Suspect Classes at U. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Dated to 1997, Report Says

An academic-fraud scandal in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s department of African and Afro-American studies involved suspect classes as far back as 1997, according to a report released on Thursday by a former North Carolina governor. That’s a decade earlier than revealed in an earlier review of the scandal. But the latest review, conducted by former Gov. James G. Martin, called the scandal “an isolated one” that did not involve athletics. The News & Observer reported that Mr. Martin’s review found 216 courses with “proven or potential” problems, and 454 potentially unauthorized grade changes.

Mr. Martin’s report was the latest to focus on courses involving a former department chair, Julius Nyang’oro, and Deborah Crowder, a former department manager. A previous internal investigation had uncovered more than 50 courses featuring no-show professors and improper grade changes. That inquiry cost Mr. Nyang’oro his position as department chair last year, and he was later forced to retire. University officials have said that the two officials were the only ones responsible for the misconduct, and Mr. Martin’s report agreed, saying that “no evidence” pointed to others’ involvement beyond Ms. Crowder and Mr. Nyang’oro.

In remarks to the university’s Board of Trustees, Chapel Hill’s chancellor, H. Holden Thorp, said that the university “can’t run away” from the review’s findings. “We made mistakes in the past,” he said. “We were complacent. We didn’t ask the hard questions that we should have asked. And we didn’t live up to our reputation.” He added that the institution was “embracing these findings” and was “moving forward as a much stronger university.” Mr. Thorp announced in September that he would resign at the end of the academic year.

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