Accreditors to Seek Additional Monitoring Report; No Sanction

Carolina’s accreditation agency has decided not to sanction the University in connection with irregularities involving the department of African and Afro-American studies, according to a statement issued by the chancellor’s office.

The campus will be asked to provide a monitoring report by next June on continued progress with academic procedures in the department. And UNC will offer 80 current students and more than 300 alumni who took AFAM courses that were not taught as advertised the opportunity to enroll in additional courses free of all charges.

In January, UNC had been advised by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges “to take immediate steps” to come into compliance with its standards on academic policies, academic support services and student records and with the federal definition of college credit hours. The agency asked UNC to provide information about the degrees awarded to students who were enrolled in what were called “Type I” courses in the James Martin-Baker Tilly report on academic problems that focused on the AFAM department. Type I referred to a lecture course in which the faculty member listed as instructor of record denied teaching the course section and signing the grade roll or one in which the chair stated the course section had not been taught.

Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86 was notified by telephone on June 20 that the commission’s board of trustees had voted not to sanction the University, meaning UNC remains fully accredited and in good standing with its accreditors.

“We are very pleased with this decision,” Thorp said. “Throughout this process, the University has been treated fairly by [the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges]. We have provided information, responded to all questions, taken necessary actions and documented the comprehensive reforms that we have put in place over the past two years because of issues related to the unprofessional and unethical actions of two former department employees.

“We are confident the sweeping changes we have made, based on the results of seven internal and independent, outside reviews or investigations, will prevent any recurrence of these irregularities,” he said.

At the agency’s request, the University identified 80 students who took the Type I courses but have not graduated. Of those, 34 students are not affected under the University’s plan. Some registered for a Type I course but did not receive any credit. Others have more than 120 hours required for graduation. A handful of students finished their undergraduate degrees at other institutions. In other cases, the course was a prerequisite to a higher-level course that was taught appropriately and completed satisfactorily.

The University is offering the other 46 students three options if they wish to pursue graduation. They may provide the past coursework for re-evaluation by a faculty committee; take a challenge examination; or take an additional course. The University will cover tuition, fees and the cost of textbooks or other related or required course materials.

To the approximately 304 alumni who had graduated and were enrolled in a Type I course in African and Afro-American studies between 1997 and 2009, the University will offer an opportunity to enroll in one supplemental course. UNC will cover all costs. The students will not receive a grade or additional course credit because transcripts are permanently sealed one year after graduation.

The University said it will not use state funds to pay for the additional courses.

For more information about SACSCOC and this issue, visit the University’s accreditation website.

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