CHAPEL HILL – Former UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp returned to Chapel Hill this weekend. It was his first time back on campus since he departed this summer for Washington University in Saint Louis to take on his new role as Provost.
“It’s great being back in Chapel Hill, seeing old friends, and seeing a lot of the things I started and how they are doing,” Thorp said. “It’s good seeing the campus in such a great spirit and things going so well so well for Chancellor Folt.”
Thorp gave a lecture on Sunday about the importance of the study of the Humanities at the University.
Following his talk, he received several standing ovations from a crowd which included Chair of the UNC Board of Trustees Lowry Caudill and Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham.
Chancellor Carol Folt took over as the University’s leader on July 1. Thorp said he met with Carolina’s first female chancellor on Friday for an extended lunch to catch up.
During his time as Chancellor, Thorp led Carolina through academic and athletic scandals which still haunt the University to this day.
Last year, Thorp announced his intention to step down as Chancellor into a faculty role effective June 30, but he later decided to depart Chapel Hill and accepted the Provost position at Washington University.
“The Provost job is a job that is well suited to me. My boss and me are completely in sync on many different things. It is a university that is unapologetically bold in its aspirations for academic excellence.”
Thorp on UNC sports
Thorp, an avid sports fan, said he didn’t make it over to Raleigh to watch the Tar Heel football team defeat N.C. State 27-19 on Saturday, but he did find a way to celebrate the game here in Chapel Hill.
“My college roommate and I watched it on TV,” Thorp said. “At halftime, to feel like old times, we walked over to the Yogurt Pump for some frozen yogurt, which is what we used to do when we lived in Connor Dorm 30 years ago.”
Thorp said he wouldn’t be able to make it back for many basketball games in Chapel Hill, but said he was still nevertheless ready for UNC’s first game of the season this Friday against the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies.
“I hadn’t bought a television in a long time, and I bought myself a very large HD TV, so I’m looking forward to basketball season.”
On his legacy
Leaving a legacy of encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation at Carolina, Thorp said he was most proud of his part in improving college accessibility during his time as Chancellor.
“It’s something I knew would be important to provide the kind of opportunity in a college education that happens here [UNC]. When you leave, you see how precious and wonderful a thing it is,” Thorp said. “I know Chancellor Folt is really amazed by that, coming from private, higher education. This tradition we have of meeting 100 percent of need and being need-blind and having 1-in-5 of our students being the first generation of in their family to go to college—I mean, God, that is even better and more important than I thought it was when I was here.”
As far as his plans to return to Chapel Hill one day, he said, “I’ve given up on trying to speculate what will happen in the future.”
Thorp said he will remain with Washington University for as long as he is needed.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/catching-up-with-former-unc-chancellor-holden-thorp/
CHAPEL HILL – We should see concrete changes in UNC’s sexual assault policy by the end of this year, according to the University’s top leaders. After months of work by Carolina’s sexual assault policy task force, some improvements have already been implemented.
The group was charged with reviewing and enhancing the University’s policies and procedures on the issue. It’s a diverse, 22-member assemblage of students and leaders with in the Carolina community.
UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said she met with the sexual assault policy task force just last week.
“We will stay vigilant in this area, but it’s something that requires a community-side effort,” Folt said to the Board of Trustees. She added, “Nobody could be watching the news and not constantly be thinking about what we can do to ensure the safety of our communities. We have a lot of work. Just two days ago, we met with the Chief [McCraken] and went over those plans.”
Several changes outside the policy process have already been put into effect. In the coming months, faculty, staff and students will have access to online training concerning Title IX requirements, and there will be a campus-wide emphasis on preventing all forms of violence.
UNC Student Body President Christy Lambden has been working with the task force since its creation.
“We must start to implement increased training around this issue for all members of our community,” Lambden said.
Lambden and members of the Student Government began work this spring on a new Smartphone app that will allow members of the university community to report incidents of sexual violence.
“We as a community must undergo a shift in the culture surrounding this issue on our campus,” Lambden said. “We must support those who have been assaulted and continue to educate our community about how to prevent sexual assault from occurring.”
Carolina’s emphasis on improving its sexual assault policy began after Landen Gambill told the UNC Honor Court in the spring of 2012 that she was repeatedly assaulted by her ex-boyfriend. She then filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights against the University. Gambill and four others claimed that Carolina acted with insensitivity and carelessness when handling these cases.
As of the summer of 2012, sexual assault cases have been removed from the Honor Court’s jurisdiction.
In the wake of the Federal Investigation, then UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp brought in Gina Smith, a former prosecutor, in January of this year. She worked with members of the campus community, including the sexual assault task force, to discuss how the University handles cases of sexual misconduct.
Winston Crisp, UNC’s Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, has been monitoring the work of the task force. He told a Board of Trustees committee that they can expect clearer policy language about the reporting of sexual misconduct. Specifically, a more concise definition of what sexual assault is.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen almost a revolution across the country, particularly around the processes we use and how we execute the process so that it is more humane and pays more attention to the feelings and the emotions,” Crisp said.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-sexual-assault-policy-reforms-underway/
CHAPEL HILL – Jan Boxill, UNC’s Faculty Chair, said Wednesday that significant progress has been made in achieving “balance” between athletics and academics at the University. In the wake of scandals that continue to haunt Carolina, the pressure is on to make changes and prevent future indiscretions.
“We can be a model for other Division I athletic programs,” Boxill said. “That doesn’t mean that we will reach complete agreement among the faculty as no policy will.”
In mid-July, Boxill was accused by the Raleigh News and Observer of a cover-up regarding information about UNC’s athletic program
Boxill told WCHL News that she was cast in a negative light by the N&O for trying to help the University’s image during tumultuous times with the NCAA, the media, and even the public. UNC faculty issued a statement supporting Boxill after the article was published.
While addressing a committee of the Board Trustees Wednesday, Boxill said that the work of the Faculty Council’s athletics focus group had been tedious, but that it was on a path toward progress.
Efforts have been on-going across campus to strengthen relationships between academics and athletics. The Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes was reorganized and now reports to Dean’s office.
Earlier this month, the Rawlings Panel issued a report on the role of athletics in campus life. It was commissioned by former UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp.
Boxill said that report was discussed by the Faculty Council on September 13 and will be dissected more thoroughly next month.
Chancellor Carol Folt and Provost Jim Dean both assumed their respective positions this summer. Boxill said this has given her a fresh perspective on Carolina’s strengths and weaknesses.
“Their visible presence and willingness to learn from all of us has presented opportunities for the faculty to find solutions to our old and new problems,” Boxill said.
Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham, Folt, and Dean together formed the Student Athlete Academic Working Group in August.
Dean said Wednesday that the three leaders were not making just a “casual effort” to improve the connection between athletics and academics
“And this group, because of the nature of the people who are on the group, is not a group that will be making recommendations,” Dean said “There is no one for us to make recommendations to. We will be making changes.”
He added that he, Folt, and Cunningham were going through “everything that has to do with student athletes with a fine-toothed comb.”http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/uncs-jan-boxill-jim-dean-talk-athleticsacademics/
Pictured: Holden Thorp, Carol Folt, James Moeser
CHAPEL HILL – UNC Chancellor Emeritus Holden Thorp has taken on his new role as Provost at Washington University in St. Louis, but his influence at Carolina lives on through initiatives he began during his time in Chapel Hill.
Under Thorp’s leadership, UNC launched Innovate@Carolina. The program works to strengthen Carolina’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, helping to translate ideas into ventures that will make an impact on the community.
Thorp also served on the President’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which held its first national forum in Chapel Hill, and co-authored “Engines of Innovation — The Entrepreneurial University in the 21st Century.”
Chancellor Carol Folt took over as the University’s leader on July 1 and has praised her predecessor during her first month at the helm.
“There’s also, clearly, a very powerful culture of entrepreneurship and innovation here already. I think it is wonderful that the board is focusing on that. It is flourishing, too, thanks in part to groundbreaking research done by Chancellor Thorp’s innovation circle,” Folt said to UNC Board of Trustees last week.
Echoing similar sentiments, UNC Professor of Chemistry Joe DeSimone, also the Director of the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and a Professor of Chemical Engineering at N.C.State, told the Board that the University has to maintain a presence nationally through research initiatives and economic development.
“When you look at job growth, and it is what this state needs, job growth emanates from start-up companies. All the data supports it,” DeSimone said. He added that, “…it is not only the start-ups, but it is the conversion and the translation from start-ups to manufacturing. We have to keep that chain from the beginning all the way through to manufacturing, and we have to do that in this state.”
A business man himself, Thorp holds 12 issued U.S. patents and co-founded Viamet Pharmaceuticals, which develops drugs for prostate cancer and fungal infections. In 2012, Thorp was selected a charter fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, a nonprofit organization that recognizes investigators who translate their research findings into inventions to benefit society, according to his biography on the University’s website.
Continuing Thorp’s vision for UNC, the Trustees’ new chairman, Lowry Caudill, outlined four goals for the board this year: to transition Folt into her new role, to improve risk management, to build relationship with external constituencies, and to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
Thorp also broke ground through ushering in a new era of improved town-gown relations in the community, something Folt said she will take pride in continuing.
“I feel very happy and lucky to be inheriting a very strong town and gown relationship. That is something that I know is important to everybody and something that is important to me,” Folt said.
Before Thorp departed for St. Louis, Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt presented him with a key to the Town.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/holden-thorps-legacy-of-innovation-lives-on-in-chapel-hill/
Obviously, the first question was about Williams’ health, and he revealed some details of the scary 24-day period when there was a “95 percent chance” he had cancer in one or both kidneys.
Williams said he suffered from heartburn discomfort over the summer and, after his regular check-up and two X-rays, was told he had a mass in his right kidney that was likely cancerous. Surgery was scheduled for September 20, and Ol’ Roy went on a pe-arranged golf trip with his Foxhole Buddies.
“I’ve always said when I croak, I want to birdie the last hole I play and then keel over,” he joked, adding that he had a short birdie putt on the final hole of the trip and was torn over making it. He missed and admitted being relieved.
As we know now, the mass was benign, an oncocytoma that looks like a cancerous renal carcinoma in most x-rays and scans, and is not in only 3-7 percent of cases. That increased the chances that tumor in his left kidney was also benign, which it turned out to be after a biopsy taken two weeks later.
“The doctors said I was a lucky guy,” Williams sighed, “and I already knew that. I’ve always said I have lived a charmed life.”
For now, Williams is working 4-5 hours a day but pledges to be at full strength by the season so he “can coach this team.” That’s what he promised his players when he gave them the dire diagnosis, and while he still plans to coach 6-10 more years he also said the experience has “changed me, and I will try to smell the roses a lot more.” The time with his family during the ordeal was especially poignant.
Mike Krzyzewski called three times, Wake Forest’s Jeff Bzdelik sent ice cream and Williams received well-wishes from dozens of other coaches and hundreds of fans. That story over, Williams was eager to talk about his young team which lost 4 of the top 17 players drafted by the NBA in 2012 and will be one of the youngest he’s ever had at point guard and in the middle.
He likes 6-foot freshman Marcus Paige, who wears No. 5 and is a lefty, which are the only similarities to departed assist-meister Kendall Marshall. But the “little rascal” is expected to be Carolina’s floor leader when the season opens against Gardner Webb on November 9. Williams also promised fans will love freshman center Joel James, who is 6-10 and slimmed down from 310 pounds to 270.
“He only started playing as a sophomore in high school and he’s had less basketball instruction than any player I’ve ever had,” Williams said. “But I told him Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Apparently the upside, like James, is enormous.
In between kidneys and coaching, Williams spent about 10 minutes answering Kane, who seems bent on extending the academic scandal from the football program into basketball and other sports at UNC. Kane asked Williams if he knew why some of his players had been in the so-called aberrant AFAM classes before 2009 but none since. “Did you find out something?” Kane said.
Williams had been briefed that Kane was there and remained patient with his answers, repeating that “some mistakes were made” but he has been proud of what the university does academically since his days as a student there.
Asked about the scandal for months, Williams maintains that he’s not as concerned with what courses his players take as if they attended class, do the work assigned and get a passing grade. That hasn’t been good enough for Kane, who sees this as some kind of conspiracy to help athletes.
I spoke with him afterward and, acknowledging that Chancellor Holden Thorp has admitted classes were not taught as described in the UNC catalogue and has fired at least five people over it, wondered did Kane get the distinction Williams has been making. Kane wouldn’t answer; guess he likes asking better.
He was defensive, understandable while chasing such an unpopular story in a room full of sports media, but Kane reiterated that these classes were “bogus” and some athletes were in them. Clearly, he was not satisfied with the steps UNC has taken to correct what Thorp described as certain students being “cheated out of a Carolina education.”
But not necessarily cheating. Kane would not tell me where he went to college, as I tried to determine if he understood that the problems at UNC are not only endemic to athletics but to college life in general. Most students find the crip courses and easy teachers and they cluster in those classes, whether athletes, fratty baggers or dorm rats. Who among us hasn’t taken at least one of those courses?
Students find them from other students and, sometimes, from their academic advisors. Now, they can find them on the Internet.
Athletes find them from other athletes and, yes, may have been steered toward them by their advisors. Especially athletes who come in as academic exceptions and need help to make progress toward graduation and stay eligible. It happens at Carolina, N.C. State and even at Duke, believe it or not!
It is Dan Kane’s job to stay on the story, but given how Carolina has responded, canned the culprits and made the changes, it is fast becoming a non-story that has hurt a university’s reputation far beyond what is deserved. If you want to say something stinks, it’s the moneyed pressure of big-time college athletics.
Even Kane implied the story was likely at a dead end because many of those so-called bogus classes did not meet more than once and assigned students to write papers to turn in at the end of the semester.
“Do you know what the retention rule for keeping those papers is?” Kane asked. “One year.”
In other words, Governor Martin and the similar committees investigating past academic transgressions aren’t going to find any proof of anything. And the university is doing what it should be doing – fixing the problems and moving on.
Now that Holden Thorp is stepping down, I think he should call the bluff of the blowhards. I want to see him get in front of the media, aiming squarely at the News & Observer, and tell everyone, “Hell yeah, athletes have it easier.”
On hearing news of the pending resignation of chancellor Holden Thorp, UNC faculty rallied to save their leader. On one level, the outpouring of support is understandable. Everyone can see the unfairness of Thorp’s situation. But the contrast between the faculty’s sudden assertiveness and its earlier passivity is striking.
Since the cloud of scandal descended on UNC in 2010, faculty have struggled to find their voice. The NCAA had come to town for the first time in decades, academic integrity had been thrown to the winds, and our leaders consistently left us in the dark. But until last week, there were no emergency faculty meetings, no demonstrations in front of South building, no demand for answers and information, no efforts to coordinate with other campus groups, and no move to rein in the forces that had caused our fall from grace.
But a basic concern for the values of integrity, honesty, and accountability should have stirred them to action long ago. The irony is that bracing criticism from the faculty may have been exactly what Holden Thorp needed to hear.http://chapelboro.com/columns/the-commentators/assertiveness-and-passivity/
Like many friends of UNC, I am saddened by the resignation of Chancellor Holden Thorp. His talents as a scholar, entrepreneur, and academic leader illuminate what is best about UNC. He has acted with dignity during the past two years of painful revelations. Neither his letter of resignation nor his public comments have reflected anything other than profound respect for this great university.
I do believe that Chancellor Thorp exercised poor judgment in not immediately recognizing and acting upon the brewing scandals in athletics and the inappropriate actions of Matt Kupec. In my opinion, however, these scandals do not warrant the dismissal or resignation of the Chancellor.
One has to wonder if, in Holden Thorp’s own mind, this uncritical thinking — so uncharacteristic of him — has undermined his confidence as the leader of UNC. For their sakes and for ours, I encourage Chancellor Thorp, the Board of Trustees, and other university leaders to ask for forgiveness from the UNC family for missing the mark.
These two scandals do oblige us to grapple with the forces that may be eroding the foundations not just of UNC, but of many of our sister institutions, as well. It is possible that yet more regulations, audits, and reporting forms may prevent some athletes from receiving course credit where none is due or senior administrators from misusing funds.
It is equally possible that, in the deluge of television revenues and corporate sponsorships in athletics, creative officials will find ways around even the most complicated and burdensome rules. A very basic question, it seems to me, is: does the leadership culture of UNC encourage transparency, where threats to basic values such as honesty and trust can be acknowledged and addressed?
We must understand the reasons that advisors and colleagues of the Chancellor did not challenge his oversight of this fundraising fiasco. We need to understand why his advisors and colleagues did not encourage more immediate and thorough questioning about substantial and appalling academic irregularities among athletes.
In 2008, a covert plan to site an airport in rural Orange County came to light. In the back rooms of the State Legislature, at gatherings of wealthy UNC alumni, and even in former Chancellor Moeser’s office, a plan had been hatched to locate an airport outside of Chapel Hill that would replace the Horace Williams Airport.
The process successfully avoided citizen input and traditional democratic mechanisms to the point where several sites, primarily scattered across southwest Orange County, had been mapped and ranked for suitability.
The wealthy crafters of this scheme, many of whom were pilots or plane owners hoping for their own backyard airport, were using the UNC Area Health Education Center’s (AHEC) medical air operations as a Trojan horse. The key talking point was that the health educators from UNC would not participate in the AHEC program if they did not have an airport located close to campus and the vaunted program would begin its decline.
The obvious solution to the eventual closing of Horace William Airport, AHEC’s host airport, was to base their flying operations at Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU). This was portrayed by the backers of a new airport to be unpalatable to the AHEC participants. As a quick aside, since AHEC moved its operations to RDU, the program has actually grown more successful.
Meanwhile Holden Thorp, the new Chancellor,, was becoming aware of the history and suspect origins of this plan. His first communication was to state that the process would start over from scratch, ostensibly to turn it into a fair process.
The citizens of rural Orange County recognized that this was impossible, akin to stuffing smoke back into a test tube. They continued to inform the public and Chancellor Thorp of the corrupt nature of this initiative.
To his everlasting credit, Chancellor Thorp figured it out and realized that neither the University nor he, in his very early days as Chancellor, would benefit from the legacy that this tainted scheme would leave.
Above each locker in the UNC football locker room, there is a nameplate. Beside each nameplate there is a sign that reads either “resistant,” “existent,” “compliant,” “committed,” or “compelled.” These labels were derived for each player based on coaches’ evaluations of their level of effort shown in pre-season workouts and practices. The titles are pretty self-explanatory: a player who has shown a dedication to self-improvement and has contributed to the collective progress of the team is deemed “committed” or “compelled”, while a player who has shown little or no work ethic is given a less flattering designation.
In watching Saturday’s game at Louisville, I could only wonder what these evaluations would look like if they were to be updated for the halftime locker room based on the day’s performance. For much of the game, the Heels looked as if they could barely be considered “existent.”
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the Cardinals’ offense seemed to score at will, averaging nearly ten yards per play in the first half. The Tar Heel secondary was ripe with missed defensive assignments, allowing Bridgewater to find more than his fair share of open targets. This was only ameliorated by the fact that the defensive line appeared entirely disinterested at the prospect of having to shed their blockers in order to make a tackle. Describing Carolina’s defense as porous would be a drastic understatement. The UNC offense was little better, putting up just seven points in the first thirty minutes of play.
Of course, those of us who demonstrated the intestinal fortitude to continue watching into the second half saw a completely different story begin to unfold.
In stark contrast to their lethargic first half performance, the Heels began to make plays. The defense came alive, swarming to the ball and shoring up what had earlier been gaping running lanes for Louisville. In stopping the run and putting greater defensive pressure on the quarterback, Carolina was able to hold the Cardinals to just 3 second half points.
In a similar fashion, Bryn Renner and the Tar Heel offense finally began to resemble the cohesive unit that was on display September 1st against Elon. Renner finished the game with 5 touchdown passes and tailback Romar Morris played like a man on fire, earning ACC Receiver of the Week honors for his 202 all-purpose yards, 2 touchdowns, and block of a Louisville punt.
In the end, however, it was just another tale of too little too late. Watching as Renner’s fourth-and-goal pass was wrenched from Erik Highsmith’s outstretched hands, I, along with everyone else, could only wonder where this Carolina team had been in the first half. Where was this intensity? Where was the passion? Better yet, where was the commitment?
This was still in the forefront of my mind as I walked past the Old Well on my way to class Monday morning. I didn’t think twice when I passed the news van parked in front of South Building: in the midst of the media circus of recent months, rarely a week has gone by without at least one news crew adding to congestion on Cameron Avenue. Little did I know this particular van would come to represent the close to a tumultuous chapter for the Carolina family.
I was in Spanish class when the news officially broke that Chancellor Thorp would be stepping down. And so now, it seemed, the purge of the former system was to be complete. From Butch Davis, to Dick Baddour, and now to Holden Thorp, the situation had come full circle.
Without getting into the politics of the matter (and believe me, there’s one heck of a discussion to be had), it’ll suffice to say that the slate has been cleaned. It’s been incredibly disheartening to see a place that I love so dearly to be ravaged by scandal, but I refuse to allow my opinion of this institution to be permanently swayed by the dishonest actions of a few. The damage has been done and now we must move forward.