UNC trying to fire senior professor in wake of academic fraud scandal
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s flagship public university is trying to fire a senior professor, accepted the resignation of another faculty member and dismissed an academic counselor for athletes for their roles in the fraud scandal that rocked the school, campus officials said Wednesday.
Steps to terminate University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill philosophy professor and former faculty leader Jeanette Boxill started on Oct. 22, the same day that a scathing report into the cheating scandal was released, campus Chancellor Carol Folt said in a statement. Boxill is appealing Folt’s decision, information that was released after a lawsuit by The Associated Press and nine other media organizations.
North Carolina’s public records law requires state agencies, including public universities, to make employee records available. That includes records regarding their dismissal, suspension, or demotion. UNC-Chapel Hill officials had said the disclosure wasn’t required until after an employee has finished appealing the decision, a process that could take years.
The report by former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein found a pattern of fake classes, which allowed 3,100 athletes and other students to earn artificially high grades from 1993 to 2011. While the sham courses were solely in the African studies department, multiple people around campus knew of them or suspected something but said nothing, the report said.
Folt said she was naming Boxill "in light of the extraordinary circumstances underlying the longstanding and intolerable academic irregularities described in the Wainstein Report, as well as her role as chair of the faculty council during a period of time covered by the report."
Campus lawyer David Parker also disclosed that Timothy McMillan resigned after 17 years at the school. He was a senior lecturer in the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies, the renamed department where a retired administrator orchestrated and a retired chairman allowed the pattern of no-show classes and generous grades.
Boxill and McMillan did not return phone messages seeking comment.
Parker also said academic counselor Jaimie Lee was terminated, which was previously reported.
The conduct of six other campus employees is being reviewed for possible disciplinary action, Parker said. Any who are disciplined will be identified, Parker said.
Boxill directed women’s basketball players she advised into the fake courses, at least twice sought to influence the grades given to students, and acknowledged sometimes editing student papers, the report said.
McMillan "effectively knew what was happening (with the fake classes), even if he was careful not to learn all of the details," the report said.
Folt said in October that four campus employees were fired and five others disciplined for their roles in an academic fraud scheme. Tom Ross, president of the 16-campus state university system, added that he was taking "action involving an individual formerly employed on this campus, now employed at another UNC campus."
Beth Bridger, one of the football counselors named in the report as steering players toward the bogus classes, lost her job at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington the day the report was published.