UNC Shows More Detail On Transcripts

UNC transcripts will now tell more than just about the student whose grades are being represented.

The News and Observer’s Jane Stancil wrote this weekend of the new design at UNC’s flagship university, which is attempting to combat the issue of grade inflation that has grown since the middle of the 20th century.

The new transcripts show a median grade of classmates, the percentile range, the number of students in the class section, and a new measure, the schedule point average (SPA). This form of measurement shows just how rigorous the course load is that the student took.

Carolina’s new transcript is supposed to allow graduate schools and employers be able to better choose the great from the good.

Grade inflation has been a national issue, and a study in the Teachers College Record in 2012 found the most prevalent areas were in elite private universities followed by the flagship campuses.


Willingham: Plagiarism Was ‘Inadvertent’

Mary Willingham says her potential acts of plagiarism were inadvertent in her master’s thesis, according to the News and Observer.

The former UNC academic adviser told the N&O in a phone interview, “whatever I did, I did, and, you know, whatever. There’s nothing I can do about it.”

Willingham’s master’s thesis, with which she earned the degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, was posted on the blog site InsideCarolina over the weekend. Excerpts show multiple instances where she wrote passages that are very similar, if not word-for-word, to a passage of another text without citation.

This comes after the former UNC employee has been leading a charge against the University and the NCAA demanding reform for student-athletes.

Willingham is known as the whistle blower who told CNN in January that UNC admitted athletes who were not academically eligible, and that, in turn, the University is unjustly using athletes for financial gains. She says now that the NCAA has decided to return to campus, she doesn’t want it to hand out further punishment, but instead to use the opportunity to “reform the entire system.”


UNC Requests Interview With McCants

Updated 2:53 p.m., July 7, 2014

UNC has reached out to Rashad McCants, according to the News and Observer.

The University’s Senior Associate Athletic Director for Compliance and Student-Athlete Development, Vince Ille, confirmed Sunday night that a registered letter was sent to the former UNC basketball standout’s residence on June 6. Senior Associate Athletic Director for Communications Steve Kirschner told WCHL that Ille has since followed up with two text messages. As of Monday afternoon, McCants had not responded.

The letter asks McCants if he will speak with Ille in greater detail about the potential NCAA infractions he says he witnessed while attending UNC.

In an interview that aired June 6, McCants told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that tutors wrote papers for him and he remained eligible only because of “paper classes” that required no attendance – and that his coaches, including head coach Roy Williams, were fully aware of what was going on. He returned to ESPN June 11 with little new information after Williams was interviewed saying he can’t believe what his former player said was taking place.

This request isn’t the first in the investigation of UNC’s academic irregularities. Former Assistant Attorney General for National Security and Homeland Security Advisor, Kenneth Wainstein is conducting an independent external review. He said he reached out to McCants in May requesting an interview. That request was denied, and since McCants’ appearance on ESPN, Wainstein said he has sent another request hoping he is now willing to speak.

The NCAA announced last week that it has reopened its 2011 investigation into the University. In a statement, athletic director Bubba Cunningham said, “the NCAA has determined that additional people with information and others who were previously uncooperative might now be willing to speak with the enforcement staff.”


Boxill: N&O Took ‘Booster’ Email Out Of Context

Photo by Dan Sears

CHAPEL HILL – In mid-July, UNC’s Faculty Chair, Jan Boxill, was accused by the News and Observer of a cover-up for an internal University email about how to title a supporter of athletics in regards to the review of the African and Afro-American Studies Department.

Boxill says she was cast in a negative light just by trying to help the University in a time when it was on thin ice with the NCAA, the media, and even the public.

“It’s painful,” Boxill says. “I’ve been trying—in very many ways—to get out in front of some of the things and also to recognize that no issue is simple.”

The AFAM scandal prompted internal reviews, as well as a review by former North Carolina governor, Jim Martin, which concluded, among other things, that the issue within the department dated back to 1997, and an ongoing review led by the president of the Association of American Universities, Hunter Rawlings.

Aside from being the faculty chair, Boxill is the Director of the Parr Center for Ethics and a senior lecturer in philosophy. She says one of the areas she teaches a lot about is taking the broad approach rather than narrowing the focus.

“Every issue we deal with is complex, whether it’s affirmative action, whether it’s abortion, whether it’s the voters’ rights,” Boxill says. “It’s so complicated. But, when we try to just sort of focus on one part of it, you lose the force.”

And she says that by the N&O pointing out just a small segment of a chain of emails written between faculty, the issue was taken out of context.

“It’s easy to criticize one aspect, but if you look at the overarching, then you see there’s a lot more strands than just the single issue, because it’s always easy to take a single issue,” Boxill says.

Boxill explains the correspondence in question was within a subcommittee she formed out of the elected Faculty Executive Committee of which she says she found three of the most critically-minded faculty. She says she formed the subcommittee after four or five faculty told her enough was enough and that the faculty needed to take a proactive approach and get to the bottom of the situation.

“It had nothing to do with the NCAA,” Boxill says. “This was clearly only a faculty committee.”

The N&O reported that Boxill urged a change in the reports’ wording so the NCAA wouldn’t return for another round of investigations. However, Boxill says the requested change came down to the use of the term booster when describing Debbie Crowder in the subcommittee’s report.

“Booster has a specific meaning for the NCAA as somebody brough up in the meeting—not me,” Boxill says. “They said let’s change it then, because we’re not intending to use their definition. We’re looking at it as simply a supporter.”

She says the subcommittee then decided that anyone could be a supporter of athletics.

“In the end, people thought that this claim was irrelevant or it wasn’t important, because it didn’t change any of the recommendations,” Boxill says. “It was the recommendations that we thought were most important; they stayed; and it was out of those recommendations came the Governor Martin report and the Hunter Rawlings panel which we’re still waiting on.”

The public release of the emails, as requested by the N&O, came nearly a year after they were written, which Boxill attributes to the mere fact of the high volume of public information requested.

Boxill says the fact that the information was received in email form and without the whole story—the narrow focus rather than broad, as she mentioned—likely contributed to the situation being taken out of context.

“Emails are not the best way to communicate, because you read them as you want to read them not as perhaps they were intended,” Boxill says.

Boxill’s three-year term as faculty chair expires in June. She says, while she’s enjoyed her time in that position, she’ll be continuing to focus on reviewing policies and procedures at UNC in new and different ways, including a summit this spring in which she says she will be teaming up with different departments of the University.