“Mary Willingham’s credibility is collapsing”, according to a learning specialist at UNC.
Bradley Bethel is the author of Coaching the Mind: Putting the Student in Student-Athlete. He is listed as a learning specialist under student-athlete services of the staff directory section on GoHeels.com.
In a series of entries of Bethel’s blog, he writes lengthy essays about the ongoing conversation about the academic scandal at UNC. Bethel’s first entry on Coaching the Mind was on May 7, 2012. In that essay he talks about teaching student-athletes the importance of learning and doing so by setting goals.
There are only two entries from 2012 on the blog, one in 2013, and in 2014, the blog comes alive.
Quickly comments came pouring in both supporting and opposing Bethel’s thoughts, and they haven’t stopped since.
Bethel has posted at least one lengthy essay each week since then, except for one week in the middle of March. In April, it’s been more along the lines of two or three per week.
The most recent entry came Wednesday when Bethel say’s Willingham’s credibility is collapsing. On multiple occasions, he says her actions of writing a response and not engaging in academic discourse are ironic, hypocritical, and lack transparency.
Mary Willingham sent a written statement to WCHL Friday when the report from three outside experts discrediting here SATA RV research was released. She said she was going to respond to the release when she had more time to review what the experts said.
On Willingham’s website, PaperClassInc.com, she posted a response saying the independent (using quotation marks around independent) review of her data “did not come close to replicating (her) analysis.” She claimed that the outside experts were “denied access to the full range of test scores (i.e., SAT/ACT scores, SATA raw scores, SATA WM scores, WAIS scores, and DOB).”
WCHL has tried since Friday to have Willingham on the air to comment. Wednesday, she told us that she is “taking a little break from the smear to finish the semester with (her) students”.
Bethel told WCHL that he doesn’t want to come on the air until he is finished writing his essays on the topic. He says he doesn’t know how many more essays he has; he says he just has outlined notes at this point.
“There’s one thing that would help mitigate these body blows that we’re taking, and that would be for the University to say, ‘during this time period, we admitted some students that, in retrospect, maybe we should not have admitted’,” UNC J-School professor Charlie Tuggle says.
Three experts from outside of UNC told us last week that the SATA RV (Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults Reading Vocabulary) subtest isn’t a good measuring tool for reading ability and college readiness, but what do the SAT scores tell about UNC’s student-athletes?
Recently on Carolina Week, the student newscast produced by UNC J-School students, reporter Suzanna Black shared that a UNC press release in January stated that 39 student-athletes (34 in revenue sports) scored less than what was deemed as the ‘CNN threshold’, which was scoring less than a 400 on the verbal portion of the SAT. That was an average of 250 or so points below the average of incoming freshmen at the same time.
Last week’s report discrediting the claims of illiteracy made by academic advisor Mary Willingham gave the basis that the SATA RV shouldn’t be the measuring tool that Willingham said it should. However, the report didn’t say that student-athletes are college-ready.
Tuggle has been involved in sports throughout his career as a sports official, a sports journalist, and a participant in sports. He says he believes there are students athletes out there that would meet the high standard of UNC without special admits.
“Stanford does pretty well in football from year to year; Duke has done well the last couple of years, and I think that the scores there would be above 400 on the verbal section,” Tuggle says. “So, yeah, I think that there is some extra legwork that has to go in recruiting not only great athletes but athletes who are at least close to what the average student on that campus would have scored.”
And, he says there’s proof that UNC can find those student athletes, it’s just going to be harder in some sports.
“Look at Marcus Paige: an excellent, excellent student and a fantastic basketball player,” Tuggle says. “Now, is it harder to find 90 football players who fall into that category than it would be to find 12 basketball players, well of course. But they have to be out there.”
WCHL’s News and Sports Director Ran Northam spoke with Dr. Tuggle during the WCHL Wednesday Morning News.
***Listen to the Interview***http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/many-special-admits-unc/
The News & Observer has reported that a UNC professor and columnist for the paper must add a disclaimer to his columns that he “doesn’t speak for UNC,” after one of his pieces angered allies of North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.
And retired UNC Law Professor Richard Rosen is not happy about how recent events unfolded in the matter of Professor Gene Nichol, an unabashed liberal who writes columns for The News & Observer.
“It is important that it get out in the open that it’s happening,” says Rosen. “I think it’s important that the university remain unbending toward the political pressure. And it’s important that the people of North Carolina tell those in power that they need to accept criticism when it comes and not try to use the power of the purse or any other power to shut people up.”
Nichol is a distinguished professor at UNC’s School of Law. Most of his pieces for the N&O are installments of a series on poverty called “Seeing the Invisible.”
But one column he wrote for the October 15 edition of the N&O wasn’t written for that series. The piece was inspired by the U.S. Justice Department’s decision to sue the state of North Carolina regarding new election laws that the Department called racially discriminatory.
Nichols wrote that McCrory was “a 21st century successor to Maddox, Wallace and Faubus.”
Lester Maddox, George Wallace and Orval Faubus were all segregationist governors in the South of the 1960s.
Nichol’s comparison angered UNC Board of Governors member Ed McMahan, a McCroy ally. As reported in the April 12 News & Observer, McMahan wrote an email to Board of Governors Chairman Peter Hans that included these words:
“Gene Nichols (sic) is at it again! Pat called from Mississippi this morning.”
That was an apparent reference to McCrory, who was in Biloxi that day for a Southern States Energy Board meeting. McMahan has not returned calls from WCHL for comment.
Rosen says he’s surprised at the idea that the governor would call a member of the UNC Board of Governors to gripe about an unfavorable newspaper column.
“Part of going into the public arena is understanding you’re going to be the subject of discussion,” says Rosen. “I think it’s kind of astonishing that the governor would be upset enough to call from Mississippi because he gets criticized.”
The Pressure Mounts
According to the N&O, what happened next is that Hans contacted UNC System President Tom Ross and his Chief of Staff Kevin FitzGerald.
Conservative think tank The Civitas Institute filed a public records request for six weeks of Nichol’s emails, calendar entries, text messages, and other information pertaining to his communications at UNC.
Rosen says it was just an intimidation tactic.
“They asked for his records because he spoke out against the governor and the legislature,” says Rosen. “I think that’s clear. They did not have any other reason. I think it’s all part of a concerted effort to keep him quiet.”
The mounting pressure forced Nichol and the university to come to an understanding. The News & Observer obtained email records that reveal that Nichol must now give his employers two days of notice before one of his columns appears.
If the column is not about poverty, he must leave out his title as director of the Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity, based at UNC.
And he must add the disclaimer that his views do not represent the university.
Nichol’s only public comment about the decision was in an email to the News & Observer, in which he praised Dean Jack Boger of the UNC School of Law for his support. WCHL reached out to Nichol for comment on Tuesday, and he has not yet responded.
Boger told WCHL that, despite continued efforts by some of his adversaries, Nichol isn’t going anywhere, and that he will continue to speak his mind publicly, with UNC’s blessing.
“We don’t live in a society in which people can decide they don’t like what a professor says or believes in a university, and simply take them out of it,” he says. “That’s why we have tenure. That’s why we have very strong protection for academic freedom.”
Boger avoids characterizing the motives behind the Civitas Institute’s successful request for more then a thousand pages of Nichol’s communications, but he had this to say:
“The open records act permits citizens and institutions to request such records without clarifying what their motives are,” says Boger. “I think some within the university — I’m probably one of them – think there ought to be some sort of statutory restraint placed on that capacity. You could bring a university to its knees by simply asking every one of its 1,200 faculty members to ‘give me your last six weeks of emails,’ and have it all sorted through.”http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/conservative-pressure-unc-forces-disclaimer-professors-columns/
***UNC J-School Professor Charlie Tuggle Spoke with Aaron Keck***http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/im-real-difficulty-figuring-exactly-report-saying/
Your days of waiting for videos to buffer or uploading attachments may be over soon as competition is growing for which data provider is going to offer internet speeds up to 100 times faster than your current provider.
“AT&T already has a large fiber footprint in the region—that’s one of the reasons it made it such an attractive partner,” says Marc Hoit, the Vice Chancellor for Information Technology at N.C. State and a spokesperson for the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN). “With that, they have the ability to jump start and do things faster. We’re hoping some of those connections start before the end of this year.”
The towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro along with UNC agreed in January of last year to join four other municipalities and three other major universities to ratify NCNGN. According to its website, NCNGN is a “regional initiative focused on stimulating the deployment of next generation broadband networks in North Carolina.” It’s also comprised of Durham, Cary, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem; Duke and Wake Forest round out the group.
According to Gizmodo, a design and technology blog, the Triangle averages internet speeds between 10.9 and 14.6 megabits per second. The ultra-high-speed internet option of one-gigabit per second would be 70-100 times greater than those averages.
“If you think of how long it takes to download a movie or if you’re doing education content with the university and doing streaming, some of the things that you want to do with offsite stuff like Google Apps and Documents and Microsoft SkyDrive and download music and your save your music up in the cloud, if you have a one gig file and you’re up at a gig, it takes a second,” Hoit says.
Hoit says NCNGN sees ultra-high-speed internet changing the world of medicine.
“We’re hoping to see things like medical diagnostics live, hi-resolution video used for medical services or for other types of services that you can do diagnostics and use that high-speed stream,” Hoit says.
Another positive aspect of fiber-optic internet is downloading and uploading speeds are the same. With Google fiber or AT&T U-verse with GigaPower, you could receive or send files big and small in almost no time. For example, you could download a full-length, high-definition movie in about 30 seconds.
“The symmetric version is really important from our standpoint, because as you want to work with all these new services that people are doing and putting your music in the cloud; if somebody’s in a studio and creating music and then wants to put it up and to be served somewhere else, you need that upload speed just as much,” Hoit says.
Google offered its first fiber-optic internet service in Kansas City, Missouri in 2012. It later expanded to Provo, Utah and Austin, Texas. In mid-February, the internet giant announced it was considering Triangle cities as places to expand the ultra-high-speed option.
Time Warner Cable said last year that it plans to extend the next level of service sometime in the near future.
Of course, the prices for these ultra-high speed options could be higher. Google fiber in Kansas City is selling its product at $70 per month for internet alone. It is, however, currently waiving its $300 construction fee to customers who sign up.
“Our expectation is to be priced similar to what you’re seeing in Kansas City and in Austin,” Hoit says. “The price depends on the costs and other things, but it should be very close to that same price.”
The next step for the municipalities and universities within NCNGN is to review the terms and agreements of the plan to continue the process.
Carrboro elected officials will likely vote in mid-May on the plan; Chapel Hill leaders have not decided on a date when they will vote on the plan. However, Hoit says the next step should be fairly seamless.
“It’s been a two, two-and-a-half year process of which the municipalities and the universities have been working together through this whole time,” Hoit says. “It will hopefully not come as a surprise. The municipal lawyers have all been involved, so there’s been a lot of collaboration that we’re hoping everything goes smoothly.”http://chapelboro.com/news/development/fiber-internet-2014/
A student-athlete advocacy group is pursuing a civil-rights complaint against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and claiming discrimination against male athletes and particularly black male athletes who were placed in courses requiring only a research paper.
The Student-Athletes Human Rights Project filed the complaint Friday to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. It alleges gender and race discrimination because the classes didn’t provide a quality education.
The “paper classes” in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies department were often billed as lecture courses but were treated as independent studies with no classroom time and significant athlete enrollments. Those classes were among findings of fraud in the department dating to the late 1990s.
That led to several university reviews, including an investigation currently being conducted by U.S. Justice Department veteran Kenneth Wainstein.
According to a copy of the complaint, black student-athletes were “disproportionately enrolled” in the courses compared to white student-athletes. Male student-athletes also made up more enrollments than female athletes, a sign they “are not provided with the same educational opportunities,” according to the complaint.
The complaint cites research by UNC reading specialist Mary Willingham on academically at-risk school athletes from 2004-12. Willingham has said the classes helped keep athletes eligible despite many reading at below-grade levels.
The school has disputed Willingham’s findings on athlete literacy levels and hired outside consultants to review her research. Willingham has stood firm that her findings are correct.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/athlete-advocacy-group-files-complaint-unc/
College Democrats and College Republicans at UNC are working together this week to register students to vote.
Though it only makes a small difference, it’s encouraging news in light of recent changes made by lawmakers in Raleigh.
“The biggest change that will affect college students is the repeal of same-day registration and voting,” says former North Carolina Democratic State Senator Ellie Kinnaird.
She resigned last year in frustration over actions taken by the Republican-led General Assembly.
Since then, she’s focused on registering people to vote, She’s also helping some voters get state IDs that would make them eligible to vote under Republican-supported voting reform measures signed into law last year by Gov. Pat McCrory.
Kinnaird predicts that another change brought about by the new voter law, the end of same-day registration, will make a big difference in student turnout for elections – and not in a good way:
“I think we’re going to see a huge dropoff in the voter registration and the voting of college students.”
But not if the student organizations representing Democrats and Republicans at UNC have anything to say about it.
Twenty-year-old Wilson Parker is the president of the Young Democrats at UNC. He describes his organization’s relationship with the College Republicans as friendly.
“We obviously have our political differences, but they are our good friends,” he says.
Kathryn Walker, the Chair of the College Republicans at UNC, agrees.
“We look forward to working together,” she says. “We are involved in friendly debates where we just get together and debate different ideas from our different political standpoints. So we really do have a really great working relationship.”
This week, weather permitting, volunteers from the College Democrats and Republicans will work together out in The Pit near the Student Union to get students registered ahead of the Friday deadline to vote in the May 6 primary.
Despite the conventional wisdom of more seasoned political organizers, who prefer to pay more attention to college students when it’s general-election time, both Parker and Walker want to engage students during the entire process.
“I think it’s very important to stay involved in the primary, and throughout the whole thing,” says Walker, “because as far as elections go, you want to make sure that you’re following the entire thing.”
Parker says that even students who follow the process may be under the impression they’ll need a state-issued ID to vote in this election. That’s not true until 2016, when college IDs will not count at the polls under the new laws.
Like Kinnaird, Parker really doesn’t like the state-mandated elimination of same-day registration and voting during the early-voting period.
“People who didn’t register at the DMV, or don’t re-register when they moved – and many students that don’t re-register immediately upon moving to college — really were able to take advantage of that,” he says.
Walker, the College Republican, says she’s not so sure same-day registration is much of a factor for students.
“It’s hard to say for students,” says Walker, “because, first of all, a lot of students vote in their own hometown, and not as many are voting in Chapel Hill. And I am not sure how that will hinder students yet. I guess we will see that in the elections to come. But we’re hoping to get out the word that we can have students registered to vote, so they won’t run into any problems with it.”http://chapelboro.com/news/election/unc-democrats-republicans-join-together-register-students/
Story originally posted 7:00 p.m. April 3, 2014
At least one supporter of the movement to change big time college athletics nationwide, which has called UNC out for mistreating its student-athletes, says he’s concerned that not all the information that has been gathered was reviewed in its most recent investigation.
“Mary (Willingham’s) co-investigator—the primary partner that she conducted these tests with—that person has never been contacted by the University,” says UNC History professor, Jay Smith who has been one of the vocal leaders of the movement demanding change at Carolina. “That person has valuable information about the nature of the tests, the way the tests were conducted, (and) how they evaluated them; and it’s very curious that no effort has been made to reach her.”
Coverage has dwindled of the accusations against UNC, but a recent edition of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel stirred the pot again as everyone is waiting to hear what North Carolina’s most recent investigation turns up.
UNC Provost Jim Dean said during last week’s faculty council meeting that the analysis of the three “outside experts” who were commissioned to independently review Willingham’s data, which found that a majority of the student-athletes she had studied had sub-par reading skills, will be ready in about two or three weeks.
Tune in to the WCHL Morning News with Ron Stutts Friday at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. to hear Ran Northam’s interview with Smith.
***Listen to the Interview***
UNC Vice Chancellor for Communication Joel Curran says the University will not comment on statements made by Jay Smith.
A letter was published Friday in the News and Observer written by 30 retired faculty of UNC stating their concern that the University has been quiet about the lengthy academic improprieties.
Among the faculty is history professor William E. Leuchtenburg and religious studies professor Ruel Tyson. The idea to compose the letter was started by retired history professor Michael Hunt and retired Slavic literatures professor Madeline Levine. Levine previously spoke to WCHL saying the academic issue includes more than just the revenue sports.
UNC Chancellor Carol Folt responded to the letter in an email saying she welcomes “the perspectives of our retired faculty, but their letter appears to ignore the efforts of many deeply committed faculty, and the real progress in terms of reforms and additional oversight that Carolina has made in just the last few years … The progress we are making today is very real.”
Chancellor Folt didn’t respond to the faculty, but instead sent this response to the News and Observer:
I welcome the perspectives of our retired faculty, but their letter appears to ignore the efforts of many deeply committed faculty, and the real progress in terms of reforms and additional oversight that Carolina has made in just the last few years. A number of these reforms have been documented and shared with the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges, and are available publicly. And more are underway.
I think the letter-writers would be pleased to know that every person I have met at Carolina cares about the integrity of this wonderful University; I am encouraged daily to continue to drive reforms forward. In my first nine months as Chancellor I have seen a faculty and administration willing to accept scrutiny, seek answers and devote time and energy toward meaningful change. More than 100 faculty and administrators are serving on committees that are working on these issues, including the Student-Athlete Academic Initiative Working Group, the Faculty Executive Committee, the Faculty Athletics Committee and the Committee on Special Talent. I also see a campus filled with students who want to share their own experiences, many of them positive, and to be a part of the solution. Their voices count, too.
The progress we are making today is very real.
Thank you, Carolhttp://chapelboro.com/news/unc/concerned-ahead-unc-investigation-release/
UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said Friday that she anticipates having a report from the University’s Title IX Task Force by the next Faculty Council meeting, which is on April 25.
The Task Force has been working since May of 2013 to rewrite UNC’s sexual assault policy. The tentative goal was to have had recommendations ready by the fall of last year.
“I think we are all waiting for the report from the Task Force, and I know some people wish that report would come forward,” Folt said.
Christi Hurt, Chair of the Task Force, who also served as Title IX Coordinator for an interim period, has said that the group is regularly reexamining their work and ideas on the sensitive issues.
Once a draft is completed, it will be presented for campus community feedback and then will go before administration for final review.
The Task Force was formed in response to changing federal Title IX requirements for universities and incidents on UNC’s own campus that prompted the need for change.
Folt, who spoke during Friday’s Faculty Council meeting, said she applauded the extent to which the task force is “trying to get it right.” She said a number of changes have already been implemented.
“We believe that a number of ideas that are being put forth by our Task Force are already anticipated, or would be the ones that are the guidelines, for some of that federal attention,” she said.
In January, President Barack Obama announced the creation a national task force to combat sexual assault, particularly at the university level.
The same month, Folt traveled to the White House to participate in policy discussions on a number of topics. During the trip, she spoke with the President and Vice President Joe Biden about policies regarding sexual assault on college campuses. Biden is leading the efforts of The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, as it is called.
“There is a great deal of interest built on concern that sexual violence has reached epidemic proportions in our nation’s universities,” Folt said.
A number of representatives from UNC have participated in the on-going national conversation.
UNC graduate student Katie Akin, a member of the UNC Title IX Task Force, was invited to sit at the table next to the Vice President in February during a discussion on sexual assault. She offered several recommendations for his consideration.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-title-ix-task-force-recommendations-ready-end-april/
A call to police Friday reporting a sexual assault at a UNC dorm ended in the arrest of a student who was found naked on the floor in his residence hall.
Twenty-one year old Charles Love Talmadge of Charlotte was acting erratically, according to police, in a third-floor dorm of Lewis Residence Hall when police arrived at around 11:15 p.m.
The UNC sophomore reportedly broke into another student’s dorm room and sexually assaulted a female.
Talmadge was subdued with a stun gun before police could arrest him. He was charged with breaking and entering, resist/obstruct/delay of arrest, assault on law enforcement officers, vandalism, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The report of sexual assault is still under investigation.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/unc-sophomore-charged-report-sexual-assault-erratic-nudity/