Archive for Thursday, February 27, 2014

KU Chancellor says she didn’t know about UNC student athlete fraud

February 27, 2014


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Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little

Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little

Allegations of academic fraud among student athletes at the University of North Carolina have sparked national soul-searching about the role of sports in higher education and questions about how such problems could go unnoticed at a major university.

Along with sharing a storied basketball rivalry, Kansas University and UNC enjoy ties as academic institutions. In its long-term strategic plan, KU lists UNC among its peer institutions. Over the years KU and UNC have swapped basketball coaches, faculty and, in former UNC provost and current KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, a high-level university administrator.

Gray-Little has said she was unaware of the problems while she was at UNC.

The alleged fraud in what was the UNC College of Arts and Science's African and Afro-American Studies department extended back to the 1990s, investigators believe. Professor and former department chairman Julius Nyang’oro faces criminal charges for accepting pay to teach classes that the university and law-enforcement officials say never met. Hundreds of classes with high student-athlete enrollment are now said to have been only partially taught or not taught at all, according to reports.

Only two people have been implicated so far in the scandal, Nyang'oro and Deborah Crowder, a departmental manager for the Afro-American Studies department.

Gray-Little joined KU as chancellor in 2009 after serving as provost and executive vice chancellor at UNC. Before then she served in a series of lower administrative posts at UNC, including dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. As provost and as dean of the college, Gray-Little would have overseen the Afro-American Studies department in different capacities during the time that some of the alleged problems with academics occurred.

Gray-Little turned down an interview request on the subject. In a previous media statement she has said:

"I’ve read of the painful revelations about the academic experiences of some student-athletes at Carolina over the past several years. If I’d known of the problems in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies that have since come to light I would have taken action to address them. Chancellor (Carol) Folt and Provost (Jim) Dean have made a commitment to address these issues and I wish them well in that effort."

Jay Smith, a UNC history professor who is currently working on a book about the scandal, said that Gray-Little likely would have been too high up the university hierarchy to have known about the issues with student athletes.

"To be honest, I would not expect a dean or provost to be aware of these sorts of shenanigans," he said. "These things were carried out at a nitty-gritty level that deans and provosts generally don't stoop to."

One former UNC administrator, Madeline Levine, has said publicly that she went to then-Provost Gray-Little with concerns about an athlete who she thought might be functionally illiterate. Levine, a UNC professor emeritus of Slavic literature who was interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2006-07, said in an email to the Journal-World that while dean she went to Gray-Little for advice about the student.

"Without an appointment, I went to her office and asked for a moment of her time, which she was kind enough to grant me on the spot," Levine said. "It was a very brief interaction, and her reply was correct: i.e., the student was already admitted and there was nothing I could do."

"She (Gray-Little) played no role in admitting that student," Levine added.

In previous media accounts Gray-Little has said through a spokesperson that she did not remember the incident, which Levine said she does not doubt. Levine emphasized her regard for Gray-Little.

"She is a person of absolute integrity and a model administrator," Levine said.

When she came to KU, Gray-Little's qualities as an administrator were also trumpeted by then-UNC Chancellor James Moeser, who hired Gray-Little as provost and credited her office with increasing the university's research funding. Moeser, now a chancellor emeritus, served from 2000 to 2008.

Another bridge between KU and UNC, Moeser served as chair of the organ department in the KU music school and became dean of the School of Fine Arts in 1975. He left Kansas in 1986 and eventually joined UNC as provost in 1992.


Bob Forer 3 years, 12 months ago

"It was a very brief interaction, and her reply was correct: i.e., the student was already admitted and there was nothing I could do."

If the quoted administrator thought it was a "correct response" why did she even ask?

“She is a person of absolute integrity and a model administrator," Levine said.

Nonsense. If Gray-Little had any integrity at all, she would have been very curious as to how and why a functional iliterate was admitted to a major university, and would have taken appropriate action to investigate the matter.

John Graham 3 years, 12 months ago

A dean at the university has a concern about a student's academic abilities that is concerning enough to go to the provost. This was a dean with a concern, not a junior faculty or teaching assistant but a dean. A dean is typically someone with considerable experience and known to be level-headed or usually they don't rise to the level of dean. So someone the university has considerable faith in (the dean), tells the provost of a concern and the entire provost's response is since the student was already admitted there is nothing to do? Why didn't she look into the student's grades, question other faculty the student had and possibly have a meeting with the student. This makes one wonder about the lack of concern by the provost. Why was the provost that uncaring about how the student (thought possibly illiterate by a dean) was managing to pass classes at the university.

There are two possibilities. The student was not illiterate, so how does the dean come to that conclusion? Is the dean that incompetent in evaluating students and if so why is that person a dean? If the dean is correct in that the student is illiterate, how is the student passing classes? Either option suggests academic problems that needed to be evaluated. So we are left with a provost that comes across as uncaring about what is going on at the university where they are second in command or the provost is incompetent. Either choice is not good.

Julius Nolan 3 years, 12 months ago

See the Koch-Brownback-ALEC smear campaign is underway to get rid of Gray-Little as previous reported. 2 previous posters are leading the charge.

John Graham 3 years, 12 months ago

You are quite incorrect. I am not a fan of either Brownback or ALEC. Just because someone doesn't agree with your point of view doesn't make them a Brownback or ALEC supporter. You make that statement because you know a quick way to get the majority of posters on this site against someone is to say that person is a Brownback or ALEC supporter.

I find it odd how someone in charge for a period of time during which there is reportedly widespread misconduct can say they knew nothing about it and everyone says good enough. If they are in charge they are supposed to know what is going on. If this misconduct is as widespread and long running as suggested then there were many thousands of students involved over two or three decades. That is simply too many people involved for there not to have been loud whispering going on about some funny business in that academic department. She held various positions that oversaw that department. It was her responsibility along with others to know what was going on. With the titles and increased pay of being a dean and later a provost comes responsibilities of being in charge when things happen on your watch.

William Enick 3 years, 11 months ago

If they are in charge the are kept from knowing what is going on. That's just the nature of how things works. There's a lotta sophisticated maneuvering that goes in in the mind of the high brow - brown nosier. It's an art form.

William Enick 3 years, 11 months ago

If they are in charge the are kept FROM knowing what is going on. That's just the nature of how things works. There's a lotta sophisticated maneuvering that goes in in the mind of the high brow - brown nosier. It's an art form.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

Allegations and substantiation of allegations are two different animals.

Athletes receive preferential attention to keep them around to play so we hear. KU is subject to these allegations as well.... regarding academic performance ,class attendance etc etc etc. These allegations are heard from students that share classes with athletes.

I'm guessing these type of allegations are heard throughout the university landscape. Providing substance to the allegations would likely require an FBI investigation and confiscation of a ton of records.

It appears the source of allegations against B. Gray-Little cannot provide the substance to support allegations. Until that takes place there is no reason to jump on a political rhetoric bandwagon.

There are far larger concerns in the Kansas legislation at the moment as to how they manage or mismanage public school funding , workers income tax deductions and corporate tax subsidies.

The administrations false assumptions on voter fraud is also a concern because voter suppression is against the law. All who are not registered right wing republicans should check on the status of your registration frequently.

How about the fraud allegations surrounding the student loan industry that is being waged against the student body throughout the USA? Where is the FBI?

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

Yes the meeting between the dean and the provost is unable to be proven unless a witness comes forward or the provost made some written record of it. Proof of such a meeting would be quite damning for the provost.

The bigger issue is how could reportedly hundreds of classes (and the associated thousands of students) been involved over two or three decades during which time G-L and others served in several administrative positions (including dean and provost) that oversaw that department yet knew nothing of it. That begs unbelievability. The authorities are not talking about one class that happened for only one semester. They are reportedly talking hundreds of classes that involved thousands of students over two to three decades. With a problem as large and as long running as described, the deans and provosts saying they did not know is not acceptable. Their job was to know what was going on in those departments they oversaw. If accusations about false classes are proven, then those deans and provosts (including G-L) are guilty of gross negligence.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 11 months ago

There is no such hard evidence so why hassle the woman.

KU is subject to these allegations as well.... regarding academic performance ,class attendance etc etc etc. These allegations are heard from students that share classes with athletes.

Long before B. Gray Little arrived.

Shall we start demanding investigations of the Jayhawks?

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

Richard you can choose to overlook facts if you want. North Carolina has admitted to hundreds of fake classes and other academic issues involving thousands of students dating back to at least 1997 and continuing through to 2011. The problems include at least 200 lecture courses that never met though grades and credit were given, hundreds of questionable online classes, forged faculty signatures and 500 grade changes without authorization. There is no question these events happened, North Carolina admits they did. The question is this all of the issues or was the fraud even bigger than they admit. It is also a fact that during this time frame G-L (and others) held several positions of oversight including dean and provost. Those in charge of oversight during this time frame failed their duty. The question is how and why. Saying they didn't know about a scandal this big and this long running is not adequate from the people that are paid to know what is going on.

Any university including KU should be investigated if concerns of academic fraud are raised. If fraud is found those involved including those in oversight positions should lose their jobs. I am not familiar with Dr G-L, nor am I singling her out. All persons that held position of dean and provost during this decades long period should have to explain how and why they failed their duties of academic oversight that allowed such a large fraud to occur. The buck has to stop somewhere and it should stop with those who have the job of being sure these type things don't happen (that means deans and provosts).

Julius Nolan 3 years, 11 months ago

Too bad so many people, most of them under educated and have never gone to college, are such experts on everything. These same ones hate everything KU or almost all higher education in general. After all they get everything they need to know from Fox News and the Kochs.

John Graham 3 years, 11 months ago

Julius if your comments are directed at me, you are completely wrong on all counts.

Bob Zimmerman 3 years, 11 months ago

The bigger question: should five years of declining enrollment at KU be a criteria for evaluating a Chancellor?

The National Cancer Institute designation (achieved in in 2012) was well underway before she arrived.

What else should be considered?

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