Beverly Foster moved from classroom to classroom last spring, slipping into the back, unannounced, and jotting down notes about what she heard and saw.
Students taking test. Class presentation. Professor lecturing.
Ms. Foster, director of undergraduate education at the University of North Carolina’s School of Nursing here, then forwarded her observations to top administrators at the university. Other officials made similar classroom visits campuswide. In the College of Arts and Sciences alone they covered 430 courses, or almost 10 percent of those offered last spring and this fall. If a class didn’t meet as scheduled, officials followed up with a department head to ask why.
Such spot-checks are unheard of on college campuses, especially at a prestigious public research university like Chapel Hill. They are among the changes the flagship campus has adopted in the wake of the most egregious case of academic fraud ever committed at the university.
The academic improprieties, in which professors’ signatures were forged to change students’ grades and undergraduates got credit for courses that never met, went undetected for nearly 15 years within the African- and Afro-American-studies department. The university says the fraud appears to be the work of a longtime administrator in the department and its chairman, Julius E. Nyang’oro, who led African-American studies here for nearly two decades. Many of the students who were involved in the questionable classes were athletes. <Read more.>