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 – 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 – UNC’s Faculty Executive Committee issued a statement Monday supporting Jan Boxill, the faculty chairwoman for the University. It was revealed last week that she asked colleagues to re-write segments of an academics and athletics faculty report, according to an article by The News and Observer.
UNC has felt the blow of scandals over past several years, with an NCAA investigation of the university’s football program that subsequently surfaced “irregularities” in the African and Afro-American Studies Department.
The statement of support was signed by 16 professors, including the three authors of the 2012 faculty report, Steven Bachenheimer, Michael Gerhardt and Laurie Maffly-Kipp. The statement reads: “our full support for Jan Boxill throughout her leadership as Chair of the Faculty. We have complete confidence in her judgment and integrity.”
As the elected faculty leader, Boxill is one of UNC’s top academic officers.
Emails sent by Boxill show that just before the report’s release on July 26, 2012, Boxill sent the three faculty report writers a last minute correspondence. She suggested they edit a sentence which alluded to a department manager creating made-up classes to protect athletes’ eligibility to play sports, The N & O reported. Campus emails are public record. The report authors agreed to it, and some information was left out of the final version.
Boxill told The N & O that her suggestions for edits came from other committee members.
Read the full statement below:
The Faculty Executive Committee approved the following statement at its regular meeting on Monday, July 29, 2013:
Steven Bachenheimer, Michael Gerhardt, and Laurie Maffly-Kipp (in absentia), join with the following current and former members of the UNC Faculty Executive Committee to express our full support for Jan Boxill throughout her leadership as Chair of the Faculty. We have complete confidence in her judgment and integrity.
Steven Bachenheimer (Microbiology and Immunology)
Michael Gerhardt (Law)
Laurie Maffly-Kipp (Religious Studies)
Mimi Chapman (Social Work)
Gregory P. Copenhaver (Biology)
Jean DeSaix (Biology)
Louise Dolan (Physics)
Jo Anne Earp (Public Health)
Joseph Ferrell (Secretary of the Faculty, School of Government)
Kevin Guskiewicz (Exercise and Sports Science)
Susan Irons (English and Comparative Literature)
Tim McMillan (African, African American, and Diaspora Studies)
Suchi Mohanty (University Libraries)
Leslie Parise (Biochemistry)
Shielda Rodgers (Nursing)
Vin Steponaitis (Anthropology)