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.”http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-student-body-pres-disgusted-athleteacademic-accusations/
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.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/folt-unc-responsible-phony-classes-getting-right/
CHAPEL HILL – The UNC Board of Trustees appointed new members to the serve on the UNC Board of Visitors, an active volunteer group at the University. The new members come from alumni and friends who will participate in a 175-member board that actively assists the Chancellor and Board of Trustees with activities ranging from marketing and recruiting to fundraising.
Members of the Board of Visitors also serve as ambassadors between the school and their communities informing both about what is going on. The members serve four-year terms, and every year as members rotate off, new ones are elected. This year, Patty Hill and William Moore of Chapel Hill have been selected to serve on the Board of Visitors from the Orange County area. Beginning July 1, the members will take their spot on the Board chaired by Dr. Michael Zollicoffer of Baltimore.
Thursday, the Carolina Kids Classic celebrates its 25th anniversary of the CKC golf tournament. Since its inception in 1988, the Carolina Kids Classic has raised more than three million dollars to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill and the North Carolina Children’s Hospital. Proceeds from the Golf Tournament go towards helping these programs.
The Golf tournament takes place at Finely Golf Course with top-name participants including: UNC Basketball coach Roy Williams, UNC Football Coach Larry Fedora, Former UNC basketball star Phil Ford, Co-founder of CKC Woody Durham, and a 14-year old patient from the N.C Children’s Hospital.
For more information on the Tournament contact Danielle Bates at email@example.com, or for more information on the Ronald McDonald House visit www.rmh-chapelhill.org and NC Children’s Hospital visit www.ncchildrenshospital.org.
Deputy Fire Chief Matt Lawrence has received an award for Outstanding Leadership from North Carolina Safe Kids. Chief Lawrence served as the Orange Chapter of Safe Kids Chairperson and worked to improve the program in the area. He kept the coalition between the fire department and Safe Kids going while also coordinating the first Orange County Summer Safety Event.
Chief Lawrence dedicated much of his career to improving safety for all citizens and is honored by this award for his work and effort. Safe Kids Worldwide is a global organization dedicated to preventing injuries to children, the number one killer of kids.
For more information on Safe Kids visit www.safekids.org.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/unc-board-of-visitors-carolina-kids-classic-chfd-deputy-chief-outstanding-leadership/
CHAPEL HILL - The 21st Century Vision project is continuing to push research and entrepreneurship to advance UNC in years to come. And it’s just one of the many items on Board of Trustees’ agenda for this week.
“The focus of today was commercialization of technology. What we had here was a preliminary report of a task force that was charged last fall by the Chancellor’s recommendations about how the university can do a better job on the commercialization of technology,” said Barbara Entwisle, UNC Vice Chancellor of Research.
The committee, Using Research to Solve the World’s Problems, is one of the committees under the 21st Century Vision plan that Chancellor Holden announced in May of last year.
Entwisle co-chairs the committee with BoT member Lowry Caudill.
Maryann Feldman, professor of Public Policy at UNC, did a survey on the entrepreneurial endeavors of faculty members and post-docs.
“The real reason they are doing this is because they want their research to make a difference. I think that’s so important to understand about motivation,” Entwisle said.
The committee talked about the importance of encouraging entrepreneurship and how it can positively impact the UNC business ecosystem.
Judith Cone, special assistant to the chancellor, presented a two-year progress report examining students and their start-up companies.
As committee member and Trustee Steven Lerner said, “Money flows where the ideas are.”
Entwisle also identified several areas where the University needs to improve.
According information presented by the committee, UNC does research with out getting commercial outcomes. That’s why the committee wants to identify ways to increase effectiveness. They believe by doing this, jobs will be creating in North Carolina, and more importantly, the University will benefit.
The committee also talked about partnering with Duke, N.C. State or a resource in Research TrianglePark to form an engineering partnership. Another topic of discussion is the convergence technology and social media, and how that’s become a part of student life.
The committee also addressed the convergence technology and social media, and how that’s become a part of student life, in addition to the state of engineering at UNC. They talked about partnering with Duke, N.C. State or a resource in Research Triangle Park to form an engineering partnership. UNC is one of only two schools ranked in the top 20 with out an engineering course of study.
The committee is putting together an all-encompassing progress report to be released in May. It will focus on the committee’s impact on UNC, commercialization, and how to support the faculty in responding to research opportunities
College Access & Completion, another committee of the 21st Century Vision, also met Wednesday.
WCHL will have full coverage of the meeting and bring you any updates on the search for a new chancellor.
Click here view the BoT’s full agenda.http://chapelboro.com/news/21st-century-vision-plan-pushing-ahead-to-advance-unc/
Opening and closing remarks will be conducted in open session, but per the North Carolina Open Meetings Law, the Board has decided to conduct the meeting in closed session.
While the search committee has been interviewing potential candidates for the position, the committee only makes a recommendation to University System President Tom Ross who will then make the final decision on the hire. The committee is expected to suggest three potential candidates for President Ross.
Monday’s meeting will begin at 11:00 a.m. and is expected to last for about an hour. Due to the nature of the meeting regarding personnel matters, the agenda for the meeting has not been released.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc-chancellor-search-drawing-to-a-close/