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Carol Sued By N&O Over Data

The News & Observer newspaper has the bit firmly in its teeth over the student-illiteracy issue at UNC. It’s latest editorial was fairminded about Chancellor Folt’s position, while resolutely maintaining that Carol has to do more than spin:

It is not fair that Carol Folt, new to the job of chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been saddled with a crisis of major proportions this early in her tenure. But she has.

She did offer, in remarks to UNC-Chapel Hill trustees Thursday, some refreshing comment acknowledging that the university must take ownership of the scandal involving bogus classes in the area of African studies. Large numbers of athletes took those classes, perhaps guided there by academic counselors.

“At Carolina,” she said, “proceeding toward meaningful athletic and academic reform is requiring us to fully acknowledge and accept lessons of our past. And I think these are messages that I believe have not been made clear enough to the Carolina community and to the public.”

Prior to this statement, the university seemed to be engaged in obfuscation…

Folt can pull the university through this, but she has to be willing to face the public consequences for UNC-Chapel Hill of potentially more disclosures of problems, and she must be agreeable to discussing all aspects of these issues, in academics and in athletics, in a public way.

For the problems won’t go away in a public relations blitz, and they won’t be diminished by attacks on people who helped to bring them to light.

But the paper won’t allow Carol to get off that easy. Accepting “ownership” is one thing, but transparently revealing the facts is another. The N&O has sued Folt personally to oblige her to reveal the details of student participation in the bogus courses:

The News and Observer Publishing Co. sued UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt on Thursday, seeking access to a spreadsheet or database with information that could offer a link to the origins of lingering athletic and academic scandals.


The lawsuit was filed in Wake County Superior Court the same day that Folt publicly accepted the university’s responsibility for bogus classes benefiting student athletes that were offered through the African and Afro-American Studies Department. She also acknowledged a failure of academic oversight.

Internal and external investigations have shown that about 200 lecture-style classes were offered in that department, dating to the mid-1990s, in which there is little or no evidence of any instruction. Investigations also have found that roughly 500 grade changes were suspected or confirmed to be authorized through the department.

Since June, The N&O has requested data that UNC sent to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges about the bogus courses.

Addendum: Chancellor Folt is on the ropes now. While UNC’s no-show classes existed in the hundreds, Carol wants us to know that there is “no evidence” that these classes were set up for athletes, even though the “classes” were filled with athletes:

Hmmm. Two hundred classes that never met, but in which grades and credit were given, primarily to athletes, over two decades, but nobody actually organized the effort. Spontaneous generation anyone?

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