Tuesday marks the official first anniversary of the University’s 11th chancellor and first female chancellor. Her entrance was brought on by the departure of Holden Thorp, who served in that seat for five years before his resignation. Thorp is now the Provost at Washington University in St. Louis.
Chancellor Folt took the job knowing that Carolina was in the middle of the biggest academic scandal in the school’s history and on the heels of the NCAA handing out punishment to the football team, including probation until 2015, a one-year postseason ban, and the loss of 15 scholarships over three seasons. Those results stemmed from finding that impermissible benefits were given to members of the UNC football team.
UNC announced Monday that the NCAA has reopened its 2011 investigation based on the possibility of newly available information.
Former North Carolina Governor Jim Martin was hired to conduct a review of the African and Afro-American Studies Department. That report, which was released on December 19, 2012, stated that the issue was isolated to academics solely and was not an athletic problem.
Now, the University is awaiting the results of yet another review. Former assistant attorney general for national security and partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft Kenneth Wainstein was hired by the University in January to conduct an external review of any and all academic irregularities. On June 20 at a UNC Board of Governors meeting, Wainstein made it a point to say he has not been giving the University updates into his investigation in order to protect the integrity of the review. The University has in turn promised Wainstein not to conduct any other investigations until he has concluded the review.
Wainstein says he hopes to have the investigation completed before the start of the Fall 2014 semester.
Chancellor Folt’s first year has been highlighted by new hires. She recently announced the completion of her executive team with the hire of ¬Matthew Fajack as the University’s new chief financial officer and vice chancellor for finance and administration. Her first hire was that of Jim Dean to the Provost position. He was previously the dean of the Kenan Flagler Business School.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/chancellor-folt-one-year-office/
Story originally posted 10:38 a.m., June 20, 2014
Attorney Kenneth Wainstein told the UNC Board of Governors Friday that not only will he not share findings of his investigation into UNC’s academic irregularities, but that he doesn’t yet have any findings. He says the investigation is ongoing.
“Our investigation is not complete, and until our investigation is complete, we will not have final findings,” Wainstein said. “Those findings, as President Ross said, will be put together into a report, which will be made public at the end of our investigation.”
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That was the first time Wainstein publicly spoke about his investigation.
The 19-year veteran attorney was retained by the University in January after the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and Orange and Chatham County district attorney Jim Woodall concluded their investigations into UNC’s African and Afro-American (AFAM) Studies Department and its chair Julius Nyang’oro.
That investigation led to the indictment of Nyang’oro for receiving $12,000 to teach a lecture course filled with football players that he instead treated as an independent study requiring only a paper in summer 2011. Woodall said no further charges will be made against Nyang’oro or any other person involved.
Nyang’oro has had his first appearance in court, but his trial is still pending. The University said he has returned the $12,000.
Wainstein said he and his associates are using every resource possible to aid in their findings, which is something he said previous investigations into this topic weren’t able to include.
“We’ve interviewed over 80 people so far—a number of them we’ve interviewed more than one occasion,” Wainstein said. “We’ve collected and searched over 1.5 million emails and electronic documents. We’re also analyzing thousands of student records, including transcripts, going back to the early ‘90s and even into the ‘80s.”
On June 6, former UNC basketball standout Rashad McCants went on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and said that tutors wrote papers for him, he remained eligible only because of phony “paper classes” – and that his coaches, including Roy Williams, were fully aware of what was going on.
McCants comments marked the first time someone associated with the UNC men’s basketball program said it, too, was part of the academic scandal.
Wainstein told reporters Friday that McCants is not among the 80 people who have been interviewed, despite the attempt.
“We’ve intended to speak to him,” Wainstein said. “We actually invited him to come in for an interview back in May. At that time, he declined our invitation. He said that at that time he did not want to speak to us. Then he had his interview and spoke publicly. So, we’re hopeful that that is sort of a changed circumstance that might want him to want to speak to us, so we’ve now sent a new letter reiterating our invitation to speak to him. So, we’re hopeful that that will happen.”
Nyang’oro and a long-time department administrator, Deborah Crowder, have been mostly unavailable for questions leading up to this investigation. However, Wainstein says he has received full cooperation from them.
“In terms of their willingness to sit down with us, they’ve made themselves completely available to us; they’ve given us as much time as we’ve asked for and met with us on every occasion we’ve asked them to meet,” Wainstein said.
Wainstein emphasized that this investigation is completely separate from the University, and that the decision was made to keep it that way in order to protect the integrity of the investigation.
He added that his job is only to investigate the academic irregularities and present a report, but not to suggest a course of action to take based on those findings.
“What they’ll do with that, that’s for them to decide,” Wainstein said. “I heard, this morning, President Ross talking about how he’s looking forward to getting the report and getting the findings and then taking any actions that might be pointed up by any of those findings.”
System President Tom Ross said he couldn’t speak to what kind of actions would be taken, because he doesn’t have the report yet. However, he said that he’s said from the beginning that UNC is ready to take any actions necessary.
“When he’s finished, we’ll take the appropriate steps, and we’ll take whatever additional steps are necessary to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again, and then we’ll move on,” President Ross said.
President Ross told the Board, before Wainstein gave his update Friday, that no limitations were placed on Wainstein’s investigation and that he was instructed to go where the information leads him.
“Chancellor Folt and I directed and gave Mr. Wainstein the full authority to follow the facts wherever they lead and to attempt to address definitively how and why academic irregularities occurred at UNC-Chapel Hill,” President Ross said. “
Wainstein told the Board he chooses to use the term “paper classes” when discussing the focus of the investigation. The media has chosen multiple additional terms, including fake classes and no-show classes. He listed many questions he said he and his associates are using as base questions in the investigation, including a major focus on which classes in the AFAM department were independent studies, what was learned in those classes, if there was any inappropriate assistance in the classes, which personnel on campus knew about the irregularities, and many more.
Wainstein is a partner with the Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft law firm’s Washington branch. He had associates Colleen Kukowski and Joseph Jay in attendance with him, who he said are assisting him in the investigation.
No timeframe was given for the conclusion of the investigation, but Wainstein said he hopes to have the investigation wrapped up before the start of the fall semester.
UNC system spokesperson Joni Worthington said the University has not yet received any bills from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/wainstein-dont-findings-yet/
CHAPEL HILL - National college basketball writer for USA Today, Eric Prisbell, played a key role in uncovering information about Haydn “Fats” Thomas and his relationship with PJ Hairston.
Prisbell comments on who he thinks Thomas is and why he has a relationship with the basketball players like PJ Hairston.
“Who he is, is a guy who operates in the shadows, in anonymity really and he builds relationships with these high profile, some of them high profile in the area, for the purpose of partying” said Prisbell.
The NCAA is currently investigating to see if Thomas was a booster representative of UNC Athletics. The NCAA can already suspend Hairston for several games due to his recent arrest for possession of marijuana, but if the NCAA declares Thomas a booster, Prisbell says UNC basketball next year could be under further investigation.
“Well I think if “Fats” Thomas is declared a booster, I think that’s a game changer and that’s problematic for both Hairston and the North Carolina basketball program, but I think that’s a real stretch at this point. I don’t think we’re going to see that” Prisbell said.
UNC did not contact Thomas after Hairston was arrested and have yet to investigate their involvement together. Instead, Prisbell says the University is looking to see if sports agent, Rodney Blackstock, had any involvement in PJ Hairston receiving benefits.
“The NCAA and North Carolina are not just looking at “Fats” Thomas’ relationship with PJ but they’re looking at Rodney Blackstock’s relationship with PJ” Prisbell claims.
UNC and the NCAA continue to investigate Hairston’s involvement with Thomas and Blackstock. Prisbell says he has yet to find a connection involving benefits between Blackstock and Hairston.
“He has known PJ and his family for a long, long time because they’ve both been from Greensboro, but I have yet to find any evidence of an improper benefit between Blackstock and PJ” said Prisbell.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/eric-prisbell-comments-on-hairston-and-thomas/
CHAPEL HILL – While UNC tends to the early stages of its newest investigation, a ruling was released late last week in another case that alleges sexual harassment.
According to the News and Observer, Administrative Judge Melissa Lassiter ruled Friday that the University failed to protect a housekeeper from sexual harassment and retaliation.
In early 2011, numerous employees in the housekeeping department complained of poor treatment, with incidents ranging from sexual harassment to open threats. After the Washington-based PRM Consulting Firm conducted hundreds of interview of the staff, it found that the department’s practices “created a culture with employee morale issues, lack of trust, and overall frustration.” Housekeeping director Bill Burston stepped down in September amid the controversy; in December 2011, former assistant director Tonya Sell also resigned amidst allegations of verbally abusing her employees.
One housekeeper at the forefront of the investigation is Maria Isabel Prudencio-Arias; she claimed to be a victim of sexual harassment and says she was punished after she brought that to the administrations attention. Prudencio-Arias still works at UNC.
Judge Lassiter awarded Prudencio-Arias attorney fees and said the University should meet her medical needs with a job that suits her. Her lawyer told the N&O that she will be seeking $160,000 in damages for lost personal leave, depression and emotional stress.
The ruling now goes in front of the State Personnel Commission, which will make a final ruling.http://chapelboro.com/news/judge-rules-university-did-not-protect-housekeepers/
Dear Dr. Harmon: