UNC Chapel Hill spot checks classes

  • Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013 12:06 p.m.

CHAPEL HILL (AP) The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been conducting spot checks of its classes.

The reviews this week come after the school has been rocked by reports that some programs had classes where little instruction occurred, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported.

A review led by former Gov. Jim Martin released in December found that more than 200 African and Afro-American Studies classes had little or no instruction dating back to the 1990s. The allegations included classes with no attendance, poorly supervised independent studies and improper grade changes. Athletes made up 45 percent of the enrollment in those classes.

The reviews by school administrators come before the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges visits the campus this spring. The regional accrediting agency could decide in June whether to sanction the university for the academic fraud scandal.

The president of the accrediting agency, Belle Wheelan, sent a letter to Chancellor Holden Thopr in January saying the school had not provided enough evidence that it had corrected the problems with academic integrity.

Some of the faculty is not impressed with the idea of spot checks on classes.

“It was more than irritating,” said Lew Margolis, a professor of public health.

Deans have been asked to gather information on course requirements.

Bruce Carney, executive vice chancellor and provost, wrote to the deans of the various colleges earlier this month on steps they needed to take to verify the soundness of the courses offered.

“We need a report from you on the progress of checks of lecture and other courses that were intended to meet on a regular basis with an instructor,” Carney wrote. “What method was used? How many classes were surveyed? What were the results? If a class was not under way at the expected time, we need a detailed explanation.”

Education professor George Noblit had two of his classes visited. The students thought the checks were funny, he said.

“They clearly saw this as being connected to the scandal,” he said. “So the nice thing about our associate dean introducing herself and explaining it, it became kind of a teachable moment about the politics of higher ed.”

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