received its second largest single grant in the sum of $180 million for the MEASURE project. The U.S. Agency for International Development presented the grant to the Carolina Population Center for MEASURE, which stands for Monitoring and Evaluation to Assess and Use Results Evaluation project.

The project has brought in nearly $600 million in all since its inception in 1997.

The Board will also hear about UNC’s Galapagos Lab and Science Center and The Honors Study Abroad Program.

UNC’s Board of Trustees meets at the Carolina Inn Thursday beginning at 8:00 a.m.



UNC Student Body Pres: “Disgusted” By Athlete/Academic Accusations

CHAPEL HILL – At Thursday’s meeting of the Board of Trustees, UNC student body president Christy Lambden spoke out harshly against recent allegations that a majority of Carolina student-athletes struggle to read at a high-school level.

“I for one am disgusted by the reputation of Carolina students being unnecessarily disparaged by the media,” he said.

Lambden joins a chorus of UNC leaders who have pushed back strongly against academic advisor Mary Willingham’s contention—first publicized on CNN earlier this month—that a large percentage of student-athletes are admitted to Carolina without the ability to succeed in college.

Willingham studied 183 athletes, mostly basketball and football players, who were admitted to UNC between 2004 and 2012; she said she found that 60 percent of them read between a fourth- and eighth-grade level. But last week at a Faculty Council meeting, UNC officials said Willingham had based her findings on a test that wasn’t meant to measure grade level—and that SAT and ACT test scores indicated that 90 percent of incoming football and basketball players in that time frame met the commonly accepted threshold for college literacy.

The resulting debate grew emotional on all sides—Willingham even received death threats—and caught in the middle of it all, Lambden says, were the athletes themselves.

“I have personally taken the time to speak with a number of student-athletes at Carolina, both revenue and non-revenue (sports),” he said Thursday, “and it was clear that all students that I spoke to felt hurt, betrayed, and ultimately persecuted by what they believe to be completely unfair and unmerited accusations about their academic abilities.”

UNC officials generally avoided commenting on the Willingham issue on Thursday, beyond a call for civility from Chancellor Carol Folt. But Lambden remained outspoken at the meeting, saying that he’d never seen a student-athlete who couldn’t succeed in college—and that his fellow students felt the same way.

“I think for the most part, the student population is of the same mindset as I am,” he said. “A lot of students have taken classes with student-athletes and have never found this to be the case of any of the student-athletes that they’ve taken classes with–and I’ve heard that on repeated occasions.”

And while the current debate has revolved around admissions criteria, Lambden says it’s more important to examine how well UNC students succeed once they’re here.

“When we’re looking at an admissions policy from Carolina that says we only admit people that we believe can succeed at Carolina, it seems that the most important metric is, do they succeed at Carolina?” he said Thursday. “And I think for the most part, students and student-athletes that I’ve spoken to absolutely believe that the University is providing everything that they need to be able to succeed at Carolina, and I think that’s reflected by the graduation data that we have.”

In a committee meeting on Wednesday, Provost Jim Dean said UNC had commissioned an external review of Willingham’s data.

A larger study conducted by CNN across multiple colleges found that “most schools have between 7% and 18% of revenue sport athletes who are reading at an elementary-school level.”


Folt: UNC Responsible For Phony Classes, But “Getting It Right”

CHAPEL HILL – At a meeting of the Board of Trustees Thursday, UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said the University accepts responsibility for past misdeeds regarding academic oversight.

But she also said she supports UNC’s current course of action to ensure those misdeeds don’t recur in the future.

“We’re saying very directly that we understand it, we accept responsibility for it, (but) at the same time, we’re putting in immense effort to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” she told reporters.

Among other things, “it” refers to the anomalous and phony classes offered during a period of more than a decade in the African and Afro-American Studies Department (AFAM). Former department chair Julius Nyang’oro has already been indicted in connection with those classes; District Attorney Jim Woodall says more indictments may be yet to come.

It’s still an open question whether those courses were created solely to provide athletes with an easy grade to maintain their eligibility. UNC has avoided additional NCAA sanctions because there’s no direct evidence of that being the case—but Folt said either way, the problem was larger than that.

“Although we don’t have evidence that the anomalous courses were initiated in order to benefit athletes, close to half who did enroll were student-athletes,” she said. “(But) many students were involved in those courses, (and) all of those students who were involved in those courses deserved better from us.”

Afterwards, speaking to reporters, Folt went even further.

“Courses that have no faculty oversight – that’s a real betrayal of our commitment to our students,” she said.

And she said that betrayal was the result of a long-term “failure in academic oversight.”

“This too was wrong,” she said, “and it has undermined our integrity and our reputation – and it’s created a very unhealthy atmosphere of distrust.”

That “atmosphere of distrust,” of course, came to the surface in the last few weeks—in the emotional response to academic advisor Mary Willingham’s assertion that many UNC athletes read below an eighth-grade level and that officials in the academic support center turned a blind eye to evidence of phony classes and plagiarism.

High-ranking UNC officials—including Folt—spoke out vehemently against Willingham at a faculty council meeting last week; Provost Jim Dean called her research “a travesty.” But the attacks also got personal as well: Willingham says she even received death threats after going public with her concerns earlier this month.

In response to that, Folt sent an email to the campus community this week calling for civility—a call she reiterated on Thursday.

“This type of dialogue is essential to a University community,” she said. “But whether we’re going to agree or disagree, we have to really make this a healthy debate. We have to welcome it. And we have to respect each other in this debate, and do it in ways that show the true character of our Carolina community.”

But while she discussed the AFAM scandal in more detail, Folt had little to say about Willingham’s charges, which have occupied the more recent headlines.

“We have an external panel coming forward,” she told reporters, “and we’ll talk to you about it when that’s complete.”

Still, Folt did insist that Willingham was still welcome at Carolina.

“She absolutely is continuing her work,” she said. “The studies you’ve read have not been part of her job here.”

The central message of Thursday’s meeting, though, was that UNC officials—and the Board of Trustees—support what the University is doing now to address the ongoing issues surrounding academics and athletics. That includes a working group led by Provost Jim Dean and Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham.

“Our Board expectation is straightforward,” said Board Chair Lowry Caudill. “We want to compete academically and athletically at the highest levels with utmost integrity. We are pleased that our improvements over the past several years, and our current efforts, are leading to a sustainable approach.”

Speaking after the meeting, Chancellor Folt agreed.

“There isn’t a faculty member, or a staff member, or (anyone) that’s a part of this that don’t want to get it right,” she said.