AFAM Reforms Promised; Starts With New Name

The UNC System Board of Governors’ investigation of academic fraud at Carolina was out in the open this week in a public session in which UNC officials promised a list of reforms to guard against any repeat of what happened in its department of African and Afro-American studies.

Among steps being taken, the department will change its name to African, African American and Diaspora studies. The department’s new chair, Eunice Sahle, said that henceforth only AFAM majors who uphold a minimum 3.0 grade point average will be allowed to take independent study courses.

Sahle’s predecessor, Julius Nyang’oro, resigned the chair last year and retired this summer after he was found to have presided over a long list of questionable courses that appeared to abuse the provisions for independent studies.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that “deans, faculty members, department heads and Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham lined up” to promise the BOG investigators the University was committed to recovery and reform.

“They pledged more faculty involvement in athletics, a revamped African studies department, new oversight rules for academic administrators, changes to the tutoring program for athletes and a strategic plan for the university’s entire sports enterprise,” the paper reported.

The BOG probe is one of three now in progress. The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether Nyang’oro broke laws by accepting money for courses that were found to have little faculty involvement; and a group that includes former Gov. James Martin, a national management consulting firm and the president of the Association of American Universities has begun its work. Members of the faulty have hinted that they might initiate further review of the relationship between athletics and academics at UNC.

Also this week, Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86 apologized to Julius Peppers ’02 for the improper publication of his academic transcript on an unsecured server in the University’s computer system. The unauthorized publication resulted from a mistake by an internal computing staff person, according to the vice chancellor for Information Technology Services. Larry Conrad said in a statement Thursday that the football star’s transcript was put on a secure server in 2001 for test and demonstration purposes without identifying language and that a second person moved it to an unsecured directory in 2007 and did not remove the identification.

“The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill takes very seriously the obligation to protect students’ academic records, which is why the recent exposure of a version of Julius Peppers’ transcript and its subsequent publication in media outlets was extremely troubling,” Thorp said in a statement. “We greatly regret this, and we have apologized to Mr. Peppers.”

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