UNC Parr Center For Ethics Has New Director

UNC’s Parr Center for Ethics has a new interim director: philosophy professor Geoffrey Sayre-McCord.

Arts and Sciences dean Karen Gil made the announcement last week, according to the Daily Tar Heel.

Sayre-McCord replaces Jan Boxill, who was one of the key figures named in Kenneth Wainstein’s 130-page report on “paper classes” and other academic irregularities at UNC. Among other things, Wainstein’s investigation uncovered emails between Boxill and AFAM department administrator Deborah Crowder about what grade a student-athlete needed on a paper in order to remain eligible to compete.

Geoffrey Sayre-McCord is a well-known and respected ethicist. His research has focused on the concept of moral realism and the work of the Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume. He told the Daily Tar Heel he plans to remain in the position until the end of June.


UNC Bans Student Travel To 3 West African Countries Hit by Ebola

UNC officials on Wednesday announced that students are now prohibited from visiting three countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.

Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are off limits to all students due to concerns about the spread of the Ebola virus. Faculty and staff must get permission from university officials before travel to those countries.

You can read the full letter from UNC Chancellor Carol Folt and UNC Healthcare CEO Bill Roper:

Dear UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC Health Care System Faculty, Staff, and Students:

We have been following the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and its potential threat globally with our deepest concern for those whose lives have been devastated or disrupted by this virus. We also have been humbled by the courage and professionalism of so many health care workers who are willing to help when the world is in such serious need.

Consistent with our public service mission, UNC seeks to address major issues facing the global community, including this outbreak. While we are deeply aware of the need for service and research related to Ebola, the University and the Health Care System must also balance those needs against a full commitment to protecting our community.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina Health Care System are closely monitoring the recommendations of state and federal agencies and public health authorities regarding the Ebola virus outbreak. The following message is intended to clarify the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina Health Care System’s travel policies in light of the ongoing international response to Ebola, particularly in three West African countries: Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. Additionally, this message provides information about the University’s and Health Care System’s response and available resources.

Please note: This statement does not apply to the Health Care System/Medical Center’s other affiliated entities.

***CDC Guidance on Ebola-Affected Nations***

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Warning (the highest level of warning) urging all U.S. residents to avoid nonessential travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. Additionally, the CDC has advised universities that all education-related travel to these countries be postponed until further notice. Visithttp://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/advice-for-colleges-universities-and-students-about-ebola-in-west-africa.

***UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC Health Care System Travel Restrictions***

1. University or Health Care System Related or Sponsored Travel:

• Effective immediately, under current UNC policy, travel to the three affected nations by undergraduate, graduate, and professional students—including travel by health professional students—is prohibited.

• University faculty or staff who wish to petition for approval to travel to these countries for humanitarian or scientific/clinical purposes related to the Ebola response must seek explicit, advance approval—first from the dean of their school and subsequently from the Office of the Provost. The Office of the Provost has convened a UNC Global Risk Response Team of advisors who will be consulted on whether to grant such approval. After receiving school approval, contact the Office of the Provost at 919-962-2198.

• Employees of the Health Care System must receive approval for any proposed Health Care System-related or sponsored travel to these countries by the UNC Health Care System CEO’s office prior to travel. Contact 919-966-4161.

2. Voluntary/Personal Travel Not Sponsored by the University or Health Care System:

Voluntary travel (defined as not University/Health Care System-related or -sponsored) to the Ebola affected countries above is strongly discouraged and should be reported to that individual’s employer as outlined above.

Additionally, as a global university, many members of our community have close family ties in West African countries touched by the Ebola outbreak. While we recognize the desire to visit loved ones in affected nations, we recommend that you refrain from making this visit until the epidemic passes. Please know that our thoughts are with those who are separated from loved ones facing such struggle.

3. Implications of Travel:

In the event permission is granted to a faculty or staff member to travel to these West African countries to assist in the Ebola response, such an employee should be aware that UNC’s ability to offer medical care and evacuation in the event of illness or exposure is extremely limited. Currently, medical evacuation may not be possible. Persons exposed to the disease may face barriers to leaving the country of exposure and may be held in quarantine.

Any employee who chooses to travel to the affected areas without institutional approval does so at his or her own risk.

Employees are subject to all applicable Human Resources policies regarding leave including policies about paid leave time, sick leave, and Worker’s Compensation (http://hr.unc.edu/ or https://www.unchealthcare.org).

Any employee traveling to these nations must submit to a screening before returning to campus or to a UNC Health Care System facility. Based on this screening, there may be a 21-day isolation period as directed by the local health director, N.C. Department of Health and Human Service and/or the University or the UNC Health Care System. This is consistent with UNC policies including:
• Travel Policy: http://provost.unc.edu/files/2012/10/UNC-Travel-Policy-10.18.2010.pdf
• Communicable Diseases Policy: http://hr.unc.edu/policies-procedures-systems/epa-non-faculty-employee-policies/leave/pandemic-and-communicable-disease-emergency-policy/

***Additional Information***

UNC has placed considerable information about its response to the Ebola epidemic on the following website: http://ehs.unc.edu/emergency/ebola.shtml. Plans and policies are in place to address any potential cases of Ebola on campus, to reduce the risks for our students, patients, faculty, staff, and the community.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services offers specific Ebola-related guidance at: http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/ebola/EbolaProviderGuidance101514.pdf. Anyone who travels to an Ebola-affected area is required to contact both the NC Communicable Disease Branch and UNC Environment, Health and Safety for a risk assessment prior to their return to campus and/or UNC Health Care facilities. 24-hour contacts:

• North Carolina Communicable Disease Branch: 919-733-3419
• UNC Environment, Health and Safety: 919-216-3622 (This is a 24-hour pager. After the beeps, type your area code and phone number, followed by #. Your call will be returned.)

UNC Health Care has been preparing for the possible but unlikely arrival of a patient with Ebola in a UNC Health Care facility or hospital. Current information on UNC Health Care’s preparations can be found at http://news.unchealthcare.org/news/2014/october/ebola.

As a reminder, all international travel by University employees and students should be registered in the UNC Global Travel Registry (http://globaltravel.unc.edu/). The registry also provides specific travel and risk-related guidance. The University monitors travel warnings and alerts from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and communicates critical updates with individuals who are registered in the UNC Global Travel Registry.

Additionally, anyone traveling internationally in affiliation with the University must enroll with the travel and evacuation insurance program established by General Administration and administered by HTH Worldwide, unless given specific approval for an alternate travel and evacuation insurance policy by the Office of the Provost.

In conclusion, we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the entire Carolina community. You are working together to contribute to addressing this global challenge in inspiring and meaningful ways. You are also demonstrating extraordinary commitment to protecting local and global communities.

With gratitude,

Carol L. Folt
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

William L. Roper
Chief Executive Officer
UNC Health Care System


DTH Names Nine UNC Officials Facing Discipline After Wainstein

The Daily Tar Heel is reporting that it has learned the names of the nine people “facing disciplinary action” at UNC following Wednesday’s release of Kenneth Wainstein’s report on academic irregularities in the African and Afro-American Studies Department.

Corroborating previous reports, Wainstein’s team found that the irregularities revolved primarily around two individuals who are no longer with the University: former department chair Julius Nyan’goro and (especially) former department administrator Deborah Crowder. But Wainstein also found that there were others at the University – some affiliated with athletics or with the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes (ASPSA) – who knew about (and were complicit in) the irregularities.

Following the release of the report, UNC officials said there were nine individuals who faced disciplinary action, four of whom were facing termination – but neither Chancellor Carol Folt nor UNC system president Tom Ross would divulge their names, citing confidentiality rules.

On Thursday, though, the DTH reported that a source had confirmed the nine names. They are:

  • Jaimie Lee, a counselor in the ASPSA
  • Tim McMillan, a senior lecturer in the department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies
  • Bobbi Owen, former senior associate dean of undergraduate education at the College of Arts and Sciences
  • Jan Boxill, former faculty chair and academic counselor for the UNC women’s basketball team
  • Alphonse Mutima, lecturer in the department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies
  • Corey Holliday, former associate athletic director of football operations under head coach Butch Davis
  • Travis Gore, administrative support associate in the department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies
  • Brent Blanton, former academic counselor for UNC women’s soccer
  • Beth Bridger, former ASPSA associate director

All nine were mentioned by name in Wainstein’s report. The DTH does not name its source.

Read the DTH article here.

If the source is correct, these individuals face disciplinary action – which does not necessarily mean that disciplinary action will be taken.


Reactions From The Wainstein Report

The UNC community was abuzz following the release of the Wainstein report on Wednesday. As part of our coverage, WCHL’s Aaron Keck, Art Chansky, and Jim Heavner spoke with a number of faculty, staff, and high-ranking administrators as well as observers.

Art Chansky asked UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham to comment on the possibility of additional NCAA sanctions:


Aaron Keck and sportswriter Barry Jacobs (also an Orange County Commissioner) discussed some of Wainstein’s findings about the motivations of those involved:


UNC professor Deborah Stroman talks with Art about the finding that troubles her the most:


Jim Heavner talks with UNC Faculty Chair Bruce Cairns, whose predecessor Jan Boxill was one of those implicated in the Wainstein report:


UNC journalism professor Charlie Tuggle talks with Aaron about those on campus who could have raised questions but chose not to:


Jim Heavner and Art Chansky speak with UNC Provost Jim Dean about next steps:


And Carolina Connection’s Jess Clark reports to Aaron about the town hall-style meeting held Wednesday afternoon at the Genome Sciences Building, conducted by Chancellor Folt with hundreds of attendees.


Wainstein Report Confirms Academic Scandal

Former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein has released the results of his eight-month investigation of academic/athletic irregularities at UNC, confirming many of the findings of an earlier study by former governor Jim Martin – but also implicating some academic advisors in UNC’s Office of Academic Advising.

Below is the full statement from UNC. You can read the entire report from Wainstein and his team here: http://advancingrefor.staging.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/UNC-FINAL-REPORT.pdf


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill today announced the results of an independent investigation conducted by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein into past academic irregularities at Carolina and took immediate action to address the findings. Today’s actions build on the reforms already undertaken in the years since first learning about the issues.
Mr. Wainstein’s investigation found:
·         Two people within the department formerly known as African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM)—Julius Nyang’oro and Deborah Crowder—were responsible for offering hundreds of irregular classes at UNC-Chapel Hill between 1993 and 2011.
·         These so-called “paper classes” were irregular in that they had no class attendance or faculty involvement, and Ms. Crowder, a non-faculty administrator, managed the classes and graded the papers.
·         Over the course of their 18-year existence, the paper classes affected 3,100 out of a total of 97,600 undergraduate students who were enrolled at the University during that time period.
·         Student-athletes accounted for 47.6 percent of enrollments in the irregular classes.
·         Many of the student-athletes were directed to the classes by academic counselors in the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes. These counselors saw the paper classes and the artificially high grades they yielded as key to helping some student-athletes remain eligible.
·         Academic advisors in the Office of Academic Advising also directed non-athlete students to these courses.
·         Various University personnel were aware of red flags, yet did not ask questions. There was a failure of meaningful oversight by the University.
Mr. Wainstein’s investigation found no indication of wrongdoing in any academic departments beyond AFAM, that no current coaches were involved or aware and that the reported wrongdoing ended in 2011.
“Mr. Wainstein has found that the wrongdoing at Carolina lasted much longer and affected more students than previously known. The bad actions of a few and the inaction of others failed the University’s students, faculty and alumni, and undermined the institution as a whole,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “This conduct could and should have been stopped much earlier by individuals in positions of influence and oversight, and others could have sounded the alarm more forcefully.”
“I apologize first to the students who entrusted us with their education and took these courses. You deserved so much better from your University, and we will do everything we can to make it right,” continued Folt. “I also want to apologize to the Carolina community – you have been hurt both directly and indirectly by this wrongdoing, even though you had no knowledge or responsibility for it, and many of you were not even here when most or all of it occurred.”
Based on Mr. Wainstein’s findings, the University will take the following actions and launch a number of new initiatives:
·         Launch a new public records website (http://publicrecords.unc.edu) to enhance accountability, responsiveness and efficiency around records requests. That site is live as of today.
·         Add faculty to a group that reviews student-athlete eligibility and progress toward degree.
·         Establish a working group to ensure there are clear, consolidated and confidential channels through which people can raise their hand and share concerns. The working group will also recommend how best to oversee the University’s commitment to integrity and compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and policies.
·         Continue to align and advance existing advising and support programs for student-athletes, further integrating the delivery of academic and career advising to include intensive and early attention to major exploration and post-college opportunities.
·         Conduct an institution-wide policy and procedure audit that will allow the University to identify any remaining redundancies and gaps, and create a mechanism for periodic re-evaluation.
·         Develop and implement an expanded process for the systematic, consistent evaluation and review of every unit and department. The Provost or appropriate director will be authorized to launch a special department review as needed.
·         Immediately implement a plan to stabilize the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies. Similarly, director of athletics Bubba Cunningham has been executing a plan to bolster integrity and accountability throughout the Athletics organization.
·         Take fact-based personnel actions, including terminating or commencing disciplinary action against nine University employees. Others implicated in the report include former University employees.
“I appreciate Mr. Wainstein’s hard work, professionalism and diligence in bringing us to today,” said UNC President Tom Ross. “I expect the findings will enable Chancellor Folt to build on earlier reforms and take the decisive steps needed to bring to a close the remaining questions and concerns around this matter. I will work closely with her and with the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees and the UNC Board of Governors to take what we’ve learned and ensure that Carolina emerges a stronger university dedicated to our students and our state.”
“In February, President Ross and Chancellor Folt tasked us with conducting a comprehensive and independent investigation to get to the bottom of the irregular class scheme that went on for almost two decades on the Chapel Hill campus,” said Wainstein, a partner with Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP. “We have spent the past eight months investigating every possible academic and athletic angle of that scheme, and today’s report lays out our findings and the full story behind the irregular classes. I want to thank President Ross, Chancellor Folt and the staff and students of the University for their exceptional cooperation with our investigation and for their commitment to unearthing the truth about this difficult chapter in the history of one of the country’s finest universities.”
Since first learning about these irregularities, Carolina has implemented numerous reforms, including new policies and processes to ensure compliance with teaching workloads and regular reviews of department chairs; ConnectCarolina, a new electronic student and course record database to help the University better track students enrolled in independent study and other courses; regular classroom visits to confirm classes are being held as scheduled; and additional oversight and support has been added for student-athletes for each sport in the Department of Athletics.
“Carolina is already stronger as a result of our journey over the past few years. Throughout our history, no single moment has defined us, but we are at our best when our most difficult moments teach us,” said Folt. “Our core mission as an institution is academics. I believe we can also offer strong and successful athletics programs, and that in fact athletics advances our academic mission. While we accept full responsibility for the past, the wind is in our sails for the future because our students, faculty and staff are so strong.”
Mr. Wainstein’s report can be accessed in its entirety at carolinacommitment.unc.edu. As previously announced, UNC-Chapel Hill will share publicly all documents cited in Wainstein’s report to enhance transparency around these records.


Wainstein Report Will Be Released Today

In February of this year, UNC commissioned former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein to dig into its records for any and all academic irregularities on campus – hoping for a definitive, conclusive report that would answer all the unanswered questions.

Today, after an eight-month investigation, Wainstein and his team will deliver that report – first at a joint meeting of the Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees this morning at 10:30, then publicly at a press conference at 1:00 this afternoon.

Chancellor Carol Folt and UNC system president Tom Ross will be on hand to answer questions at the press conference, which will take place on campus in the Kenan Center. Then at 5:00, Chancellor Folt will meet with students, faculty and staff in room G100 of the Genome Sciences Building for a town-hall meeting to discuss the report and next steps.

WCHL will broadcast the press conference live at 1:00 from the Kenan Center; we’ll be live-tweeting it as well @WCHLChapelboro. You can also follow the press conference online at CarolinaCommitment.unc.edu; Wainstein’s report will be available in full on that website as well as soon as it’s publicly released.


UNC’s Wainstein Report On Academic Fraud Due Wednesday

The long-awaited report on academic fraud at UNC is scheduled to be released on Wednesday.

A group of investigators led by attorney Kenneth Wainstein has been working for nearly a year to dig into allegations of fraudulent classes with disproportionately high enrollment by college athletes.

The findings will be presented to a special joint meeting of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors and the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees. A press conference will take place at 1:00 p.m. in the first floor of the Kenan Center, located by the Kenan-Flagler Business School.

UNC President Tom Ross and UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt will join Wainstein to respond and announce their initial actions based on the report. They will also take questions from the media.

Once it has been released, Wainstein’s report will be available online:  carolinacommitment.unc.edu

After the press conference, Chancellor Folt will host a town hall meeting with faculty, staff and students to discuss the findings. That takes place from 5 to 6 p.m. in room G200 of the Genome Sciences Building.

UNC officials on Monday released the following statement about the report:

“Since February 2014, former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein and his team have rigorously sought to address questions left unanswered during previous University-commissioned reviews of academic irregularities at UNC-Chapel Hill. Mr. Wainstein interviewed hundreds of individuals, including current and former faculty members, athletics department staff, academic advisors, academic counselors in the Academic Support Program for Student Athletes, administrators and students, including student-athletes. He has collected and searched millions of emails and analyzed student records, including transcripts, of thousands of students going back to the 1980s.

“On Wednesday Mr. Wainstein will publicly release the findings of his inquiry. Carolina believes this investigation provides the only way to truly understand and address what went wrong. We have a responsibility to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and University community at large to ensure we have a complete assessment of what transpired. Since first learning about these irregularities, Carolina has not stood still. We have taken actions and implemented initiatives to ensure proper oversight and support is provided across the University. The findings in Mr. Wainstein’s report will be used to further strengthen processes and policies to ensure nothing like this can happen again at Carolina.”

In an online message to the community, Chancellor Folt wrote, in part:

“The last few years have been difficult for our community. I believe this report will allow us to have a complete picture of what happened at Carolina and build on the numerous reforms we have already put in place.

I understand that many of you have questions, and I hope that many will be answered on Wednesday. We will continue to keep you informed as we move forward.”

You can read her full statement here: http://unc.edu/campus-updates/message-from-chancellor-carol-l-folt-5/


UNC Study: In Birds, As In Humans, Beauty Is Relative

It’s a well-known fact that when it comes to the dating scene, you don’t really have to be attractive – you just have to be more attractive than the competition.

And as it turns out, that’s a measurable biological phenomenon.

“If males view images of really attractive faces, they find (an average) face less attractive than if they first viewed images of unattractive faces,” says Susan Lyons, a Ph.D. candidate in biology at UNC.

What she’s describing is called the “contrast effect,” and it’s not just true for humans. Working with her advisor, biology professor Keith Sockman, Lyons has discovered a similar “contrast effect” in sparrows. (Lincoln’s sparrows, to be precise.)

Humans attract each other physically (for the most part), but songbirds like sparrows attract their mates with the quality of their songs – specifically, a characteristic known as trill performance, or “a measurement of how quickly the syllables of a trill can be produced.” Lyons says sparrows likely react to trill performance because it’s an indication of a bird’s skill or vigor; female birds are more attracted to males with higher-quality songs.

But the operative word there is “higher” quality – because as Sockman discovered, the level of trill performance can vary from year to year. Some years, the males will sing extremely well – and other years, the pickings are slim.

“This would suggest that females, in some years when the song performance levels are low, might not find a mate – unless they could adjust the criteria that they use for deciding a song is good enough,” Sockman says.

And so, Lyons began an experiment to determine: will female sparrows react differently to the same song, based solely on the quality of the other songs they hear?

“We exposed females to one week of either more attractive songs or less attractive songs,” Lyons says, “and then at the end of the week, we asked the females to assess the attractiveness for a (new) song that was of intermediate trill performance.”

And as it turns out, the difference makes a difference.

“Females that were previously exposed to the low-performance ‘unattractive’ songs were more attracted to the intermediate song,” Lyons says.

Lyons and Sockman have just published that discovery in the October 15 issue of the journal Biology Letters. (It will also be the first chapter in Lyons’ dissertation.) They say it’s not an unexpected finding, especially given what Sockman observed before – but it is the first time the “contrast effect” has ever been observed in a performance-based sexual signal.

All of which is to say: in the world of sparrows, just as in the world of humans, it’s often important to have a wingman.


UNC: Health Benefits For Same-Sex Spouses

Following a court ruling last week, the state of North Carolina has begun recognizing same-sex marriages – and as a consequence, state employees (including UNC employees) will now be able to enroll same-sex spouses in the State Health Plan.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt made that announcement Tuesday along with Felicia Washington, the Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity, and Engagement.

Their statement is below.

Dear Carolina Community,

On Friday, Judge Max Cogburn, Jr., a United States District Court Judge for the Western District of North Carolina, entered an order ruling that North Carolina’s law prohibiting same-sex marriages is unconstitutional as a matter of law. This is, indeed, a historic ruling in our state.

We are pleased to share with you that earlier today, the State Health Plan and NCFlex informed us that employees can immediately begin to enroll same-sex spouses. Coverage can become effective as early as November 1, 2014, for same-sex marriages performed prior to October 13, 2014. This applies to marriages performed in North Carolina, as well as same-sex marriages lawfully solemnized outside of North Carolina. Same-sex marriages performed after this date would be treated as qualifying events, just as with opposite-sex marriages.

To view the State Health Plan’s official announcement regarding coverage, click here.

Instructions to complete the enrollment of a same-sex spouse are available at http://hr.unc.edu/?p=20974.

We will continue to communicate any important updates relating to this late-breaking news. Likewise, we will inform you of any instructions we receive from the Office of State Human Resources, the State Health Plan and NCFlex related to any policy changes…


Carol L. Folt, Chancellor
Felicia A. Washington, Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity,
and Engagement


UNC Gets $3 Million To Help Students Graduate

A $3 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education will go to help first-generation students at UNC make it all the way to graduation.

Abigail Panter is a psychology professor and the senior associate dean for undergraduate education at UNC. Over the next four years she will develop a program to help improve undergraduate retention as part of a national push to increase the number of college graduates.

Called The Finish Line Project, the program will be aimed at the nearly 20 percent of UNC undergraduates who are the first in their families to attend college. Many come from rural areas or traditionally underserved populations. These students are about twice as likely to drop out of college after the first year.

The program will include intensive academic counseling and targeted transition courses to help new students adjust to the rigors of college. It will also examine curriculum design for STEM classes at the community college and university levels.

The grant is one of 24 awarded by the Department of Education to fund the First in the World initiative to improve access to higher education and raise college graduation rates across the country.