More Details Emerge on Boxill’s Role in UNC Scandal


As was reported last month, a detailed investigation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill revealed an academic fraud scandal in which philosopher Jan Boxill played a central role. Previous evidence focused on her role as an academic advisor who directed students towards fake or “paper” classes, helped students write papers, ignored academic dishonesty by students, and suggested fraudulent grades for assignments. Now, it has emerged that Boxill offered an extraordinary number of independent study courses to student athletes at UNC—over 160 of them over an 8 year period, according to The Daily Tar Heel.

The article reports:

Marc Lange, the current chairman of the philosophy department said independent studies are uncommon because the department has wide course offerings. Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, chairman of the department between 2001 and 2011, said more than 150 independent studies is an unusually large number.

“Why would a student take an independent study?” Lange said. “It’s only for extraordinarily well-qualified students for whom the course material is too elementary.”

Public records show Boxill would sometimes offer multiple students independent study courses each semester; for example, in spring 2005 she taught 20. UNC’s Public Records Office would not distinguish how many students enrolled in Boxill’s independent studies were student-athletes.

The emails released by Wainstein show some student-athletes were enrolled and steered to her courses — but his report doesn’t mention it….

As of fall 2012, faculty are only permitted to offer two students independent study courses per semester. Lange said he can count on one hand the number of independent study courses he’s taught since joining UNC in 2003…. “It’s only recently that the University required independent studies to have that kind of paper trail.”

That highly autonomous academic culture is exactly what led to UNC’s academic-athletic scandal, according to the Wainstein report.

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Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

Should Sayre-McCord, Boxill’s boss during the years in question, as well as the founder and only other member of the Advisory Board of the Parr Center over those years, be the new interim head of it? This is surely the wrong look. Maybe it’s time for fresh leadership team over at the Parr Center. UNC is too good a department to be mired in this any longer.Report

Stephen
Stephen
6 years ago

20 independent studies in a single semester! Wow–it’s hard to imagine how those could be legitimate.Report

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

It looks as if the chair and the director of undergraduate studies at the time may have to answer some questions. They must have known, right?Report

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

Necessarily so. For much of the period in question, the DUS was none other than Jan Boxill. (Geoff Sayre-McCord was chair.)
https://web.archive.org/web/20050205104354/http://philosophy.unc.edu/CHPAdmin.htmReport

Philip Kremer
6 years ago

A completely honest Department Chair would typically be following proper procedure in delegating certain authority and the management of certain departmental matters to an Associate Chair / Director of Undergraduate Studies. There’s a fine line between micromanaging and proper oversight, and it’s an important part of collegial governance to default in favour of trusting your colleagues.Report